Last updated: February 24, 2021
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

Actually a crustacean, not an insect!

Woodlouse Scientific Classification

Scientific Name

Woodlouse Conservation Status

Woodlouse Facts

Main Prey
Decaying leaf and plant matter,
Moist environments
Toads, Centipedes, Spiders
Average Litter Size
Favorite Food
Decaying leaf and plant matter,
Common Name
Number Of Species
Actually a crustacean, not an insect!

Woodlouse Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Black
Skin Type

Woodlouse Images

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The woodlouse is not an insect but a crustacean, that has 14 parts to its body, which gives the woodlouse the flexibility to be able to curl into a ball to protect itself from danger. This means that only the hard outer shell of the woodlouse is exposed.

The woodlouse is found in dark, damp places in forests and jungles throughout the world. The woodlouse feeds on decaying leaf and plant matter on the forest floor, meaning that the woodlouse plays a vital role in the natural carbon dioxide cycle.

The woodlouse is generally about 1 cm long but many species in the tropics are triple that size, some are even bigger. The woodlouse has an average lifespan of around 2 years but some are known to get up to 4 years old.

The woodlouse is the only species of crustacean to inhabit inland and not watery habitats. There are thought to be over 3,000 different species of woodlouse around the world.

The woodlouse is generally grey or brown in colour but the exact colour and size of the woodlouse is dependent on the woodlouse species and the area which the woodlouse inhabits. The woodlouse is found in nearly every environment in the world besides the polar regions and the arid desert.

The woodlouse is a herbivorous animal and therefore only eats organic plant matter. The woodlouse rarely eats live plants and feeds on the decaying leaf and plant matter found on the forest floor such as leaves, rotting wood and fruits that fall from the trees above.

Due to the small size of the woodlouse and despite the fact that the woodlouse can attempt to protect itself by curling up into a ball, the woodlouse is preyed upon by a number of animals around the world. Toads, centipedes, spiders, millipedes and the occasional wasp are the main predators of the woodlouse.

The female woodlouse lays around 24 eggs which she keeps inside a brood pouch. The woodlouse eggs hatch after an incubation period of just a few days exposing the woodlouse babies. Due to the fact that the baby woodlice take a number of months to fully develop, the mother woodlouse will often stay close to her young until they are adult woodlice.

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Woodlouse FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Woodlouses herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Woodlouses are Herbivores, meaning they eat plants.

What Kingdom do Woodlouses belong to?

Woodlouses belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What phylum to Woodlouses belong to?

Woodlouses belong to the phylum Arthropoda.

What family do Woodlouses belong to?

Woodlouses belong to the family Oniscidea.

What order do Woodlouses belong to?

Woodlouses belong to the order Isopoda.

What type of covering do Woodlouses have?

Woodlouses are covered in Shells.

Where do Woodlouses live?

Woodlouses are found worldwide.

In what type of habitat do Woodlouses live?

Woodlouses live in moist environments.

What do Woodlouses eat?

Woodlouses eat decaying leaf and plant matter.

What are some predators of Woodlouses?

Predators of Woodlouses include toads, centipedes, and spiders.

How many babies do Woodlouses have?

The average number of babies a Woodlouse has is 24.

What is an interesting fact about Woodlouses?

The Woodlouse is actually a crustacean, not an insect!

What is the scientific name for the Woodlouse?

The scientific name for the Woodlouse is Oniscidea.

How many species of Woodlouse are there?

There are 3,000 species of Woodlouse.

  1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animal, The Definitive Visual Guide To The World's Wildlife
  2. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals
  3. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia
  4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species
  5. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals
  6. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals

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