Giant Canyon Isopods (Porcellio dilatatus)

Giant Canyon Isopods look like something that crawled straight out of Middle-Earth! Add a stone windmill or lighthouse to your enclosure and you’ve got your very own miniature fantasy world!

These miniature crustaceans, members of the family armoraeidea, are fascinating, low-maintenance sow bug pets.

In this guide, you will learn about Giant Canyon Isopod care, including what you need for setup, as well as common problems to watch out for and how to breed them.

So if you’re ready to learn more, read on!

Common Name Giant Canyon Isopods
Family Name Porcellionidae
Scientific Name Porcellio dilatatus
Use Cleaning, Aerating Soil, Feeders
Temperament Non-aggressive
Lifespan 2-3 Years
Diet Detritivore
Adult Size up to 2 cm.
Breeding Type Egg Layer
Care Level Moderate
Minimum Tank Size 2-5 Gallons
pH 7.0-8.0
Hardness Soft-Moderate
Temperature 70-80°F

What Are Giant Canyon Isopods?

Giant Canyon Isopods (Porcellio dilatatus) are a species of small terrestrial crustaceans that belong to the Porcellionidae family of woodlice.

The common name “Giant Canyon Isopods” comes from the fact that they are often found in the rocky and dry crevices of canyons, arroyos, and caves throughout the region.

They are a popular type of terrarium pet and require only minimal care.

What Do Giant Canyon Isopods Look Like?

Porcellio dilatatus is a large species of isopod, growing to a length of 2 centimeters as an adult. They have a smooth, flattened body with 11 segments and numerous bristles covering the body.

The anterior 3 segments have retractable lobes for swimming and climbing, and the antennae are situated between them.

The color of Giant Canyon Isopods ranges from light brown to bluish grey and they are typically spotted with darker stripes.

The antennae and legs are lighter in color and the underside is a creamy tan.

Benefits Of Using Giant Canyon Isopods

Giant Canyon Isopods have many benefits when used in vivariums.

Like all isopods, they can help keep an enclosure clean by eating detritus and providing an added layer of tank cleanup with their burrowing and waste removal habits.

Giant Canyon Isopods are also great for providing a natural food source for other larger species in the tank.

Their scavenging behavior and fast reproduction can provide an ample food source for predators, saving the hobbyists time and money.

Porcellio dilatatus "Giant Canyon Isopods" | Care Guide

Giant Canyon Isopods Facts

Porcellio Dilatatus are small, attractive terrestrial crustaceans that can be kept as pets.

They have a detritivorous diet and are relatively low maintenance. They usually live between 2 and 3 years, and can usually be bred easily in the right environment.


The Canyon Isopod lives in xeric habitats, or extremely arid areas, such as canyonlands, in the very arid regions of the US as well as Europe.

These environments can range from hot and dry to cool and relatively moist in the crevices of the rocks.

Porcellio Dilatatus are a hardy species, used to living in these harsh environments, with no or very little water or vegetation.

The canyons themselves can be quite deep and wide, providing ideal areas for the Isopod to live and breed.

Additionally, they are able to climb the walls of the canyons in search of food and shelter.

The walls act as a kind of retaining wall, keeping the moisture in the air and trapping the warmth to create a favorable environment for the Isopod.


In their natural habitat, Porcellio Dilatatus feed primarily on dead plant and animal material, along with decaying organic matter.

They also supplement their diet by consuming other decaying arthropods such as beetles, sow bugs, and spiders.

Giant Canyon Isopods are incredibly adaptable and will also feed on vegetation if needed. 

These isopods are highly active creatures. They are nocturnal and in their natural habitat, they’ll often forage for food during the night.


Giant Canyon Isopods are generally considered to be easy-going and docile around humans and other animals.

They are slow-moving small arthropods that usually stay on the ground, although they may climb on surfaces like rocks or walls in their environment.

They tend to shy away from bright lights and are also sensitive and responsive to external stimuli such as sudden movements in their environment.

Despite their tendency to move away from humans and other animals, they are generally not aggressive.

They are harmless and their bodies, although covered with sharp armor, will not produce lasting harm to humans or other animals.


Porcellio dilatatus are land-dwelling crustaceans that typically live up to two years.

With proper care, Giant Canyon Isopods can lead happy lives, with a life cycle spanning from egg to juvenile to adult.

