Dalmatian Isopods (Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’)

Are you looking to bring home some little spotted friends? Keeping 101 Dalmatian Isopods (Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’) is far more doable than 101 canine companions… Trust me on this!

Learning proper care for these little creatures and having the right setup will help them live long, happy lives. So grab a Miniature Wooden Town Decor Set and let’s recreate an iconic Disney scene in a jar, because…

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about caring for Dalmatian Isopods.

Common Name Dalmatian Isopod
Family Name Porcellionidae
Scientific Name Porcellio scaber 'Dalmatian'
Use Cleaning, Aerating Soil, Feeders
Temperament Non-aggressive
Lifespan 1-3 Years
Diet Detritivore
Adult Size 20 mm
Breeding Type Egg Layer
Care Level Easy
Minimum Tank Size 2-5 Gallons
pH 6.0-7.5
Hardness Medium
Temperature 65-78°F

What Are Dalmatian Isopods?

Dalmatian Isopods are small, terrestrial, woodlice belonging to the family of Porcellionidae and the genus Porcellio.

Scientifically referred to as Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’, the common name originates from the distinctive black and white markings on the back of the creature – resembling the same marking of the ever so popular Dalmatian dog.

These isopods are considered one of the best scavengers to add to a clean-up crew in a vivarium and are relatively easy to care for.

What Do Dalmatian Isopods Look Like?

Dalmatian Isopods are around two centimeters long when fully grown. 

they are a tannish white in color with a distinct dark brown speckled pattern… Much like the Dalmatian dog from which they took their name.

They have seven pairs of legs, a pair of antennae, and two pairs of antennae appendages (or maxillipeds) for grasping their food. 

Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’ have an exoskeleton that is firm and flexible, allowing them to move quickly while still protecting their internal organs.

They have protected eyes and a simple sensory system that allows them to sense their environment and communicate with one another.

Benefits Of Using Dalmatian Isopods

Dalmatian Isopods are a unique and visually distinctive species of isopod that are perfect for creating beautiful, diverse vivariums.

Not only are they eye-catching, but they are beneficial additions to any bioactive terrarium.

Dalmatian Isopods can provide the same benefits that all isopods provide… They feed on decaying biomass and naturally remove waste, stimulate healthy soil, and aerate the soil while they burrow.

They are also great cleaners. They rid the enclosure of excess food and waste, keeping the tank clean and healthy.

Additionally, Dalmatian Isopods can help cultivate healthier soil by adding calcium and other minerals to the substrate from their shells.

With their low-maintenance care requirements, these isopods make an excellent addition for anyone looking for a unique and eye-catching addition to their setup.

Porcellio scaber "Dalmatian Isopods" Complete Care Guide!

Dalmatian Isopods Facts

Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’, are small, insect-like crustaceans native to Europe.

Their Dalmatian-like color scheme closely resembles Dairy Cow Isopods, with the difference being the spotters are smaller on the back of Dalmatian Isopods.

These isopods are usually slow-moving, gentle in temperament, and typically feed on plants, fungi, and detritus.


The origin of Dalmatian Isopods can be traced back to Europe and Asia, where they are primarily found in open areas, like meadows, steppes, and gardens.

They are nocturnal and during the day, they tend to hide in loose, moist soil and detritus.

They often live in large clumps or colonies due to the strength of their parental bond. They are known to travel in herds led by an alpha couple.

Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’ love to burrow under decayed leaf litter, allowing them to stay cool and moist.

Their natural habitat is protein-rich and humid, offering the ideal environment for them to thrive.


Dalmatian Isopods acts as an important part of the local ecosystem by feeding on decaying plant matter and other sources of detritus in their natural habitat.

These detritivorous isopods have a varied diet and will also feed on other small decaying insects, spiders, and carrion.

As scavengers, they can consume almost anything they come across, including fungi, decaying fruits, vegetables, and animal matter.

In addition, they can also scavenge for algae and small nutrient-rich particles of soil and clay.


Dalmatian Isopods are non-aggressive towards humans and other animals, making them ideal small pets.

They appear to show interest in their environment and will move away from any perceived threat, but they are unlikely to bite or pinch.

When handling Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’, you should use a small container or even just your hands, as they will not jump away or be harmed.

They are also much calmer when disturbed than other species of isopods.


Dalmatian Isopods’ lifespan is highly variable and is thought to range between 6 months and 3 years.

