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Dairy Cow Isopods (Porcellio laevis) - Isopod / Woodlouse Culture

Dairy Cow Isopods (Porcellio laevis) - Isopod / Woodlouse Culture

Porcellio laevis are one of the larger species of isopod, with adults reaching anywhere between 1-2cm. P. laevis can complete their life cycle in around two months, and adults can live for up to two years. This species can come in a variety of colour morphs, but typically all have a smooth dorsal surface, two pairs of pleopodal, or ‘external’ lungs, and males can easily be identified by their long, ‘spear-shaped’ uropods.


These isopods are generally hardy and active and have a ravenous appetite, so bare that in mind when using these as clean up crew with reptiles as they can nibble on them during a moult! These are a protein hungry species so they’ll need a good protein source 1-2 times a week. You can keep a starter colony (10-20 isopods) in a 10-15L tank. We suggest adding any clean-up crew 7-14 days prior to adding other inhabitants, to ensure the colony has enough time to establish itself within their new environment.


Adult size: 1-2cm

Lifespan: 2 years

Status: captive bred

Place of Origin: Europe, now widespread

Temperature: 18-23˚C

Humidity: 60-80%

Diet: Hardwood leaf litter (oak, beech, hazel etc), rotten hardwood, flake soil, organic waste/ faeces, sphagnum moss, mushrooms, variety of fruit and vegetables (favourites include cucumber, squash, and sweet potato), sepia/ calcium supplement, protein source (fish flake, shrimp pellets, nutritional yeast)

  • We suggest keeping P. laevis between 22-23˚C and 70-80% humidity for best results. We keep a large colony of isopods in a 40x20x20cm storage tub with vent holes across the lid. A smaller colony will do just fine in a 20x15x15cm enclosure.


  • Like other isopods, these need a humidity gradient which can be achieved by making sure there are dry and damp areas in their environment. The best way is to provide sphagnum moss or live moss on one half of the enclosure as a 'hydration station' and keep this constantly moist. We suggest keeping the substrate moist (not soaking!) and provide plenty of bark pieces and leaf litter to allow them to seek out dryer spots.


  • Make sure you use a high-quality substrate (no coco coir!) such as our Premium Millipede Edible Substrate as this will be the main food component for your isopods, and provide crushed cuttlebone or eggshells for calcium, as well as a good quality protein source once a week for optimal health. We prefer to feed vegetables to our isopods to help deter fruit fly and fungus gnat infestations, but that’s just our choice! Like many invertebrates one of their favourites is cucumber which we provide in slices and replace once completely eaten, which is around once a week.


  • We recommend not keeping any protein-hungry isopods with millipedes as they can sometimes nibble on them whilst molting! 
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