What do Rollie Pollies Eat?

What do Rollie Pollies (Rolly Pollies) Eat?

Turns out rollie pollies (sometimes spelled rolly pollies) aren’t overly picky eaters. Rollie pollies, also called pillbugs, could survive mostly on soft, decaying matter, like grass and leaves, and still live between two and five years. They can also safely eat fish food, fresh vegetables, and even crumpled-up cardboard. See what I mean about not being picky?

feed your follie pollies fish food

But that’s not all. Rollies pollies munch on scat, including their own, and decaying matter, like flesh. Rollie pollies need copper to live, and each time the bugs defecate, they lose a little of it—hence the recycling process. This practice is called coprophagy. They have also been known to eat mulch. They tend to make their homes in wooded areas, particularly where there are plenty of damp leaves and other decaying vegetation, where food can easily be found. They can also be found living in piles of compost and areas containing mulch.

Rollie Pollies Eating Habits Aid in Decomposition

Rollie pollies are (like some beetles) also decomposers: They consume material from dead plants and animals and return essential nutrients back into the earth. They are considered beneficial decomposers because of this ability. However, they don’t always prefer to eat dead materials. Sometimes they’ll eat ripe fruit or vegetables that are in contact with soil. When plant growth is slow-moving during times of cooler temperatures, rollie pollies’ hunger may take over, and they may harm the lush roots or stems of certain plants found in the garden. This damage-causing behavior, however, seldom occurs. To some home dwellers’ dismay, some rollie polllies may make their way into buildings. This is especially true when vegetation runs alongside the house. Wet soil, due to poor drainage or other conditions, is also an invitation for rollie pollies to enter a house.

Lester Ehler, an entomology professor at the University of California, found that rollie pollies also eat the eggs of stink bugs. Stink bugs are known to cause crop damage; therefore, the rollie pollie may be considered an asset in insect control. According to Wayne Mathis, a retired entomologist from the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., some stink bugs are predatory and are also used in biocontrol of other insects. So between stink bugs and then rollie pollies, much insect control is occurring.

What Do Rollie Pollies Eat if Kept as a Pet?

If taken in as a pet, the rollie pollie might enjoy a wider array of foods. A petowner could fatten up the bug with fresh fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, lettuce or even apples skins. The bugs can also eat the skin of zucchinis and potatoes. Oatmeal is also an edible option for them. Crumpled egg cartons, in addition to cardboard, are also safe for them to eat, as long as there is no print on the material. Water is their beverage of choice. The bugs’ food can be spread out within their habitat once a week. If the rollie pollie is a pet, it’s important to remember that any of their uneaten food should be removed from their habitat before the food gets moldy.

With a menu like that, it’s no wonder rollie pollies survive as long as they do!

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    • sophie norrish
    • Tue, Sep 15, 2020

    i have a pet rollie pollie bug named polly me and my bff found it and we just thout it would eat like littlw bugs but it eats cardbord and we where at school when we founs it so we had cardbord

    • Raquel shipman
    • Sat, Jun 27, 2020

    When I was 4 years old I saw a Rollie pollie.Since then I have loved Rolly pollies

    • Eden Chen
    • Wed, Jun 24, 2020

    I found a roly poly then I found some friends. I started to breed them and now am a roly poly owner

    • Makayla Shannon
    • Fri, May 22, 2020

    I found a rolli in my bathroom I named him Greg and I made him a home from a recycled nutilla jar I give him cut up cucumbers for food. I let him run around sometimes and he likes it but he always come back to me.

    • Serenna Trujillo
    • Mon, May 18, 2020

    Me and my cousin have around 20 Pill Bugs. And me and her have been wondering, how can you tell if they are a Male or a Female? And what does it mean if there is a white pill bug? It would really help if you would answer our question! And what should we keep them in? We have them in a large box....with a couple holes...Is that good?

    • Richard Doege
    • Mon, May 11, 2020

    I love it in my bugbox

    • abi robertson
    • Mon, Apr 30, 2020

    can we have them as a pet

    • Karen Li - Smith
    • Wed, Apr 29, 2020

    I have a couple of adorable roly polies and they have lasted one year now in their safe container :)))). I have just got a few but then I realized some conditions in my backyard are bad for my wild polies so I put some of the weaker wild polies in my container and they are healthy now. I mainly give them leaves but when my strawberry plant grows a small strawberry I give them it. :DDD.

    • Anonymous
    • Mon, Apr 24, 2020

    i have six of them

    • Josie maughan
    • Mon, Apr 6, 2020

    i killed a rollie pollie

    • mason matthews
    • Tue, Mar 27, 2020

    do rolly pollies really eat fish food

    • Maya Wright
    • Tue, Mar 24, 2020

    I am going to get two Rollie pillows this Summer with my friend and I’m going to keep it as a pet.I needed to know what they eat and how to take care of them properly so that they don’t die like they always do.Thank you for posting this it was very helpful.:)

    • Ariana Grande
    • Tue, Mar 3, 2020

    I had a rollie pollie whrn i was in 5th grade i had like 5 each of thier names started with a R and then they died. I nwas sad cux i feed threm and had thrm trapped in a water bottel. and then i left them in the bottle or a few days too see if they came back to live.:((((((((((

    • Qorda`e Meadows
    • Nov 22, 2019

    I'm doing a school project on Roly Polys, the Scientific Name is Armadillidiidae.

