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Woodlouse religious ritual

Once upon a time, I paid a visit to the john. While seated on the throne, I spotted a couple of woodlice on the floor at the bottom of the side of the bath. The miserable critters have found their way in again lately. I decided to snap a few shots for my critter photo collection (which will debut here one day):

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I couldn’t see much from where I was sitting, so the photos came as a surprise to me – both the severed head on the floor, and the suggestion that the woodlice were up to something creepy down there – some kind of ritual by the looks of it. I prodded them a bit and took some more shots. You can start to see that there’s something in between them:

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It looked suspiciously like a headless corpse to me, so after I was done, I got down and kicked the two woodlice out of the little temple, and examined the artefact in the middle:

Headless corpse, right way up Headless corpse, upside down

It was considerably smaller than the two priests, so I am guessing that it must have been some kind of child sacrifice. The head had already been severed and thrown down, and then they were sacrificing the remains to the Great Woodlouse God … which I presume would be a marine isopod? King Neptune of the Arthropods. It almost seems like they were feasting on the remains – a cannibalistic child sacrifice ritual.

I am never going to think about woodlice the same way again. The horror.

Amusingly enough, Meagan (doesn’t rhyme with Meighan) Stevens from South Africa wrote in with the following:


I just read the bit about the woodlouse ritual and found it quite amusing. I have been rearing woodlice in the lab for just over a year now and have noticed similar instances of beheading and "sacrafice".
I think the woodlice do this when an individual is sick or dies due to stress or some natural cause (such as age). It's a case of: good protein should not go to waste. Also they only seem to eat the head and the lower abdomen, weird. Wonder why they do this...

Sometimes it’s better to be wrong …