How To Set Up a Woodies Colony and Breed Woodies for Reptile Feeders in Australia

How To Set Up a Woodies Colony and Breed Woodies for Reptile Feeders in Australia

Setting up a live Woodies colony is as easy as 1… 2… 3…! Woodies are a nutritious live feeder for bearded dragons, lizards, and other pet reptiles. 

How To Set Up a Woodies Colony and Breed Woodies for Reptile Feeders in Australia

Live Woodies (also known as wood cockroaches, speckled feeder roaches, speckled cockroaches, and lobster cockroaches) are a nutritious, protein rich food for your pet reptile. Woodies are suitable as live insect feeders for lizards, bearded dragons, frogs, turtles, and predatory fish, such as large cichlid, barramundi, and oscars. Birds also enjoy Woodies as an occasional treat! They are great for fussy eaters, particularly reptiles that like to be stimulated by the movement of live food. Some helpful information can also be found on PetWave Woodies Caresheet.

How to set up a live Woodies colony

FIRSTLY, to set up your wood roaches breeding colony, you will need a plastic container of at least 50 litres in size. This will allow adequate space once breeding occurs. A large hole should be cut in the roof of the container for ventilation and then seal by gluing fly screen across the hole. A lack of ventilation can lead to increased moisture, causing stress and illness to your Woodies. 

Picture 1: Woodies Colony tub with fly screen ventilation in lid

It is important to consider the placement of the container. The container should be stored in a cool dry area, away from any potentially toxic fumes including deodorants, perfumes, insect coils and smoke. Monitor the temperature of your live Woodies colony, a low cost digital thermometer with a 1m probe will do the trick! 

To maximise the breeding activity, longevity, and live expectancy of live Woodies, regulate the temperature of the colony to between 28oC – 30oC. This can be achieved with a thermostat. PetWave has many different types of thermostats available to purchase, however we recommend using the terrarium thermostat with 2.4m probe as a temperature controller for a live Woodies colony. The thermostat should be plugged into a heat mat that is placed underneath the plastic container and the temperature probe inside the live Woodies colony. Some people also use a heat conducting tile between the heat mat and the plastic tub.

How to Stop Woodies Escaping

SECONDLY, Woodies are known to be escape artists and will climb up the sides of the plastic container. To prevent your live Woodies from escaping, the sides of the container should be lined with insect barrier paint. PetWave recommends using a foam brush or paint brush to apply a barrier of Fluon about 5cm wide towards the top of the inside of the container. Apply Fluon to your container outdoors, or in a well-ventilated area to avoid Fluon fumes. Fluon is a harmless Teflon based insect barrier paint that roaches and other live insects cannot climb over as it creates a nearly invisible impassable slippery barrier. 

Picture 2:  Fluon Barrier on Walls of Woodies Colony 

THIRDLY, while the Fluon is air drying (about 15–30 min) collect old egg cartons for the Woodies to crawl, hide, and give birth in. Once stacked up, the egg cartons should cover at least a third of the container, however, always ensure that the eggs cartons are lower than the Fluon barrier so there are no escapes. 

Congratulations your wood cockroaches colony is set up! You can now add live Woodies to your container colony. You can buy live Woodies for sale available for next day delivery in Australia at PetWave.

To start breeding live Woodies, order a live large Woodies mega bulk pack from PetWave. Large woodies are older and closer to breeding age.

How to breed live Woodies 

Woodies roaches are easy to breed, although a little smelly. Once the live Woodies are in their colony in the container, they breed on their own. It may take up to six months for the live Woodies to breed, so be patient!

A female Woodie breeds an average of 6 times in their 344-day life cycle, birthing approximately 30 babies each time. 

How to sort live Woodies into different sizes

For the feeding requirements of live Woodies, it is important that Woodies are sorted into different sizes. That means you will need to set up two Woodies breeding colonies; one container for baby and small live Woodies (< 20mm), and another for medium and large live Woodies (> 20mm). 

