How to Raise Discoid Roaches: Life Cycle & Uses

Discoid roaches aren’t the most common or popular feeding bugs, not because they’re poor feeder bugs. In truth, discoid roaches are simple to raise, have a lot of meat inside their thin shells, and reproduce easily in captivity.

Discoid roaches require some heating for them to breed and grow properly. While they can breed at room temperature, you need an under-tank heater or small wattage bulb to heat up their tank for the best results. Discoid roaches are used as pet foods, as fuel cells, and in insect-eating competitions.

While many individuals prefer dubia roaches as a feeder, it is unlawful to transfer dubia roaches into certain jurisdictions where the roaches can become invasive. On the other hand, discoid roaches have almost the same nutritional profile and are nearly as easy to reproduce. So, do you want to establish and raise a colony of discoid roaches? Continue reading to find out how!

Discoid Roaches on Egg Tray

What are discoid roaches?

Blaberus discoidalis, or discoid roaches, are a breed of cockroaches endemic to Mexico, Central America, and South America. It is a 1.5 inches tan, circular disc-shaped cockroach with a dark brown patch on the head. 

The wild population of this insect is found in Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, Florida, Puerto Rico, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, and Trinidad & Tobago. Due to its superficial similarity to Blaberus craniifer, the death’s head cockroach,  the discoid roach is also known as the fake death’s head roach. 

These roaches have a high meat-to-shell ratio, so they’ll easily satisfy your reptile’s needs. However, they also have a more rigid shell, so you should avoid feeding too many of them to a tiny reptile hatchling. In addition, the hard surfaces may cause impaction in younger reptiles.

Despite mature discoid roaches having wings, they’re not climbers or flyers. Instead, they burrow, ensuring that you won’t have to worry about having them fly around. If you’re unsure, proceed with care. 

In general, roaches benefit bigger reptiles as they will like discoid roaches as their primary food source. However, discoid roaches can occasionally be fed to geckos and other smaller reptiles, as long as they are the correct size.

Uses of discoid roaches

Discoid roaches are utilized for a variety of purposes:

1. Pet food

Discoid roaches are among the best sources of food for your reptile pet. This is because they are low in chitin and fat and abundant in proteins, calcium, vitamins, and minerals. They’re also simple to keep in captivity and reproduce quickly. If kept warm and fed, they become reproductive in about six months. For a more prolific reproduction rate, temperatures of 85 – 90 °F are advised.

Any food you offer your roaches will end up in the stomachs of your reptiles, amphibians and even cats since they eat roaches. For the best results, it’s ideal to maintain the discoids’ gut loaded with the best nourishment possible so that it is also passed along. 

Fruits such as apples and bananas should be fed to give healthy and good nutrients to your insectivorous pets like tarantulas, bearded dragons, and other reptiles.

2. Insect-eating competitions

Cockroach eating isn’t as popular among most people. However, they are pretty popular in several states. For example, discoid roaches are found in South Florida where roach-eating competitions are held several times a year with “professional athletes” who have spent time practicing and working on the same. 

Discoid roaches are regarded as the best insects because they can be reared in captivity, making them easier to gather in large numbers during a competition.

3. Fuel cells

Some researchers have recently attempted to employ discoid roaches as fuel cells to power miniature robots. This is after an experiment was conducted on creating a miniature fuel cell from the oxygen in the air and sugar in the insect. This discovery has been termed an essential milestone toward developing power sources from metabolic chemistry in organisms.

How to raise discoid roaches

Discoid roach colonies can be kept in a vented plastic tub between 14-20 gallon totes, as recommended, or in a giant aquarium tank. It should have additional egg flats for the discoid to hide in and nestle, increasing the total surface area. 

Since the discoid roaches can’t climb effectively on smooth surfaces, there’s minimal possibility of escaping if the sides are smooth.

You can use a regular plastic storage tub with punch holes in the lid, or better yet, cut it out and insert screen mesh in the top and the sides of the tub. This helps with ventilation. There is no need for a substrate since this makes removal, separation, and maintenance easy.

