The discoid roach (Blaberus discoidales) is a tropical roach from Mexico,
Central and South America. They measure around 2 inch es in length as adults
and are around 1/4 inch in length when born. Adults have wings but are
unable to fly. This is a non-climbing species which means they are unable to
climb smooth surfaces. They are a nocturnal species being more active at night
and are very shy and skittish when disturbed. Adults have a life span of around
Housing discoids is very simple. Any container is suitable to use such
as but not limited to Rubbermaid containers or glass aquariums. Size
does not really matter but will depend on how many roaches you need
to keep. I use a 56 quart Rubbermaid for mine. Another thing to keep
in mind is to never overcrowd the container. A for sure sign of
this would be short or missing antennas. Overcrowding can also slow
production and growth because of the competition for food and hiding
Substrate - I suggest not using any type of substrate to
minimize maintenance. This will make cleaning much easier and greatly
decrease any smell.
Hides - Provide plenty of hiding places. This can be achieved by placing
several egg cartons, paper towel rolls or toilet paper rolls in the
cage. This will let them hide and feel more comfortable. Hiding places
are essential for the colony to thrive and to minimize overcrowding.
Heat & Light - Discoids are nocturnal therefore they
should be kept in the darkest area possible where they will be most
active. As far as temperatures they like it hot especially for breeding.
Ideally keep them around 90 to 95 degrees fahrenheit. During the summer
my roaches experience temperatures around 105 to 110 degrees fahrenheit
and this is when production and growth is highest. Remember when they
are at these extreme temperatures they’ll eat more and need more
water to stay hydrated. If they are producing faster than you wish
you can bring their temperatures down to 75 degrees fahrenheit. They
will still thrive but grow and reproduce slower.
Food & Water:
Like all roaches discoids will eat just about anything they are offered.
Highly nutritious items such as various fruits, vegetables, grains
etc. are all accepted. Unlike other roach species discoids don’t
require a high protein diet but always remember variety is key.
Make sure to gutload all food items for 24 hours prior to feeding.
Gutloading is feeding very nutritious/high quality foods (such as
the ones listed above) to prey prior to feeding to your animals.
There are also many commercially available products that are in powder
form. I make and use Pro Gutload for all my feeders. Gutloading will
ensure a healthier insect and in the long run a healthier animal.
Water - I offer a shallow dish of water and keep it full
at all times. If you are experiencing drownings a sponge or paper
towel may be added to the dish to prevent this issue. This should be
cleaned several times a week to prevent bacteria build up and replaced
with fresh water. You can also use water gel, fruits and vegetables
as a water source.
Maintenance is minimal when keeping any species of roach. Depending
on the amount of roaches you have in a container they should be cleaned
on at least a monthly basis but I prefer to do it weekly. This can
be done by sifting the roaches from the waste or with a brush and
scoop. Regular cleaning will reduce smell and the potential for bacteria
build up. Also make sure they have fresh clean water and food at
all times. Every few weeks to a month change the egg cartons.
Roaches are probably the easiest creature in the world to breed. All
they really need is suitable housing, food, water and heat. With
time and patients you can build up to an endless supply of food.
Sexing - Males are generally smaller than females with his
wings going past the tip of the abdomen while females wings are shorter
than the abdomen. Females are much wider and thicker.
The easiest and most effective way to sex them is by looking at their
underside. Males have more of a white striped belly while females have
a blacker underbelly.
Breeding - The roaches mature at 3 to 4 months of age depending
on temperature. This is the stage where they can start reproducing.
Place your mature roaches in a container and wait. Soon you will see
the females getting larger. You might even witness a female extracting
their egg case called an ootheca. Do not disturb them when they are
doing this! If disturbed you may loose the babies. Once the egg case
is extracted the female then retracts it back inside a special cavity.
This is where the babies develop and the female gives birth to 20 to
40 live babies after about a month gestation. The best part about discoids
is they give live birth so no incubation is needed.
As a feeder - Roaches make excellent feeders for your reptiles.
They are high in protein and have a good shell to meat ratio. Animals
will readily take them as they don’t give off any defensive odor.
Because these roaches are a non-climber there is no need to worry about
Discoids have steadily gained in popularity as a feeder. They are very
easy to care for, are non-climbers and they produce well. I’ve
found they are the fastest producing of the non-climbing species which
sets them apart. If you want an easy to care for roach and an endless
supply of food discoids may just be for you.