How to Care for Your Cockroaches
Many users have e-mailed us curious, bewildered, and frustrated by their lack of education in cockroach husbandry. We know, we know, some skills are just not taught in today’s educational system. But, here is a crash course how to take care of your humble cockroaches. With proper care your cockroaches can live 2-3 years, and you can even make a self-sustaining colony. Hatchlings take ~6-8 months to reach sexual maturity.
1. We prefer to buy small terrariums from local pet stores (they cost ~$3-$5). You can see a variety of sizes here from our living neuroscience library. We have a few species that we keep isolated for some experiments. You can use any plastic container you have on hand as well, just make sure to make air holes. Discoid cockroaches cannot crawl on glass or plastic, so if your container is big enough, you don’t even need a lid!
2. Fill the bottom of the terrarium with soil. We use unfertilized potting soil we buy from the local hardware store for $1 per 5 lbs, but honestly, dirt from outside your house will work. The cockroaches enjoy burrowing under the soil.
3. Throw in some toilet paper rolls and wood scraps for them to play in.
4. For food, we prefer to use lettuce, as it provides water, and doesn’t mold. We have heard that dog food is ideal as it’s cheap and contains a lot of protein which will cause the cockroaches to grow faster. The dog food molded too easily in our attempts, so we have found that lettuce works fine as a sole food source. Carrots also work.
5. Throw in your cockroaches. They prefer to be at 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. They can handle colder temperatures but will not grow very fast. Replace the lettuce every week or so, and enjoy your new easy-to-care-for friends! Below is a movie of a healthy sustainable cockroach colony. You can listen to their pitter-patter at nights when they are most active.
Important: If live in a cold climate and have indoor heating, you have to be careful as the resultant low humidity will reduce the vitality of the cockroaches. We often tape a piece of wet sponge to the side of the cockroach cage in the winter months. If you notice your cockroaches making incomplete molts (dying while trying to molt), it's because of the low humidity.