Javan Myna eats millipedes (instead of “anting” with them)

on 12th November 2017

Earlier, I came across a Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) using a millipede in its anting behaviour in my garden LINK. It occurred so fast that I had no time to document it. But I managed to retrieve the millipede (Trigoniulus sp.) from among the grass. The millipede was not harmed. The myna had picked it up twice, each time wiping it on to its feathers, before dropping the millipede on to the ground (below).

millipede - Trigoniulus sp.

Thinking I might encourage anting by some mynas so that I can properly video the behaviour, I collected a number of millipedes from my compost heap, placed them on an overturned large dish and left the scene with my video cam turned on.

For good measure, I scattered oat flakes around in an effort to attract the mynas before the millipedes moved into the surrounding compost.

A myna arrived and instead of anting as I hoped it would, it started feeding on the oat flakes. Only later on did it feed on the millipedes (above, below). The millipedes have a tough exoskeleton but the myna broke them into pieces and swallowed them.


One may ask why mynas usually do not eat the millipede after using it to “ant”? Well, it can be that the myna is not hungry when anting, or that there are not enough observations by photographers to show that once in a while the bird does eat the millipede after anting. An earlier post reported the millipede being abandoned after anting.

YC Wee
24th September 2017

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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