How Long Can A Cockroach Live Without Its Head? – (Updated For 2024)

It is widely recognized that cockroaches are one of the most resilient and ancient species, with the ability to survive up to a week without their head. They have been estimated to be as old as dinosaurs and are renowned for their ability to survive in harsh conditions. However, the question remains: how long can a cockroach actually live without its head?

How Long Can A Cockroach Live Without Its Head?

Cockroaches can live up to a week without their head! Cockroaches breath via spiracles which are little holes in their body rather than relying on the brain the regulate their breath or blood-flow through their body. Since roaches don’t use a mouth or head to breath, this allows them to survive without their head!

How Long Can A Cockroach Live Without Its Head?

How Does a Cockroach Survive Without Its Head?

A headless cockroach can continue to survive without its head weeks, because they have tiny holes across their body segments, meaning they don’t need their heads or mouths to breathe.

Because of this open circulatory system, a cockroach could actually live up to three weeks without its head; however, it requires its mouth to consume water and nourishment, so it isn’t the lack of oxygen that eventually kills them after decapitation, it’s dehydration. A decapitated cockroach could otherwise survive up to one month without food for they eventually die.

Survival Skills of the Cockroach

Cockroaches are said to survivors, so much so that they’d survive a nuclear war, so it makes sense that they can survive for several weeks without a head. They can also hold their breath for up to forty minutes! This includes being submerged in water. This is part of the reason roaches have such a long lifespan, they are great survivalists!

What Happens When a Cockroach Loses its Head?

cockroach without a head

Contrary to popular myth, a cockroach cannot regrow its head. However, it can regenerate other lost limbs in its life, such as legs and eyes.

This is why a cockroach infestation can be difficult to deal with, and often requires the services of a professional pest control team to fully eradicate cockroaches.

When separated from its head and brain, its nerve tissue agglomerations continue to function, meaning it can still move, be reactive to touch, and carry oxygen.

How to Protect Your Home From a Cockroach Infestation

Cockroach species are known as one of the most adaptable creatures, and can survive in both indoor and outdoor locations, as well as most extreme weather types.

Cockroaches are often attracted to our homes because of food sources. Other than being rather unsightly, cockroach problems need to be dealt with quickly because they are unsanitary insects that are notorious for their ability to spread germs. They are no friend of the human being because they can also trigger allergies and carry diseases, such as salmonella and gastroenteritis.

Even a headless cockroach in the home is a problem because it is able to sustain life, even with spinal cord damage or detachment, and therefore can continue spreading their disease-filled excrement in your home.

American cockroaches are a common pest in our homes if we’re not careful. Roaches and other insects need to be kept out of the home to keep us safe from the unsanitary issues they cause. Ways to protect your home includes:

  • Keeping food locked away and cleaning up the kitchen regularly after food preparation.
  • Keep all room-temperature foods sealed properly.
  • Any cracks and unnecessary crawl spaces should be sealed up/covered. This includes pipes and other open drainage parts.
  • Cockroaches love damp environments, so basements, attics, pantries, kitchens, etc., should be kept dry.
  • If you notice one or more cockroaches in your home, call a professional exterminator. This is the quickest and most effective way of eradicating cockroaches from your environment.

Final Thoughts On Headless Cockroaches

Cockroaches are known for their ability to adapt and survive, so it should be no surprise that they can survive for weeks without their head. This is due to their ability to breath via things called spiracles which are the on the outside of their body (their back and abdomen) because they don’t have lungs, so they can survive without their head!


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