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Discoid cockroach is also commonly called the false deathâ€™s head cockroach. This species of roach lives in tropical South America. They can grow up to 3 in long and although they have wings as adults, they do not fly. They also can not climb smooth surfaces such as glass.
This species ranges in size from 35-45mm. Although branded as false death heads these roaches have no noticeable similarities to B. craniifer. Discoids have been one of the more common feeder roaches in the US pet industry for the past few years. These roaches usually reach adulthood in 3-5 months and then will live another 10-14 months. Both males and females have wings, but this is a non-climbing or flying species.
Most high protein food sources are sufficient to maintain them, such as dry dog food. Misting with water is required to maintain a high humidity level in captivity and to supply drinking water. A sponge in a shallow dish is also effective for drinking water. The markings on the back of the head give rise to the name deathâ€™s head since it appears to be something like a vampire symbol to many people.
The name deathâ€™s head comes from the markings on the top of the thorax. Adult â€śB. craniiferâ€ť have wings but do not fly, while juveniles do not have wings at all. This species also cannot climb smooth vertical surfaces, such as glass, which makes them easy to house in an open aquarium or similar.
Discoids are false deathâ€™s head because of their superficial resemblance to the deathâ€™s head cockroach. They can eat and should be given a variety of fresh fruit and vegetable scraps. Keep their food in a dish or two dry food and wet/fresh separate. On the opposite side of the tank keep and auto water dish or just a shallow water dish and replace when empty or dirty. Keep the roaches on mulch or peat and give them egg crates to spread out on.
Life Cycle: The younger nymphâ€™s have a very different appearance altogether until they reach adulthood (about 6 months). They are oval shaped with a dark red/brown colouring all over. As well as being a different colour, nymphs lack wings until reaching adulthood.
The true deathâ€™s head cockroaches are slow breeders, but will thrive better and breed faster in a heated environment of about 85-95F, keep humidity about 65-85%. The false deathâ€™s head roaches tend to breed faster hence why they are easier to stock in pet shops for pets and/or for feeding reptiles.
These are very easy to raise in captivity and therefore make good feeders for pets such as tarantulas, bearded dragon and other various lizards. They breed somewhat faster than the true deathâ€™s head cockroach and get slightly larger. They are also less expensive as of 2006, costing about $50 for 50 animals, compared to about $100 for the true deathâ€™s heads. The true deathâ€™s heads are far more attractive if you are looking for something to show off, having jet black wings and more elaborate markings on the head.
Discoid cockroaches also produce considerably less odor than crickets, another common feeder animal. They can survive on many substrates and to some extent they will clean their own cage, only requiring cleaning on a monthly basis or less. Walnut shell makes a good substrate because it masks the feces, giving the terrarium a cleaner appearance.
When a male intrudes on a neighboring maleâ€™s territory, a fight will ensue. One male will attempt to push the other out of his territory. During the battle, a great deal of movement and hissing will occur; however, no harm is done to the loser. Mating behavior of the MHC is elaborate and involves posturing and hissing by the males to attract females.
The larger roaches will also chew on paper products damaging/destroying them in the process. In addition, the fecal material from feeding can contaminate food and stain other products.
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