Updated: March 30, 2023

German cockroaches, also known as Blattella germanica, are one of the most common species of cockroaches found worldwide. These pests are known for their adaptability and their ability to survive in adverse conditions. One of the most curious habits of these insects is their tendency to feed on fecal matter. In this article, we will explore this behavior and try to understand why German cockroaches engage in such a strange feeding habit.

The Science Behind the Fecal Feeding Habit

To understand why German cockroaches feed on fecal matter, we must first look at their physiology. Cockroaches have a unique digestive system that allows them to break down complex organic material into simpler compounds. They have a symbiotic relationship with gut microbes that help them digest food. However, not all food is easy to digest, and some nutrients are lost in the process.

Fecal matter contains undigested nutrients that are still present in a form that the cockroach can consume. In other words, fecal matter is an excellent source of nutrition for these insects. German cockroaches have adapted to exploit this food source by consuming fecal matter produced by themselves and other members of their colony.

The Benefits of Fecal Feeding

Fecal feeding may seem like a disgusting habit, but for German cockroaches, it’s a survival strategy. These insects live in crowded environments and compete for resources such as food and shelter. By feeding on fecal matter, they can gain access to additional nutrients that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

Moreover, fecal feeding is a way for German cockroaches to recycle waste within their colony. By consuming their own feces and those of other members of the colony, they can extract more nutrients from the food they eat and produce less waste. This efficient use of resources helps them survive in harsh environments where food is scarce.

Fecal Feeding and Disease Transmission

While fecal feeding may have benefits for German cockroaches, it also poses a risk for humans. Cockroaches are known carriers of various pathogens that can cause diseases such as salmonellosis, typhoid fever, and dysentery. When they feed on fecal matter, they can pick up these pathogens and transfer them to other surfaces, including food preparation areas and utensils.

Therefore, it’s essential to take steps to prevent and control cockroach infestations in homes and businesses. Regular cleaning, proper food storage, and sealing cracks and crevices can help reduce the likelihood of cockroach infestations. If you suspect a cockroach infestation in your home or workplace, contact a pest control professional immediately to address the issue.


In summary, German cockroaches’ fecal feeding habit may seem repulsive, but it’s an adaptation that helps them survive in harsh environments. By consuming fecal matter, they can extract more nutrients from their food and recycle waste within their colony. However, fecal feeding also poses a risk for disease transmission to humans, making cockroach control a crucial aspect of public health.


Q: Is fecal feeding unique to German cockroaches?

A: No, other species of cockroaches and insects engage in fecal feeding as well.

Q: Does fecal feeding affect the taste or quality of food prepared in infested areas?

A: Yes, cockroaches can contaminate food with pathogens picked up from their feces or other contaminated surfaces.

Q: Can I control a German cockroach infestation on my own?

A: While there are DIY methods for controlling cockroach infestations, it’s best to contact a pest control professional for effective and long-lasting results.