Werneri Isopods (Porcellio Werneri) are some of the coolest critters on the market. Their flatted shell has garnished a number of signature names over the years.
One of those common names you might see them go by is “Greek Shield Isopod.” You should know where I’m about to go with this if you’ve seen my work before.
In this guide, we’ll provide you with all the tricks and tips you need to make the most out of your Werneri Isopod pet.
From their ideal environments to the equipment you’ll need and even the challenges you may face, we’ll cover the ins and outs of caring for a Werneri Isopod so you can enjoy your pet for years to come.
|Common Name||Werneri Isopod, Pancake Isopod, Greek Shield Isopod|
|Scientific Name||Porcellio Werneri|
|Use||Cleaning, Aerating Soil, Feeders|
|Breeding Type||Egg Layer|
|Minimum Tank Size||2-5 Gallons|
|Temperature||73.4 - 82.4°F|
What Are Werneri Isopod?
Werneri Isopods, or Porcellio Werneri, are land-dwellers and members of the isopod family, Porcellionidae.
These small, nocturnal, and segmented creatures are brown in color and measure just over 26 millimeters in length.
Werneri Isopods are known to feed mostly on dead organic matter and are popular as pets due to their low maintenance requirements.
What Do Werneri Isopods Look Like?
Werneri Isopods are small brown terrestrial invertebrates that can reach a maximum of an inch or more in size.
These animals have an exoskeleton that is divided into seven sections, each section containing two pairs of legs.
The head and the middle segments are uniquely adapted to their environment, with the last pair of legs being significantly larger and more robust than the others.
In terms of coloring, these unique creatures are generally brownish-gray, with black and pale yellow patches and lines that adorn the carapace.
Their antennae are long and whip-like and can be used to detect vibrations in the environment.
Benefits Of Using Werneri Isopod
Porcellio Werneri makes a great addition to any type of vivarium setup.
Not only are they aesthetically pleasing with their interesting shapes and beautiful colorations, but they are also incredibly effective cleaners and soil conditioners.
They are very active in tanks, scurrying around with their powerful and efficient legs, scavenging for food, and helping to keep it clean and tidy.
Isopods like Werneri can help to aerate and till the soil by digging and turning it over, allowing for increased nutrient uptake and providing better growth for any plants in the bioactive terrarium.
They are also excellent cleaners, consuming any leftover pieces of food and helping to remove uneaten food and waste.
This strongly aids in keeping the tank free of decaying matter that can cause detrimental effects on the water quality.
Furthermore, they provide an interesting and unique form of entertainment for the tank’s inhabitants as well as its viewers.
Werneri Isopod Facts
Werneri Isopods are detritivorous and love to eat vegetable and fruit material, as well as some small decaying insects.
They are peaceful, easy-going creatures and can live for up to 4+ years with proper care.
Werneri Isopods often put up an impressive show of climbing over rocks and other objects, promoting both physical and mental stimulation.
Breeding is possible when there are both males and females, resulting in younger isopods that must be separated from the adults to avoid cannibalism.
Porcellio Werneri is native to Greece, along the mountainous areas of the Balkan Peninsula.
They prefer to inhabit warm climates with plenty of rocky crevices and moist soil in which they build their burrows.
Werneri isopods are also occasionally referred to as “Cave Isopods” as they can often be found around limestone caves and crevices, living and breeding among the rocks.
It is thought that Werneri Isopods have likely been around since prehistoric times, however, their exact origins are unknown.
Despite the relative ease of caring for them, it’s important to understand the natural environment of Werneri Isopods and provide suitable conditions for their care in captivity, in order to best replicate the environment they prefer in the wild.
In the wild, the diet of Greek Shield Isopods is varied and mostly consists of decaying plant matter and fungi.
At times, they can also be omnivorous, meaning they will also eat small pieces of living plant material, as well as insect parts and small animals like spiders.
They are also known to eat algae and bacteria, as well as decaying fruit and vegetables. In addition, Werneri Isopods will consume small amounts of carrion and fungi.
