As decomposers, millipedes make a primary contribution to the organisation of the forest ecosystem. They feed on fallen leaves accumulating in the soil, rotten woods and other dead vegetable material, accelerating vital decomposition processes , their usually slow movement through the organic substrate on which they feed is made possible by their hardened flanks. Members of the family spirotreptidae can exceed 20cm in length although they rarely posses more than 300 legs . you may also find polydesmide, recognisable by their well developed , laterally flattened tegument . millipedes are susceptible to dehydration and there fore prefer humid and shady habitats in the forest.
To protect themselves from their predators ( hornbills and large scorpions , ants and some mammals species ) millipedes secrete quinones and cyanohydric acids but these are not dangerous to humans.
These terrestrial molluses are only found in the tropical moist forest, their shell can reach a length of 20 cm. Two species are native to Africa and third has been introduced by man, the true giant snail prefers dense forest with a closed canopy . they eat vegetation and growth is slow, the meat of these snails is highly prized and sometimes sold in African markets at higher price than beef.
With ants , spiders are the most widespread of the small predators , two distinct groups can be distinguished on the basis of their capture techniques . those that hunt and those that spin a web , in certain tropical species , several individuals may occupy the same web.