Culturing Lobster Roaches (and other roaches)

KingCam

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Keeping & Breeding Lobster Roaches
A Guide to Basic Roach Husbandry for the Purpose of Perpetual Insectivore Food



Several people have asked me what conditions I keep my roaches in to make them breed so fast, so I have decided to type up a detailed guide. This will be an overview of how I keep my roaches, and what works for me. If you do it differently I'm not saying you're wrong, or that my way is better, this is just my own personal preference. Feel free to leave comments with helpful hints or tips that I may have left out.


First, let me list a few reasons why roaches are superior to crickets & meal worms.


Feeder roaches are easy to keep since they accept a wide range of foods
They thrive on high protein diets, making them lower in fat and higher in protein than crickets.
Once established, they breed readily with no special trays for egg laying, etc, making them easily cultured at home.
They have a much higher meat-to-shell ratio (meaning they are more nutritious and easier to digest) than crickets or meal worms.
Roaches are quiet, they don't drive you insane with their constant chirping.
Roaches don't jump all over the place, making them easier to contain.
Roaches are long lived & hardy with a lifespan of a year or more. Unlike crickets which are very fragile and short lived.
Roaches don't smell nearly as bad as crickets and don't need their cages cleaned as often.
Roaches don't bite & will not attack a weak animal like crickets will.


Although this guide will be focused on the keeping of Lobster Roaches, Nauphoeta cinerea, it will apply to nearly every other species of feeder roach you may encounter. (Including Guyana Orange Spotted Roaches, Blaptica dubia & Red runners, Blatta lateralis)


Let's get right into it, shall we?


Housing

The perfect container to use is one of those solid-colored 18 gallon storage totes you can pick up at wally world for ~$6. The taller/deeper the better.



18galtub.jpg



You can use a clear tote if you want, but realize the light will disturb your roach colony and will certainly slow breeding & production rates.


If you have to use a clear plastic or glass tub/tank you should attempt to darken it as much as possible by wrapping the outside with dark paper, or even aluminum foil. Roaches like the dark.


Lobster roaches are accomplished climbers, and can easily scale vertical glass or plastic surfaces. The most practical way to keep them in their tub is to use a foam brush to apply a thin ~4 inch strip of Vaseline around the top edge of the tote or aquarium.


Though adults have wings, they cannot fly. Some individuals will sort of “hop” and then “flutter” to the ground from a higher position if you are bothering them, but rest assured, they cannot fly up & out of a tub or tank.


Throw some cardboard egg cartons in there for the roaches to hide in, or alternatively you can use empty paper towel & toilet paper rolls. Anything cardboard really.


If you stack the cartons or tubes vertically all of the roach poop will drop to the bottom. I take egg cartons, and I tear them in half down the middle (so they are only half as long, like a 6-egg holder instead of 12), then I set them torn side down so the roach poo can fall out the bottom.


I don't keep a lid on my tub because I like to have plenty of ventilation. It is probably smart to put a lid on your tub if you have pets or children that roam the house freely. No one wants a roach covered dog walking around the place, right? XD **shudder**


Substrate

Don't use any! Many people use substrate because it supposedly boosts production speeds, that may well be true, but I've never found it necessary. Adding substrate will just make it more difficult to clean the tub when the time comes because it will be nearly impossible to separate your smallest baby roaches from the soiled substrate. Just go bare bottom, once you have roaches in the thousands they will create their own substrate with droppings & shed skins. Unless you are breeding a species like Surinam roaches, you do not need substrate.



Lighting

None!! Roaches hate hate hate the light! The darker you keep them, the faster they will breed.



Heating


This one is important. Without heat your roaches will not reproduce, or will reproduce very slowly. Keep your roaches at 90F. 90F is perfect for pretty much all species of feeder (tropical) roaches. You can keep your roaches at a minimum of 70F and still see some reproduction, anything under 70F and they will pretty much stop completely.


You can accomplish this in many ways. My favorite is a ceramic heat emitter hanging directly over the tub. The heat emitter keeps it close to 100F at the top of the tub, and about 80F at the bottom. This gives a perfect heat gradient for the roaches to live in.


You can also use heat cable or under tank heaters. When using heat cable & under tank heaters you want to go low wattage. High wattage heating elements could melt your plastic tub or even start a fire! I feel it is safest to use a ceramic heat emitter above the tub.


If you live in a warm climate you can keep your roach colony in the garage during the summer and save on electricity!


Humidity


Humidity is important to roaches. Without enough humidity the roaches will not be able to properly shed their old skins and will die during molts. If you see a lot of dead roaches in your colony that died during molt it is safe to assume you're keeping your colony too dry.


Keep your relative humidity between 40% and 60%. When humidity levels stay above 60% you are at risk for mold grown. Amazingly, as much as roaches can live through, mold is one of their weaknesses. If you get the right strain of mold growing in your culture it could wipe out your entire roach population.


Since your tub is full of cardboard it will retain moisture somewhat well if you just give it a good misting about once a day.


Water


There are a few ways your roaches can get their water. By far the best way is to use water crystals. Don't buy cricket water at the pet store, and certainly don't get anything that is calcium fortified or anything like that. Get on ebay, do a search for “dry water crystals.” You should find people selling them a pound at a time for MUCH cheaper than you will ever find it at the pet stores. If you buy 1lb of dry water crystals it'll probably last you at least 3 years, if not longer. After you have the dry water crystals, just add 1tbsp to a gallon of dechlorinated water and wait for them to hydrate. You want to hydrate your crystals before putting them in your roach colony. If just set a bowl of water in their colony and add crystals to it many of your roaches will drown before the water has turned into gel crystals.