Females lay large eggs that hatch into larvae after a few weeks, during which they require plenty of humidity to survive.

As they mature, the juvenile goes through several stages and molts until they reach adulthood, after which they can mate and begin the cycle again. 


Porcellio dilatatus mate and reproduce similarly to other isopods.  When the isopod reaches a mature size, it will start to look for a mate.

Giant Canyon Isopods have been known to mate in groups, where several males will attempt to court the same female.

The male isopods will show their interest by rubbing their antennae together and the female will often let them know if she is ready to mate by arching her abdomen.

Once the mating is completed, the cycle of reproduction begins again.

Where To Find Giant Canyon Isopods

It is possible to find brands selling Giant Canyon Isopods online. They can also be found at most pet stores, especially those that specialize in invertebrate care.

When looking for them, you should inspect them to make sure they appear lively and healthy.

Many online retailers recommend purchasers order the isopods in groups of at least five to ensure a safe introduction into their tank.

If you wish to find wild Porcellio dilatatus, you should stick to canyon walls in the western parts of the United States and northern Mexico.

These isopods can be difficult to capture, as they are quite fast. If you decide to hunt for them, make sure you are well-equipped with a jar for collection and a soft brush for dislodging them.

You should also take precautions to make sure the isopods you’ve collected are free from parasites and disease before bringing them into your tank.

Giant Canyon Isopods Care

Giant Canyon Isopods require a moist environment with humidity at least within the substrate level (especially for arid tanks). Temperature levels should stay consistent within their tank.

Breeding is most successful when kept in larger populations and in an ideal temperature and humidity level.

Tank Requirements

The ideal tank requirements for Giant Canyon Isopods include a 52-10 gallon terrarium with plenty of ventilation.

The ideal vivarium type is an arid semi-desert habitat with a sandy terrarium substrate and plenty of rocks and hiding places.

The pH should be slightly basic, with a hardness of 8-12 dKH.

The temperature should range from 72-75°F day and night, and the substrate should consist of fine-grain sand, peat moss, or coco fiber soil mixed with sand.

Terrarium lighting can be provided with different options, however, ultraviolet lighting is unnecessary.

Ensure plenty of shady areas and regular misting to maintain humidity levels within the soil.

What Do Giant Canyon Isopods Eat?

Giant Canyon Isopods are considered scavengers and will feed on anything organic or semi-organic.

Common food sources include food scraps, decomposed wood, fungi and lichen-covered rocks, and decaying leaf litter.

In addition to these food sources, you can offer a variety of fruits and vegetables (such as apples, peas, potatoes, squash, carrots, and bananas), as well as commercially prepared isopod food and dried shrimp.

If you’re more of an avid hobbyist like myself, be sure to check out my ultimate DIY Isopod food guide. I give a more in-depth explanation of the best foods and my personal favorite recipe.

Best Tankmates For Giant Canyon Isopods

When it comes to tankmates, Giant Canyon Isopods are generally quite tolerant of a variety of small, peaceful animals. 

An excellent candidate for tankmates are species of springtails.

Springtails, as tiny organisms that live within the terrarium’s substrate, provide a great food source for your isopods.

With their small size and propensity for scavenging, springtails are an excellent addition to any tank looking to provide a varied food source and a healthy tank environment.

Finally, other small invertebrates, such as small snails and millipedes, make great tankmates for Giant Canyon Isopods.

These creatures, due to their detritus-eating diet, help to keep algae and leftover food in check, while still being docile enough to live in a tank without any worry that they may become a detriment to your isopods.


In conclusion, giant canyon isopods (Porcellio dilatatus) can make great pets for those who are looking for an interesting and low-maintenance invertebrate to keep.

With the right care and maintenance, a home for these critters can be easily created and fun to watch in.

Remember to keep a consistent environment and provide plenty of food, and your new pet can thrive for many years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Giant canyon isopods, also known as Porcellio dilatatus, typically grow to be around 2 centimeters in length.

Giant canyon isopods should be kept in a humid environment with a temperature of 2225°C and should be fed a diet of leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, and isopodspecific supplements.

Giant canyon isopods are detritivores and mainly eat decaying plant matter, small decaying invertebrates, and carrion.

The giant canyon isopod is a species of large isopod that is commonly found in semi-arid regions around Europe and North America.

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