Most cockroach species are not pests, despite popular belief. They can actually make interesting pets. But I'm not here to tell you how to keep pet roaches. I'm going to tell you how to set up a colony of roaches to feed to your reptiles, fish, and inverts.
Why? Simple. Feeder roaches have taken the herp hobby by storm over the past couple of years.The species of roach I will be talking about is Blaptica dubia, or the Guyana Orange-Spotted Roach. They are an all around better feeder than crickets, as the below chart shows:
-Can chew through some plastic
-Hard to catch if they escape
-Can't climb smooth glass/plastic
-Don't make noise
-Don't have much of a smell (unless you put your head right over the container)
-Easier to breed
-Fairly slow, and so easy to catch if they happen to escape (which is very unlikely)
Still not so sure? There are plenty of resources on the internet that will say the same thing. Should you decide to keep a colony of roaches, your pets will love you forever.
Step 1: Materials
-A plastic or glass container
-A piece of cloth/mesh/netting
-A reptile heating pad
-Lots of hiding places (egg crate, toilet paper rolls, small boxes, crumpled newspaper, etc.)
-Hot glue gun
Step 2: Setting Up the Container
Step 3: Climate, Food, and Water
Speaking of food, your roaches are not picky at all about what they eat. However, I recommend dry foods, fruits, and vegetables. Anything else could cause the container to smell, and we don't want that. You can feed them leftover bird food (pellets, not seeds), dog food, cat food, fish food, cereal, etc. The possibilities are almost endless.
They will be able to get water from the misting, but I like to keep a dish of water crystals in their container just in case. These are fairly cheap and have the consistency of jell-o. The advantage of these over a water dish is that roaches are particularly poor swimmers. Even a fairly shallow dish of water will make short work of a curious roach. Water crystals won't allow them to drown and won't grow harmful bacteria.
As far as hiding places go, like I said in the intro, anything will work. Toilet paper rolls, crumpled newspaper, small boxes. Their favorite, though, is cardboard egg crate.
Step 4: Buying the Roaches
When you get them home, make sure their container is ready to go. Open up the bag/box that they're in and let them loose.
They have a lifespan of approximately 2 years, compared to the cricket's 8-10 weeks. They also take a few months to mature, which means that if your pet needs smaller prey, you won't have to hurry to feed off the nymphs.
Roaches can also be gutloaded and dusted just like crickets, and can even use the same gutload formula as crickets.
Step 5: Telling Them Apart
Wings extend across entire back
Extremely short wings. Don't extend beyond the first few segments.