Isopods, often known as woodlice or pill bugs. They are a type of crustacean. They make excellent snacks for frogs and lizards.
Isopods may be used to maintain a vivarium by eating plant waste. Although you can always buy isopods from a pet store. I breed them myself at home!
To breed isopods, you first have to make sure the habitat is moist and humid with a “dry area”. Put about 30 isopods in the habitat. Feed the isopods and provide water for them to drink and places for them to hide.
To get started, all I use is a plastic tub and some supplies to construct a habitat. You’ll find fresh juvenile isopods in your tank to use once your isopods have been together for around a month!
Fill the bottom of the plastic container with dirt and sand. To avoid bringing in any outside contaminants, use clean sand and potting soil.
Put the soil down first about two or three layers, then a layer of sand. You can use coir fiber if you don’t have any sand and potting soil.
Find some leaves and tree bark on your lawn before adding the leaves and tree bark to your habitat, dry them out in the oven. Be careful not to burn them.
Put them on a cookie sheet and put the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit and let them dry for about five to ten minutes.
The process of drying them out helps kill any bacteria or contaminants that could harm the isopods. When the foliage has dried completely, layer them on the soil to create a realistic home for the isopods.
Make sure the leaves, foliage, and bark aren’t sprayed with chemicals. Using a spray bottle and filtered water, mist the leaves.
Moisture in the environment allows your isopod to drink while also keeping it damp.
Fill a spray container with filtered water to avoid introducing contaminants to your environment, such as additional minerals. Mist the dirt, sand, and foliage just enough to dampen them but not enough to create stagnant water.
If you don’t have access to a spray bottle, dampen a paper towel and put it on top of the layer of sand in your habitat. Every day, change the paper towel. Mold will be less likely to grow in this environment.
Place overlapping squares of unpainted, untreated cardboard on one or two sides of the habitat enclosure. Isopods are active at night, so they need a place to hide during the day.
Taking Care of Isopods
For breeding, I suggest you collect or purchase about 30 isopods. I prefer to collect them myself.
You can find isopods living under logs, stones, dead leaves, and places that provide darkness, moisture, and food.
Collecting your own isopods means you will have to determine their genders, so you do not accidentally end up with all females or males.
How to Determine Gender of an Isopod
You don’t want to handle the isopods too much because they are small, and their bodies can be fragile.
To check the gender, carefully grasp the isopod or place it in a clear container and examine the abdomen’s end.
The segment plate of a male isopod has a pointed arch, while the females are rectangular shaped.
This can sometimes be an issue when trying to determine the sex of a young isopod. Most species have separate sexes and very little sexual dimorphism.
However, a couple of species are hermaphroditic, and then some parasitic variants have significant sexual dimorphism.
Certain cymothoidans seem to be protogynous hermaphrodites who are born male but later change sex, while a few anthuroideans are protogynous hermaphrodites who are born female but later change to a male.
This is why it is so important to make sure you always put at least 30 isopods in the habitat and check the gender of each one.
Males have two penises, which can be connected in some species.
The sperm from the penis is collected by the second pleopod, which then deposits it into the female’s gonopore to give the sperm to her.
The sperm is stored in a specialized receptacle on the oviduct, a bump near the gonopore.
Fertilization takes place only after the eggs are produced soon after molting, at which time a connection between both the sperm vesicles and the oviduct is created.
The female broods the eggs, which can number in the hundreds, inside the marsupium, a compartment created by thin plates called oostegites beneath the thorax. Even in terrestrial species, this compartment is filled with water.
The eggs hatch into what is called mancae, the post-larval stage that looks like an adult but lacks the final pair of pereopods. This process takes three to four weeks.
Isopod dispersal is limited by the absence of a swimming stage in the life cycle, which may explain the order’s high levels of endemism.
Isopods vary from other species in that they molt in two stages, a process called “biphasic molting.” They shed their exoskeleton first from the posterior half of their bodies, followed by the anterior.
Once the eggs hatch, they won’t be visible to the naked eye. It will take about another week for them to become visible. You will notice they grow quickly to their full size then stop growing.
Harvesting the Isopods
Carefully remove the newly hatched isopods into a new habitat that is the same as the one they were hatched in.
Isopods do not become sexually mature until about six months of age. Hence, if you remove them, you will allow them to continue to develop and mature.
Of course, if your sole purpose of breeding them is to provide food for your reptile pets, then you can remove them at any time and proceed with your plan.
Frequently Asked Questions about Breeding Isopods
Can you prevent isopods from breeding?
If you put all the females in one habitat and all the males in another, you can prevent them from breeding. If you want to take the time and the chance that you sex each isopod correctly, that is. If you’ve got an abundance of isopods, you can always sell them.
Can you breed different isopod species?
No one has ever been able to create a hybrid isopod. You can try if they are about the same size, but it is highly unlikely to be successful.
Breeding isopods is a great hobby, especially if you sell them for money or have reptiles that need to eat. Either way, they can make you a lot of money or save you a good amount of money.
On the other hand, you can always return them to nature and let them do their job.