    • haliy queen
    • October 4, 2019

    i need to take a test on rolly polies.

    • Erik
    • September 27, 2019

    Flip over a log

    • Need Help
    • June 4, 2019

    So i havena few rollie pollies and i wanna know the difference between females and males

    • Gene Earley
    • June 4, 2019

    I have thousands of them in my garden and they are eating everghing! How can I get rid of them and should I.

    • anonymous
    • May 29, 2019

    Tell me what a rollie pollie eats pls

    • M J
    • May 22, 2019

    Hi, I am planning on catching rollie pollies… anyone have any tips for me?

    • Lileth Paige
    • May 15, 2019

    I found 3 pill bugs and i put grass and little bits of leaves do i need dirt

    • Mila Turov
    • May 11, 2019

    Hi!! I made an enclosure for my roly polies. There’s a plant in the middle and i planted some other small weeds that i found in my backyard. I want them to grow and spread a little. I put some leaf litter over the soil and put some leaf litter and bark over it for roly polies to hide under. I also put some rocks about a quarter under the soil for some terrestrial effect. I spread some lettuce and cut up carrots around the pot. The roly poly i have has tried to climb out of the pot, but thankfully it’s too slippery and even if they make it up there, a lip slopes over it and they would fall over. I will replace their food every week. I only have one roly poly right now, but i will try to find more because they need friends. I also put some small branches in there that they can climb on. The roly poly has buried themself right now, i guess because they can tell it’s about to rain soon. is there anything i can add to the pot to make it better for roly polies?? Thanks!!!

    • Brian Garner
    • January 1, 2019

    Wow I can not believe that that’s what they eat that’s amazing because I never seen a bug that can eat real food and carboard😂😂😂😂

    • Keely McDonald
    • October 9, 2018

    I just took a baby one into my house and put it into a glass container. This was very helpful. At the moment I am feeding him cardboard as he/she is just a baby and I don’t wanna overfeed him/her.

    • natasha evoli
    • October 9, 2018

    we found rollie-pollies because my little sister’s fish is almost dead.she loves them!thank you

    • Hayden Burt
    • October 9, 2018

    I have roly polys and they had babies a couple months ago and they all are alive thanks to this page ☺️

    • Cool
    • July 2, 2018

    I have two pill bugs and one is named Rolly and the other is Polly. This morning Rolly died. 😢 Polly ran all over the place until I picked her up. I will miss Rolly.
    OMG this website was SO HELPFUL!

    • Elsie Newell
    • May 7, 2018

    Wow this is a really good site. My little sister keep going outside to get food. We now have pet Rollie Pollies

    • rose hydery
    • April 17, 2018

    my frend had a rolly pollie and i want to now what they eat!

    • Tam J. M.
    • August 7, 2017

    Oh my goodness, I had no idea pillbugs were called roly polies and that they were kept as pets! I’ve just discovered them, so to speak, because I noticed two of them seemed to be hanging out together on two different occasions! Pretty interesting behaviour! So of course, being human, I started to want to protect them & wondered if they had enough to eat & drink in the kitchen. 🙂 As a result of becoming more aware of the intelligence & preciousness of the lives of creatures, I’ve become a vegan. I feel much better this way & am constantly amazed by the seeming individuality & awareness of each little life, no matter how small. Anyway, very best wishes & thanks for the post!

    • C B
    • July 24, 2017

    I had 20 roly poly’s in a habitat, and i came out this morning and they were all upside down and lifeless. I don’t know what happned. They had also just had babies.

    • Taylor Thacher
    • June 5, 2017

    I’m taking care of two of them

    • Kitty Cat
    • May 30, 2017

    i have a few roly pollies and some snails and ants in a container would they get along? Also, what should i put in the container if i have these creatures?

    • Emily Barth
    • May 26, 2017

    How do you tell if a Rolly Polly is a female?😜I have two Rolly Pollys.🤗

    • period 1 bio
    • May 26, 2017

    just caught around 50 pillly bugs and we arei put them in a cardboard box with holes is that ok

    • Joseph
    • May 8, 2017

    I have 63 rolly pollys in a tiny container from a filler store cauld dieso and a lady bug, do you think they’d get along? 🐜

    • Anonymous 5
    • April 28, 2017

    I have about 215 rolly pollies ranging from golden, rust, grey, brown, mottled, and white, and they ADORE lettuce, chickweed, grass, and I once saw them eat a dead earthworm. 😄 They love nesting in gum balls and under shells and bark. I house them in a 5-gallon bucket.

