Terri the Lizard Lady
Guyana orange-spotted cockroaches are from South America and like warm, tropical temperatures. These roaches are relatively slow moving compared to other kinds of cockroaches and when one gets loose, can usually be easily recaptured. They are non-biting harmless bugs, which actually make good pets for kids a little too young for a pet lizard. About the only way one can harm you is if you try to crush it in your hands since their legs have spines, but they are not aggressive and the spines are for their protection only. They cannot climb clean, smooth plastic.
First of all, buy a pet heat mat and flat-bottomed Sterilite container. The roaches prefer an opaque enclosure while I prefer transparent, so I compromise by using translucent.
The pet mats get to about 100F which is about our body temperature, too. (I’ve been told that an under tank heater (UTH) can be attached to a tile and the Sterilite placed on that. The easy way to look at that setup for heat is a sandwich: tile-UTH-bin with the UTH stuck to the tile, not the bin.) If you go with the pet mat method, try to get a solid plastic enclosed element with a very sturdy cord, UL approved. I put the Sterilite container on that, vertically stack clean cardboard egg cartons on edge back to front so that they don't nest but do provide resting and hiding places for the roaches,
Buy a decent insect gut-load (I am using chicken food & dry cat food since it’s what I have on hand and the usual cricket gut-load may not contain adequate protein), fill shallow lids with the foods and you're almost ready to go. Take the Sterilite lid and cut a section out of the center,
Buy a piece of window screen a bit larger than the size of the cut out section and hot-glue the screen to cover the opening for ventilation when you snap the lid closed. They supposedly cannot fly or climb very well, but the males, having complete usable wings, become very active at night and can flutter high enough to scale their bin if you don’t use a lid which may incur the wrath of your partner. Also, without a lid there is always the chance that the bin could be tipped or dumped by accident or your dog might decide to eat them. (This actually happened to some friends of mine.)
I put leftover dried up CGD dishes from the gecko cages which the roaches clean up beautifully. Some people use water gel (which decomposes into suspected carcinogens inside of 3-5 years. [see this .pdf]) but I prefer to use sliced apples, bananas, oranges, potatoes or any discounted juicy fruit or vegetables in season for their water source. (Some grocers discount spoiling fruit for fast sale. Using fruit may draw fruit flies, however, which I generally greet with the vacuum cleaner when opening the bin just inside the lid so that none of the roaches get vacuumed up. Do not put water dishes in because some roaches will drown. Add roaches and wait.
Freshly molted nymph
Very young nymph
Fill up the food dishes daily, replenish fruit, replace cleaned gecko dishes with ones just collected from your cages and you're done. Once a month I pick up the container by one end and let all the frass (this is what their excrement is called) run down to the other end and scoop it out. Cleaning done! Be careful, though, if you have babies because they mix in the frass and might be discarded by mistake. I usually scoop the frass out and put it in a shallow Styrofoam pan (like meat comes in at the store) and watch for a few minutes. The babies, which do look different from the frass if you look closely, can be collected and returned to the bin. You will see them either move around after a few minutes (be careful however, because when disturbed they “play possum”) or see their tiny legs kicking the air if they are upended. Keep them warm and they will thrive and provide you with a constant source of feeder insects.
Blaptica dubia (orange-spotted) roaches will do what comes naturally when you have mature males and females. The nymphs take from 3-6 months to mature and can live for about 2 years. The males have full wings and are long and slender. The females have short wing stubs and are generally round-bodied. Up until the final molt, the nymphs all look very much alike. B. dubia roaches have their offspring by giving live birth. If you see a large female standing quite still, she may be hovering over her newborns guarding them. Generally, moms will stand over them until their pale, soft shells harden from pinkish to brown at which time they can join the colony without risk of injury. These roaches do not harm their own as long as there is ample food available. If they are not getting enough protein they may munch on the males’ wings, which is why I started adding cat food. Since they don’t overeat, there is no good reason to restrict their food. When you have roaches to feed to your reptiles, collect them into a smaller container inside the larger one (a deli cup will work) and feed them Repashy Superfoods ILF (Insect Gutload) for no more than 24 hours before using.
Make sure that there is some fruit or other moisture source, but not hydrogels, with them at all times. [see this .pdf] Before feeding them to geckos, dust them with Repashy Superfoods Calcium Plus ICB (Insect Cricket Balancer) and, if you are still trying to get your lizards switched to MRP, add some of the diet to what you dust them with. Geckos love bugs, so having the meal powder on the bugs tells them that that's what food tastes like.
Distributors for the Repashy Superfoods can be found at www.superfoods.repashy.com.
If your colony doesn’t thrive, first of all make sure that your premises have not been recently fumigated for insects. The current pesticides in general use are very effective at killing these bugs. Secondly, make sure that you are keeping them warm enough. These roaches are tropical and require 100F temperatures to do well. Their other needs are very simple; food, a moisture source, cartons to hide in and some humidity. You can use a substrate but I personally find their care much easier without any. Generally, these are extremely easy keepers and with a little attention to their needs, you will succeed.