Oniscus asellus ssp. asellus Linnaeus, 1758

Common name

Common Shiny Woodlouse


Oniscus asellus Linnaeus, 1758


GB IUCN status: Least Concern

ID Difficulty



This large familiar grey-brown woodlouse reaches 18 mm.  In adults the dorsal surface is smooth and it often has a rather broad, flattened appearance. The continuous body outline, three flagella segments and lack of pleopodal lungs are characteristic of Oniscus asellus.

Small immatures look very different to adults, with the body bearing rough tubercles and typicaly marked with orange.

Warren Maguire
J.P. Richards
J.P. Richards
R.E. Jones
R.E. Jones
Keith Lugg
Nicola Garnham
Nicola Garnham
Nicola Garnham
Nicola Garnham
Nicola Garnham

Distribution and Habitat

This species (along with P. scaber) represents the archetypal ‘woodlouse’ familiar to the general public and is abundant throughout Britain and Ireland.  There are few habitat where it does not occur, but it is most abundant in damper habitats such as woodlands, hedge banks, damp meadows, coastal cliffs, waste ground, parks and gardens.

Typically, it occurs close to ground level and large numbers may be found under dead wood and stones, amongst leaf litter, within compost heaps, amongst rubbish, inside damp bathrooms and even within rotting window sills.

In the south-west Britain it is partially replaced by a genetically distinct sub-species Oniscus asellus ssp. occidentalis

This summary is based on the detailed account in Gregory (2009).



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



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