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What Do Rolly Pollies Enjoy Eating the Most?

Rolly Pollies are unique little critters that can make for interesting, low-maintenance pets at home. Whether you’re looking for keep a few rolly pollies alive or you want to get rid of them, you’re going to want to know what they eat so you can feed them or eliminate their food source around your home!

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What is a Rolly Polly?

Let’s start off with a little bit of basic knowledge about rolly pollies. Although this is a commonly used name, as well as “pill bugs”, these little critters are officially known as wood lice or sow bugs. It’s actually misleading to called them bugs, because they are crustaceans. Rolly pollies are in the same family of creatures as shrimp or crawfish, although they are able to live on the land instead of water.

The reason for the nicknames rolly polly or pill bug are that these animals roll up into a very tight ball when they feel threatened; hence “roll”-y polly and “pill” bug because they appear similar to small pills when rolled up.

How to Feed a Rolly Polly

Although they aren’t bugs, they have a similar diet to some bugs. For the most part, rolly pollies survive on a diet of dead vegetation or similar formula foods. This generally includes leaves, grasses, carrots, apples (apple skins are the best), tree bark, plant roots, lettuce, or potatoes. This organic diet of vegetation and natural foods is a good way to keep rolly pollies healthy and as active as possible.

If you’re feeding rolly pollies vegetation or natural foods, make sure they are not moldy before you lay them in the habitat. They can be rotting or old, but moldy foods can cause sickness and kill the critters accidentally if they eat the food.

Pill bugs can also survive on artificially formulated foods like fish food flakes or cardboard. These generally have the nutrients they need to live, as are easier to collect than some food scraps. Fish food flakes are more nutritious than cardboard, but both are suitable for the animals’ diet.

Water for Pill Bugs

Along with their food, rolly pollies also need water to survive. Unlike many bugs and other animals, you should never set out a fresh water source for rolly pollies. This is a drowning hazard for the animals and is not necessary for them to get the right amount of water. Because these critters are crustaceans, not bugs, they have a set of gills that absorbs water from the moist air around them.

For this reason, rolly pollies always live in moist environments like mulch beds and damp soil. They also prefer to live in areas that will remain moist for longer, such as under rocks or fallen vegetation and wood. If you’ve ever found them in your yard before, this probably sounds familiar!

When you want to keep them in captivity, you will need to make sure you keep their habitat moist enough for them to get their necessary water intake. To make sure they have enough moisture available, spray the habitat at least once per day with a lukewarm water spray bottle. Try not to spray it directly on the creatures, but spray the dirt or mulch you have on the bottom of their habitat floor. A combination of spraying and a good diet is the best way to make sure they have enough water to stay healthy.

Special Care Instructions for Rolly Pollies

There are a few things you should keep in mind if you’re planning to have rolly pollies as pets:

Keep an eye on their food

Rolly pollies are fairly small creatures that won’t eat a lot of food. If you put food in their habitat, they will nibble off of it when they feel hungry and will slowly get rid of the meal.

However, if you’ve put bigger pieces of food in the tanks then they may not be able to eat them quickly enough before the food goes bad.Moldy food is unhealthy for pill bugs, so it should be removed as soon as the food shows any sign of mold.

Remember that rotting food is fine, although it may stink in your home if you leave it in the habitat.

Provide a lot of hiding places and moisture retainers

Rolly pollies like to hide in dark, damp places so it’s a great idea for you to include spots for them to hide in their habitat. Set up some rocks, sticks, and the like so they can crawl into a damp, warm place whenever they want to.

Use fresh water when spraying

When you’re moistening the habitat for your rolly pollies, spray clean and fresh water rather than old water or dirty water. Don’t spray water with any kind of chemicals, including soap or other suds.

Refresh the bottom material regularly

Usually it’s best to keep a thin layer of dirt, pulp, saw dust, or mulch at the bottom of your pill bug habitat. If you do this, then you should continue to refresh the filler every few weeks or once a month to keep the habitat clean and mold-free. Remember to remove the animals from the habitat before you remove the bottom filler layer!

Create a well-ventilated and friendly environment

These are not particularly picky pets, but it’s a good idea to keep their environments the way they like them for the healthiest lives possible. This means putting ventilation at the top of the habitat, not including an upper light, and steering clear of any heaters or unusually cold areas. In general, pill bugs like a place that’s not too bright and is room temperature most of the time. See? Very easy to care for!

Conclusion

It’s easy to feed and water rolly pollies to take care of them as pets, although that also makes it more difficult to get rid of them if they happen to be pests in your yard.

Hopefully this guide has shed some light on what to do to take care of rolly pollies, or how to eliminate their food source if you need to.

Amelia
 

Amelia Robinson is a lover of plants and gardens, as well as an educator on this topic. It’s her goal to make sure that you get the chance to learn what you need to about gardening to succeed with your own home garden at the blog RobinsonLovePlants.com. You’re not going to find just a collection of basic articles about gardening here. Instead, she wants to answer the difficult questions for you. She tweets at @robinsonplants