What Are Land Isopods And Why Do They Make Cool Pets?

When you hear the word isopod, images of large, pale, sea-floor dwelling crustaceans may come to mind. Fortunately, not every isopod is the same, and the humble land dwelling rolly polly is quite different from those creatures from the deep. Let’s examine how this crustacean has changed from its origins, and why many pet owners decide to make them one of their companions.

Marine Vs Terrestrial Isopods

While both land and marine dwelling isopods may have evolved from the same ancestors, they have evolved to adapt to fairly different environments and niches. One of the most obvious changes between the two is that non-aquatic isopods have evolved a primitive lung to be able to scuttle about where we walk.

Aquatic isopods are typically filter feeders, parasites, or detritivores. Land-dwelling isopods, on the other hand, are purely detritivores. Because of this, sea-bound isopods can vary in size quite a bit more than their counterparts, which rarely grow more than two inches. Because of certain restrictions in diet, the terrestrial isopods have evolved a weak, small mouth that is meant for chewing up soft, rotting food.

Why People Love Them

The air-breathing isopods we know and love have crawled their way into the pet lover community for a few key reasons: they’re useful, cool looking, and low maintenance. Let’s examine each.


It isn’t often that you come across a pet that has as many utilities as the humble pill bug. As lovers of all things garbage, they’re happy to be the “cleanup crew” of any small mammals, reptiles, and arthropods you may have. Because of this, they are often sought out as part of “bioactive setups”, or essentially vivariums that can take care of themselves using natural processes.

Cool Looking

Believe it or not, you’re not the first person to discover the wonders of these spectacular crustaceans. Many isopod enthusiasts decide to breed and refine lines to express certain genes in their specimens. Perhaps they’re looking for an isopod that will proliferate easier or have a unique, flashy appearance. There are hundreds of varieties of specialty bred isopod, and more are being created every day. Chances are there’s one that fits your tastes and needs perfectly.

Low Maintenance

A  huge factor that is frequently cited as the reason many people gravitate to isopods for sale  is their relative ease of care. While they are not totally hands off, their care requirements are just about as low as you can imagine. Simply put them in a well ventilated and sealed container with leaf litter, occasionally mist their enclosure, and they are good to go. This will not be an intrusive pet that will get in the way of you caring for your other animals.

Final Thoughts

Terrestrial isopods of all varieties make for wonderful, low-maintenance, if unconventional pets. If you are curious about keeping slightly more exotic pets, the isopod is an excellent place to start. Soon enough, you’ll be managing and proliferating several colonies at once! You may even start putting up your own isopods for sale.

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