Terrestrial Isopods Major Eats During Winter

Posted by: Theropod

Terrestrial Isopods Major Eats During Winter - 01/21/14 08:55 PM

The other day I released a cock for a little R&R. While out he hit the fresh gut pile remaining after I dressed a rabbit where he consumed most of the small intestines. Shortly thereafter he got a good amount of mealworms and a little mixed to boot. Over the next couple hours he foraged for greens and grounded insects. During this time I was prepping for next year’s garden and flipped over a large board under which a few darkling beetles and a lot of pillbugs / rolly pollies / sowbugs / isopods could be found he consumed all the insects quickly but the isopods are what kept him scratching there for the next hour. He consumed enough to fill his crop. During summer the chickens tend to overlook the isopods in favor of the grasshoppers which are fewer, harder to catch but much larger. It was very interesting to see a bird consume so many of the little crustaceans. I suspect that in terms of biomass the isopods exceed that of all the other arthropods.
Posted by: Soapy

Re: Terrestrial Isopods Major Eats During Winter - 01/30/14 07:00 AM

Two years ago we had a major explosion in the rolly polly population here - so many they would even crawl up the sides of coops at night. It was rather disconcerting! I worried about the chickens getting sick eating too many of them but it didn't happen. Like you say, maybe the isopods weren't tasty enough to be their snack of choice.

Of interest for folks wanting to cultivate a robust population, that was in the early summer following a very rainy spring and before a miserable-oven-bake-to-burn-drought of a summer. The winter and fall before we had relied heavily on dried leaves for in coop litter and all over the yards to combat mud and snow. Many, many, many yard waste bags were collected from curb sides and back alleys all over town all fall - we kept them along the north fence lines and coop walls to serve as wind breaks, insulation, and for easy access. Unfortunately the leaves also seemed to have brought mites which we battled that all spring. populations explosions of mites.
Posted by: Theropod

Re: Terrestrial Isopods Major Eats During Winter - 01/31/14 05:24 AM

Duckweed would be my feed of choice for culturing roly-pollys. It has very rapid growth and has ample water to keep isopods happy. They also need good cover.

With respect to their climbing ability I have encountered them 30 feet up in trees during early morning hours.