Do Lizards Eat Roaches? (Interesting Things To Know)

Roaches are such hardy pests! They are common and annoying household invaders that have proven particularly difficult to exterminate. 

Since they have been in existence for more than 300 million years, you're right to imagine that they have mastered their way and are extremely resilient! But you'll be surprised to find out that one of roaches' biggest predators are their own kind__insects. 

House lizards are naturally insectivorous. They tend to hunt insects at home like caterpillars, spiders, and snails. Roaches are not an exemption. 

Roaches are very nutritious to eat! And lizards are more than happy to prey upon them. The Dubai and Madagascar hissing cockroaches are especially high on the list of lizards' favorite meals. That's because they have a natural sweet meat-like taste.

But, not all types of lizards eat roaches (you'll learn more about this in a few). And the success of lizards eating roaches primarily depends on its size and that of the cockroach. However, as a general rule of thumb, house lizards will always attack roaches, irrespective of their size. 

So don't be surprised to see a house gecko struggling to eat a large American cockroach. Generally, lizards are made to comfortably attack and eat insects no bigger than the space between their eyes! They can eat 8-15 such small roaches in a day. 

Most adult lizards naturally have teeth that help them chomp and break down big insect bodies. But depending on the actual size of the insect it's trying to eat, these teeth may be best suited for gripping the prey rather than breaking it into pieces. 

Lizards are highly unlikely to devour a big cockroach completely. Besides, big roaches will satisfy them much faster. Lizards particularly hate bitter-tasting roaches like the Florida woods cockroach. 

Herbivorous lizards, like the Iguanas, which are popular pet lizards, hate preying on roaches. That's because they can't digest their proteins, which results in serious stomach upsets. 

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Roaches Species That Commonly Invade Homes 

Before we can discuss 'do lizards eat roaches' in detail, let's first look at the type of roaches that commonly invade homes. 

There are more than 3,000 different roach species worldwide. While some are considered beneficial in their natural environments, only about 30 of these are considered pests. Of these 30, however, only 4 species shine at making a big nuisance of themselves: Oriental, German, Australian, and American roaches. 

Homeowners in the United States are more likely to see German cockroaches during warmer climates. They are relatively small, measuring about 0.5 inches in length. But don't let their small size fool you__this speedy pests with light brown coloring and two dark stripes on their backs are quite popular for their destructive behaviors. 

The second cockroach species that homeowners are highly likely to spot is the infamous American cockroach. They are the largest species of the common house-invading roaches, measuring up to 3 inches long! You will quickly identify them by their reddish-brown color and a yellow band outlining the area behind their heads. Besides being annoying, this roach species can be quite destructive, destroying food, fabric, and books. 

Roach Species That Lizards Eat 

Now that you know the type of cockroaches likely to cause you trouble, we can comfortably look at cockroach species that lizards like to eat. 

As noted earlier, there are numerous cockroach species out there, each of which tastes and smells different to lizards. Naturally, the habitat of a cockroach influences its taste. And lizards will prefer to eat some species better than others. 

Let's have a closer look at which roaches lizards eat: 

German Cockroaches 

House lizards like to prey on German roaches. As seen above, German roaches are a common household invader. These pesky pests dwell nearly everywhere in the house, but they prefer the warm, dark, and moist corners. 

They are small in size, making it pretty easy for lizards to hunt, catch and eat them. But older German roaches are speedy, and they can sense danger early enough to escape. So, lizards mainly eat the young ones since they are much easier to catch. 

As roaches grow much older, they tend to become doddery, and their joints seize up,  making them even slower. This makes old German roaches an easy target for lizards. On the downside, older roaches are not tasty, and lizards don't eat them as much. 

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches 

Lizards literary salivate at the sight of Madagascar Hissing roaches! These roaches have a sweet taste that is often likened to greasy chicken meat. So, you'll often find lizards in places where hissing roaches are frequent. 

Hissing roaches are herbivorous. They are mainly found in Madagascan forests, hence their name. These roach species rarely come indoors. But whenever they do, house lizards will readily feed on them. 

Hissing roaches usually feed on a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, including grains that are high in proteins. The result? a good-tasting cockroach for lizards both in the world and indoors. 

Dubai Roaches 

Dubai roaches are packed with lots of calcium, proteins, and other highly beneficial nutrients for lizards. Also referred to as the Tropical Spotted roaches or orange-spotted roaches, these species are popular feeder insects for pets due to their nutritional value. 

Dubai roaches are mainly illegal in the US and Canada. You can not buy or keep this species as the environment here can provide the optimal conditions for Dubai roaches to thrive, resulting in severe infestations. 

Baby Roaches 

Baby roaches are the easiest target for lizards, thanks to their small sizes. Lizards typically prefer small cockroaches as big ones are hard to hunt and kill. It's highly unlikely for a lizard to completely devour a big adult roach, at least not in a single gulp. 

If lizards force themselves to eat bigger prey, they may choke on the big chunks and even vomit the undigested insect parts. 
Baby roaches have not developed wings yet. This makes them harmless, fleshly, and easy for baby lizards to swallow. 

Lizard Species That Feed On Roaches

Though roaches are a nutritious diet for numerous pet lizards, it's important to note that some lizard species don't enjoy eating cockroaches. Examples of lizards that don't eat roaches include Crested Geckos and Pink Tongue Skinks. 

Below are lizard species that relish roaches: 

  • Panther Chameleons: They readily feed on roaches. More specifically, panther chameleons like Madagascar hissing roaches as besides being tasty, they are also a good native food source.
  • Bearded Chameleons: These gentle creatures make excellent pets for kids. But they can be tricky to feed. Luckily, bearded chameleons enjoy Dubai and Madagascar Hissing roaches. 
  • Leopard Geckos: These nocturnal creatures naturally love live foods. They particularly love Dubai roaches as they are an incredible source of nourishment. And unlike crickets that may chew on their rather delicate skin if left in the cage for long,  roaches won't bite Leopard Geckos. 
  • Monitor Lizards: Monitor lizards are wild animals. But they are sometimes kept as ideal pets. While it can be challenging to feed monitor lizards, some, like the Emerald Tree Monitors, naturally prey upon roaches and other larger insects. 

Conclusion: Is It Safe For Lizards To Eat Roaches? 

Lizards eat roaches, and that's considered safe as long as the roaches are fresh. Unlike many other insects that sting and chew lizards' soft scales, cockroach bites are not risky to lizards. 

Roaches are, therefore, a nutritious and safe diet for most lizard species. And because most cockroaches scurry for food in the kitchen, they are not poisonous when eaten by lizards in their natural form. Baby lizards can also safely feed on baby roaches. 

However, pet owners should note that some cockroach species are typically filthy, feeding on garbage, dirt and crawling in sewers. These species can carry bacteria, viruses, molds, and fungal infections that may harm lizards. Dead roaches may also be full of germs that can make lizards sick! 
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