AQUARIUM ALIVE TO PITTER PATTER OF THOUSANDS OF TINY FEET

Bristol Aquarium has welcomed five of the world’s largest type of millipede – the giant African millipede – in time for their ‘Deeply Creepy’ Halloween celebrations.

The giant creepy crawlies, which can reach close to 40 centimetres in length, have gone on display in the aquarium’s ‘Bugs and Insects’ section.

Found from Mozambique to Kenya, the incredible insects mostly live in forests and have a life expectancy of up to seven years.

Bristol Aquarium curator, Dan de Castro, said: “It is a complete coincidence that the millipedes arrived from the Congo so close to Halloween but they will certainly be a welcome addition to our ‘Deeply Creepy’ event.

“I know that giant bugs and insects are not everyone’s favourite creatures but these millipedes really are fascinating and have been around since way before the time of the dinosaurs,” he added.

Despite their name, no known millipede has 1,000 legs, although the rare species Illacme plenipes has over 700.

Common species have between 36 and 400 legs. The class contains over 12,000 named species in 16 orders and 147 families. The giant African millipede usually has around 256 legs, although this number can vary after moulting.

Giant millipedes have two main modes of defence if they feel threatened: curling into a tight spiral exposing only their hard exoskeleton, or secreting an irritating liquid from pores on their body which can be harmful to humans if it comes into contact with the eyes or mouth.

The millipede is thought to be among the first animals to have colonised land during the Silurian geologic period – The oldest known land creature was a centimetre-long millipede which lived 428 million years ago.

• Deeply Creepy, Saturday, October 26th – Sunday, November 3rd at Bristol Aquarium, Anchor Road, Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5TT. Open 10am daily. Call 0117 929 8929 or visit www.bristolaquarium.co.uk for details.

Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information please contact Tina Patel or David Waines on 0117 934 0944.