Let’s Talk Pets – Written by Hannah

Guest post. Pets. Giant African Millipede

This weeks, ‘ Let’s Talk Pet’s ‘ was written by Hannah, a amazing blogger who blogs about books, travel, her experiences among other things. If you’d like to check out her blog then CLICK HERE to be directed to PagesPlacesandPlates home blog page.

So let’s get into it!

What pet do you have?….A Millipede!?

When I tell people that I have a pet they usually jump straight to thinking I have a dog, cat, or some sort of rodent. The reactions I get when I reveal what she is are often varied… Sometimes curiosity, other times a confused look, and occasionally a look of disgust! I absolutely love Chongololo though… my wonderful Giant African Millipede.

I haven’t always loved millipedes – in fact, I used to be quite scared of them before I’d interacted with them properly. Living in England they’re not something you really come across… We have centipedes, but they’re tiny and bitey and so fast that they can freak you out a bit. My uneducated younger self made the assumption that a millipede was a bigger, leggier, faster version of that, when in fact I was very wrong.

Giant African Millipedes appear black at first glance, but they’re actually quite colourful.

If you know me then you’ll understand that I strive to love and appreciate every being, whatever species it is. I have a fascination with invertebrates and when I have a fear of an animal I do my best to overcome it. I’d never hurt an animal unless it was either about to injure me badly (or for some reason it was the only food source available but I’m hoping that situation won’t occur!).

The start of my fear removal of millipedes happened purely by chance, as I attended a bug handling show in Colchester with my grandmother when I was much younger. She was around 76 at the time and despite being petrified of tarantulas volunteered to hold one, describing it as “quite soft and nice, really.” Once I saw the unnerving millipedes getting ready to be handled I knew I had no excuse not to interact with them. I plucked up the courage and let the keeper place one on my hands… And I was quite surprised.

Giant African Millipedes are the biggest species of millipede in the world, growing up to 38.5cm, and are really quite docile (unless you attack them, in which case they’ll spray you with a light acid, but it takes a lot of provoking for that to happen). They walk slowly, their myriad of legs flowing in tandem like a Mexican wave, and they’re really quite timid. They can’t bite as they have no teeth – they have to dissolve their food before they can eat it. I likened the millipede crawling over my hands as similar to the feeling of Velcro, and it instantly made me relax.

Fast forward 12 or so years to 2017 and I find myself in Kenya, a stunning African country teeming with wildlife. I’m in awe as I realise that millipedes are everywhere! Not just Giant Africans, either… smaller, stripy ones can be witnessed within the foliage along with larger, red-legged ones – everywhere I looked I would see them. I became fascinated, watching them slowly inch across the ground exploring their surroundings. When the camp leaders weren’t looking I’d let them crawl onto my hands, feeling their pointy feet grip onto my skin. As weird as it sounds, I quite fell in love with them.

When I got back home I knew I had to have more interaction with these creatures, so I made the decision to throw myself into the exotic pet world and purchase one. We got her as an early Christmas present… She arrived curled up in a plastic pot from Pembrokeshire, complete with a heat mat and some symbiotic mites. My friend, owner of various exotic creatures, helped me get her set up, and I quickly settled into being something of an invert Mum.

Chongololo (which is Swahili slang for Giant African Millipede) is by far the most fascinating creature I’ve ever owned. She’s not cuddly and she doesn’t love me like a dog might, but I’ve learnt so much about her kind just from being able to observe her. She’s almost completely blind, relying on her sense of smell and her antennae to understand the world, and she gravitates towards dark spaces for protection – when I’m taking photos of her she’ll often headbutt my phone thinking it’s a cave! She eats overripe fruit and veg but also loves hardwood leaves, so I go out every so often to collect them from my town (you can imagine the looks from the locals). Sometimes you’ll hear this tiny crunching noise and it’ll be her feet traversing over the leaf debris.

Despite her lack of sentience, she’s also got a fair bit of character… I’ve had to rescue her before as she got her head stuck in a tomato skin! She can be incredibly shy, making me wonder why I feared them in the first place – any interaction will at first cause her to curl into a tight swirl, protecting herself from danger. She’ll relax after a while and will freely explore, though sometimes she’ll refuse to unfurl until I place her back in her coconut hut, which is a personality trait I completely identify with.

