Wood Roach Care Sheet (Woodies)

Woodies are a great staple insect and can be added to the diet of many animals to help provide a balanced and nutritious diet


As fast movers, Woodies are also perfect for animals who are stimulated by the movement of live food. However, it’s important to keep in mind that woodies can and will run away and hide inside your enclosures if you’re not careful while feeding! 

Housing Your Woodies:

There are many options for storing your woodies. Ideally, if you plan on keeping them for more than a week, a storage container will be the perfect home. The container also needs to be well ventilated, as woodies won’t survive long in high humidity environments (due to bacterial and fungal exposure). It is recommended that you replace a large portion of the lid with fine mesh, or alternatively, drill many holes throughout the lid.
Somewhat annoyingly, woodies are incredible climbers, being able to climb even the smoothest surfaces. Because of this, a barrier of either Vaseline or Fluon is required to keep them within their containers. Simply paint or smear on an approximately 5cm wide layer of your chosen barrier around the top of the container.
As woodies can be cannibalistic, they need places to hide. The best and cheapest options are egg cartons, paper towel and toilet paper rolls, and corrugated cardboard. Paper towel and toilet rolls are also handy devices for easily capturing your woodies.
Woodies are the most productive at temperatures between 25 to 33 Degrees C. These temperatures can be established by the use of a heat mat or heat cord under half of the tub. Ensure that you use a thermostat to keep temperatures constant and there is a thin tile or similar between the heat source and the tub to avoid melting the plastic. Woodies stored at temperatures outside of this range may have a reduced life span and won’t actively breeding (if that is your goal).

Feeding Your Woodies:

Woodies are voracious omnivores and will eat practically anything. However, several common feeding practices have been known to cause die offs. How to avoid them is outlined below.
Firstly, if your woodies get too much moisture (via food, water crystals), a bacteria build up can occur in their gut, potentially causing their death as a result. You can tell if this is killing your woodies by any wet or ‘mushy’ dead bodies in your colony.
To avoid this, have dry foods on offer 24/7 and only offer a moisture source for a few hours, once a week. If when you first purchase woodies, they arrive with carrot (or another ‘wet’ food), it’s best to ‘dry them out’ to avoid as many losses as possible. To do this, avoid offering a moisture source for the first few weeks (or until the dying stops). Once it appears that there are no more pre- mature deaths you can proceed to offering moisture once per week.
If you are breeding and separate your baby woodies from your adults, they can eat as much moisture as they like. This is due to the gut bacteria mainly effecting only older woodies. You can offer baby woodies carrot every day, or other moisture sources such as water crystals, or a damp sponge. Once the woodies reach a medium size, begin again only offering moisture occasionally.
Secondly, one of the most common dry foods to feed woodies is dog food, but this may not be the best option, due to the high protein content. Try going for something such as Wheat Bran, or ideally, Pollard. These food sources contain a much lower protein content and have proven to decrease the amount of die-off. It also appears that the woodies much prefer these two foods over dog food. You can find Bran for sale in small bags at most grocery stores, or both Bran and Pollard can be bought in bulk from rural supply and feed stores.

In Summery

Have Bran or Pollard on offer to your woodies 24/7 (you can use dog food but it’s not ideal), and give them access to a moisture source, such as vegetable scraps or water crystals, only once per week for a few hours.

Breeding Techniques

Colony Breeding - Best method for beginners

If you’re keeping your woodies as outlined above, and you have adults, breeding is likely to occur whether you want it to or not. Colony breeding is when you leave the babies in the same tub as the adults, which over time essentially creates a colony of many different generations.
Advantages of this method is that minimal effort is required and only one tub is needed to give yourself a constant supply of woodies. Once your colony is established, you will have woodies at all stages of life, meaning that there will always be young adults ready to replace old, keeping breeding constant. To maximise the production of your colony, you will ideally want to keep the temperature on the hotter side of the range mentioned above (30-33°C). It is also vital to wait until the colony is established before starting to feed from it and reducing the numbers. Also be careful not to take too many out of the colony initially, as if too many are removed the breeding cycle will be impacted, and the colony will struggle to stay productive.

Separation Method

This method is only really used if breeding at a large scale. Basically, the breeding tubs only consist of adult woodies and the babies are separated every few weeks into different tubs. This method allows you to feed the babies more heavily on moisture and they have less competition for food. It also makes it easier to classify the woodies based on size, as you only have one generation in each tub, making sorting, feeding, and packing them for sale easier. However, it’s important to remember that you will need to restock your adult tubs with fresh woodies every few weeks to replace the older ones.

Sizing and Classification

The easiest and most popular way to classify woodies is using buckets. You will need to paint fluon or vegetable oil onto the inside walls of the buckets to prevent the woodies from escaping, and drill holes in the bottom for the smaller woodies to get through. Using vegetable oil can be the better option as the fluon may get scraped off when the buckets are stacked.
For a ‘Tiny, Small, Medium, Large’ classification you will need four buckets, but for a more precise classification you can use up to seven. The sizes of the holes in each bucket are as follows:
Special thanks to Brian’s Worms for much of the knowledge displayed in this care sheet. A big thanks as well to Emilee Thomson for bringing to light the problems caused by the high protein content of dog food.
If you have any further questions relating to woodies and their care, please don’t hesitate to join our Facebook group, Woodie Breeding Australia, or alternatively, contact us at sales@hatchedpetsupplies.com.au.
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