Cats, dogs and horses are known to have personality. But research conducted by a team from Palacky University, the Czech Republic, the tiny, slimy slater -- commonly known as the woodlouse -- also show individual characteristics.
A series of tests conducted on the common rough woodlouse called Porcellio scaber showed each tiny creature responded differently. On being squeezed, dropped or prodded, the creatures responded in a way that helped researchers identify the “bold” ones from the “timid” ones.
During the study, the research team observed the behavior of the individual woodlouse on being exposed to various conditions. The team said the behavior shown by the individual woodlice meets the actual definition of personality.
Upon being grabbed, nudged or dropped with forceps, all woodlice adopted the strategy of tonic immobility, that is, they curled up their armored segmented bodies and tucked away their antennae and legs. Woodlice are known to adopt the defensive strategy of tonic immobility when affected or threatened by external conditions.
The researchers found some woodlice are bolder than the others. The researchers said the bolder individuals stayed rolled up for less time than their more timid cousins.
The team repeated the experiment five times in a three-week period and found the behavior of an individual woodlouse remained consistent. The researchers took into consideration other factors, including body size, in interpreting the results.
"Besides finding differences in endurance of [tonic immobility] between body size groups, we also identified personal behavioral patterns in all tested individuals, as well as variation within these body size groups," said lead researcher Dr. Ivan Hadrian Tuf. However, the research team was unable to determine whether the woodlouse personality changes over time.
"These findings are not able to resolve if personality is changing during individual development or not. Investigation of long-term stability of behavioral traits in terrestrial isopods should be a possible goal of future studies."