    • W W
    • April 14, 2017

    I have 20 rollie pollies but how do I tell if they male or female?
    Ty, WekWek.

    • Blizzard
    • April 10, 2017

    how big should a roly poly terrarium be? Is it okay to have a female and a male in the same terrarium?

    • Z P
    • March 28, 2017

    Does anyone know how big a habitat a rollie pollie needs? Mine have a very small one.
    ( Sorry i cant put my name )

    • Lane Elder
    • March 13, 2017

    I have a bunch of rolly pollies my biggest one is almost an inch and they all seem to love chiclid flake fish food.

    • Bobert Franks
    • February 24, 2017

    I just made a terrarium in a 2 liter bottle and once i caped it i saw something moving looked closer and saw 2 pill bugs. One is slightly larger than the other but they seem to be sticking together. I have one leaf in there now should I put in more? I have some plants will they be fine till the plants start dropping leafs?

    • Maya Herrington
    • January 30, 2017

    I love rollie pollies! I’m going to have rollie pollies! I have fish food to feed them. I also love animals too!

    • Storm Derta
    • September 29, 2016

    Thanks for the info! By the way, what type of cardboard will they eat? Does it have to be moist? Can I use a paper bag?

    • hello
    • September 21, 2016

    do they eat leave because i have a rolly polly i think eat flowers.

      • rpfriend
      • September 21, 2016

      Yes, rollie pollies eat leaves and also flower vegetation.

    • Lusinda Jones
    • September 20, 2016

    How does it hunt tbh?

    • Patrick Acosta
    • July 11, 2016

    Do rolly pollie bugs eat slugs?

      • Nick
      • July 11, 2016

      Hi Patrick,

      Rolly pollie bugs eat mostly decaying organic plant material. It is possible that they could eat part of a slug that had died but not likely.

        • user
        • July 13, 2016

        rollie pollies don’t eat slugs -_-

    • someone
    • May 9, 2016

    my roly poly got dehydrated and died. btw dead one’s name is speckles. have another one name is marshmellow. sorry cant put real name I like remaining anonymous…………………..

    • Charlit pesto
    • April 25, 2016

    Hao,I know you are using mom’s E-mail>,< !*Hmf>,

    • Charlit pesto
    • April 19, 2016

    THANKS,SO MUCH,now I almost know everything about,CUTE LITTLE PILLYS! So,so,so sorry that I don’t have a E-male<(^^<(.Anyways,I think I know how to solve this little problimo. So put the other the in another jar.Or throw it away.Ya,something like that,well only if you want to.You know Hao,I have 101 pill bugs,and still don't fight for mates,they just go with the flow,GET IT LITTLE SIS!I know I'm in school,and my teacher is coming!BY,I'M GETTING IN TROBLE!BY!TAKE CA-A-OH!

    • ME
    • April 11, 2016

    do rollie pollies fight with the babys or does the mom hurt them??

    • April 11, 2016

    My rollie pollie 705just had babies im sorta nervos

    • Hao Tang
    • April 7, 2016

    I got 3 pill bugs,but the two male ones are fighting for the only female, Serina, my female is really sad,and scared,because,the first male one is her LOVER,and it looks likes is DIEING, so BADLY, and also Serina is hiding behind the rocks!!!!Can you,or someone solve it,I’d greatfull if you can help me,thank you ,SO SO SO MUCH!!!!!!!

    • seth turner
    • April 6, 2016

    I love my rolly polly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Kira Ford
    • April 4, 2016

    All ready have a pet!😀😀❤️💕

    • samantha v
    • March 15, 2016

    Best pet facts about rolly pollies

    • jared
    • March 14, 2016

    I’m planning on keeping a rolly polly so this was very useful, thank you!

    • Hao Tang
    • March 3, 2016


    • Hao Tang
    • March 1, 2016

    Hi!I am new!Thank you,now you see Sleepy
    [My sleepy little only rolly polly!]

    • Kitty Chan
    • February 29, 2016

    I love my pet rolly pollie he is fat and i love him lol

    • katerina b
    • February 20, 2016

    I have 5 Rollie pollies and all of the boys are named ash and the girls are named serrena. I think they are shy and they are so cute! My name is katerina And i am 8

    • Sophia Dubois
    • February 12, 2016

    My name is Sophia I an 9 I am in forth grade I have a pet Rollie Pollie named Rollie he likes to eat seallery and paper he is really cute I like to bring him to school and when I go places he is amazing pet I love ROLLIE !!!!!!!!!!!😍😍😍😍❤️❤️😎😎👍🏻👩🏽🏡💙💛💜💕💝🇺🇸

    • Amelia Tucker
    • January 18, 2016

    I have one rolly poly named Bob. My rolly poly likes tiny little pieces of nachos and cheese puffs. I like him. My name is Amelia and I’m 4 and a half.