Trachelipus rathkii (Brandt, 1833)

Common name

Rathke's Woodlouse


Trachelipus rathkei (Brandt, 1833) (spelling mistake)


GB IUCN status: Least Concern


A large woodlouse (up to 15 mm), often slate-grey in colour, with pale areas giving the impression of three thin longitudinal stripes, but females may be attractively marked with orange mottling.  The combination of five pairs of pleopodal lungs and two flagellal segments distinguish T. rathkii.

Despite this, it has been frequently confused with Oniscus asellus (with three flagellal segments) and Porcellio scaber (with two pairs of pleopodal lungs).

J.P. Richards
R.E. Jones
Keith Lugg
Keith Lugg
J.P. Richards

Distribution and Habitat

It has a ‘clumpy’ distribution across south-eastern England and into Wales (Jones, 2008), but is probably under-recorded. For example, it has been recently found by Jon Daws in Yorkshire. (NBN records on the west coast need to be verified). It favours sites with impeded drainage and is tolerant of flooding, making it a characteristic woodlouse of riverside meadows.  It also inhabits poorly drained scrub, eroding ‘soft’ cliffs, gravel pits, churchyards, etc.

It occurs under stones and dead wood, beneath bark on logs, amongst grass litter, within tussocks and amongst flood debris. It is often associated with other ‘large’ woodlice, such as P. scaber and O. asellus, Philoscia muscorum and Armadillidium vulgare.



Daws, J. (2014) Trachelipus rathkei found in Yorkshire. BMIG Newsletter 30: p3. 

Gregory, S. (2009) Woodlice and Waterlice (Isopoda: Oniscidea & Asellota) in Britain and Ireland.  Field Studies Council/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.



BRC Code