What Do Hissing Cockroaches Eat?

Hissing cockroaches are capable of thriving on a wide variety of different foods. What you choose to feed your Madagascan giant hissing cockroaches will depend on your personal tastes and what you happen to have freely available at home. 

In this guide we’ll look at what hissing cockroaches eat so you can make some informed decisions. As with other animals, a broad range of foods tends to work well, ensuring that your insects don’t suffer from any nutrient deficiencies as they grow.  

Hissing cockroach food

Fruit

Hissing cockroaches love fruit. Popular options include banana, apple and citrus fruits. They will also hoover up any unwanted kitchen offcuts, such as happily removing the lasting bits of melon from discarded melon skin. 

Be aware that many fruits are very high in water content, and so can quickly go off and start to rot in the warm environment of a hissing cockroach cage. You’ll therefore want to pay particular attention to cleanliness if you choose to feed fruit.

Place it in a bowl, rather than on the floor of the cage, and remove it before it starts to go off. 

Vegetables

Vegetables can be a far more effective alternative to fruit. Slightly lower in moisture content, many vegetables will simply dry up to a crisp rather than going mouldy if left in the cage for a period of time. 

Good examples of vegetables accepted by hissing cockroaches include slices of potato, butternut squash, carrot, and kale. Indeed, kale is one of my personal favourite foods for hissing cockroaches as it tends to remain pretty fresh for a long period of time. 

Broadly speaking any vegetables you buy for your family can be fed to hissing cockroaches. Feel free to try your roaches with anything that is on the turn in your kitchen. This helps you turn food waste into giant cockroaches!

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As with fruits, be sure to regularly replace any fresh food given.

Grains

Some people choose to provide some form of “grain” to their cockroaches to eat. Two popular examples are bran – which can be purchased very cheaply – or unwanted breakfast cereals. 

A benefit of grains like this is they are far less likely to go mouldy or rotten than fruits or vegetables. That said, grains shouldn’t make up the sole ingredient in your cockroach diet due to the low moisture level and nutrient content it can offer.

Bug Paste

A small number of specialist foods are made for invertebrate pets. These normally come in the form of a powder which is mixed with water to create a thick, tasty paste.

Some giant cockroach owners, for example, feed their pets on small amounts of Repashy, which is typically sold for crested and day geckos. 

These pastes can quickly dry out, turning rock solid. They may also attract mould. As with fruit, therefore, be sure to keep a close eye on your colony and replace the bug gel as necessary. 

Jelly Pots

Fruit-flavoured jelly pots are sold by some specialist retailers as food for beetle keepers. They also serve as an excellent source of sugar and moisture for hissing cockroaches. Indeed, I aim to always keep at least one jelly pot in cockroach cages. 

Jelly pots tend to have a decent shelf life once opened, and rarely go mouldy. In truth, hissing cockroaches seem to relish these pots so much that it’s more likely your captives will have finished off the pot before it has a chance to go off. 

Fresh Water

While this article does focus primarily on what to feed hissing cockroaches, it should also be mentioned the need for moisture. If you’re feeding lots of water-rich foods like Repashy, fruits and vegetables then it may not be necessary to provide drinking water. 

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For cockroaches fed a drier diet you should consider whether a water bowl would make a welcome addition. 

To prevent your cockroaches drowning in open water, it is common to use moisture-retaining granules. These soak up water and turn into a gel over which your cockroaches can walk without drowning. While they are available from reptile stores, it can be more cost-effective to buy the horticultural equivalent in bulk from gardening stores.

Should Hatchlings and Adults Be Fed Differently?

One of the benefits of keeping hissing cockroaches is how readily they breed.

If you’re keeping hissing roaches as a source of food for other pets then it’s likely you’ll be keeping and rearing cockroaches of many different sizes. The obvious question is therefore whether the diet should vary between youngsters and adults?

In my experience, hissing cockroaches of all sizes are happy to eat a similar diet. The one consideration I would suggest is the provision of more moisture to younger cockroaches, as they are more likely to become dehydrated. 

Richard Adams

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