How to care for Porcellio hoffmannseggi (The Titan Isopod)

They don’t come much bigger than the aptly named “Titan Isopod.”

As true giants among isopods, Porcellio hoffmannseggi aren’t going to be a good fit for every setup, but they remain super popular in the hobby for a variety of reasons. 

Besides the simple novelty of being a really (really) big pet isopod, this species is actually a potential niche pick for low-humidity terrariums. Which is a rarer trait than you might think.

Find out how to care for these Spanish beauties and where best to use them. 

How to care for the Porcellio Hoffmannseggi ( The Titan Isopod )

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Porcellio hoffmannseggi Care

Porcellio hoffmannseggi is one of several giant terrestrial isopod species found around southern Spain and surrounding areas (I guess there must be something in the water there?).

Are the Titans the biggest of the bunch? Well, that’s hotly contested.

But with many reaching up to 4cm fully grown – these guys are undeniably enormous!

Thankfully, Porcellio hoffmannseggi isn’t too challenging to keep overall. It’s often regarded as the most forgiving of its giant Spanish counterparts, and it’s pretty easy to handle as a pet too.

Porcellio hoffmannseggi (The Titan Isopod)
Being bigger certainly has some advantages – slow and easy to spot, for starters.

I have seen isopod keepers on Reddit expressing challenges with poor survivability and reproduction rates. But there are some key characteristics of this isopod species that could be causing these discrepancies (that we’ll get into shortly). 

Container / Enclosure

Surprisingly, despite their Mediterranean nature, Titan Isopods actually prefer dryer, low-humidity environments with plenty of ventilation.

So for a regular culture, you’ll want a relatively large container with large/multiple air holes. A shoebox-sized Tupperware box is always a good starting point (if you’re able to drill some holes). 

Isopod enclosure
You can also pick up inexpensive plastic vented enclosures (like the above) here on Etsy. (Image Credit: BugzyBugs on Etsy).

Naturally, being so large, they do need more space, but they can also be quite territorial.

In fact, this territorial nature can lead to these isopods seriously harming each other, so this could be a leading cause of why some people are struggling to grow their cultures.

To prevent this, you can try:

  • Keeping cultures in large containers where these isopods can make their homes separate from each other.
  • Adding plenty of separate hiding areas (through the use of different branches, egg cartons, etc.).
  • Aggressively dividing colonies into separate cultures of just a handful of isopods at a time.

Habitat and Conditions

It’s generally quite difficult for isopods to thrive in dry environments, so this species of isopod joins an exclusive club of those that can manage it.

That said, like all isopods, Porcellio hoffmannseggi still needs easy access to moisture in order to survive.

Isopods are crustaceans, after all!

So, in this case, a “dry environment” doesn’t mean pure desert sand… though you can opt for a more arid substrate provided that you have a steep moisture gradient. Commonly achieved through the addition of a damp area (usually with sphagnum moss) where the isopods can retreat to.

  • Humidity should be kept as low as reasonably possible by having plenty of ventilation. 
  • Room temperature should be a-okay (provided you like a comfortable 68°F+ (20°C) rather than an ice cooler for a living room).

What to Feed Titan Isopods

You’d be forgiven for thinking these giant isopods would have a giant appetite to match, but surprisingly that’s not necessarily the case. 

Despite their bullish attitude towards each other, they can actually be pretty passive when it comes to food.

Generally, Porcellio hoffmannseggi are reported to prefer decaying wood over leaf litter, but any good isopod setup really needs both (variety is the spice of life, after all).

Cholla Wood cuts
These little Cholla Wood cuts could do just the trick! (Image Credit: CrabbyWvMom on Etsy)

You can still supplement with the usual isopod foods, and they’ll need a regular calcium source to keep that big carapace healthy and strong. Some protein goes a long way too, so the like of freeze-dried shrimp can do double service.

Unfortunately, their relatively low feeding response means they may not be the most prolific bioactive cleaners in a terrarium, but that’s not to say they can’t work. Just note if you’re pairing them with a larger reptile, these giant walking targets might also become food themselves….

Whilst they’re not the largest species of isopod, Porcellio dilatatus (the Giant Canyon Isopods) may be a better choice for a bioactive cleaner for dry terrariums. But more on alternative options later.

Breeding Porcellio hoffmannseggi

Thanks to some clear sexual dimorphism, it’s super easy to distinguish between the male and the female Titan isopods. So if nothing is going on in your starter culture, you might want to check that you have both males and females!

Look for the much longer “tails” (technical name, “uropods”) on the males.

On a whole, provided you have a healthy and stable culture, breeding tends to be quick and easy with average-sized broods.

The territorial nature of the females tends to come out in the first few months as they protect their young, though. So breeding Porcellio hoffmannseggi may open up another can of worms in that department.

Porcellio hoffmannseggi Morphs

Porcellio hoffmannseggi certainly isn’t the flashiest of isopods, but it has its subtle charms.

The regular color has a muted grey tone with a simple white skirt, but they come in a few other morphs that might be more your thing.

  • P. hoffmannseggi “Black” – Technically a locale rather than a morph, these have more of a block color and a darker hue. 
  • P. hoffmannseggi “Brown” – Sometimes known as the “Chocolate” morph for its light coloration. These can pop up anywhere, and it’s seemingly common to have one or two in a brood.
  • P. hoffmannseggi “White Out” – A relatively rare albino version that has recently been isolated.

Other Giant Porcellio Isopods to Consider

Porcellio hoffmannseggi may be the entry-level Spanish giant, but if you’re a more advanced keeper (or just like a challenge), then give these whoppers a go!

  • Porcellio expansus.
  • Porcellio magnificus.

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