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Cockroaches. Filthy insects that carry diseases, infest homes, are unsanitary, and just plain disgusting. Right? Wrong!

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:

Crickets
-Can jump
-Can chew through some plastic
-Smell bad
-Noisy
-Hard to catch if they escape

Roaches
-Can't climb smooth glass/plastic
-Can't fly
-Can't jump
-Don't make noise
-Don't have much of a smell (unless you put your head right over the container)
-Larger
-Easier to breed
-More nutrients
-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

Roaches aren't too demanding about their containers, but there are some important things you should consider like space, hiding places, food, water, humidity, and temperature.

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
-Knife

Step 2: Setting Up the Container

Cut a hole in the container, either on top or on the side. Then cut a piece of cloth/mesh/netting slightly larger. Glue the cloth/mesh/netting in place.

Step 3: Climate, Food, and Water

All roaches sold as feeders are tropical species, which means they usually come from warm, humid environments. Orange-Spotted roaches are one of them. In order for them to thrive and breed, they will require heat and humidity. To accomplish this, you'll need to buy a reptile heat mat. (CAUTION: Make sure the heat mat you bought is safe to use with the material that your container is made out of!) To maintain humidity spray the container with water once every other day, careful not to get the their food wet. Wet food creates mold, and mold will kill your colony faster than almost anything.

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

Roaches are more expensive than crickets, but they are well worth the cost. If you plan to breed them, I recommend starting with no less than 100. And make sure you're given half adults, half nymphs. The adults for some reason breed easier when there are nymphs in the colony.

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

Orange-spotted roaches are sexually dimorphic, which means the two genders have easily visible differences.

Males
Wings extend across entire back
Usually smaller
Thinner

Females
Extremely short wings. Don't extend beyond the first few segments.
Usually larger
Wider

Step 6: That's All, Folks!

Well, this ends my instructable. Message or comment with any questions.
<p>I was given a roach colony along with my Bearded Dragon, they were breeding, but a lot of the adults were dying, I fed them a powered food that was also given to me, and using a heating pad, I sprayed water on the sides. After going away on a 2 week vacation I came home and all that was left was babies and a few adults ?! I want to restart the colony! I guess they may need more air, after seeing the mesh you show here, and I need to feed something more, and I think I'll get some water crystals, too. Do you have any other suggetions? </p>
How do you clean up their poop so it doesn't get all nasty?
<p>I strted with 5 roachs. I am now on about 300+, god knows what generation.</p>
<p>After finding I'm spending about $550 a year on crickets ($16 every week and a half) for a silly little Tokay, I think i'll be switching to these guys. </p>
Great guide! You can keep them for feeder insects, but you can also make them as a great snack!
A quick hint for a lot of insect species that could possibly get out is to put a 1&quot; thick band of vasoline or any other petroleum jelly around the top of the container as a barrier that they would be unable to cross.
Good guide, im hopefully going to be writing my own roach colony guide and tarantula keeping.

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