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    How to Breed Discoid Roaches: Easy Steps and Problem Solving

    Discoid Roaches

    Why would I feed Discoid Roaches to my pet?

    Discoid roaches are not the most popular feeder insect. But, this is not because they are a bad feeder insect. In fact, discoid roaches are easy to raise, have plenty of meat within their thin exoskeleton, and breed readily in captivity.

    While many people choose dubia roaches as a feeder, dubia roaches are illegal to transport into several states such as Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, and other states where dubia roaches could get loose and become invasive. Discoid roaches, on the other hand, provide almost an identical nutrient profile and are just as easy to breed.

    Want to start a discoid roach colony? Keep reading to learn how!

    Sexing Discoid Roaches

    Discoid roach reproduction starts the same way all animal reproduction starts. A male roach falls in love with a female roach and sparks fly….

    Well, it’s not quite this romantic for roaches. But, you will need a male and female to get started. In fact, you can actually start with 3-5 females for every 1 male. So, your first task is to identify males and females and separate them into appropriate housing units.

    To do this you can follow some very easy steps. First, find the largest roaches with wings. Roaches without wings are immature nymphs, and determining the sex of a nymph is not easy. Plus, nymphs will not be sexually mature for several months. After several molting events of shedding the exoskeleton, the adults will emerge with wings. You can see the difference between nymphs and adults in the image below. Adults are seen on the top, while the wingless nymphs are seen below.

    Separate these adults into a separate container. To figure out which ones are males and females, the easiest method is to compare the adult roaches to each other.

    In males, the wings fully cover the abdomen, as seen in the lower adult roach in the image above. Males tend to be slightly narrower than females. On the underside of their abdomen, males also have a pattern of white or lightly-colored stripes that run parallel to the segments of their abdomen.

    By contrast, the wings of female discoid roaches do not cover their entire abdomen. Their shortened wings allow the male to mount and fertilize the female. Females are also slightly wider than males, as seen in the roach at the top of the image above. In addition to their width, you can distinguish a female by dark black or brown coloration on the underside of her abdomen.

    As you sex the roaches, separate them into separate containers for males and females. This will make it easy to select the right number of males and females for each breeding colony you start.

    Time to Make Baby Roaches!

    The Container

    To start a breeding colony, place 3-5 females and a single male into a fairly large container, preferably with a lid. Discoid roaches cannot climb on plastic or glass, nor can they fly effectively. However, they can climb cardboard and other surfaces quite well, so it’s best to keep a secured screen on top of the enclosure.

    A clear plastic Rubbermaid container works great, but roaches are nocturnal and will quickly hide from the light. To help the roaches breed, keep clear boxes in a dark place, such as in a closet or under a bed. If you do not have a dark space, simply get a box with an opaque color so it will be dark inside.

    Food, Substate, and Hiding Places

    Roaches can eat almost any type of food, but breeding females will need plenty of protein. Many discoid roach breeders start with a basic diet of greens like lettuce or kale, carrots, sweet potato, and practically any other vegetables. Discoid roaches also enjoy fruit, but too much fruit will lead to a pesky fruit fly infestation and cause excess odor. If females are not producing babies, it may be that they need a boost of protein. Dog or cat food kibbles can be offered as an excellent source of protein.

    Roaches can survive on almost any substrate. Some breeders suggest no substrate, as it is the easiest to clean. Others suggest a mix of sphagnum moss and coconut fiber, which absorbs water and keeps the humidity very high for this tropical species. Egg cartons, toilet paper tubes, and other cardboard waste makes great hiding places for discoid roaches.

    Temperature and Humidity

    Discoid roaches like it hot! Especially when they are breeding. Most experts suggest keeping the breeding container at around 90 degrees Fahrenheit! The roaches can handle temperatures as low as 75 degrees, but their growth and reproduction will be slowed. To maximize their growth and reproduction, temperatures between 90-100 degrees have been shown to work best.

    At these temperatures, humidity also becomes a concern. High temperatures increase the rate of evaporation, so you will likely need to mist the discoid roach colony daily or every other day to ensure that the roaches have plenty of water to stay hydrated. Some breeders suggest gel-based water sources as a great way to give the roaches plenty of water without letting them drown in an open dish. A sponge or paper towel can also serve this function, though they may be more prone to molds, which can harm the roaches.

    Get Ready for Roaches!

    If you have properly addressed all of the above concerns, you should start to see nymph roaches in about a month. After a female is fertilized by the male, she will develop an egg sac called an ootheca. The female will store this special egg sac within her abdomen. Discoid roaches are ovoviviparous, meaning the eggs will develop inside of her and she will give birth to 20-40 live roaches.

    The first nymphs will hatch out as frail, tiny, white versions of the adults. At this stage, they have no wings and can make great feeders for smaller reptiles and arachnids. They typically hatch at around ⅛ – ¼ inch long. After a couple months, they will double in size to nearly ½ inch nymphs. For bigger pets, you will only have to wait around 3-6 months for them to go through several molts and become ¾ – 1 inch adults, which are large enough to feed bearded dragons, certain arachnids, and other reptiles. For the biggest pets you can wait even longer, as discoid roaches can grow to nearly 3 inches long!

    Still no babies? Try these steps…

    If your breeding colony is not producing babies, there are several things you can check. First, take a look at the roaches in the colony. If you see damage on their antennae or wings, the roaches are likely crowded for space and are not getting enough food. Increase the amount of food you offer, and move the colony to a larger container.

    If the roaches still aren’t producing babies, check the temperature, humidity, and make sure your substate does not have any harsh chemicals. Failed colonies often result from low humidity or temperature, because eggs and new nymphs are especially vulnerable to drying out. Lastly, make sure your discoid roaches are getting enough protein. Adding a high protein food, such as a little dog chow, will give female roaches plenty of protein to produce eggs.

    If you follow all of these instructions, you will be well on your way to a sustainable, healthy, and practically free source of feeders for your reptiles or arachnids.