A member of the crustacean family, these small creatures are known by many names: roly-polies, pill bugs, woodlice, sowbugs, isopods, etc. Although they are small, isopods play a very important role in the health of ecosystems by eating decaying matter. In addition, they are fascinating and beautiful creatures.
Isopods are common in many parts of the world. Overturning pieces of rotting wood, bricks, or large stones will usually result in an abundance of these small invertabrates. Large decaying tree-stumps covered with plenty of moss, lichens, and fungi usually have lots of isopods. Anyone familiar in herpetology has probably heard of isopods. They are useful in bioactive tanks where they eat the reptile or amphibian's waste.
Isopods come in many beautiful patterns and colors, as seen in these images.
Isopods make a wonderful addition to almost any vivarium or terrarium. Whether you are making your reptile or amphibian's tank bioactive or want to keep isopds in a smaller enclosure to observe, there are a few things you will need.
To build a small isopod terrarium, you will need:
Make sure that the jar is clean and dry. Find a lid that fits your jar and make holes with a needle or a drill. Put about an inch of pebbles or sand in the bottom of the jar. This will be the drainage layer, and will help to prevent your terrarium from flooding if you accidentally water it too much. Add water to your substrate so that it is slightly moist, and add one or two inches on top of the drainage layer.
Now you can decorate your isopod terrarium with plants, small stones, and places for the isopods to hide.
Once you have finished your terrarium, you can add isopods to their new habitat.
If you want to add isopods to your terrarium, the easiest way is to collect them from the wild. If you don't want to take wild isopods out of the outdoors, you can also buy them from a specialty store. As bioactive tanks have become more popular, I have noticed isopods appearing at commercial pet stores like Petsmart.
Once your isopods are all set in their new habitat, you can observe their behaviour. Sometimes they walk around, feeling things with their antennae. Other times they will curl up into a ball and rest. They love eating decaying plant matter.
Herptile owners may be interested in a bioactive tank. Bioactive tanks are extremely beneficial to animals, as they simulate a more natural environment. Making your herptile's tank bioactive involves adding a "clean-up crew" to their enclosure. A clean-up crew consists of beneficial bugs that feed on dead plants, old reptile food, and droppings- making clean-up much easier for the owner. Many people choose isopods in addition to other creatures for the following reasons:
Along with isopods, springtails and earthworms are also commonly added to a cleanup crew.
Choosing whether to add wild caught or store bought isopods is an important thing to consider when you are adding them to your pet's tank. This should be seriously considered as wild-caught creatures can have a higher chance of bringing a parasite along with them. If you are uncomfertable with bringing wild isopods into your herptile's tank, many online hobbyist shops and pet stores supply isopods and springtails.