Isopod Beginner Questions


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Active member
Sep 4, 2023
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Portland, OR
Hi everyone! I am considering getting some isopods soon and I have a couple of questions before I start.
1. Is there anywhere where I can find general care instructions for isopods?
2. generally how difficult are they to keep, and are there any certain species that are good for beginners?
3. Where are isopods available to purchase?
4. do they do well with mantises? I'm considering keeping some with a ghost mantis as a cleanup crew.
Thanks in advance!

1. I had some trouble finding care sheets for them as well - when I get back to my apartment, I can try to find an old isopod container I got that had a QR code link to one. The beginner species are pretty easy, and I haven't had trouble with mine. The most important elements of their enclosures (if you want like a main breeding tub alongside your mantis enclosure) are a wet to dry gradient, ventilation, dead leaves for them to eat, a calcium source (see the isopod chow below), and lightweight hides (Cork bark works great).

2. I find them pretty easy! The best for beginners is probably the powders (Porcellionides pruinosus) or dwarf whites (Trichorhina tomentosa). I found the powders more available, so I started out with them. Dwarf whites might bother your mantis less (and vice versa) but I'm not sure. I was a bit worried about how their population would grow at first (and impulse bought a few more) but after about 9 months, I have a thriving colony! I'm even using them in a behavior experiment for my class.

3. I get mine online! I'll link a few sites at the bottom that I had the best experiences with. I'm not sure if it's a thing where you are, but my local Petsmart also sells Porcellionides pruinosus in things of 10. Also, if you have reptile expos in your area, some people might sell isopods in them!

4. Mine have done well as a cleanup crew! A certain mantis (Minty, not my angel Cilantro) would snack on them occasionally, but . I think the biggest issue would be if your mantis died and you wanted to keep it, because if you don't notice the dead body the isopods might start eating it. Dairy cow isopods (Porcellio laevis) are pretty food motivated, so I would avoid those for the safety of your mantis. They might nibble on a live mantis.

Where I bought them (this is the brand(?) sold in Petsmart as well!) This one was the best in terms of shipping survival imo, my package got lost for an extra 5 days but every single isopod inside was alive!

Some info

Products I use with mine (expensive, but it'll last a while)

Hope this helped!

This is the best care sheet I’ve found. Click on the pdf link to get the full document. I also recommend reading through the blog on the site:

I can’t recommend zebra isopods (Armadillidium maculatum) enough! They are relatively cheap, very attractive, easy to observe, and great for beginners. I got mine from a vendor on eBay.

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