Can Cockroaches Swim? Information & Facts

It might seem evident that cockroaches can swim because they prefer to live around water and areas with high humidity, right? But that’s not the case! Only a few cockroach species can swim, which is not how you think. 

They don’t swim because their way of swimming is floating. It might not be common for them to swim up through toilet drains and floors, but it does happen. 

And in this port, we will discuss this matter in more detail, so you don’t have to be concerned next time you throw water down the drain to get rid of a roach in your toilet drain. 

So, scroll down to read further. 

Why Do Cockroaches Choose to Live Near Water or High Humid Levels?

Did you know cockroaches originated 300 million years ago and like many other insects, they are driven by survival instincts? One of those instincts is their unstoppable search for food. Roaches have a pretty powerful olfactory sense, and with it, they can track down food. 

For roaches, food can be anything organic. It can be plant or carbon-based, so it’s not the grocery term that people think of. 

cockroach foodThis type of food includes everything, such as human food like bread crumbs, cereal crumbs, or any sugary residue. It can also include paper, cardboard, and other dead bugs or animal messes. 

Roaches can survive for long periods without food. But they need to have a regular water supply, especially the American cockroach. And this type of roach is often referred to as a waterbug. These large species are mostly in sewers, or even storm drains in huge colonies. 

They can be attracted to a leaking pipe under your bathroom or kitchen sink or even the downspout for the gutter outside your house. 

Cockroaches Live Near WaterGerman roaches are also very similar in traits to their American counterparts. But you have to keep in mind that these roaches don’t need much water. These cockroaches fly and can survive only in a few drops by the supply needs to be regular enough to sustain even a large colony. Therefore, any area in your home exposed to water damage, mold, mildew, or high humidity levels is a sweet haven for these cockroach infestations.  

Can All Cockroach Species Swim?

Not all species of cockroaches can swim. And they also don’t swim in the way that you are thinking. They float on water. So, it’s not very common for these cockroaches to swim up through toilet drains and floors, but they can do so.

They can close their spiracles so water cannot enter their bodies. From here, they can travel up the drain. These spiracles are the small openings through which they breathe. 

So, they close these spiracles to prevent water from entering them. If fully submerged in water, these cockroaches can hold their own for 40 minutes. 

Cockroaches Jump but Can’t Float – Do They Die in Water?

Of course, not all species of roaches can swim or float on water. But what about those that don’t float; do they die in water or drown? Well, these roaches are pretty resilient critters. 

As they need oxygen to breathe or survive, you might believe they might drown if they submerge. They might be pretty bad swimmers, so temporarily flushing them down might work. 

But it doesn’t kill them. Because roaches don’t drown, they can conveniently hold their breath for up to half an hour underwater and even 40 minutes above water. They close their spiracles and start floating, and it gives them time to escape 

Hot water can kill these cockroaches, but they have to submerge into it fully. And in this scenario, the heat is being the killer and not the water. These cockroaches cannot survive literature of over 125F, especially if they are in direct contact. 

Coldwater needs to be below the freezing point to harm them in any way. But if they remain fully submerged underwater for more than 40 minutes, they can die no matter what species of roaches we are talking about. 


Can you drown a cockroach?

You cannot drown a roach as they are highly adapted for survival in any environment. They might not be able to hold their breath like fish because they don’t have gills, but they can stay in the water for long hours without drowning. 

But you can recover from it if you keep them submerged for more than an hour. But it’s pretty hard to kill them through the water. The only way is to use hot or freezing water. 

What happens if you flush a cockroach down the toilet?

flush a cockroach down the toiletIt might not come back up if you flush a roach down the toilet. It is due to the excessive water pressures that will force it down the drain. But even if this has failed and the roach has survived, a toilet water trap will keep the roach at bay and come up the pipes. But flushing certainly won’t kill the insect. 

Can cockroaches swim underwater?

Roaches can’t swim due to the design of their legs. These legs are meant for them to climb walls and not swim underwater. So, instead of swimming, these roaches use a floating technique where they close their spiracles and find their way through the water. But only a few species can do that.  

Can cockroaches breathe underwater?

No, they don’t breathe underwater because they don’t have gills. They have spiracles, and they close them when they are underwater. They can hold their breath underwater for up to 40 minutes. 

How long can a cockroach live without water?

They can live up to one week without water as they are cold-blooded insects. They can live without food for months too

Can a cockroach live without its head?

When roaches breathe, they don’t need much oxygen. German cockroach or brown-banded cockroach can close their spiracles. It allows them to regulate water loss in the form of water vapors. As these insects don’t use their mouths for breathing, they can live for a week without their heads too. However, a headless roach will die as it cannot eat or drink anything without a mouth. 

Final Word

Cockroaches who live underwater are pretty resilient critters, and they are hard to kill. They might not be good swimmers, but roaches tend to hold their breath underwater for extended periods. You cannot kill roaches with just a toilet bowl flush. It will just be the water pressure that takes them away. You need to hire a professional pest control service provider to get rid of these adaptable creatures once for all.

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