White-legged Snake Millipede

White-legged Snake Millipede ©northeastwildlife.co.uk

White-legged snake millipede

Scientific name: Tachypodoiulus niger
Found in compost heaps and under stones in gardens, the White-legged snake millipede is a common minibeast. Despite its name, it has about 100 legs. It is an important recycler of nutrients, feeding on decaying matter.

Species information

Statistics

Length: up to 6cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

There are a number of millipede species in the UK, the most familiar being the black, cylindrical Tachypodoiulusspecies, such as the White-legged snake millipede. This millipede can be found under rocks or in rotting trees in gardens and woodland. Millipedes are very long, many-segmented invertebrates that live in the soil, under rocks, or under the bark of trees. They are vegetarians, eating mildew and decaying vegetation, and perform a useful nutrient-recycling function in various habitats.

How to identify

The White-legged snake millipede has a shiny black, long, cylindrical body and contrasting white legs. Millipedes have two pairs of legs per segment of their body, whereas similar centipedes have one. The White-legged snake millipede has about 100 legs. There are many millipede species in the UK, which can be difficult to tell apart.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

White-legged snake millipedes will curl up into a ball if disturbed and can release a pungent fluid from their sides to deter predators.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try planting native plants and trees to entice birds, mammals and invertebrates into your backyard? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.