They reproduce quickly and have multiple generations within their lifespan. The lifespan of a Dalmatian Isopod is divided into four life stages: egg, juvenile, and adult.

The egg stage is the first life stage, and the eggs of Dalmatian Isopods are laid in moist soil.

Once the eggs hatch into juveniles after around a week, and they begin feeding as soon as they emerge.

At this stage, they start molting and grow rapidly. In 4-11 molts, depending on the environmental conditions, they reach the adult stage. 

As adults, Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’ continue to grow and reproduce. Their life span depends largely on the environmental conditions to which they are exposed.


Dalmatian Isopods mate and reproduce in the traditional isopod method of longitudinal attachment.

This means that the male and female isopod will face each other, connect along the length of their bodies, and move side to side, in a “dance” that allows the male to transfer sperm from its gonopore.

After mating, the female will deposit a few eggs a day over several days until her pouch becomes full.

She will then move her eggs onto her pleopods, curved appendages around her rear, where she will protect and aerate them until they hatch.

The hatchlings remain on their mother’s pleopods until they molt a few times, at which point they will venture out on their own.

Where To Find Dalmatian Isopods

Dalmatian Isopods are easy to find for sale online, in pet stores, and from breeders. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can search for Dalmatian Isopods in the wild.

To do this, you will need to do some research in their natural habitats and look in areas with sandy soil and logs with plenty of foliage.

Keep an eye out around trees and logs and be sure to observe all local laws and regulations when collecting specimens.

When collecting wild isopods, use a small fine-tipped brush to scoop out the isopods and transfer them to a container such as a terrarium or an aquarium for observation.

Avoid disturbing their habitat and always be cautious when collecting wild specimens. 

Dalmatian Isopods Care

To care for Dalmatian Isopods, provide them with suitable habitats, substrates, and food.

Ensure their temperature and humidity requirements are met, and watch for signs of common health issues to prevent them from occurring.

Tank Requirements

The ideal tank requirements for Dalmatian Isopods include a tropical terrarium type of tank with a slightly damp terrarium substrate.

This can include a mix of 2/3 coco peat soil and 1/3 crushed coconut shell or vermiculite – preferably a dark, looser material that will rotate with depth.

The optimal environment should have a pH between 7.0 and 8.0, moderate hardness, and a temperature of 75 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit. A low terrarium lighting set up on a timed schedule is also recommended.

To ensure a healthy environment for the isopods, avoid a tank that is too moist and make sure to provide them with recommended food sources down below.

What Do Dalmatian Isopods Eat?

Feeding your Dalmatian Isopods is one of the most important aspects of caring for them. It is essential for them to have nutritious and balanced meals to ensure their health and longevity.

When it comes to what to feed your Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’, there is a range of food options available. Here are some of the most popular and nutritious sources of food for your isopods:

• Fruits and vegetables: Dark leafy greens, carrots, apples, melon, and other fruits and vegetables make a great choice.

• Decaying insects: Small crickets, mealworms, and other small insects can be fed to your isopods.

• Decaying wood: Dead wood and leaves provide another good source of food for your isopods.

• Commercial diets: There are also a number of commercial isopod diets available.

When feeding your isopods, make sure to offer them a variety of foods to ensure they are getting all of the nutrients they need.

It’s also important to remember to provide your isopods with plenty of fresh water. You can do this by misting their enclosure every few days or providing a shallow dish of water.

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 Dalmatian Isopods

When keeping Dalmatian Isopods, tankmates should be chosen carefully. 

One of the best tankmates for Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’ will be other isopod species like Cubaris isopods or Armadillidium isopods.

They have similar sizes and care needs to Dalmatian Isopods and offer beneficial cleaning services which makes them ideal tankmates.

Other animals that can be kept with these isopods are earthworms, snails, and springtails.

While these animals are all beneficial for the tank environment, it is important to remember to keep an eye on the population levels to make sure that the tank does not become overcrowded.


In conclusion, Dalmatian Isopods are an interesting and rewarding species to keep as a pet.

They are relatively easy to care for and will thrive in the right environment, with the proper substrate, food, and temperature and humidity levels.

Knowing common health issues and preventive techniques is essential, and potential owners should explore further resources to ensure they can provide the best care for their Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Dalmatian Isopod (Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian) typically grows to a length of about 1 cm.

Dalmatian isopods require a moist burrowing and/or molting medium, a hiding place,temperature between 65-78°F, high humidity, and a variety of chopped vegetables, fruits, and invertebrate treats for a wellbalanced diet.

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