The Shongololo is the largest species of Millipede known as The Giant African Millipede (Archispirostreptus gigas). It native to Africa and the word “Shongololo is created from the isiZulu and Xhosa word “ukushonga”, which means “to roll up”.
The Giant African Millipede or Shongololo is a herbivore that enjoys dining on decaying plant material. Millipedes are often confused with the more aggressive Centipedes but this is a shame because Millipedes are very slow moving gentle creature and are even kept as pets. They have two defence mechanisms – curling up into a ball and they secrete an irritating brown liquid that stinks from pores on their body and stains the hands.
No species of millipeds in Africa are poisonous (even the red ones) but some are more toxic than others. The staining brown liquid they produce should never go near the eye or mouth (can cause temporary blindness). Some people are more prone to irritation than others, but it is never fatal.
The name “millipede” is very deceiving since most only have between 36 to 400 legs. The Illacme Plenipes has the most legs with up to 750. This rare species is not even close to 1000, as the same suggests. Each body segment of a Millipede has two legs attached to it. After molting, they add more segments and eat the sheded skin.
Written by: Tersha van Staden