Red Runner Care and Info
Posted by Ronald Denicola on
Blatta lateralis, or Shelfordella lateralis, the Turkestan Cockroach , also known as the red runner, rusty red cockroach, or Red Lat is a small sized species of cockroach which grows to about 1inch in length. These roaches have been raising in popularity for that last few year as feeders for a variety of reptiles, amphibians, arachnids and fish.
The higher protein content combined with the easy to digest chitin shell make Red Runner Roaches highly sought after and a greater alternative to the most common staple feeder the Banded Cricket. Red Runner Roaches are much easier to keep than crickets. They have more positive nutritional benefits than super worms and mealworms
Highly Nutritious food for your pets
- Great for young to Mature insectivores
- Quickly Reproduces
- Excellent nutrition
- Easy to digest
- High in protein
- Growth sizes almost match banded crickets
Optimal Choice of Insect Feeder
- Odorless ( with regular enclosure cleaning out) and soundless
- Can be stored out of sight
- Simple to care for
- Cannot jump, fly or climb up smooth surfaces
- Triggers feeding responses in many Reptiles
ATTENTION: M.R. Pet Supplies DOES NOT recommend starting your own Red Runner roach colony. It is common for people to develop a serve allergy to Red Runner roaches with too much handling, improper ventilation and constant exposure. You might save money long term, but it may not be worth the risk to your or your families health. Handling your Red Runner roaches in a well-ventilated room, and wearing gloves and a mask can help reduce the chances of developing an allergy. Please be aware that the reactions will start with itchy skin, and then move on to itchy eyes, congestion, and may lead to respiratory issues. Let M.R. Pet Supplies supply your Red Runner roaches, as you need them with minimal exposure and risk of developing allergies.
Red Runner roaches need to be held in containers with smooth sides so they are not able to climb out of their enclosure. This species of outdoor wooded area roach are not known to climb smooth surfaces, they will be able to use rough-surfaces and walls as toeholds and may reach the top of the enclosure. To avoid them escaping place a layer of Smoothed out tape or layer of petroleum jelly along the inside top edge. Glass aquariums, plastic totes / tubs (18 – 30 Gal.), or Plastic insect carriers with ventilated lids can be used. Although the roaches cannot climb, it is wise to cover their enclosure so unwanted materials, pests or household pets cannot get in. Aquariums can be covered with mesh screen covers used for reptiles. Most plastic tubs are sold with heavy-duty plastic covers. In order to provide ventilation for a plastic tub, cut a hole in the cover at least 50% of the lid and hot-glue some vinyl mesh over the opening, you can also use a strong adhesive tape. This will make sure the humidity does not increase beyond the room’s normal humidity.
Red Runner roaches need places to stand and places to hide. Cardboard egg crate flats provide the surface area per square inch. You may be able to get egg crate flats from a local farms or stores or store like Walmart or you can buy them from our supplier at eggcartons.com. M.R. Pet Supplies recommend stacking the egg crate flats vertically so the Red Runner roach droppings fall to the bottom of the housing. Make sure that the cover is on tight and that the egg crate does not extend so close to the top of the enclosure that the roaches can crawl out, a good inch from top edge to top of egg crate is ideal.
Heat and Humidity
Although Red Runner roaches can survive at room temperatures of 60-70 F, they require an ambient temperature of 80 F to successfully breed, and do best with as little humidity as possible. If you have an area of your home that naturally reaches the required temperature there is no need for an additional heat source. If heat is needed, it can best be provided by using a Ceramic Heat Emitter, a Heat Mat or coated heat cable. The ceramic heat emitter should be installed at the top of the enclosure to radiate heat downward; the UTH can be attached to the side or bottom of the enclosure. If the UTH is to be placed on the outside bottom of the enclosure, be sure to raise the tub or tank at least 1/4" to vent the heat if they are over 10watts. In order to control the temperature of the Heat Mat and to prevent an overly hot Heat Mat from melting a plastic housing, use of a thermostat or a lamp dimmer to keep the temperature in the low 80’s. The warm temperatures and use of water crystals for hydration or regular root veggies (see below) should lead to an increase in humidity, its recommended that 50% of their lid is open, covered with a vent or screen. There is no need to use any kind of substrate or bedding at the bottom of the enclosure, as the frass builds up the Red Runner roach will dig and hide in the layer that develops. You will want to remove as much of the frass over time as possible as it reduces any smells that build up as well as dust particles In the air.
