Here’s “What animals eat woodlice” (Explained)



Written by Katie Piercy

Woodlice are small terrestrial crustaceans, found in damp and dark places. A range of animals eat woodlice, including rodents, spiders and amphibians.


What eats woodlice?


Woodlice are terrestrial isopods, part of the crustacean family. This means they are more closely related to crabs than to insects, despite often being mistakenly placed in this group.

Woodlice are detritivores, they eat partially rotted debris, such as wood and plant matter. While they are often labelled as pests, they do no harm to healthy plants and only tend to devour things that are already degrading.

Due to a high rate of water loss, woodlice tend to spend their time in damp, dark places, such as under logs or stones. Where they are found they can often appear in large numbers, and they are rich in protein, making them a worthwhile feast for any animal that can get hold of them.

Ground BeetleCarnivorous beetle that hunts and consumes woodlice
Eastern Fence LizardOpportunistic predator that includes woodlice in its diet
American ToadAmphibian that preys on various small invertebrates, including woodlice
Eastern Red-backed SalamanderSmall salamander that feeds on woodlice among other prey
Table 1: Predators of Woodlice in North America

Common ShrewInsectivorous mammal that feeds on woodlice along with other small invertebrates
Common FrogAmphibian that includes woodlice in its diet
European HedgehogInsectivorous mammal that occasionally consumes woodlice
Great TitSmall bird that preys on woodlice as part of its diet
Table 2: Predators of Woodlice in Europe

Sugar GliderOmnivorous marsupial that includes woodlice in its diet
Blue-tongued SkinkLarge skink that feeds on various invertebrates, including woodlice
Australian RavenOpportunistic omnivorous bird that consumes woodlice
Eastern Brown SnakeVenomous snake that preys on small invertebrates, including woodlice
Table 3: Predators of Woodlice in Australia

Asian CentipedePredatory arthropod that feeds on woodlice and other small invertebrates
Japanese QuailBird species known to consume woodlice as part of its diet
Japanese Fire-bellied NewtAmphibian that includes woodlice in its prey items
Japanese WeaselCarnivorous mammal that occasionally preys on woodlice
Table 4: Predators of Woodlice in Asia

Leaf-cutter AntsSocial insects that feed on various organic matter, including woodlice
Guianan Cock-of-the-rockBird species known to eat woodlice as part of its diet
White-tailed SpiderVenomous spider that feeds on small invertebrates, including woodlice
Common PotooNocturnal bird that preys on woodlice among other insects
Table 5: Predators of Woodlice in South America

African BullfrogLarge amphibian that includes woodlice in its diet
Mole-ratsSubterranean rodents that may consume woodlice when available
Ground HornbillsBird species known to feed on woodlice and other invertebrates
African Praying MantisCarnivorous insect that hunts and feeds on woodlice
Table 6: Predators of Woodlice in Africa

A list of most common predators

Small rodents


Many small rodents are insectivorous, meaning they eat largely invertebrates. While woodlice aren’t technically insects, they are counted among the fodder of these tiny mammals.

Shrews, voles and mice, will all happily eat a woodlouse if they encounter it. While these creatures aren’t big enough to roll over rocks and logs in search of these crunchy isopods, they often spend time in the same damp dark places are woodlice like to inhabit.

Badgers and hedgehogs

Among larger mammals, badgers and hedgehogs are the most likely to munch a few woodlice if encountered. Both tend to snuffle around the vegetation, looking particularly for slugs, snails and worms, but they will be fairly happy with any available invertebrates.

Badgers in particular like to turn over rocks and dig into wood with their strong paws, no doubt unearthing unsuspecting woodlice in the process.


hummingbirds mate

Birds can specialise in a variety of food groups, with some birds eating largely grains, while others drink nectar, however, a large number eat only invertebrates or survive on a mixed diet of invertebrates and seeds, nuts and berries.

Birds rarely stick to a particular group of creepy crawlies, instead of taking advantage of whatever turns up. Bugs that fly or sit on the surface of vegetation are often more likely to become dinner as they are more visible.

Woodlice have a slight advantage, therefore, as they spend most of their time hidden away. However, some bird species, such as blackbirds and thrushes, will move leaf litter, twigs and small stones to uncover unfortunate invertebrates, such as woodlice.



Most amphibians eat largely invertebrates. While we may think of frogs, newts and toads as spending all their time in the water, most species only head to water during the mating season, often spending the rest of the time in vegetation or dark places.

While they are unlikely to meet a woodlouse while hanging out in their local pond or stream, they may well encounter them when sheltering somewhere secluded the rest of the time, and then why not take a bite?


Wolf spiders

While web-weaving spiders often aim to catch flying insects, there are also many species of spiders that do not bother with a web. These spider species are usually ambush or stalking spiders, that either pounce on unsuspecting prey or hunt them down.

One spider that particularly specialises in hunting for woodlice is the woodlouse spider Dysdera crocata. This chunky spider has large jaws to grasp the woodlouse and breakthrough its exoskeleton. A terrifying prospect in the dark world of the woodlouse.


While we may have heard of people eating snails, we are less familiar with people chowing down on a plate of woodlice. Those that do cook up a pot of woodlice stew compare these little crustaceans to crunchy shrimps in flavour.

How do they survive?

Woodlice don’t have many ways to protect themselves, having no venom and a small mouth not designed to bite larger creatures.

Their main defence is being hard to find. Their life, spent under rocks and within dark crevices, helps keep them out of the view of many predators. They also often bear fairly camouflaged colours, such as grey and brown, helping them blend in.

If they are discovered, their primary instinct is to run and hide, getting out of the light and back to the safety of the dark. This helps them to evade hungry predators.

Their final defence, if all else fails, is their hard exoskeleton, which provides them with some protection from other invertebrates, though it’s not so effective against bigger mouths.

Also read: Woodlouse and its Legs – How Many, Why (Explained)

Tasty woodlice

Woodlice are important recyclers, helping to clear up waste and break down rotting matter.

Beyond the usefulness of their own appetites, they are also an important source of food for other animals. So while not everyone will be pleased to see these skittering little creatures, they certainly have found their place in our busy world.


Katie Piercy

Katie Piercy, a conservation industry veteran with a diverse career, has worked in various environments and with different animals for over a decade. In the UK, she reared and released corncrake chicks, chased hen harriers, and restored peatland. She has also gained international experience, counting macaws in Peru, surveying freshwater springs in Germany, and raising kiwi chicks in New Zealand.

Meadows have always captivated her, and she has often provided advice and assistance in managing these habitats. From surveying snake's head fritillary in Wiltshire to monitoring butterfly species in Norfolk, Katie's dedication extends even to her own front garden, where she has created a mini meadow to support wild bees and other pollinators.

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