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. 

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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.

Being bigger certainly has some advantages – slow and easy to spot, for starters.

I have seen isopod keepers on Reddit express challenges with poor survivability and reproduction rates. However, some key characteristics of this isopod species 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, you’ll want a relatively large container with large/multiple air holes for a regular culture. A shoebox-sized Tupperware box is always a good starting point (if you’re able to drill some holes). 

You can also pick up inexpensive plastic vented enclosures here on Etsy.

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

They can play nicely together. Though I think the one on the left is male and the right is female, so that could be why.

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.
Sometimes, it’s easier to just remove the problem… Or at least put it somewhere else.

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.

They do often like to hang out in the moist sphagnum moss.
  • 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. Or at least compared to other large isopods, like the Dairy Cows for example.

That’s not to say they can’t be convinced, though…

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). You can grab a bag of organic leaf litter here.

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.

👉 Our Isopod Superfood packs a healthy protein punch with plenty of calcium and other micronutrients.

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 isopodPorcellio 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 the 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!

3 thoughts on “How to care for Porcellio hoffmannseggi (The Titan Isopod)”

  1. Hello,

    I just wanted to add that P. Hoff and P. Mag, both giant Spanish breeds, may come from an arid land but they seem to love moisture about as much as any other isopod. In my experience, they seek out the wettest corner of the enclosure like it’s prime real estate (50-70 moisture) with only one water-treated corner, which is considerably wetter than advertised for these species. No stuck molts, no mass death. They shed their skin just fine and hunker down around the damp sphagnum moss. I’ve heard and seen much the same from other breeders who end up keeping their Hoffs and Mags in regular “tropical” humid conditions with regular mistings.

    I suppose there’s a difference between originating somewhere and preferring elsewhere. (Take this with a grain of salt, of course. I don’t want people flippantly tossing their Spanish species into a swamp climate.) Guaranteed, if I set up a wet, super-humid area in the middle of a Spanish desert, we would see Hoffs and Mags swarming over.

    1. Thanks so much for your input! 🙏 I’ll try Hoffmannseggi in a tropical setup next time. Isopod keeping is by no means an exact science, and this is exactly the kind of experience/information that’s worth sharing so we can all improve.

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