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Land invertebrates


White-legged snake millipedeWhite-legged snake millipede Along with centipedes, millipedes belong to the group of arthropods called myriapods ("many legs"). They have short, strong legs for burrowing slowly through soil or leaves, moving their many sets of legs in a co-ordinated, wave-like action. Most millipedes feed on decaying plant material, chewing with their strong jaws. They have two pairs of legs per body segment (centipedes have only one pair) and may have between 40 and 750 legs.

Giant millipede in defensive positionGiant millipede in defensive position


Millipedes' tube-like, segmented bodies allow them to squeeze into tiny dark, damp places, such as under stones or among tree roots. When danger threatens, millipedes can curl up into a perfect spiral, tucking in their legs, to protect their soft undersides. Their hard outer shell helps protect them from likely predators. If attacked, millipedes can also produce a vile-tasting yellow fluid. Some short-bodied millipedes, known as pill millipedes, can roll themselves up into a tight ball.

There are about 8000 species of millipede.

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