What Do Cockroaches Eat?


Quick Answer

As scavengers, cockroaches can eat almost anything organic, from leather to soap to hair. However, they prefer sweet foods, meat and starchy foods. They can also go up to six weeks without eating anything.

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Full Answer

Being scavengers, cockroaches are the garbage disposals of the planet. Their function in the ecosystem is important because they eliminate waste. While they do have their preferences, they are opportunistic feeders. So, if a cockroach is living in a sewer, it consumes human waste. A cockroach living in a library, though, eats book bindings and paper.

Cockroaches also follow food sources. They instinctively learn to inhabit places in which human food is available. For this reason, kitchens, grocery stores and restaurants are prime spots for cockroach infestation.

Cockroaches can subsist on seemingly inedible food sources because they have developed bacteroides that manufacture the amino acids and vitamins necessary for the insect's survival. These bacteroides, which live inside the insect's fatty tissue, are inherited from mother cockroaches.

While some species of cockroach can live without food for up to six weeks, most can only survive a week at most. However, they can survive longer if there is a water source. Cockroaches are more likely to die from dehydration than hunger, so food without water still leads to their demise.

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