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Cockroach Facts

Size 0.1-3.9 inch (3-100 mm)
Speed Up to 3.3 mph (5.4 km/h)
Weight Unknown
Lifespan About 18 months
Food Omnivore
Predators Spiders, birds, mammals
Habitat Worldwide
Order Blattodea
Family Blattidae
Scientific name Blattidae
Characteristics Long antennae; the brain is situated in the torso

Main Characteristics

Cockroaches are insects that are rather unpopular because they're known to transmit illnesses. There are about 4,600 species of cockroaches.

Anatomy and Appearance

The Heaviest Cockroach

The giant burrowing cockroach Macropanesthia rhinoceros is the heaviest cockroach. It lives in South America (Peru, Ecuador, and Panama). It can reach a length of 3.1 inch (80 mm) and a weight of 1.2 oz (35 g).

The Biggest Cockroach

The biggest resp. longest species is the Central American giant cave cockroach Blaberus giganteus. It can become up to 3.9 inch (100 mm) long, but weighs less than the giant burrowing cockroach.


Cockroach Cockroach - Photo: Aleksey Stemmer/Shutterstock

Senses and Abilities

Cockroaches Survive Nine Days Without Their Head

The head only contains a part of the cockroach’s nervous system, while the brain is situated in the torso. Without its head, the cockroach rather dies from hunger or thirst.

How Fast Are Cockroaches?

The cockroach is one of the fastest crawling insects and can easily keep pace with a fast walking human.

Cockroaches Get in Everywhere

The babies can even enter through holes as small as 0.01 inch (0.5 mm). For adult cockroaches the openings have to be at least 0.06 inch (1.6 mm) in diameter.

Cockroaches Don't Need Much Oxygen

A cockroach can keep its breath for 40 minutes.



Cockroaches Love Glue

Cockroaches love to feed on the glue used on envelopes, bound books and stamps. They also like the sticky substances in hair spray.

Cockroach Cockroach - Photo: kzww/Shutterstock

Cockroaches Are Disease Carriers

Cockroaches are „taxis“ for all kinds of diseases. They transmit germs and parasites and are responsible for many illnesses, such as worms, salmonellae, mycoses (fungi), gastroenteritis, dysentery, hepatitis, yellow fever, typhus, lepra, tuberculosis, and cholera. Yet, cockroaches are basically only dangerous in areas with bad hygienic conditions and many germs/parasites.

Importance for the Ecosystem

What If there Were No Cockroaches?

This would be great! Wouldn’t it? The opposite is the case. Even though cockroaches are regarded as carriers of diseases and storage pests, most of them play an important role in nature. They are a source of food for birds and little vertebrates. In some countries there are even people who appreciate cockroaches as a protein-rich source of food. But there is another reason: The feces of cockroaches are a valuable fertilizer for plants.

Cockroach Cockroach - Photo: Mau Horng/Shutterstock


Cockroaches breed up to four times a year. Female cockroaches lay 10-90 eggs, and it only takes a few days for the baby cockroaches to hatch. They grow up within a month but do not get older than 1.5 years.

Cockroach Cockroach - Photo: aopsan/Shutterstock


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