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Breeding and Raising Discoid Roaches for Reptile Food

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Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises, and other exotics since 2003.

How to Raise Discoid Roaches

Discoid roaches are a great staple feeder for larger reptiles. Geckos and other smaller reptile species can sometimes also be fed discoid roaches, as long as they are size-appropriate.

Roaches have a high meat-to-shell ratio and will fill your reptile's appetite. Although they have a higher meat ratio, they also have a harder shell, so try not to feed small reptile hatchlings or juveniles too many roaches, as the hard shells could possibly raise risks of impaction on younger reptiles. Overall, roaches are great for larger reptiles.

Although adult discoid roaches have wings, they are a non-climbing and non-flying species of roach. These roaches are burrowers, so you do not have to worry about loose roaches flying throughout your home. Do take caution if you have your reptile on loose bedding. Do not leave any uneaten roaches in the enclosure; you probably don't want an infestation. These insects are fast, little critters, and that speed should be taken into account when choosing your feeders.

Materials for Breeding

  • Plastic tub
  • Bedding (optional)
  • Egg cartons
  • Heat source (optional)
  • Roaches

Set Up a Breeding Colony of Discoids

Bedding is optional for the discoid bin, but you can use Bed-A-Beast blocks or another brand of compressed dirt that you can find at most pet stores. Lay the bedding on the bottom of the plastic Rubbermaid storage bin with torn egg cartons; this makes for a great simplistic enclosure for discoid roaches.


Because these roaches are diggers, they will burrow in the bedding. If you opt not to use bedding, that is fine too. Not using bedding in the bin allows for easier clean-up, as you do not have to take closer care to not trash any roaches.


Discoid roaches do prefer heating. So you may want to set up a small wattage bulb or an under tank heater, depending on the size of your plastic storage bin. Discoids will be fine at room temperatures, but they do survive and breed better at higher temperatures.

Discoid Roach Breeding Container

Discoid Roach Breeding Container

Feeding and Diet Tips

You can purchase a commercial roach feed for the roaches. This is great to ensure that the roaches are eating healthy, as the roach feed is typically formulated for optimum growth and health of the roaches.

You may want to consider using fresh carrots, apples, and potatoes, for both moisture and nutrition. Otherwise, you can purchase cricket water crystals for moisture. Make sure to remove uneaten foods and any scraps after a few days to prevent mold and fungal growth.

Make sure that the roaches are fully gutloaded at least 24 hours before you feed any of them to your reptiles, but try to limit using breeding roaches for feeders as it will deplete your colony.


More Tips for Successful Breeding

Discoid roaches have been one of the more common feeder roaches in the pet industry for the past few years. They usually reach adulthood in 3–5 months and then will live another 10–14 months. Both males and females have wings, but they are a non-climbing and non-flying species.

Use the basic setup as described above to start your breeding colony. This is where having the supplemental heat source will come in handy. When roaches have the extra heat, they tend to produce more babies, whereas without the heat, they produce fewer. If you notice that after a few months that they have not produced any young, you may need to add a heat source or up the wattage.

Handle Them Minimally

Do not bother the roaches. The more you fiddle with the substrate (if you choose to use substrate) or egg cartons, the less successful your colony will be. Try to keep two separate containers—one for breeders and one for feeders.

Roaches are usually very successful breeders in captivity, as long as you take care not to handle them too much. They are the fastest producing feeder insects, and you do not need to incubate the eggs, which makes breeding them much easier.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Whitney (author) from Georgia on July 12, 2011:

not to my knowledge. discoids are not generally considered a fish bait

jr on July 11, 2011:

do you think bait shops sell discoids

Whitney (author) from Georgia on July 03, 2011:

Discoids are fine to use as a feeder.

jr on June 30, 2011:

i can't get dubias i live in Florida they are illegal here. Then i heard that discoids are a good sub for dubia's is there a better non- climing, non- flying species of roach.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on June 30, 2011:

Online sources and local breeders are the only places that I know. You may have a local, or nearby, source that you can buy from. There aren't many pet stores who offer them.

I would go with a half grown dubia.

jr on June 29, 2011:

my second question is were else can i get discoid roaches other than from online websites

jr on June 29, 2011:

is an 10 inch tiger salamander big enough to eat a fully grown roach.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on June 28, 2011:

As a breeding colony, 12 would be fine as long as you don't touch them and have a surplus of females to males. I would go for more if you can. It will create a better colony.

jr on June 28, 2011:

also i'm a child and can't afford to buy a hundred is it ok to start with maybe around a dozen

jr on June 28, 2011:

i have a tiger salamander is he big enough to eat a fully grown discoid roach

Joe on August 04, 2010:

How bout the humidity level for these roaches? What is the ideal level for breeding them and any tips on gettin it up there without substrate?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on August 24, 2009:

Generally, if you're starting a colony, you want to start with many more than 100, especially if you plan on using any as feeders. The wing on the males go past the abdomen, and they are generally smaller; females wider and thicker.

