Death’s Head Cockroach

(Blaberus craniifer)


Death’s Head Cockroach IUCN NOT EVALUATED (NE)


Facts about this animal

Adults of the Death’s Head Cockroach are 4-6 cm long and up to 3 cm wide, the males being smaller. 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.

The Death’s Head Cockroach is omnivorous that means that it will eat anything even faeces or wood if nothing else is available. It can consume half of its own weight at once.

They do give off a mild odour if significantly frightened. Although adults have wings they do not fly.

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.

Did you know?
that quite often Hybrid Death’s Head Cockroaches, a crossbreeding of Blaberus craniifer and B. fusca, having brown wings, are sold as food for tarantulas and lizards? that cockroaches are some of the most primitive insects living on earth for about 350 million years? that the Blaberidae is the larges family of cockroaches and the most advanced one with some species feeding their embryos?


Name (Scientific) Blaberus craniifer
Name (English) Death’s Head Cockroach
Name (French) Blatte
Name (German) Totenkopfschabe
Name (Spanish) Cucaracha de la calavera
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Simon Eugster



Range Central America and Cuba – introduced to Florida
Habitat Tropical rain forest, ground dweller
Wild population Unknown. The Death's head cockroad has not yet been classified by the IUCN
Zoo population 3986 reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo

Death’s Head Cockroach


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Simon Eugster

Why do zoos keep this animal

The Death’s Head Cockroach can be used as a display animal in education. It can also be used as food for reptiles like geckos and agamids. Often the Hybrid Death’s Head Cockroach is used to feed tarantulas and lizards because they breed faster and become larger then the true Death’s Head Cockroach.