Some people suggest using wet clothes, sponges, or paper towels to water their roaches. Do not do this, these items will just grow bacteria and get nasty very quickly. You also don't want to use straight water because your roaches will die. If you don't want to spend money on water crystals just mist your colony twice a day and make sure there's always a piece of apple in there for them eat/drink from.


Food


Your roaches crave & need food that is high in protein. A high quality cat food or dog food will work just fine. You can go out and buy expensive roach chow if you have some extra cash to spend. You want to have dry high protein food available at all time to your roaches. You can just throw it in a corner if you want, but I find the tub stays cleaner when I keep the food in a bowl.


Many people grind the dog or cat food up before putting it in with the roaches. This step is completely and totally unnecessary. The roaches will eat it either way.


Along with food you should offer your roaches fresh fruits and vegetables at least twice a week. Organic of course is best. I would put your fruits & veggies in a separate bowl from the dry food. Any produce the roaches don't eat over night should be removed to prevent mold & fruit flies.


Just remember, whatever you feed your roaches will end up in your pets' tummies. So feed your roaches healthy wholesome foods!


Lifecycle


Lobster roaches mature at around 3 to 4 months old (depending on temperature). Females carry young for approx. a month and give live birth to between 30 and 40 babies nearly every month! The young are tiny, coming in at about 3/16 of an inch. They grow quickly, providing you with a constant source of feeders of all sizes! As adults they are about 1.25 inches long, and can live up to a year (as opposed to crickets, which only live a month or two).

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Now the fun part, PHOTOS!!


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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k67iP1r8eDw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMbWjvUINaw&feature=youtu.be
 
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Coastal Groovin

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Don't let them get out or they will be found by your wife living under the wooden knife block in the kitchen. Things only get worse from there. Trust me.
 

KingCam

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Don't let them get out or they will be found by your wife living under the wooden knife block in the kitchen. Things only get worse from there. Trust me.
hahaha, how oddly specific! I take it this isn't an imagined scenario XD

It's a rule in my house not to kill any spiders found wandering around. I rely on them to take care of any escapees I might have :p

But honestly, I haven't had any problem whatsoever with roaches escaping and living in other places in my house. Trust me, if that were a problem these things would be long gone!
 

Mark

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Don't let them get out or they will be found by your wife living under the wooden knife block in the kitchen. Things only get worse from there. Trust me.
The problem with roaches under the knife block is the ease at which an angry woman can obtain a sharp weapon. Much better to keep escaped roaches under soft items such as cushions or pillows.


Great post Cameron!
 

KingCam

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The problem with roaches under the knife block is the ease at which an angry woman can obtain a sharp weapon. Much better to keep escaped roaches under soft items such as cushions or pillows.


Great post Cameron!

LOL! Great point :tongue: and thank you.

Also, if any mods want to attempt to fix my videos at the end, that would be super. There was supposed to be two, but only one took.
 

Coastal Groovin

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Lobster Roachers a great feeder but make sure you put a 4 inch Vaseline barrier along the top edge of the container. A fresh layer should be added monthly to keep them inside where they belong. I found that extra large cheese ball and pretzel containers with screw on lids are great to use. YES IT IS A REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE WITH THE WIFE!!!!......LOL.
 

KingCam

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Lobster Roachers a great feeder but make sure you put a 4 inch Vaseline barrier along the top edge of the container. A fresh layer should be added monthly to keep them inside where they belong. I found that extra large cheese ball and pretzel containers with screw on lids are great to use.

Indeed, I mentioned that in the housing section, but I forgot to say how often to reapply the Vaseline. I think once a month is a bit overkill, I only reapply it every 3 months or so, but do whatever helps you sleep at night, hahaha :p
 

ahritchie

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Don't let them get out or they will be found by your wife living under the wooden knife block in the kitchen. Things only get worse from there. Trust me.

:rofl: And I thought random escaped crickets roaming my house was bad enough.
 

Coastal Groovin

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How often you apply more Vaseline is in direct correlation with how miserable you wife can make your life. On a different note there isn't a better feeder if you have a bunch of Tiger Salamander or a large lizard that you can tong feed them to. Even Barking tree frogs love them. My buddy feeds his roaches with his fingers.
 

Sdaji

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I've been breeding these for over 10 years, I use them for lizards, frogs, centipedes, scorpions, axolotls and other insectivores. They're dead easy to breed in large numbers, very low maintenance, cost virtually nothing and take very little space. My axolotls love them :)
 

Coastal Groovin

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Cam I'm just wondering have you ever tried keeping them on a bed of rabbit pellets instead of cat food?
 

KingCam

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Cam I'm just wondering have you ever tried keeping them on a bed of rabbit pellets instead of cat food?

I don't keep them on a bed of anything, their food goes in a bowl. The only "substrate" they have is their own frass. Also, I no longer use the catfood you can see in those photos. I switched to Eukenuba Large Breed Puppy Food (Dry)
 

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Indeed, I mentioned that in the housing section, but I forgot to say how often to reapply the Vaseline. I think once a month is a bit overkill, I only reapply it every 3 months or so, but do whatever helps you sleep at night, hahaha :p

Sorry, I know this is an old thread, but don't you risk secondary poisoning with that stuff?:eek:
 
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