The very first wild creature I photographed in Costa Rica was this millipede (Class Diplopoda) that I conveniently found waiting for me in my hotel room on that first night.

Millipede (Class Diplopoda) in Costa Rica

After photographing the only semi-cooperative millipede crawling around on my bed, I returned it outside to its natural habitat amidst the dirt and fallen leaves. Most millipedes eat decaying plant matter, although they will nibble on live plants as well.

Millipedes get their common name from their amazing number of legs, with two legs per body segment. In Latin, mille means one thousand and ped means foot, but no millipede actually has that many "feet" (actually, they're really legs). Most millipedes have only a couple of hundred or so legs. I did a rough count of this millipede's legs and came up with around 236 legs (give or take a few legs).

Unlike centipedes, millipedes cannot bite and do not posses a centipede's venomous modified legs. However, millipedes can ooze noxious or irritating fluids from repugnatorial glands along their sides if disturbed, and some species can squirt these irritating fluids up to 10 inches (25 cm) away, so care should be taken when handling these creatures. I slid a sheet of paper under this millipede to move it, and thankfully it didn't do any unfortunate oozing or squirting.