Most millipedes are not particularly adorable. They’re a little disgusting, but they’re not terribly threatening. They’re just kinda … there, waiting to gross out schoolgirls or be eaten by birds. Except, of course, for the shocking pink dragon millipede. Woe be to the bird that comes near one of these bastards. Woe be to any animal, honestly. The thing isn’t hot pink because it likes doing K in a dark warehouse while wearing fur boots – the bright color is a warning that this son of a bitch secretes cyanide.

It was first discovered in 2007, and scientists quickly learned that the shocking pink dragon millipede, while looking like a half-chewed piece of Laffy Taffy, was anything but sweet and tasty. It does have a pleasant, almond-like smell to it, but that’s just because it has a series of defensive glands that ironically spew almond-scented cyanide. You might remember cyanide as one of the deadliest poisons on Earth, and one of the last things you should ever let near your skin.

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The shocking pink dragon millipede (Desmoxytes purpurosea) is a spiny and toxic millipede named for its vivid pink color. Among the largest species of its genus, the adult millipede is approximately 3 cm (1.2 in) long. It lives in the open on leaf litter. It becomes gregarious after rain showers. The millipede has glands that produce hydrogen cyanide to protect it from predators (which it does by firing a spray), a fact advertised by its bright coloration. Because it produces cyanide, it smells like almonds.

(via Wikipedia)

Desmoxytes purpurosea

In 2007, after collecting specimens from a cavern, scientists in Thailand introduced a newly discovered species; Desmoxytes purpurosea.  It was type of dragon millipede (named for the spikes all along their backs) that was a brilliant hot pink, so it was named the shocking pink dragon millipede.

Although this millipede is one of the largest in its genus, it’s still only about an inch long.  You’d think that the bright coloration of the shocking pink dragon millipede would cause predators to make a bee-line towards this tiny bug, but you’d be wrong.  This millipede’s hot pink body is a warning sign; shocking pink dragon millipedes secrete cyanide, which is one of the strongest toxins on the planet.  

Shocking pink dragon millipedes live in leaf litter found in limestone karsts (a geologic formation where rock has been dissolved, resulting in sinkholes and caves).  Here forages for decaying plant matter, such as fallen leaves, to eat.  When it isn’t looking for food, this millipede will sit on the rocks to sun itself, regardless of any danger it is putting itself in, because it knows that nothing will touch it.  Shocking, isn’t it.