Monday, April 4, 2022

Hell Ya, Helleria!!!

Finally, after years of waiting, I've gotten one of my dream isopods, the heavy, humongous, Helleria brevicornis! 😁 Thanks so much to Steph at Green Acres Invertebrates for trading me a dozen of these cuties, so excited to work with the largest terrestrial rolling isopods!

This genus is monotypic, containing only the species brevicornis. They belong to the interesting subfamily Tylidae, of which there are only a few other representatives in culture (and most are coastal species that require or prefer saline conditions). They spend most of their immature lives underground, with adults being slightly more surface active (but still probably spend most of their time underground).

Helleria are quite slow growing, and rumor has it the females only reproduce once in their lifespan. However, considering they usually breed when quite small, and then go on to live for at least a year or two afterwards (gaining a lot of size in the process), this seems to be an artifact of captivity, not a normal reproductive strategy. In fact, it would appear based on preliminary evidence I've gathered that all that's needed to encourage yearly reproduction for this species is a mild winter cool period; a drop to the lower 60s to high 50s in late Fall through Winter, followed by a temperature rise in the Spring to about 75F°. This is what Steph does, and she is convinced her original individuals have been breeding yearly for her (and she's up to around 200 individuals in her colony ATM!). It just doesn't make sense for a species to breed only once when relatively young, then go on to keep growing for quite a while... Normally invertebrates that breed only once die relatively soon after giving birth, they have no reason to keep on loving growing if they're not going to reproduce. So I've always found the claim that Helleria females only give birth once to be a bit fishy, to say the least. And it would make sense seasonal cues are the key, since almost no one in this hobby seems to take seasonal temperature fluctuations into account when breeding inverts, everyone wants to just keep everything at a constant temperature range year round and expect good results. 🙃😂

Anyways, enough with the breeding rant! 😅 I'm keeping my 12 individuals in a moderately ventilated, deep container with 5 or so inches of humid substrate. The bottom inch is a mix of sand, coco fiber, flake soil and crushed leaf litter. The top 4 or so inches is a mix of flake soil, crushed rotten wood, spent Panesthia a. cognata substrate and crushed leaf litter. This is topped off with even more crushed leaf litter. This species is big on having an organically rich substrate, and this makes up the bulk of their diet.
I'm keeping them at around 75F° right now, and am offering dog food and fruits as supplemental foods (neither of which they've touched so far).

Without further adieu, here are some pictures of the cuties:

Such an adorable species! 🥰 I can't wait until they gain some more size, these ones are less than half grown! (but honestly probably not all that far away from sexual maturity). Hopefully they'll do well for me and breed in my care!

Anyways, that's gonna do it for this post, thanks for reading, hope everyone enjoyed, stay safe, and I'll see you all next time! 😉


  1. Congratulations! This is a species that I have wanted for several years too. I hope that they are productive in your care!!

    1. Thanks, hopefully they'll do well for me! And hopefully you get some soon too! 😁