Updated: March 30, 2023

Cockroaches are one of the most resilient creatures on earth, thanks to their unique ability to survive in harsh environments. However, if you chop off a cockroach’s head, it can still survive for several days, weeks or even months. This survival ability has intrigued scientists for decades, and many studies have been conducted to understand how long a headless cockroach can live.

The Science Behind Cockroach Headless Survival

Cockroaches have an open circulatory system, which means that they do not have a centralized heart like mammals. Instead, they have a tube-like structure called the dorsal vessel that pumps blood throughout their body. When a cockroach loses its head, the wound quickly seals off, preventing blood loss. The brain of a cockroach is not located in its head but scattered throughout its body. Therefore, even without a head, the cockroach can still perform basic functions such as breathing and moving around.

The cockroach’s ability to survive without its head is due to its decentralized nervous system. Unlike humans, who have a centralized nervous system that controls all body functions, a cockroach’s nervous system is spread throughout its body. Each segment of the cockroach’s body has its own nerve center capable of controlling localized functions.

How Long Can a Cockroach Live Without Its Head?

The lifespan of a headless cockroach depends on various factors such as species, age, and environmental conditions. Some species of cockroaches can live for several months without their heads, while others may only survive for a few days. In general, younger cockroaches have a higher chance of surviving headless than older ones.

One study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida found that American cockroaches can live for up to seven days without their heads. Another study conducted by scientists at Tohoku University in Japan found that German cockroaches can survive for up to two weeks without their heads.

Can a Headless Cockroach Still Reproduce?

Interestingly, headless female cockroaches can still reproduce for a short period. Females store sperm in a spermatheca, which is located in their abdomen. The stored sperm can fertilize eggs for a short period, allowing the female to produce offspring even without a mate.


Q: Can cockroaches live without their heads forever?

A: No, cockroaches cannot live without their heads forever. They will eventually die due to starvation or dehydration.

Q: How do you kill a headless cockroach?

A: Killing a headless cockroach is similar to killing one with its head intact. You can use insecticides or traps to eliminate them.

Q: Are headless cockroaches dangerous?

A: Headless cockroaches are not more dangerous than regular ones. They can still carry diseases and contaminate food.

In conclusion, cockroaches can survive for some time without their heads due to their unique physiological features. However, this ability does not make them invincible as they will eventually die due to dehydration or starvation. Nonetheless, the survival ability of these creatures is impressive and continues to fascinate scientists worldwide.