Tonawanda News

Features

January 27, 2014

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Romancing the roach

Tonawanda News — This past week, after months of searching on Craigslist, I found someone selling Blaptica dubia. They are also known as the orange-spotted, Guyana or Argentinian wood cockroach. Yes, I bought 25 young cockroaches to live in my house. They’re nymphs, which are the immature state, are very tiny and look like prehistoric trilobites.

“Cockroaches, depending on the species, can actually make very good, easy to care for pets that also make a great learning tool for kids,” my friend Sean Murphy says.

Murphy has been working at an Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited facility for two years and has been in the field of exotics for almost 10.

“They are very low maintenance as far as pets go and great to observe. My favorites to observe are either cave roaches or hissing cockroaches. It’s awesome watching them vie and fight for territory,” he said.

The species of roach that I purchased are a good feeder source for my savannah monitor because both the adults and young can’t climb smooth surfaces, like plastic or glass, making them easy to keep. Adult males will develop full wings but are unable to fly around like some other cockroaches. If they happen to fall they are able to use their wings to control and direct their landing.

I wanted to purchase cockroaches to reduce the cost of buying dozens of crickets a week. My goal is to breed them and keep a sustainable colony. I also wanted a healthy food source for my lizard.

“For reptiles cockroaches are especially good because their exoskeleton is low in phosphorous,” Murphy said, explaining that too much phosphorous in a reptile’s diet can lead to health issues in their bones because it offsets calcium. This is why it is recommended that any feeder insect fed to a reptile be dusted with calcium.

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