Dairy Cow Isopods are arguably the go-to species for beginners and experienced keepers alike.
Long favored for their mottled black and white coloration and incredible bioactive potential – they’re a perfect blend of
Honestly, there’s nothing like a tiny herd of Dairy Cow Isopods to lift your moo-d (sorry).
Find out how to care for this popular species and how to use them effectively in a bioactive setup.
Let’s dig in!
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Dairy Cow Isopods – An Overview
Porcellio laevis ‘Dairy Cow’ has a lot in common with their bovine namesakes.
They’re large, black and white all over, and they have quite the appetite! Which of course, we can put to great use as a cleanup crew in a terrarium or vivarium.
It’s no surprise that this versatile species has become one of the most common isopods in the industry.
Though its distinctive coloration is just one expression of the “dalmatian gene,” which is the source of many colored
This gene also gives rise to the popular “Dalmatian Isopod” which is essentially a Dairy Cow with much smaller spots. But, it’s also present in other isopod species, producing the likes of the yellow-spotted Japanese Magic Potion Isopod (Armadillidium vulgare).
But, today we’re deep diving on the Dairy Cow Isopods, which are Porcellio laevis.
I mean, Porcellio laevis alone is so widespread across the world that it’s known as a “cosmopolitan species” (which is a designation that I find hilarious).
Benefits of Dairy Cow Isopods
- Size – Okay, so bigger isn’t always better, but sometimes you just need a big and strong
isopodto do the job. Growing up to almost 2cm, it’s no wonder they take some feeding.
- Bioactivity – Dairy Cow Isopods are absolute machines when it comes to processing organic waste material and enriching soil. They’re fantastic substrate aerators too, so they have a huge positive impact on the overall health of a terrarium or vivarium.
- Activity – These energetic critters are not shy, and it’s easy to see them trawling their space for food throughout the day. Making them great as both an
isopodpet and diligent custodian.
- Easy & quick breeding – Exactly this… Make sure you definitely want a large herd of dairy cows, because that’s exactly what you’re going to get in a very short time.
- Affordability and availability – Being such a foundational
isopodspecies, Dairy Cow Isopods are widely available and remain very affordable.
Securely shipped in a culture start-up system that contains: Organic Sphagnum Moss, RDI House Blend Superfood, and Sprinkled Oak Leaves.
From our partners, Rubber Ducky Isopods. (Shipping included).
Dairy Cow Isopods Care
Dairy Cow Isopods are one of the larger species on the market, so you’re going to need a reasonably sized container to culture them.
A large Tupperware box with some is a common and affordable option to get started with. You’ll need to create some holes for ventilation if it doesn’t have any already. Just note, it’s always better to punch the holes in the sides rather than the lid to get some proper airflow going.
To be able to achieve a minimum substrate depth and have ventilation holes on the side that are out of reach from the isopods, you’ll need a box of about shoebox size or more.
Or, for a dedicated solution, there are some great acrylic invertebrate enclosures for sale on Etsy.
I like these because they have lots of tiny holes all around the top of the container for great airflow (without the risk of escapees).
Naturally, a dedicated vivarium ecosystem or large plant terrarium setup should have everything a Dairy Cow
In a bioactive setup, I always run with a variation of the tried-and-tested ABG mix.
Being a well-balanced tropical blend with plenty of moisture retention, aeration, and drainage. It has everything you need to support a healthy plant biome and all your microfauna custodians.
Sphagnum moss and orchid bark help to keep your crustacean critters moist (they’ll die if they dry out!) and keeps the humidity high.
Also, I like to always include the addition of earthworm castings as organic nutrients for plants and microfauna.
When culturing in isolation, you can simplify the mix quite a lot. I like to use just coco coir, sphagnum moss, and worm castings as the base (with plenty of leaf litter, of course).
Temperature and Humidity
Dairy Cow Isopods like a warm and humid environment, which is what makes them such a great fit for terrariums.
That being said, they’re actually a pretty hardy species.
Many keepers report culturing them at room temperature with no issues, but anything in the region of 70-85°F (21-30°C) works a treat.
Humidity is much more important, as isopods need a consistent level of moisture to survive.
Aim for as much humidity as possible, 80%+ if you can.
That being said, there’s no need to fret. If you have everything set up right in a suitably moist closed environment, using a moisture-retentive substrate, and with enough warmth – you’ll be absolutely fine.
These guys love to eat.
Seriously, the second you add any food to an enclosure, any Dairy Cow Isopods in the area will tumble over each other in an attempt to reach it first.
To be honest, they’re actually pretty bullish about it!
As one of the more aggressive
Due to the voracious appetite of the Dairy Cow Isopods, you’ll need to supply plenty of detritus (decaying organic material) ingredients and supplementary foods.
Also, extra protein supplementation is advised, as Dairy Cow Isopods can reportedly turn to cannibalism if their protein needs aren’t met!
Food Requirements (+ Examples)
- Detritus – A consistent supply of leaf litter and decaying softwoods is essential to keep the
isopodpopulation ticking over. Cork bark is an excellent and affordable choice that isopods seem to love.
- Vegetable – Pretty much any vegetable scraps seem to be well received, though sweet potato and mushrooms are reported to be their favorites.
- Protein – Fish flakes/pellets are a convenient choice for extra protein. Though the natural size of the Dairy Cow Isopods means you can actually feed them larger protein sources like dried shrimp.
- Calcium – Isopods like Dairy Cows need extra calcium to support the development of their carapace. Crushed eggshells or cuttlefish bones are both great sources that you can add in small amounts.
isopodfood – These proprietary blends are optimized for isopodhealth and are by far the most convenient way to address your feeding needs. Check out this Isopod Super-Food Blend from the team at Rubber Ducky Isopods.
Just take care not to add too much food at once. Little and often is best, or you risk an overgrowth of mold and an unwelcome fungus gnat party.
👉 See my Guide to Isopod Foods for more help with nutrition.
How to Breed Dairy Cow Isopods
To be honest, breeding Dairy Cow Isopods isn’t much different from normal
The more humidity, moisture, and warmth you can provide (within the safe range, of course), the more likely they are to breed.
That being said, they are prolific breeders.
You really don’t have to worry much about helping this process along. After just a few weeks of starting a new
Where to Find Dairy Cow Isopods for Sale?
As one of the most popular
Personally, I recommend the team over at Rubber Ducky Isopods.
Along with your
Over to You
Do you keep Dairy Cow Isopods and have some care secrets to share?
Let me know in the comments.
Or, for another large
2 thoughts on “Dairy Cow Isopods (Porcellio laevis) – Bioactive Pet Guide”
I just bought a start up kit from Rubber Ducky Isopods at a ReptileNation show in Fort Worth, TX today! Decided to google “Dairy Cow Isopods” and this was the first page that popped up! So happy to see that I bought from a recommended source!!
I have had mine for 3 days now. They are master hiders, I never see any of them!