Despite its often small size, Porcellio Werneri has a surprisingly strong temperament.
Although they can behave shyly and quickly hide from humans and other animals, they are not dangerous and pose no real threat.
With proper care, Werneri Isopods can become accustomed to human contact and can even be hand-fed.
Though they tolerate the presence of other animals, such as cats and dogs, they may be territorial if placed in an enclosure with other isopods or invertebrates of the same species.
This isopod usually has a lifespan between 2-4 years, though some can live much longer depending on the circumstances.
Their life-cycle consists of simple stages, beginning with the egg stage, which yields the larval stages, and finally the adult stage.
As juveniles, they go through multiple molts which helps them grow into adulthood.
This younger stage of Werneri Isopods can last several months, during which they mostly search for food.
During this time, they are vulnerable to predators such as fish, amphibians, and larger arthropods.
Near the end of their adult life, they search for shelter and the female produces eggs which will begin the life cycle again.
Werneri Isopods reproduce primarily through mating and then laying eggs.
The eggs hatch after 3-4 weeks. During mating, the female grips the male and they remain coupled for several days while they transfer sperm.
The female stores the sperm in a spermatheca and can use it to lay eggs over the next few weeks. The eggs hatch into young nauplii, the first instar stage of the isopod.
The juveniles grow through several additional instar stages until they reach adult size.
Where To Find Werneri Isopod
Finding a Werneri Isopod can be a difficult, but rewarding task.
For those looking for these isopods in the wild, they can sometimes be found in areas of Europe, such as Greece, Italy, and Austria, with elevations of 2500 to 4000 feet.
Werneri Isopods live in moist areas, often near streams and woodland areas.
If you are looking to purchase a Werneri Isopod, it can be purchased online from many vendors worldwide.
They tend to be relatively inexpensive and can be shipped directly to your home. Be sure to research reputable vendors before making your purchase.
Werneri Isopod Care
To properly care for Werneri Isopods, create an ideal environment in terms of location, temperature, and humidity.
Provide them with a diet made up of essential nutrients and pay attention to their breeding and reproduction needs.
Be aware of common challenges that come with caring for Porcellio Werneri, such as humidity-related issues, and be sure to have the proper supplies and equipment.
When it comes to optimal tank requirements for Werneri Isopods, size is an important factor to consider.
A small paludarium or terrarium of at least 10 gallons is recommended. To provide significant ground space, a vivarium form like an arboreal enclosure is preferable.
The ideal temperature is between 25-30 degrees Celsius, with a pH balance of 7-8.5 and a level of hardness ranging from 3-5dGH.
Low-level terrarium lighting should be used in the tank, as this species is not particularly light-sensitive.
What Do Werneri Isopods Eat?
Feeding Werneri Isopods can be a straightforward task as long as you provide them with a variety of food sources.
Werneri Isopods are scavengers so they do not require any live food sources.
Things you can feed Werneri Isopods include:
• Store-bought food pellets
• Vegetable and fruit pieces
• Frozen foods (e.g., shrimp, bloodworms, etc.)
• Commercial isopod food blocks
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 Werneri Isopod
When selecting tankmates for a Werneri Isopod, it is important to choose animals that are similarly beneficial to the health of the tank and supportive of the isopod itself.
Suitable tankmates for Werneri Isopods include springtails, some snails, and certain types of millipedes.
Many of the isopod’s tankmates should be scavengers and slow-moving, as the isopod itself is an excellent scavenger and moves at a relatively slow pace.
Isopods should also be kept with other peaceful invertebrates who share their dietary needs, as they all feed on decaying matter.
The Werneri Isopod is an ideal pet for anyone looking for an exotic, low-maintenance, and entertaining Greek addition to their home.
Keeping a well-balanced environment with the right temperature, humidity, and diet is essential for their health and longevity.
With the right knowledge and supplies, caring for a Porcellio Werneri can be a fun, rewarding experience.