Common Group – Oxyhaloinae
Common Name – Lobster Roaches
Scientific Name – Nauphoeta cinerea
Distribution Area – Caribbean, Cuba, Hispaniola, Mexico, Brazil and the Galapagos Islands
Lobster Cockroaches are a medium sized, winged species that may be the easiest species to work with and breed. They are relatively common, inexpensive, and very interesting additions to any collection, as well as great food items for reptiles, large tarantulas, and large centipedes. Lobster Cockroaches have a relatively soft exoskeleton, and like many other cockroach species possess wings. Lobster cockroaches are hearty insects and do not really require any special handling, just remember that they are living creatures and need normal, common sense care.
Size and Longevity
Lobster Cockroaches generally live 1 to 2 years as adults. They can obtain sizes up to 1.25 inches with good care.
There many options when it comes to housing cockroaches. You can keep them in an EXTRA LARGE CRITTER KEEPER. 10-gallon glass tanks, rubber storage tubs with ventilation holes, or a 5 gallon bucket with a ventilated lid will work as well. If using a tub or bucket, be sure to cover your ventilation holes with a fine metal mesh to prevent escapes or pest insects from entering. Regardless of the housing option utilized, it is recommended to line the top two inches of the container walls with a thick layer of petroleum jelly, as Lobster cockroaches can climb almost anything. This sticky barrier will prevent escapes and reduce losses.
Be creative, and pick something that works best for you. Always be sure to provide adequate ground space to allow room food and water dishes, while still allowing of plenty of standing room for the cockroaches.
Heating and Lighting
With cockroaches, no special lighting is needed. Any ambient room lighting will be sufficient. Maintain moderate temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees F for cockroaches of all sizes. When breeding, keep temperatures slightly warmer, between 80 and 90 degrees F.
Substrate and Furnishing
There are a couple of options available for bedding. ORCHID BARK and COCO SOFT ( a coconut husk product) are two of the most popular choices and among the most cost effective.
Cockroaches need lots of climbing areas and places to get away from each other. The best way to accomplish this is by stacking egg crate in the cage either vertically or horizontally. You can use CORK FLATS, and CORK ROUNDS as well, and these will result in a more naturalistic habitat.
Here’s another good tip; it is hard to collect cockroaches off of big pieces of egg crate to feed to your animals. Try providing a few used paper towel tubes and/or toilet paper rolls in which the cockroaches will hide. These are much easier to shake cockroaches out of and into any container you wish to use.
Water and Humidity
Cockroaches typically do poorly with low levels of humidity. You need keep them in a relatively humid environment, as they are from the Caribbean, which is a tropical rainforest. Mist the cage down every other day to keep humidity levels up. If you live in a dry climate it is recommended that you mist your cage once a day.
Lobster Cockroaches need a high protein diet with greens being offered 2 to 3 times a week. They are very opportunistic feeders and will eat anything you offer to them. As with all feeder animals, cockroaches nutritional value comes from what they eat, so whatever you feed them goes directly into your animal. With that in mind, you will want to feed the cockroaches a food source that is very nutritious. This process is known as “gut loading”. A good way to gut load your feeder insects is with pre made gut loads such as NATURE ZONE TOTAL BITES, which are a vitamin supplement, food and water source all in one.
Lobster cockroaches can be fed a variety of high protein diets including commercial cockroach diets and other high protein canned and dry diets like those sold for monitors, tegus, and bearded dragons. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be fed to roaches as well. Do not feed head lettuce, rather stick with romaine and other leafy greens, as they are more nutritious. Carrots seem to be a universal favorite. Oranges, apples, bananas, tomatoes, celery, squash, peas and pea pods, and others can be fed as well. Remove uneaten food after a few days to avoid spoilage.
Don’t use things like fish flakes or dog food and cat food to feed your cockroaches. These foods were not designed for your reptiles, and they can cause your animal more harm than good in the long run.
Adult Cockroaches will breed quickly if provided with the proper conditions and good nutrition. To induce breeding in Lobster cockroaches keep the cage between 80 to 90 degrees F day and night. As a general rule breeding will take care of itself if conditions are optimal. Eggs are normally laid in an ootheca or egg case. Females carry the ootheca (egg case) internally until they hatch. Female roaches will incubate the egg case for about 30 days, after which time up to 40 young are born. The parents and offspring will commonly remain in close physical contact for extended periods of time. Nymphs, or babies, are about 3/16 of an inch when born, and will reach adult size in 3 to 4 months.