Although not the most traditional pet, isopods have increased in popularity due to their simplified care and exceptional janitorial abilities, Dairy Cow isopods are no different.
These little pill bugs are capable of ridding a terrarium of the natural waste leftover from other animals you may house.
Dairy Cow isopods, or Porcellio laevis, are among these coveted sow bugs.
This species get their name for the iconic black spots found along their exoskeleton.
This article will focus on how to keep a Dairy Cow isopod happy and healthy within your own miniature ecosystem!
Dairy Cow Isopod Care
Dairy cow isopods are very active and need a decent-sized terrarium of 10 gallons and more. They are quite large for isopods and considered a hardy species that is easy to care for even by beginners. Porcellio laevis need a humid enclosure with a dry side as well. The ideal temperature lies between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 29 degrees Celsius). They are good at decomposing organic matter and are used for bioactive vivariums. In addition feed them oak and birch leaves that have been boiled, dead wood, fish food, sepia, cucumber, and mushrooms. These isopods are prolific breeders.
Dairy Cow Isopods Basics
Before looking at the steps involved in caring for a Dairy Cow isopod, let’s first discuss the size of these insects. As far as isopods go, Porcellio laevis is on the larger side.
They can be anywhere between 0.5 to 0.75 (1.27 to 1.9 cm). That might not sound all that big, but most isopods measure around half an inch, at most.
Being quite large and hardy, these pill bugs need a few extra needs met in terms of their overall care.
Insects, in general, are known for typically seasonal, where they live less than a year. There are some species of bugs that can survive past this length of time. Porcellio laevis typically lives for two years.
They start out as an egg, and then emerge after about three weeks of developing. The whole life cycle of a Dairy Cow isopod takes a mere two months.
The lifespan of a Porcellio laevis depends heavily on the overall care of the individual, particularly when it comes to nutrition.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the complete guide on how to care for a Dairy Cow isopod!
DAIRY COW ISOPODS CARE
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Generally kept as a cohabitant with another animal held within a vivarium or terrarium, isopods are often overlooked. It isn’t as simple as placing them within the tank and letting them be.
So then, what exactly do these insects need? Use this article to learn how to properly care for your Dairy Cow isopod!
Porcellio laevis are commonly described as being hardy, active, and quite large overall.
In a general sense, this species of sow bug is fairly straightforward in their overall care and are great for beginners. Insects are known for being quite resilient.
This makes it harder to mess up in keeping them alive! The size and activity level of a Dairy Cow isopod may be the challenging factor. Larger animals, regardless of species, need more space and food.
Add a fairly high energy level on top of that can increase that necessity.
These factors can also impact the size of the enclosure, what you place inside the tank, and breeding. We will discuss those issues later on.
Even if you only have a few isopods for a starter culture, you’ll want to place them into an enclosure that is approximately 1.5 gallons, which equals about 6 quarts in volume.
Keep in mind that this will only meet the size requirement of a small collection of sow bugs. You’ll want to upgrade your enclosure if the number of bugs increases.
We’ve included a rough guide for the size of an enclosure in relation to the number of bugs you have:
10 to 25 bugs – 10 gallons
25 to 50 bugs – 20 gallons
50 to 5 bugs – 30 to 40 gallons
100 or more bugs – 75 gallons
Pill bugs can’t climb the side of a glass tank unless there are scratches found along the material. One trick to ensure that they won’t escape is to place a small film of Vaseline just under the top ridges.
You can even choose to place your insects into a Sterilite container to start your isopod colony. There should be ample ventilation regardless of what type of enclosure is used.
Vents need to be at least two inches for every 6 quarts (or 1.5 gallons). Do not leave these vents open in the off chance that they escape.
You can do this by using a screen mesh. If you have a smaller enclosure, such as a Sterilite container, you can opt for coffee filters.
Now that you have an idea of which types of enclosures are suitable for a Dairy Cow isopod, what do you place into the tank or container?
You likely have at least a general understanding of the exoskeletons of insects.
These coverings hold in moisture and keep them healthy. Some species of pill bugs, like the Dairy Cow isopod, don’t have this waxy cuticle.
Due to this disadvantage, Porcellio laevis needs a fairly humid enclosure with the addition of a dry side.
In the wild, this insect would be found in a wide variety of habitats, most of which are considered to be moist and dark for the bug to keep out of harm’s way.
These habitats include forests, meadows, and gardens where there is plenty of leaf litter and logs.
You may be surprised to find that they can also be found along dunes and salt marshes. So then, what does this mean for your enclosure? How do you mimic their natural habitat?
The answer is quite easily! When first planning out the look of your enclosure, designate the majority of the space as the “dry” side.
This area should be filled with plenty of soft bedding such as soil or peat moss. You’ll want to add a few pieces of bark as well for hiding options.
Now for the other side.
There are lots of vivarium substrates that will do the trick as long as you keep them slightly damp.
We also recommend adding a few inches of leaf litter. Before adding any leaves, it is imperative to boil them so that they are sterilized.
Crushing boiled leaves and mixing them into the substrate is a great bottom layer and it also doubles bonus as a food source!
The overall temperature of an isopod’s enclosure can have major consequences based on the species. Known for being quite hardy, the Dairy Cow isopod can withstand a wider spectrum than most bugs.
Typically, isopods prefer temperatures that sit anywhere between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 29 degrees Celsius).
Pill bugs are extremely vulnerable to higher temperatures, as they begin to dry out and desiccate. But, what about Porcellio laevis?
The Dairy Cow isopod should have its enclosure kept at around the average for most pill bugs, but they can handle sudden spikes in either direction for short periods of time.
If your home seems to run a bit cooler, we suggest investing in a tank heater that can be placed on the underside of your enclosure.
For those with a particularly warm house, simply make humidity a priority. As important as temperature is, the overall moisture within an enclosure can have bigger ramifications for your Dairy Cow isopod.
The overall humidity for this species’ habitat should sit at around 50 to 60 percent. Any less and they will start to dry out! But, how do you go about making sure that it is humid enough?
Most of the moisture within a tank can be found in the substrate itself. Frequently check by dipping your finger into the top few inches of soil. If it isn’t damp, you’ll want to add more water.
Keep in mind that the substrate shouldn’t be too wet either. Only continue to increase the humidity if the soil is just starting to dry out. An easy way to accomplish this is to mist down the habitat every time that you feed your isopods.
The Dairy Cow isopod got its name due to those spots and one other reason. They are exceptional eaters!
These insects will clean just about any organic waste or matter that is within their enclosure.
This makes them great contenders as the cleanup crew for lots of other animals.
As for what they generally consume, you can feed them oak and birch leaves that have been boiled, dead wood, fish food, sepia, cucumber, and mushrooms.
Among all of these, leaf litter and sepia should be the most abundant. Sepia provides the necessary calcium that Dairy Cow isopods need. It can also be added in a powder form.
These isopods are fairly easy to maintain and breed on your own. Simply add in a few males and females to one enclosure. They’ll typically reproduce within a few weeks.
To ensure that this is successful, make sure that all needs are met, the most important being nutrition and humidity. Without enough protein, you’ll find fewer Dairy Cow larvae.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dairy Cow Isopods
Where are Dairy Cow isopods from?
These pill bugs were first found throughout Europe before spreading to North America, Australia, South America, and parts of Asia.
What tanks do Dairy Cow isopods do well in?
One of the best tank options for a Dairy Cow isopod is a snail terrarium, as they also need a lot of humidity in their enclosure.
What are the different color variations of Dairy Cow isopods?
The most popular variations of these isopods are the “super orange” and “white”. You can also experiment by breeding with different individuals to see different spot patterns.