Among the main aspects to consider when raising discoid roaches include the following:

1. Heating/temperature

The optimum living condition and temperatures for discoid roaches is an average of 82 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. While they might thrive and survive in lower temperatures, they will be sluggish and not breed as fast. Temperatures of about 88 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit will significantly increase their breeding and production rates.

2. Humidity/moisture

Discoid roaches are tropical insects that thrive and are at their finest when there’s a lot of humidity. On average, humidity between 40 and 50 percent is good enough. 

Always maintain these humidity levels; otherwise, you will start to see a die-off when nymphs molt their skins or give birth. Put a temperature gauge with a humidity level indication in the bin where your roaches are kept. 

Fruits and vegetables might help to increase humidity levels. Include a water container that is screened or covered. Also, reduce the heat in the habitat for the best growth. Finally, add additional Water Crystal Gel to the mix (Prevents Drowning)

3. Feeding

Discoid roaches are bugs and eat almost anything making the feeding process a breeze. Always ensure they have constant access to high-protein grains such as oats, wheat, and wheat bran. 

They also need some roach protein. Therefore, some feed their roaches dog food, cat food, or fish food. Most people choose a balanced all-natural roach chow developed to have the correct protein % since cat or dog food can be too high in protein. 

Whatever your roaches eat is directly linked to what your reptile is feeding. High protein levels can cause uric acid buildup and death in your reptiles and amphibians. They should be given fruit that has been thoroughly cleansed of pesticides or organic ones at least twice a week.

4. Habitat

The most suitable habitat for your discoid roaches is a well-ventilated plastic tub with a capacity of between 14-20 gallons or a giant aquarium tank. It should have other egg flats installed for the discoid to hide in and nestle, increasing the total surface area. 

Since they can’t fly or climb effectively on smooth surfaces, there’s minimal possibility of escaping if the sides are smooth.

You can use a regular plastic storage tub with holes punched on the lid or have it cut out and insert screen mesh on the top and sides of the tub. This will help with ventilation without needing a substrate since removal, separation, and maintenance is easy.

Discoid roaches’ life cycle

To start breeding your colony, you need at least one mature male roach and 3 to 5 adult females or keep to this ratio. The easiest way to tell the genders apart is through their wings, as with males, their wings fully cover their abdomen. For females, the branches do not cover the entire abdomen, allowing the male to mount himself during mating. Also, males tend to be slightly narrower as compared to females.

The main stages of the life of a discoid roach are:

1. Egg

Since discoid roaches are ovoviviparous, she will develop a special egg sac within her abdomen called an ootheca after fertilizing the female. The eggs will develop in the sac, and she will give birth to an average of 20-40 roaches.

2. Nymphs

This is the first stage, where the nymphs will hatch as tiny, frail white versions of the adults. They are yet to develop wings at this stage and can be great feeders for arachnids and smaller reptiles. 

They continue to grow for up to 3 to 4 months. During this period, they will develop color, shed severally, and increase in size from ⅛ up to ½ an inch. But, again, there’s no specific way to feed them. As such, do it as would an adult roach but with more liquids at lesser intervals.

3. Adult

After about 5 months, your discoid roach will mature. The first sign will be their fully developed wings. They can mate and keep reproducing or be fed to grown reptiles at this stage. 

Adult discoid roaches eat just about anything and should be fed regularly but with limited contact for the best results. They will live for another 6 months before they start to grow weak and die – the cycle continues.

Final thoughts

Raising discoid roaches isn’t hard if you know what you’re doing. From the information above, you can easily tell that they require less care than other feeder insects, such as silkworms, for example. With the tips and guidelines in the sections above, you should be able to rare and successfully breed discoid roaches. Good luck!


Natural Selections. Help Wanted.

Florida STEM University. Roach Research Provides Alternative Cognitive Behavior Experience.

Elsevier. The neoichnology of terrestrial arthropods.

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