If dogs and cats are too much for you, then perhaps a lower maintenance pet is what you need. Have you considered a pet cockroach

american cockroach


Cockroaches are eaten around the world and raised for livestock feed in countries like China. However, some people also keep them as pets. No, we aren’t talking about robotic cockroaches, which scientists are developing for disaster recovery. People are keeping live cockroaches in their homes as pets. Here’s a look at what you should know before you buy a pet roach.

Q: Can any type of cockroach be a pet?

A: In theory, yes. Of the more than 3,500 species of cockroach in the world, only around 30 are considered pests. However, certain species make better pets than others, including:

Madagascar hissing cockroach: This species, which hisses, is black and can be up to 3 inches long. Madagascar roaches do not have wings and therefore cannot fly.

Death’s head cockroach Also called the death head cockroach, this species is dark brown and can grow to be more than 2 inches long. While adults have wings, this species does not fly.

Indian domino cockroach: Also called the seven-spotted or desert cockroach, this species is black with seven white spots. It can be just over 1 inch long. This species has fully developed wings but is unlikely to fly.

Cuban cockroach: Also called the green banana cockroach, this species is bright green and can be up to 1 inch long. Cuban roaches fly and are attracted to light.

Q: What is the lifespan of a pet roach?

A: The lifespan of a roach varies depending on the species. Some roaches live for a little over one year, while others may live up to five years.

Q: Do I need a permit to keep a roach?

A: Depending on your state and the type of roach you wish to raise, you may need a special permit. Madagascar and Cuban roaches, for example, are considered invasive species if found in the wild. Check with your state’s department of agriculture to see whether or not you require a permit to own cockroaches.

Q: Do I need more than one roach?

A: Most cockroaches are social insects, so entomologists recommend you keep them in small groups. Many species are unable to successfully reproduce in captivity, so you don’t need to worry about your roach population growing too large.

Q: What kind of habitat does my new pet need?

A: It is recommended that you keep your roaches in a terrarium or an aquarium. Roaches are prolific climbers, so care should be taken to ensure that the lid of the cage fits tightly and the insects cannot escape. As most roach species are negatively phototactic — meaning they don’t like a lot of light — the habitat should have plenty of places where they can hide or burrow under. Heat is another major consideration, as the roach species kept for pets are mostly tropical. You may need to use a heat lamp or pad to maintain the right temperature for your roaches.

Q: What do roaches eat?

A: The good thing about a roach for a pet is that it can eat almost anything. Entomologists recommend fruits and vegetables, dry cat or fish food that has been moistened, or rotting wood or leaves. It is important to research your specific type of roach to ensure you are feeding it correctly, as not all species prefer the same foods. Organic foods, like fruits or vegetables, should be removed from the cage when they start to rot, as fermentation gases can build up and harm certain roach types.

Q: Can you play with a pet cockroach?

A: Because it is an insect, you cannot really “play” with a roach like you would other pet types. That said, certain species — including Madagascar hissing cockroaches — can be held gently and allowed to crawl around on your hand.

Q: Is there anything else I should know before I purchase a roach?

A: Specialty pet stores can give you more information about the type of roach you decide to buy. However, the Oklahoma State University Extension has a guide on Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and the Amateur Entomologists’ Society offers a cockroach care sheet, as well.

If keeping cockroach friends alive as pets isn’t for you, you aren’t alone. While some species make good pets, others are a nuisance. If you are seeing signs of cockroach activity in your home, go online for a FREE Pest Estimate and find out about your options for cockroach control.

Image Source: Flickr