Armadillidium gestroi (Yellow Spotted Isopods) Care & Use

Armadillidium gestroi isopods are as bold in their nature as they are in their colors.

Named the “Yellow Spotted Isopods” for good reason, they really are a masterclass in contrast. Sporting acid-yellow spots atop a rich purpley-grey body, they really draw the eye.

That, paired with the fact that they’re also a larger and more confident species than most, makes Armadillidium gestroi an excellent pick as an isopod pet. 

Find out how to care for this stunning species and get your colony thriving!

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Armadillidium gestroi – Benefits & Characteristics

Native to France and Italy, this unique species is popular in the isopod industry as a good all-rounder.

They share a lot of similarities with the Clown Isopods (Armadillidium klugii). Besides both being from Mediterranean countries, they each share similar spotted colors and patterns thought to likely be a defense mechanism to stop being eaten.1

I wonder if their coloration would stop animals in vivariums from eating them.

Whatever the reason, their natural markings are what make these isopods so popular all around the world. But that’s not all they have to offer – here’s our breakdown and expert summary.

Pros

  • Easy care – Being relatively forgiving on enclosure conditions, this species is widely regarded as being easier to care for than other Armadillidium species.
  • Large – Growing up to around 2cm long (and a good deal wide), these isopods come on the larger side and are most likely the largest of the genus.
  • Active – Whether it’s due to their size or their markings, Armadillidium gestroi are confident and active out and about in their enclosures.
  • Stunning coloration – Need I say more on this one?
This one in my starter culture was huge!

Cons

  • Slow growing – If you start with juveniles, you can expect them to take a while to reach their full size and maturity. This slow start will delay their reproduction process, too.
  • May eat live plantsArmadillidium species are known to snack on soft live plants from time to time (e.g., ferns and mosses). Though I haven’t personally tested this species in a planted terrarium.

Suitability for terrariums – There are better bioactive cleanup crew species out there for planted terrariums (that won’t snack on your plants). Plus, the potentially slow growth/reproduction rates of Armadillidium gestroi could make them unsuitable for animal vivariums too (as they won’t keep up with the predation pressure).

As isopod pets – If you’re looking for a visually stunning and active isopod pet that’s relatively easy to care for, Armadillidium gestroi isopods could well be the right ones for you.

👉 Shop Armadillidium gestroi here.

How to Care for Armadillidium gestroi

Enclosure & Conditions

As a larger species, I’d recommend starting with at least a shoebox-sized container. 

That said, if you’re starting with a juvenile colony, it may well take over six months before they reach their full size and/or actually start to produce any offspring.

So you’ve got plenty of time to adapt!

Interestingly, where most Armadillidium species typically favor higher ventilation and lower humidity, gestroi isopods somewhat buck the trend. So you may want to add fewer ventilation holes to your container than you typically would for, say, Armadillidium maculatum (Zebra Isopods).

As always, a moisture gradient is appreciated with this genus. Though again, the gestroi isopods have slightly different preferences and do like it more moist than usual.

Popping a handful of sphagnum moss into the corner to act as your moist area is the easiest way.

I often find individuals from my gestroi culture in the sphagnum pile.

Plus, if you add some cork bark chunks as hiding spots (which I’d wholeheartedly recommend), it’ll naturally create some dry areas underneath.

They love to hang out together under cork bark chunks.

They like tonnes of leaf litter too, so go nuts!

👉 Shop leaf litter here.

Finally, on the temperature front, a typical household range of 70-80º Fahrenheit should be fine for these critters. If you’re comfortable in the room, they should be, too.

Feeding

Unsurprisingly, their love of leaf litter extends to their diets. 

Leaf litter and decomposing softwoods should make up the backbone of their diets, but they will do best with some additional supplementation protein and calcium supplementation, too.

My Armadillidium gestroi culture has a strong feeding response (especially on this algae disk).

Perhaps it’s down to their larger calcified carapace, or maybe it’s due to their natural environment reportedly being rocky limestone cliffs.2

Whatever the reason, there are a variety of easy solutions.

  • Add a protein source that’s rich in calcium (e.g., freeze-dried shrimp or this crustacean meal).
  • Add some Cubaris Cave Stone to their enclosure and let them regulate their needs themselves.
  • You could periodically add some cuttlebone or crushed eggshells.

As usual, you can easily supplement them with whatever vegetable scraps you produce in the kitchen too (just make sure to add small bits at a time so it’s completely consumed). 

👉 The easiest way to provide all of this good stuff in one? Check out the custom Isopod Superfood Blend on our store.

Breeding

Armadillidium aren’t the most prolific isopods by any means, and gestroi can be slow to start. But once they’re established, they can really take off.

Plus, they do produce very large broods – over 100 per clutch according to one Reddit source!3

So just give them the best conditions you can and hang in there. 

Where to Find Armadillidium gestroi for Sale

We’ve teamed up with the expert breeders from Rubber Ducky Isopods to offer Gestroi Isopods directly on our online store.

Each culture comes securely packed in sphagnum moss, along with an ample supply of our superfood and leaf litter.

Plus, we never charge extra for heat/cold packs, and our team goes the extra mile to make sure your culture arrives happy and healthy.

👉 Shop Armadillidium gestroi here.

Over to You

There’s a lot to like with Armadillidium gestroi.

Whether it’s their relative size, bright markings, or confident personalities that caught your eye – they’ll make a great pet for the right person.

Are you going to take the plunge?

If not, why not check out some of the other isopod species out there?

References

  1. https://research.bangor.ac.uk/portal/files/59884888/2023HughesTmscres_REVIEWED.pdf ↩︎
  2. https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=56421 ↩︎
  3. https://www.reddit.com/r/isopods/comments/15wrre2/so_many_gestroi_mancae/ ↩︎

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