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Gray Isopods (Roly-Polies/Pillbugs)

Gray Isopods (Roly-Polies/Pillbugs)

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Our Isopods

We culture our isopods in a warm, moist mixture of sphagnum peat moss, oak leaves and oak bark. They're raised on a diet of fresh vegetables, high protein fish flakes, and the rich organic substrate in which they are bred. Isopods are harvested, packaged and shipped the same day guaranteeing fresh and lively arrival. Once harvested, our isopods are packaged in an 8 oz. deli container filled with moist paper towel.
 

Gray Isopods

Often called “Roly-Polies” or Pillbugs, your isopods will range in length from 3-13 mm (juvenile – adult). They’re quick to colonize and excellent for controlling (eating) mold, fungus, mites, and feces left by amphibians and reptiles in their habitats. They’re also an ideal high calcium snack for a variety of spiders, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. Gray Isopods also eat decomposing vegetation including rotting vegetables, fruits, plants, grasses and weeds. They should be kept in a moist habitat with pieces of bark to hide under and help them stay hydrated. They prefer dark, damp places during the day and come out to forage at night.

Isopods are not insects; they’re crustaceans – land dwelling relatives of lobsters and crabs. They have a head, thorax and abdomen just like insects but they have seven (vs. three) pairs of legs. Isopods don’t bite, sting or carry diseases. They’re found across the U.S. and dig down into the soil to wait out cold weather. Because they breathe through gill-like membranes at the rear of their abdomens, isopods require a constantly moist environment.

Roly-Polies main defense mechanism is to run away or roll up into an unappetizing hard ball. They also can emit an odor that deters some predators. Other creatures known to eat roly polies include spiders, centipedes, ants, birds, toads and frogs. Roly polies will also prey on each other if habitat lacks sufficient food sources.


FEMALES typically exhibit greenish yellow markings. Like other isopods they become sexually mature when they reach roughly ½ their ultimate life expectancy. Mating takes place in the spring. When the female is ready, the male climbs onto the back of the female, and transfers his sperm. Both males and females can mate many times in their lives. Females can store sperm in their bodies from multiple males. Right after mating, females will not immediately mate again and will reject any potential males until they are again ready to mate.

Isopods can produce offspring up to three times in a year. After mating, eggs remain in a fluid-filled pouch in the female for 2 to 3 months. The eggs hatch inside the female and stay inside the female for another 3 to 4 days before they emerge. After undergoing a few molts, they’re considered independent from their mother.


  • Color: Gray, Gray with greenish/yellow markings
  • Size: 3-13 mm
  • Locality: Found throughout the US
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Light: Dark, dim lighting with dark places to hide (i.e. under wood, leaves & soil)
  • Temperature: 72-86 degrees Fahrenheit - low to mid-80's is best for breeding
  • Humidity: 80-90%
  • Behavior: Extremely lively, hardy, crawling
  • Culturing: Easy to culture. A single male and female will produce hundreds of offspring in a single mating season. Keep rich organic substrate warm & moist. Feed vegetables and high protein fish pellets.