To sort your live Woodies into different sizes, three small buckets are needed to act as a sieve to sort the live Woodies. Each bucket should have different sized holes drilled in the bottom, ranging from 2 mm to 10mm and the base tub should not have any holes. 

Starting with the bucket that has the largest sized holes on top (10 mm), carefully shake the Woodies through the holes, to the buckets below, essentially sorting themselves by size. The baby and small woodies will work their way through the holes in the buckets to the base container. Ensure that you coat the buckets with Fluon as described above, otherwise the woodies will crawl out of the buckets and escape.

Complete this process once a week to keep the Woodies in their age groups.

What do live Woodies eat?

Wood roaches must have a continuous supply of dry food. This can either be dry dog biscuits, rodent pellets, or similar. The cheap stuff will do just fine! 

Moisture is the enemy of breeding live Woodies. Water should never be put in the live Woodies breeding box as it will drown the Woodies, promote bacterial growth, and make the live Woodies soggy. For their water intake, Woodies should be given carrot as is has a high-water content. Be sure to wash your fresh produce before feeding it to your Woodies, or other live insects, to remove any residual insecticides. 

As mentioned above, live Woodies should be sorted into different sizes. Baby and small Woodies (up to about 4mm) should have a small amount of carrot available all the time. Whereas, medium and large live Woodies should only be given one carrot once a week to ensure they do not absorb too much moisture, as well as, minimising the potential for odour and bacteria growth. 

How to maintain a live Woodies breeding colony

While Woodies are generally clean live insects, remember that Woodies like to climb up the container, so your Fluon insect barrier paint must be replaced every 2 – 12 months, once you notice it start to erode, melt due to heat, or Woodies start climbing over it. 

Egg cartons only need to be replaced once they start falling apart, start to smell or get soiled. 

Picture 3:  Woodies Colony with Dry Food and Carrot

You should also clean your breeding colonies of Woodies poo. Once a week, tip the container to one side, the live Woodies should scurry and hide in the egg cartons, and then scoop it out and then dispose of it. 

Are Live Woodies good for Bearded Dragons, Reptiles and Birds

A couple of days prior to using your wood cockroaches as a live feeder for your pet, offer them a live insect Gutloading Powder to optimise the protein, vitamins, minerals, fat, and carbohydrates of the medium and large Woodies. 

Immediately prior to feeding your reptile, or other pet, dust your live feeder roaches with reptile calcium powder. Woodies have a low calcium to phosphorus ratio so this will avoid potential health issues related to a low calcium intake. 

As Woodies are a live feeder, a non-escape food bowl is recommended when feeding live Woodies, or any other live feeder insects, to your bearded dragon, lizard, other reptile, or pet. Insect handling scissors may also be helpful to safely move the live Woodies from the container to the food bowl.

Woodies Colony Cleaner Crew

Dermestid Beetles and Larvae are excellent helpers in your Woodies colony. Dermestid Beetles and Larvae eat any dead woodies, woodies waste from the live Woodies and prevent bacteria from growing. Find out more about the Clean Up Crew in PetWave caresheets.

Helpful hint: Woodies love to hide in toilet paper rolls. Use a toilet paper roll to collect and pick up the live Woodies for reptile feeding! 

Buy live Woodies to breed for live Bearded Dragon feeders at PetWave. 

About PetWave

PetWave is an Australian online pet supply company. We’re experts in successfully shipping fresh, live, frozen and delicate products to you and your pets' door, wherever you are in Australia. Order before 7:30am for next day delivery. 

PetWave are very proud to offer the highest quality and largest selection of live aquarium fish, aquarium plants, live reptile food, live insects, including live Woodies, frozen feeders especially for snakes, lizards, frogs and birds of prey, as well as, many other beautiful decorations for your aquarium and terrarium. 

Find the best live insect feeder for your pet reptile using this guide.

Visit PetWave at, for any inquiries email


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