Although many people think that millipedes and centipedes are variations of the same critter, there are actually several important differences. If you have heard that centipedes are poisonous, you may wonder if the same is true for millipedes. They live in similar environments, and both prefer dark, moist environments. They are both nocturnal, and they are invertebrates.
Unlike centipedes, millipedes are not poisonous. However, there are species that have glands that produce fluids that can trigger an allergic reaction in some people. These fluids contain hydrochloric acid, which can damage the skin. It can also harm your eyes. You should wash your hands with soap and water and use alcohol if you come in contact with their fluid.
Are Millipedes Poisonous to Humans?
Millipedes are not poisonous to humans. Although people think of millipedes and centipedes as variations of the same thing, they are actually different from each other. A millipede has two pairs of little legs on each segment of their bodies, and they are rounded in shape.
They have a hard external skeleton. Centipedes only have one pair of legs on each segment, and they are easy to see because their bodies are flat.
Although millipedes are not poisonous, some species have glands that can produce fluids that may cause an allergic reaction. Millipedes are scavengers, and they feed on vegetation. Some also eat the roots of some plants.
They live outdoors in the soil, and they stay there over the winter as well. They lay 20 to 300 eggs each year, and those that hatch take between two and five years to mature. They do make their way into the house after a rainstorm, and they will hide away in dark, damp corners such as the basement.
Millipedes don’t bite; when they are threatened, they release the hydrochloric acid fluids. If this happens to you, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water and be on the lookout for an allergic reaction.
Are Millipedes Poisonous to Dogs?
Millipedes are not poisonous to dogs. However, when a dog comes into contact with a millipede, it could secrete a fluid, hydrochloric acid, which can cause irritation or possibly an allergic reaction. Millipedes have glands on each segment of their bodies, and when they feel threatened, each gland secretes the fluid.
If your dog eats a millipede or comes into contact with one, you should watch for an allergic reaction. Millipedes don’t bite, so you need to just keep an eye on your dog for any of the following symptoms:
- Hives or welts
- Swelling anywhere on the head, including lips, ears, eyes, or face
- Itching and scratching
- Vomiting or nausea
- Sneezing or coughing
- Watery eyes
- Difficulty breathing
If your dog does have an allergic reaction, you should call your vet right away.
Are Millipedes Poisonous to Cats?
As is the case with people and dogs, millipedes are not poisonous to cats. They don’t bite, so there is no danger there, either. The only potential harm a cat can suffer comes from the fluids that millipedes secrete from the glands on all of the segments of their bodies. This fluid can irritate and, in some cases, burn your cat’s skin or its eyes.
If your cat comes into contact with a millipede and these fluids, you may notice the following:
- The cat meows or howls
- It rolls around in the dirt
- It licks the affected area
- It starts pacing
Sometimes a cat will eat a millipede, and if it emits the fluids, your cat could have an upset stomach. You might see it vomiting and losing interest in food. This shouldn’t last more than 24 hours.
If your cat has an allergic reaction and is in distress, you should always call the vet.
Are Millipedes Poisonous to Livestock or Other Animals?
Millipedes are not poisonous to horses, to goats, to chickens, or to deer. Horses, goats, and deer may come into contact with them because when they are grazing outdoors, they may eat vegetation where millipedes are living. However, they pose very little threat.
In fact, chickens will eat millipedes. They eat all kinds of critters, including flies, roaches, spiders, and millipedes. Chickens will eat as many millipedes as they come across in a day, and they are safe and actually provide them with nutrition.
What to Do If You Come into Contact with a Millipede
If you come into contact with a millipede, you should immediately wash your hands with soap and warm water. You may not know whether or not the millipede secreted its defensive fluids, so you should wash your hands to be sure.
If you know that the millipede did secrete its fluids, you should also use alcohol to clean them off. Then, you need to watch for symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Common symptoms after coming into contact with a millipede include the following:
- Localized swelling
More severe symptoms that indicate an allergic reaction include the following:
- Facial swelling
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Rash spreading across your body
- Loss of consciousness
How to Treat a Blister or Burn from Millipedes
If you notice a blister or burn from the millipede fluid, the first thing to do is wash your hands. Use soap and hot water right away. This could prevent or reduce the effects of an allergic reaction if you act quickly.
However, if you end up with a blister, you can use aloe after the area is clean. Aloe has soothing properties that work well on burns and other irritations.
If you have a rash, you can try an antihistamine to reduce it. You can also get a topical green that has antihistamine and analgesic properties.
It is important to keep your hands away from your eyes as the fluids can cause conjunctivitis and other eye problems.
If you have to handle millipedes for any reason, don’t hesitate to wash your hands in case you don’t notice the fluids. Even if you don’t have a reaction right away, once the fluid is on your hands, it can seep into your skin and cause an allergic reaction.