Food and Water
Providing great nutrition and adequate hydration result in healthy Red Runner roaches, which means great food for your pets. Healthy Red Runner roaches provide a large array of great nutrition to the animals that feed on them (click here for a chart). Red Runner Roaches can eat a variety of dry fruit, grain or plant-based food including what is commonly called Roach chow, powdered grains, commercially available insect gutload, a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially orange ones which contain carotenoids (NOTE that do not gut load citrus for feeding some lizard species as this can be harmful to them.). Low moisture vegetable parings such as potato or other parings, apple cores or broccoli stalks. Be sure to remove fruit and vegetables before they get moldy (typically root veggies 12-24hours and leafy veggies 8-15 hours; mold is lethal to roach colonies. Avoid high protein foods such as dog or cat food and meat, since Red Runner roaches convert excess protein into uric acid that can harm the reptiles that eat them. 14-16% Protein is ideal for Red Runner roaches.
Red Runner Roaches droppings are called “frass". The enclosures will need to be cleaned every 4-6 weeks to reduce buildup of frass and shed exo-skeletons; this can be extended with the purchase of cleaning crew beetles sometimes called buffalo beetles or Dermestid (taxidermy) beetles( in the red runners environment they will not last very long as its very dry but can help extend the time between cleanings). This can be extended to 8 weeks easily. As long as there is not a sweet smell, pest invasion and you are removing any remain food scraps after 12-15 hours.
It is useful to have an extra enclosure and or a few 5 gallon buckets when cleaning. Transfer the egg crate flats with the Red Runner Roaches and the food and water dishes (which may contain roaches as well) to the extra container. Then you will begin the process of removing the frass and not roaches!
Sifting the Frass
Since Red Runners do not tend to burrow if they can find another hiding place removing the frass can be a challenge. Remove all feeding dishes. As the roaches go through their instars they will leave behind many small exoskeletons, as you remove the egg cartons use a 5 gallon bucket to knock them out of hiding into the bucket; They are more soft bodied than other roaches but will survive this process just fine. As you double check to make sure that the eggcartons are empty place one back into the tub, shake the tub and allow all of the frass you move to one side of the tub, be careful not to tip too much that the roaches can get any kind of grab to start climbing / walking. Shake the tub a few times and place it down. Most of the roaches will make a run for the eggcarton allowing you to place them in the 5 gallon bucket. You can try and shake slightly the Tub back and forth to see if you see any nymphs running around or if you want ot get very detailed any egg sacks that are not stuck to the eggcartons. Pour the frass in to another bucket or bin either throw it in a trash bag or compost for rich fertilizer.
Important Please Read
Please be aware that some people can develop allergies / Asthma to Red Runners roaches without proper airflow and ventilation. This can happen without warning and seems to increase with more exposure to their frass (excrement). This is more likely to occur if you are breeding roaches without proper ventilation, since it will dramatically increase the intensity of contact. The best way to avoid developing an allergy is to handle your Red Runner roaches in a well-ventilated room, and wear gloves and a mask if possible.
Materials Recommended for Red Runner Roach Care
- Glass Aquarium or plastic tote / tub (at least 18-30 Gallon) (for smaller temporary feeder holding small plastic insect cages with ventilation slits.)
- Ventilated Enclosure cover (vinyl mesh and hot glue gun needed if converting a plastic tub cover)
- Egg crate flats
- Water crystals ( recommended to not use with unprocessed oats click here for colony pests and issues)
- Roach food or veggies (click here for a list of great veggies and an inexpensive Red Runner roach chow)
- Shallow bowls or plastic cups with an opening
- Extra Tub to use when cleaning
Want to know more about facts about the Red Runner roaches? Check out this Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkestan_cockroach