Chongololo may be a bit different but I love having her as a pet, and hopefully I’ll have her for a few more years (Giant Africans tend to live for around 5-7 years on average). If you’ve never considered an exotic pet before but find yourself intrigued then they’re a really great option – a different kind of rewarding, but a fascinating creature to observe. And if you’re currently fearful of them, I urge you to have a go at interacting with one… Once you see first-hand how timid they are you might just feel okay about them.

Author: littleTinkablee

Hi!🤗 I'm Tinka, the author to this crazy messy blog! I have passions for many things in life including helping others when I can, writing, taking photo's, animals, the outdoors and so much more! Unfortunately, I have suffered from severe anxiety for over 6 years as well as other mental health illnesses which can really hinder and obscure my path to a better future. But after years of being locked away, I'm ready to fight back, I'm ready to do all it takes to break out of this cycle that my mental illnesses have help cause. I'm ready to break away from all my unhealthy habits and away from all the mental blocks I have. For me, the start of breaking out of my bad cycle was to start this Blog in 2019 in the hopes of taking myself out of my comfort zone and getting myself out into the world more (even if it is via the internet). I document my ups and downs with my mental illnesses, as well as some of my daily going on and lifestyle tips. I like to believe there is a little something of everything to read on my blog and I do try to cater to a wide range audience so as not to limit my blog. I want to thank you all for the support you have and continue to show me and my blog! And as always I hope that you can take something good way from reading my blog

10 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Pets – Written by Hannah”

  1. This was honestly really interesting to read. While I don’t see myself having a pet millipede, I can totally see why others may be interested in it. It’s really no different than the fact some people love snakes or rats while others have no interest – whatever brings you joy!


  2. Chongolo reminds me of home, the days living in the African countryside admiring them. Thanks for sharing this with us! I always described my house a wanna be zoo. We’ve sadly lost our two beautiful little mice, we’ve had several fish, snails and now only our two dogs left, but I’m desperate to add more pets. They give our home so much more life and character!


  3. yes, i agree, normally we talk about a pet is always “dog or cat”.
    but Millipede is so cute too! since we talk about an animal, my dad he is crazy about the animal, like my home we got so many different animals in our house like we have 4 dogs, 5 birds, 3 fish, 1 chameleon, and rabbit. (is that crazy?) but i am sure all this animal are so lovely x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like the perfect household! I’d love to have loads of different animals – I’ll definitely be getting Chongo some friends soon but I bet it’s awesome having such a variety of pets…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. While my boys are of the cat variety. I am absolutely love your respect of all living souls. I have been in financial distress for over a year and my brother could choose to help me but has chosen not to. He has chosen this because I would not throw my boys on the street. He sees me taking care of them as money wasted and as long as I do so, he will not help me. It is disgusting. And I literally could not live with myself if I did what he demanded. They, as you understand, living souls, no less than us. And unlike most people, pets of any variety are often here for us when people abandon us. I don’t care who understands that they eat (literally) before I do. I don’t care what people say when I say I’m in the situation I am in but the boys have food , litter and that I just spent 30 dollars on medication for Gomez’s antibiotic when I do not have health insurance or food. I understand if I go a day hungry or don’t feel well. They don’t. All they’ve done is love me. As yours has done you. What right does anyone ever have to question this?

    There is a book you might really like. It is mostly about the appreciation of people many would called “freaks” but that are living souls. It is called This is Gonna Hurt but Nikki Sixx. It is all about his mental struggles, past and the work it has and continues to take to grow.


    1. Thank you, and thank you for the book suggestion – I’ll definitely check that one out. I’m totally with you – animals are lives too and there’s no reason why we as humans should consider ourselves above them in any way. I’d do exactly as you do, and I would never just disregard an animal from my household because it’s an animal… It’s family, after all. I hope your financial distress gets sorted out soon, I know firsthand how much that can suck but sounds like you’re still able to give your cats an amazing life which is really great to hear.

      Liked by 1 person

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