Cathyjo on August 23, 2009:

Thanks for the info on breeding these roaches. I just bought 100 to start a colony. I pulled out the largest and separated them. I was shown how to tell male from female by looking at the underside of the tail. I don't want to touch them, can you give me an idea how I can tell male from female on the adults by just looking at the them?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on September 19, 2008:

APBT and AmStaff are different breeds. The linieage goes to APBTs were brought to the US. and the AKC would not register them bc of 'pit bull' in their name. The breed was renamed to the AmStaff, giving those with APBTs one year to register their dogs as AmStaff, giving the dual registered dogs. There are few but still some available. The two breeds are no longer considered the same breed, as throughout time the look of the AmStaff has grown slightly different. Although the dogs were once the same breed, they are no longer the same breed. And they CANNOT be dual registered anymore- IE if I wanted my dog to be an AmStaff, I cannot go and contact AKC and do such. Only dogs that are already dual registered can do this, and again there are very few still left that are dual registered.

Sarah on September 18, 2008:

Thanks for the tips on Roaches..

APBT- AST equal same thing hence the reason they can both be duel registered in your country.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on September 12, 2008:

Roaches do not necessarily lay eggs. You will just start to notice nymphs around the tank. If you have just one bearded dragon, you will probably get overrun with roaches, so keep that in mind if you decide to breed.

Also, she's not an AmStaff, but an APBT. Thanks though.

Sarah on September 11, 2008:

Interesting read...

I have an eastern Beardie and recently changed him from crickets to roaches and found that he LOVES them and is a lot less fussy when eating now...

Ive had a really hard time finding roaches small enough for my little boy in the shops etc ( i caught the others myself) so im toying with the idea of breeding my own...

A few extra questions, what do roach eggs look like? how will i know one when i see it? and how long does the breeding process normally take?

Thanks for the help..

PS love your amstaff to btw lol i have 9 myself

Whitney (author) from Georgia on July 19, 2008:

Oh flexawatt would work. I use it in some 2 of my three racks. just make sure to have a thermostat. Yea they really don't need a light, but I used to use it instead of the heat pad

Ihaggerty1313 on July 18, 2008:

I actually just thought of a product that we use w/ snakes. It's called FlexWatt. It's a low voltage Heat pad that is regulated by a T-stat. I know it'd be alright for the Sterilite Tubs because we use those to house snakes in a Rack System w/ FlexWatts on each one to maintain Temps. Same thing w/ PVC cages for the snakes.

I don't know if you've heard of FlexWatt before but I just just thought of it. That way you could keep a cover on the bin to maintain the humidity better. Of course you'd have to cut the top and apply a screen. But from what I understand Discoid Roaches don't need light at all. Plus those bulbs even the 50W get hot and it would eliminate the possiblity of a knock over and fire.

What do you think?


Whitney (author) from Georgia on July 17, 2008:

the heat pads aren't built for plastic. With my discoids I always just used reptile night bulb and kept it on all the time. I never used a lid.

Ihaggerty1313 on July 17, 2008:


Quick Question. If I use a plastic tub what kind of heat pads do you recommend? Should I keep a cover on the tub to secure the humidity? And do Discoid Roaches need a light source?



Jamberry from Anchorage, AK on February 02, 2008:

Okay. That's what I though, lol. It would probably look something similar to a Godzilla movie.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 29, 2008:

NO! the adult sized discoids are MUCH too large for a leopard geecko of any size. She eats nymphs.

Brett on January 28, 2008:

Really!? That's good news. I wish the site would have mentioned that. Thank you!

Oh, yeah. I suppose two bearded dragons added into the mix ups the intake quite a bit. Is your leopard gecko eating the adult roaches?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 28, 2008:

If you're referring to phoenix worms morphing- they won't. These worms willn ot breed once in our country. They'll stay worms until they die.

I've been breeding them for some time now, but last year I went slack on their care, so my numbers are down tremendously. So, I just need to replenish, but usually I don't need to buying any. I started with say 20, and a few months later received about 20 more. And that's been my last order- about 1.5-2 years ago.

But, in a normal sense, you must remember I'm feeding 2 bearded dragons and a leopard gecko with them.

Jamberry from Anchorage, AK on January 28, 2008:

Wow, that is a LOT cheaper than the stuff I've found so far.

I'm finding out quickly that a lot of places won't ship roaches to Alaska, so I may just try going with phoenix worms. I'd have to make orders fairly often, though. If I can keep them alive long enough, and they don't morph, then I can probably just order a large amount of them every couple monthes. Hmm.

