Breeding Lobster Roaches (Nauphoeta cinerea)
Nauphoeta cinerea, commonly known as the Lobster Roach, has become a well established feeder insect for arachnids and lizards due to their ease of rearing and palatability.
The guide below should help you establish a colony of Lobster Roaches (Nauphoeta cinerea) for feeding to your pets, or to keep as pets themselves.
Introduction to Lobster Roaches (Nauphoeta cinerea)
Lobster roaches are extremely easy to keep and breed. Their prolific nature and ease of rearing, in addition to the meat to shell ratio, has made them an excellent feeder choice for many.
Here are some key reasons for keeping lobster roaches over other feeder insects.
Housing - Breeding Lobster Roaches
Housing Lobster Roaches is very simple. Any glass tank or smooth sided plastic container would work since you will need a cover or climbing deterrent anyways, as this is a climbing species.
Those that are concerned about escapees can use covers on their enclosures; in addition to the method described below. To ensure the enclosure has good ventilation, a custom screen cover may be required for plastic totes and storage bins, as well as glass aquariums.
Good ventilation will help prevent humidity from building up, which in turn will help prevent mold and odor from forming. Instructions for building custom screen covers for totes can be found here:
Containing Lobster Roaches
Lobster roaches can and will climb up the sides of their enclosure. In order to keep them contained, a 2-3" strip of Vaseline should be run around the inside perimeter of the enclosure. The Vaseline will prevent the roaches from getting a foot-hold, and thus prevent escapes.
You will need to reapply the Vaseline intermittently, when you see it has begun drying up.
Substrate - Breeding Lobster Roaches
The simplest and most ideal substrate to use with lobster roaches is no substrate at all. Substrates with this species serve little purpose. They are nothing more than a place for flour beetles, mites, and baby roaches to hide.
As your roaches mature, the amount of waste they create will also. Cleaning an enclosure where substrate is present is far more difficult than an enclosure without any substrate.
Substrate Options - Breeding Lobster Roaches
While it is suggested that no substrate be used, there will be some who will wish to provide one. Below we have a list of suitable substrates for use with roaches.
Lighting - Breeding Lobster Roaches
Lobster roaches relish the dark and shy from the light. For this reason, no lighting is required for this species.
Enclosure Furniture - Breeding Lobster Roaches
Enclosure furniture is any item in the enclosure that the roaches can hide under or in. You will want to provide ample enclosure furniture for your roaches to prevent overcrowding.
The simplest form of enclosure furniture that you can provide would be egg crates, paper towel rolls, and toilet paper rolls. When egg crate is stacked vertically side by side, the roaches will use them as a place to hide and breed. The vertical standing will promote the frass (their waste) to fall to the enclosure floor instead of accumulating on the egg crate.
You can also build a roach motel for your colony. Instructions for building a roach motel can be found here: Roach Motel
Feeding - Breeding Lobster Roaches
A diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables supplemented with dry dog food, grain cereal, baby cereal, and fish flakes will provide a suitable diet. These items can be rotated through, or mixed together.
There are also roach diets that can be purchased online. These are prefabricated mixtures that just need to be served to the roaches.
remember to remove any uneaten fruits and vegetables to prevent mold (which can destroy your colony) and a fruit fly infestation.
Water - Breeding Lobster Roaches
The fruits and vegetables you offer will help keep your roaches hydrated. In addition to the foods you feed, a shallow dish of water crystals can be used. Change the water crystals out as they become soiled, to prevent bacteria.
Temperature - Heating - Breeding Lobster Roaches
The temperature in which you keep your lobster roaches will determine how fast they grow and reproduce. Optimal temperature for moderate growth and reproduction will be 90°-95°. Temperatures higher than 95° can result in faster breeding, but this will also mean more food consumption and water to remain hydrated.
Temperatures between 70°-75° will maintain your colony but will slow down their growth and breeding.
Humidity - Breeding Lobster Roaches
Increased humidity with this species WILL result in odor. While lobster roaches typically smell better than crickets, feces and food that has been subjected to increased moisture will result in an unpleasant odor.
Breeding Lobster Roaches
Given that you have met the needs of your lobster roach colony adequately, breeding will occur without any assistance from you. This is one of the reasons people have turned to lobster roaches as a feeder insect.
If you view a female extracting their egg case, called an ootheca, don't disturb her. She is going to retract it back inside a special cavity where the babies develop. There is no incubation period with this species. The ootheca she retracted will incubate within her, resulting in 20-30 live babies within 30-40 days.