Giant Burrowing Cockroach - Macropanesthia rhinoceros

Description:        The Giant Burrowing Cockroach is native to Australia and is one of the largest cockroaches in the world!  They can measure up to a whopping 8 cm (about as long as the palm of your hand)!  They can also weigh up to 35 grams, making them the heaviest cockroach in the world.  Also known as Rhinoceros Cockroaches or Litter Bugs, they are found in eucalypt forests in northern Queensland.  These roaches dig underground tunnels, using their sharp spiny legs to push through the soil.  They can live to a depth of 1 meter below ground.  They are wingless cockroaches and have a hard, shell-like body perfectly suited for life underground.

The underside of the Giant Burrowing Cockroach
showing their spiny legs for digging

Life Cycle:        Most cockroaches lay their eggs into small cases called an ootheca, but the Giant Burrowing Cockroach is unusual in that it gives birth to live young!  The female keeps the eggs safely tucked away in a special brood chamber in her abdomen until they hatch into nymphs.  The nymphs then exit the brood chamber into the outside world.  Females can produce up to 30 eggs in each clutch.  Males differ from the females by having an extra segment on their abdomen and have a little dimple on the tops of their heads.  Females have smooth heads without a dimple.

Favourite foods:    The Giant Burrowing Cockroach only eats dry leaf litter from the forest floor – which means you would never run into one trying to sneak crumbs out of your kitchen!  Their favourite leaves come from the Torelliana or Cadaghi tree (Eucalyptus torelliana).  The Giant Burrowing Cockroach usually comes up to the surface at night and forages around for these dead leaves.

Defence tactics:    The Giant Burrowing Cockroach is nocturnal, which means that it is most active at night.  This is a good defence tactic, as predators such as birds are usually active during the day.  These cockroaches avoid their enemies by hiding deep underground and have a hard shell of armour to protect them when they come up to the surface.

The shovel-shaped nose aids in digging

Fascinating Facts:    
•    The Giant Burrowing Cockroach can live between 10-14 years, which is a very long time for an insect!
•    They also make great pets!  They are clean, easy to take care of and heaps of fun!  You can keep them in a small aquarium filled with damp sand and dried gum leaves to eat.