Giant Burrowing Cockroach

Macropanesthia rhinoceros

The Giant Burrowing Cockroach is the world's heaviest cockroach, weighing up to 30 grams and reaching 7.5 cm in length. These smooth, shiny brown cockroaches never have wings and live in permanent burrows in the soil where females care for their young. These native Australians occur in open forests in northern Queensland and are important recyclers. Giant Burrowing Cockroaches can be bought and kept as pets for up to 10 years.

Giant burrowing cockroach, adult and nymphs A female Giant Burrowing Cockroach with nymphs.

Biology

They use their stout, spiny legs to dig burrows up to a metre deep in the soil, with a chamber at the end. At night they come to the surface and forage for dry leaves, taking some down the burrow for food. The female bears up to 30 live young at a time which remain in the burrow with their mother for some time. The nymphs moult 10 to 12 times before reaching full size.

Identification

Length up to 75 mm. Dark brown with a broad heavy body and very stout spiny legs. Males and females differ in the shape of the front of the thorax which is more deeply indented like a shovel in males.

The Giant Burrowing Cockroach is the largest member of a group of at least 19 species of stout, wingless burrowing cockroaches found only in Australia (in the Family Blaberidae). All live in permanent burrows, usually in semi-arid regions with sandy soils. After rain in western New South Wales and Queensland, large numbers of one species, Geoscapheus dilatatus, emerge from their burrows and disperse, moving across roads and paddocks in masses.

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