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Good Plants For a Cockroach Terrarium

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My pet roach just received a MAJOR house upgrade, a huge reptile terrarium tank with not only a screen lid but also opening doors! He also has a hydrometer and a thermometer, and a heat-lamp. His enclosure, however, is looking a bit boring with only a bark burrow for his amusement.

I was wondering what plants would be good to put in there.

They would need to:

  • Be safe for him to eat, should he get hungry.
  • Live a long time (I don't want to replace plants every month. I want plants that will last.)
  • Grow quickly.
  • Look attractive.
  • Be able to grow well with low light and temperatures from 70-80.

Does anyone know of any plants that would do well?

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Best plant for the situation, pothos. Grows like a weed, low temps are fine, it looks cool, and you can make it like a backdrop. That idea just came to me so it would be harder to explain that lol.

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But aren't Phothos plants poisonous? I have a few sitting around that I could put in there, but I know they are very poisonous. Are they not poisonous to insects? I'm not an expert on roaches.

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If a plant is harmful they know better than to eat it. Many, many plant species are poisonous and if insects just started gorging themselves every time they came across a new plant they would not last very long.

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If a plant is harmful they know better than to eat it. Many, many plant species are poisonous and if insects just started gorging themselves every time they came across a new plant they would not last very long.

Alright then.

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I've used pothos with my Gyna lurida with zero issues.

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I've used pothos with my Gyna lurida with zero issues.

Alright. Once I get a few more opinions I'll try it. I'm very, very hesitant, because if I put it in there and I'm wrong, all my roaches will die. Better to be safe than sorry, as they say.

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Spider plants are always a good and easy addition! I use them for indoor plants in my reptile room (only florescent lights) and they grow fine! Also have them with some geckos and they provide scenery, shade, and I think they like pretennding they're huge dinosaurs when they occasionally pull down a 'leaf.'

They even self reproduce if conditions are met!

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I would be very cautious adding live plants to your enclosure without doing a considerable amount of research beforehand. First off, most house plants such as Pothos are potentially hazardous to both insects and mammals due to an abundance of calcium oxalate raphites in their leaves. Raphites are microscopic, needle-like projections that are designed to embed the gum tissues or stomach linings of whatever eats the leaves, causing severe discomfort. Although not deadly to insects themselves, the internal wounds sustained from their consumption may lead to secondary infections which could cause death. The majority of your thick-leaved, ivy-like plants contain these or similarly composed structures that also help repel terrestrial mollusks as well. However, even if plants are chosen that lack raphites, many growers now use a fertilizer/insecticide mixture that literally incorporates a systemic insecticide such as imidacloprid into the plant's tissues so greenhouse plants that would normally be safe for a terrarium may now prove to be toxic. If live plants are preferred, chose insect safe plants from an organic gardener or from older pots that would not have been exposed to any pesticides. Sweet potatoes can be easily grown from tubers that will supply both nutrition and beauty to most enclosures. Other potato types such as whites or reds that are related to nightshade should be avoided since their leaves are toxic to most insects that are not immune to solanine-based compounds. Hope this helps.

Mark

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I really think roaches know better than to eat pothos. In the tropics they are constantly surrounded by hundreds of different plant species, most if not all of which are laced with toxins nearly as diverse as the plants. Insects that feed on living plant tissue are often restricted to just a few plant families who's defenses they have evolved specialized immunity to. Cockroaches aren't, which is why they mainly eat dead and decaying matter and leave most living plants alone.

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I wish that were true for captive specimens. I once set up an exhibit for 30 hissing roaches that had living plants native to Madagascar such as Madagascar Dragon Trees (Dracaena marginata), Blossfeld Kalanchos (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) and Madagascar Palms (Pachypodium lamerei) to name a few. The roaches were still offered their typical diet and water sources they had received prior to being placed in the exhibit. Within days, almost all of the plants had been nibbled on with the Kalancho being completely eaten. Less than a week later, nearly all the roaches were found on their backs with legs twitching. Surprisingly, a few survived but the majority didn't make it. I later experimented with Kalancho purchased from an organic grower. The roaches eagerly fed upon the leaves as before but none of the roaches showed any adverse effects. Since than, I never used plants purchased from a greenhouse/plant store again unless they were organically grown. My advice is to do your research first.

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That sounds like a case of pesticide poisoning, not plant toxins. Especially since it took days to come into effect and didn't repel them.

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A systemic pesticide was exactly the issue but as I stated previously to only use organically grown house plants that you know are safe because the roaches may very well nibble on them.

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I didn't say they wouldn't nibble on them, I just said that if they are harmful they'll no better than to eat them. Obviously those plants weren't harmful to hissers, and since you say they're all found in madagascar they probably knew it.

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