Do Cockroaches Eat Other Cockroaches? Are They Cannibalistic?

Cockroaches are known to eat almost everything. Interestingly, some say that they have also given into the act of cannibalism. Although this is disturbing to many, cockroaches prioritize their survival over loyalty to their species. The main question remains: do cockroaches eat other cockroaches?

  • Cockroaches eat others from their specie
  • If no other food is present, cockroaches can munch away at their own
  • Large cockroaches sometimes even consume their eggs or younger adult roaches

Now that we know that cockroaches eat their kin, let’s explore this further.

Do cockroaches eat other cockroaches?

Cannibalism is a part of life among cockroaches. It is common for cockroaches to eat others from their nest, or from competing nests.

The common norm suggests that cockroaches tend to eat other cockroaches if they don’t have access to other forms of food, lack nutrients, are overcrowded in one nest, or have a dispute with mating.

The common norm suggests that cockroaches tend to eat other cockroaches if they don’t have access to other forms of food, lack nutrients, are overcrowded in one nest, or have a dispute with mating.

These cockroaches don’t approach each other with one particular intention. At times, they munch away at smaller, weaker roaches. At other times, cockroaches consume dead cockroaches and tend to shed skin regardless of their ages.

The ultimate aim of cockroaches is to survive and multiply. It often seems like their plan is to take over the earth.

They preserve their energy by consuming the required nutrients. Cockroaches prefer to consume dead cockroaches rather than live ones. However, if their food needs grow extensively high, they sometimes even eat their feces.

Do cockroaches prefer to eat cockroaches?

It is fairly common for cockroaches to eat each other. However, this is not their preference. If cockroaches have the option to eat any other kind of nutrition or food, they will not choose to eat their kind. Cockroaches aren’t hunters, they are scavenging insects.

They depend on eating the following foods in the wild:

  • Decaying leaf matter
  • Rotten wood
  • Berries, fruits, or other vegetation that has started to rot
  • Other insect bodies or animal carcasses
  • Food left out in your kitchen or bedroom

Common household cockroaches often eat leftover food, dig through trash, and organic waste such as hair and skin cells.

It is important to remember that cockroaches prioritize their safety over any other need, and they behave with intelligence.

Therefore, cockroaches prefer to stay away from the effort, time, and danger of hunting food that’s alive — live food can fight back!

The risk of entering that battle zone is too high for the cockroaches, so they prefer to munch away at dead creatures instead.

Why do cockroaches eat other cockroaches?

Although cockroaches prioritize their safety over everything else, these creatures are fairly resilient and do not compromise on food. This often leads them to bite pets and humans and even eat each other.

Some of the main reasons why cockroaches eat other cockroaches include:

1. Overpopulation

Cockroaches normally exist as a large community. They co-exist peacefully if there’s enough space to carry all clan members within the nest. They will show harmony and loyalty by leaving scent trails along to provide their members with food and shelter, multiplying their numbers.

However, if there’s overcrowding which is common as a result of overpopulation, not all members will have availability of the following:

  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Food

In the scenario of overcrowding, cockroaches make efforts to reduce the population. Therefore, large cockroaches consume smaller cockroaches to make space. In this case, cockroaches with any vulnerability in the form of lost limbs or injuries fall prey because they cannot defend themselves.

2. Unavailability of food

If cockroaches choose to reside in a home that is clear of exposed leftovers and is well-maintained, there are high chances they’ll run out of food. This leads to a build-up of hunger and can cause cockroaches to eat whatever’s in sight.

Interestingly, in the final stages of an extermination plan, you might witness cockroaches eating each other out of starvation.

Interestingly, in the final stages of an extermination plan, you might witness cockroaches eating each other out of starvation.

If you haven’t implemented any pest control, there is a possibility that the cockroach population has massively increased. This automatically means there aren’t enough food sources to satiate the colony.

3. Harsh weather conditions

Cockroaches are resilient creatures and can survive various conditions, including nuclear blasts. However, it is important to note that cockroaches are cold-blooded (and it’s not red blood!) and fail to generate body heat.

Their metabolism will likely slow down if the temperature falls.

Low temperatures may not kill cockroaches, but they will slow them down by making it more difficult for them to produce the required energy to function. It is fairly common for cockroaches to eat each other in excessively cold climates when they fail to find the needed heat to function.

Nutrition helps in such cold conditions, and they will cannibalize each other to get the required food source.

4. Conflicts with mating

It is common for praying mantis and spiders to eat each other while mating. Similarly, some female cockroaches betray their male mates by eating them. This behavior is fairly rare but is backed by a comprehensive plan and thorough motivation.

This usually results from the female cockroach considering her nutritional stores insufficient.

Although most female cockroaches don’t carry their babies in their wombs, they still carry the responsibility of offering resources to their eggs. If a female fails to do so, she will rely on other members to compensate for the lack of nutrition.

Cockroaches are known to provide an array of nutrients. These include:

  • Crude ash
  • Moisture
  • Crude protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fiber
  • Nitrogen extract

Additionally, some female cockroaches also carry and produce a sort of milk, an added form of nutrition.

Do cockroaches eat other young cockroaches?

Although it isn’t the first preference for cockroaches, cockroaches do eat young cockroaches, i.e., nymphs. Cockroaches are usually driven to eat young versions of themselves.

There are numerous reasons for this, including:

  • Nymphs can’t defend themselves
  • Nymphs have soft skeletons
  • Nymphs are generally slower than full-grown cockroaches

Conclusion: cockroaches resort to eating each other when starving!

Yes, cockroaches do eat other cockroaches. However, they don’t prefer to as a first choice. They resort to eating each other in severe conditions and prioritize their survival over saving their community members. Common causes for them to be driven to each other include lack of food, overpopulation, and extremely cold weather conditions.

These creatures will do anything to escape the possibility of danger or starvation. Their primary goal is to survive and multiply by getting adequate nutrition to function.