How quickly do you go through your roaches?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 27, 2008: is a good place. it's 10 for $5.00. I haven't found a cheaper place yet, but it's been a while since I've bought discoids. I'm looking around now though. I need to replenish my stock.

Jamberry from Anchorage, AK on January 27, 2008:

Do you have any recommendations for good places to order them from?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 27, 2008:

Yes, I would recommend ordering a small number of small roaches.

Jamberry from Anchorage, AK on January 27, 2008:

Ah, okay. So if would probably be wise to just order as small a quantity as possible to test them out if I want to go in that direction. Hmmm.

Thaaank you. :)

Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 27, 2008:

As, I feed my leos mealworms, they are used to eating from a bowl. I have tried my AFTs on roaches, and some will take them, but those eating mealworms, wouldn't. I do have one leopard gecko that eats roaches, but she normally eats crickets, so the change wasn't much for her to take. She still takes crickets when available.

Depending on how many adult breeders you have, you're number of nymphs will vary. I'm not really sure how to keep your numbers down, honestly. I've never had an excess number of roaches when feeding 2 beareded dragons say 4 roaches each once a week- but that's feeding adult roaches versus nymphs.

Jamberry from Anchorage, AK on January 27, 2008:

Hello again,

So I've been thinking about getting and breeding roaches, and you just answered most of my questions about them. But I have more, of course... :P

One concern I have with roaches is whether or not Bruce will even take to them when offered. Have you had any problems with giving leos roaches? Bruce made a quick switch to superworms from crickets, but it seems unlikely that he'll go for roaches as easily. Do you know of any ways to up the chances of him taking them?

And since I have a single insectivore, who cannot, I would imagine, healthily consume enough roaches quickly enough to prevent a roach "uprising" IF he takes to them, is there a way to keep their numbers down? Preferably without throwing a handful in the fire every so often.

Thanks in advance. :)

Whitney (author) from Georgia on November 12, 2007:

I've been enjoying your discussion... :-)

Tony Sky from London UK on November 12, 2007:

I posted last comments to your Hub without saying Hi Whitney, so Hi:),

Tony Sky from London UK on November 12, 2007:

Lol at your tantrum story..I would still love to be a Zoo keeper Kenny, what a cool job to have.. I also failed to add that having a gecko or iguana is just like having a mini Bonsai dragon which would be so cool, and the jury's still out on whether i shall get one..

Ashok Rajagopalan from Chennai on November 11, 2007:

Yes, when I look at my cats, I feel the same way. The behave like lions and tigers. It's easy to study them to help us draw the big cats!

I wanted to be a zookeeper and remember how I threw a tantrum 

when my mother refused to get me a grass snake for a pet! 

Tony Sky from London UK on November 11, 2007:

I would love to Kenny, with pictures of them both sleeping together, that would be soo sweet. I'm just not sure if it would be fair on my cat who is terrified of any other cat or dog that he's introduced to so that's the only thing stopping me...

If I could I would absolutely love a whole zoo as i adore animals..

I look at my cat, as not just a cat but a bonsai tiger/lion..

Ashok Rajagopalan from Chennai on November 11, 2007:

Hey I enjoyed the above exchange frightfully! Tell us, Compu-smart, when you get a reptile, and write a hub about how it got along with your cat!

Unique hub, Whitney!

Tony Sky from London UK on November 11, 2007:

I am still undecided yet still interested. I am just trying to work out the pros and cons and your Hubs and advice you have given, have helped  very much:)

Thanks again for taking time out to respond with your helpfulness. Much appreciated:)

Whitney (author) from Georgia on November 09, 2007:

The only reptile that you would not have to keep in a cage is an iguana, but you must keep it in the cage until it is adult sized. As for your cat, you would have to socialize the cat with the reptile.

Usually, iguanas are kept in reptile rooms to free roam. This way they get plenty of room to move around and still get the heat that they need.

Tony Sky from London UK on November 09, 2007:

Thanks for your response Whitney. Another question, would any reptiles get on with a cat, or would i have to keep them in a cage, "the reptile not cat! lol. I have considered a snake but decided against it..

btw, the thumbs up link has reappeared, and i shall take a look at the link provided, Thanks again for always being helpful:)

Whitney (author) from Georgia on November 09, 2007:

Hm... You could get a reptile that is herbivorous, such as a mali uromastyx or an iguana. Although, iguanas reach a rather large size. Bearded dragons are omnivores, so they would still need crickets, mealworms, or roaches. Most geckos species are insectivores. Crested geckos, though, can survive on the specially formulated Crested Gecko Diet; I have a hub on caring for crested geckos, if you want to check that out. Or you could go with snakes, who require rodents.

Tony Sky from London UK on November 09, 2007:

I always read your articles and have always been interested in owning a reptile but im allergic to insects!! Any tips.

ps Where is the thumbs up link!!