Animals / Arthropods

Death's head cockroach


Order — Blattodea. Family — Blaberidae. Genus — Blaberus. Species — Blaberus craniifer.


It is found on forest floors, hiding in leaf matter and rotting wood throughout Central America and South Florida.

Outward appearance

Length: 4-6 cm. Males being smaller than females. The body colour is dark brown while the pronotum and the wings are mainly ochre. The name derives from the dark spot on the pronotum which, with some imagination, looks like a skull. The body is flat so that crevices can be used as shelter. Wings are fully developed. The head is hidden below the pronotum as it is usual for all cockroaches. Antennae and tibiae are the most important sensitive organs, eyes are less important. There is a jointed pair of appendages to the end of the abdomen.  Male and female death's head roaches look very similar, females are slightly larger with a rounded abdomen.


They are easy to feed, foods like fresh fruit and vegetables (especially plums and carrots), wet dog food and moist cereal. A shallow dish for food will help to keep the tank clean, also provide a small dish for water. In the water dish place a cotton pad to absorb the water, this will prevent any cockroaches drowning.

Maintenance care

These cockroaches are one of the easiest species of roaches to care for and much like the Madagascan hissing cockroaches, they are very hardy.These cockroaches are a non-climbing species, they cant climb their glass/plastic tanks to escape. Although adults have wings, they cannot fly but tend to glide from surfaces. Often when handling, they jump and glide to where they want to be. Provide some kind of forest bed substrate (or pesticide free peat) of about 3 inches deep because the nymphs tend to burrow. Adults stay on the surface but hide beneath logs, they find it difficult to bury themselves with wings. The tank should include hides like rotting logs and cork bark. The true death'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 death's head roaches tend to breed faster hence why they are easier to stock in pet shops for pets and/or for feeding reptiles.


Reproduction is sexual with separated sexes. Females carry the egg cases, containing about 34 eggs, in a pouch to end of the abdomen. At a temperature of 25-27 °C larvae hatch after 3-4 weeks. Young larvae hide in the ground for the first 1-2 weeks of their life. They are rather small and difficult to detect. The larvae moult several times and the growing wing sheaths are rather inconspicuous. The development is incomplete that means lacking a chrysalis. Maturity is reached in 4-5 months and life can last one year.

Difficulty keeping

Pheromones can cause an allergy.
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