Is it deadly to pill bugs to stir up their environment?


Mar 14, 2017
I don't know how else to word the title

Basically, I had started a farm (about 10) with only soil for my pill bugs, I got some coconut fiber substrate later on for them and decided to mix up the soil + substrate instead of removing the soil because I didn't feel like checking each grain of dirt to see if there is a baby in there

During the remodeling, I found a dead pill bug and that really spooked me.

I have about 2 inch and a half of soil + substrate in my 6x5 plastic container and I'm scared that the dead pill bug died because he couldn't crawl from the bottom of the container to the top. I mixed up the substrate and soil, and all of the top layer went to the bottom, while the bottom layer went up to the top so there is definitely some pill bugs at the bottom rn

Can pill bugs crawl their way to the top or are they trap down there?

Also, are pill bugs corpse harmful to other pill bugs?

Thanks guys.


Active Member
Apr 18, 2015
Mixing up the substrate shouldn't kill them, they are great burrowers that can dig downwards and upwards with ease, (assuming we are talking about Armadillidium here), the pillbug probably died of other causes.

For the most part, no, the corpses of pillbugs aren't harmful to other pillbugs, in fact they usually get eaten by their tankmates when they die. :)


Dec 8, 2012
To expand on what Hisserdude said, I don't worry about seeing a dead Armadillidium. They don't seem to eat their dead very rapidly, or sometimes not at all.

Same goes for Philoscia muscorum. Mine seem to eat the heads and legs off their dead comrades, but leave the shells.

Trachelipus, Oniscus, and especially Porcellio species are different though. I rarely if ever see a dead individual, and if I do I know something is wrong. A few months ago I started finding dead Trachelipus rathkii in the container. I didn't do anything immediately, but when I kept finding them for several days I realized there was a problem. Moved the remaining ones to a new container (minus a couple that looked sick) and now the survivors are doing fine.

Porcellio scaber doesn't even seem to let them die first. I've seen individuals who suffered a bad molt and are a little mangled but could probably live just getting swarmed and eaten alive by the rest of them.