Kel's Roach Ranch Part 2: The Babies Are Here!

by Kel

About a month ago, I wrote Part One of this three-part series explaining just how I ended up owning what has become known as Kel’s Roach Ranch.  The roaches have been doing great, puttering around in their bin, not making noise, enjoying their lives.

Just before Christmas I opened the bin to find the best thing the owner of a breeding roach colony can see: a female carrying an egg sac!  I had done it.  I had managed to keep them alive and happy long enough for them to breed.  A few days later the weather turned cold, the house got dry, and my poor roaches got stressed.  In fact one of the males got so stressed he took his chance when I was cleaning the bin and escaped. I didn’t realize this until one morning I happened to notice that the star on top of the Christmas tree had a big dark spot on it.  I thought it had broken or that a bulb had blown, but as I got closer I realized that it wasn’t a star malfunction at all, but a full grown Male Dubia roach happily warming himself on the star.  I picked him up and transported him  back to the bin.

This change in temperature and humidity also resulted in a dropped egg sac, and no babies. It was a setback, but I didn’t let it deter me.  I cleaned the bin, regrouped and was extra vigilant to make sure the water crystals stayed well moistened, and that the roaches were happy.  A couple weeks later I found another female with another egg sac and we were on the way to success.  I just had to make sure that I kept that bin a nice stable little biome of roachy happiness.

I kept up the daily feeding of greens, carrots, ground high quality dog food, and the rehydration of the water crystals. Then on Monday, January 13th, I opened the bin and what did my eyes spy in the food dish but a tiny 1/8″ long BABY ROACH!  I had done it! Well, actually the roaches had done it, but I gave them what they needed to successfully breed!

It will take about 4-5 more months before we’ll know if they are reproducing enough for us to feed Spock off this bin, or if we’ll need to let more of the roaches grow into adults first.

tiny-pictureKel is a military spouse of almost 2 decades to her husband Matt, mom to her 3 children, ranging from elementary to highschool age.  that she’s been homeschooling for almost a decade. She is keeper of the 2 dogs and a cat, and grandma to 1 bearded dragon. She has a needle art business, and also blogs at Fawkes Academy.

Kel's Roach Ranch, Part I, by Kel

 

This is the story of how I became the owner of Kel’s Roach Ranch.

Ask any mother what she’d do for her child and she would most likely answer, “What wouldn’t I do?”  Most moms will quickly tell you they’d give up anything and everything for their child’s happiness.  They wouldn’t hesitate to lay down their life for their child, but ask them if they would willingly and eagerly let roaches into their home, and you’d probably get a response like, “No WAY, no HOW!”

I knew as a homeschooling mother I’d have to be willing to take on tasks a traditional public or private school mom wouldn’t face, and I was OK with it.  I knew I’d give up some time for my own hobbies, and I was OK with that.  I knew at some point I may have to teach higher level Math, English, and Science, and I was OK with that.  I knew I’d be the one supervising the dissections of frogs and the like, and I was OK with that.  Had you asked me if I’d be the mom who would order a colony of twenty-five roaches and try to breed them, I would have said “What? Why would I ever do that?!”

I will let you know I’m the animal-loving mom, who never batted an eye when the kids wanted rats or mice or other unusual pets.  I encouraged my daughter to save up for the one thing she’s wanted for years: a reptile, more specifically, a dragon.  This past May she’d finally saved enough money and purchased the little guy. He was barely four inches long and tipped the scales at a whopping seven grams.  You may know that reptiles eat things like mealworms and crickets.  Well those crickets were never a favorite of our little buddy, Spock, so we started researching for alternate sources of food.  We found Phoenix worms, which are really just Black Soldier Fly larvae, and he readily ate those for a few months, but then he stopped eating as much and was losing weight.  We started researching again and found out that a great source of food was something called a Dubia Roach.

Dubia Roaches are a tropical species but can live in a typical house at room temperature. They require very little in the way of care: give them a good quality dry roach chow and keep their water crystal hydrated, and you’re good to go.  So we decided to order some.  Spock loved them.  He started eating and growing again.

The next time I needed to buy, a favorite retailer was holding a Facebook auction.  I could get a breeding colony, twenty-five female and ten male roaches complete with the food, water crystals, and food dish if my bid was the highest.  So I placed a bid and wouldn’t you know it, I won!  This was awesome! If I could get the roaches to breed, then I wouldn’t have to keep paying for someone else to send me 1000+ roaches a month to the tune of $45-$65 per order.  I was so excited, and my group of homeschooling friends had mixed reactions. Some thought I was the coolest mom ever and some thought I had completely lost my mind.

My colony arrived a week later.  I got them all set up in a Rubbermaid bin, with a hole cut in the top and covered with screen for ventilation and a heat source placed underneath.  I had actually only gotten a couple of adult females and one adult male; the rest were what are known as “sub-adult.”  That was OK, because that meant that they weren’t old and close to the end of their lives.  I was so happy when they arrived I posted a big thread in my Facebook group for homeschool moms, telling all about how I set them up.  Later that weekend, I moved them to a better bin and had my husband take a video of me holding the different roaches so I could explain if I was holding an adult or sub-adult and let the viewers know if each was a male or female.  I had promised some of those ladies I would do this so they could show it to their kids.  Many couldn’t believe I was willingly holding a roach and letting it crawl all over me! During the conversation about the video my colony was dubbed Kel’s Roach Ranch, and I have to admit, I liked the sound of it.

Read Part 2: The Babies Are Here!