Lizards consume a variety of foods in the wild, including numerous types of insects, worms, fruits, and veggies, depending on the species. But do lizards also consume cockroaches, and which type exactly?
The shortest answer is yes, lizards consume cockroaches wherever they can find them, although and don’t specialize in one cockroach species only. Wild lizards cannot afford to be picky about their meals, especially those that pack a good protein punch.
The situation may differ a bit when it comes to captive-bred lizards, so let’s discuss that!
What Lizards Eat Cockroaches?
A variety of lizards consume multiple types of roaches for their highly nutritious content. Some of the most popular lizards species to do that include bearded dragons, leopard geckos, crested geckos, panther chameleons, and many others. Some lizards only eat some cockroach species, while others have no preferences.
It’s always useful to carefully assess your lizard’s eating preferences before deciding to buy it. Also, keep in mind that lizard pets are not good for pest control. So, you should never feed them regular cockroaches wandering around your home. These insects are often filled with environmental contaminants, bacteria, and parasites that could make your lizard sick or even kill it.
The only acceptable cockroaches are those bred in controlled environments like a feeder enclosure with a monitored diet and vitamin and mineral supplementation.
Types of Cockroaches Lizards Like
Some of the most popular types of cockroaches that lizards happily consume include brown-banded roaches, oriental cockroaches, German cockroaches, red runner roaches, discoid roaches, etc. As I’ve already mentioned, you should never feed your lizard pest roaches running inside or around your home. These are not safe for consumption.
Furthermore, always learn about your lizard’s specific cockroach preferences. Lizards don’t all consume the same roach species.
Benefits of Lizards Eating Cockroaches
I would say that there are 3 overarching benefits to feeding your lizard cockroaches:
- Easily available – Cockroaches are available in a wide variety of species and morphs. They also breed fast with little investment and minimal effort on your part. You only require a 10-gallon feeder tank to house a considerable population of roaches. This is a good option if roaches make up for a large part of your reptile’s diet.
- High nutrient content – Cockroaches are highly nutritious, rich in protein and animal fat. This makes them great for baby and juvenile geckos, especially due to their increased nutrient requirements.
- Supporting the hunting behavior – All carnivorous and omnivorous lizards prefer live food over anything else. This is due to the insects and worms triggering their hunting instincts which keep the reptile in good physical and mental shape.
Naturally, cockroaches should only make up for one food item on your lizard’s menu.
Risks of Lizards Eating Cockroaches
The most obvious risk is that of ingesting a contaminated cockroach. These insects are considered pests for the most part due to their feeding behavior. Most species of cockroaches are scavengers, eating pretty much whatever they can find. This turns them into potential hazards for your lizards.
Many cockroaches can contain bacteria, parasites, various environmental contaminants, and even insecticides and rat poison. These contaminants can cause your lizard to get sick or die as a result of ingestion.
The worst part is that even commercial cockroaches can carry some of these risks. To avoid this issue entirely, I recommend setting up a controlled feeder tank where you can grow your cockroaches in clean and sterile environments.
Sourcing Cockroaches for Your Pet Lizards
You can purchase dubia roaches or other cockroach species from dedicated insect or reptile shops or, preferably, from professional breeders. However, I recommend setting up your own cockroach culture at home.
This provides you with an unlimited amount of cockroaches and allows you to control the insects’ living conditions. The latter part is absolutely necessary, given that cockroaches are often subjected to environmental contamination and parasites.
Can You Leave Cockroaches in Lizard’s Enclosure?
No, you should never do that. Cockroaches will not only dirty your reptile’s enclosure with their feces but also disturb the animals in the process. They can crawl everywhere, distracting the lizard and even pinching it in some cases. Not to mention, some cockroaches even die in the reptile’s enclosure, often under the vegetation or inside the substrate.
This turns them into environmental hazards, as their corpses become breeding grounds for bacteria, parasites, and fungi. Always remove uneaten food from your lizard’s enclosure, no matter whether they’re insects, fruits, veggies, or commercial food leftovers.
Lizards eat a variety of insects, fruits, and veggies, depending on the species and nutritional needs. While cockroaches are an important part of a lizard’s diet, they should be served in combination with several other insects and worms.
Also, gut-loading and dusting are often necessary to boost the cockroaches’ calcium and D3 content, especially for lizard species that are more prone to nutritional deficiencies.