Cockroach Poop: Identifying Roach Droppings

picture of German cockroach surrounded by roach poop and eating gel bait
Close up photo of German cockroach surrounded by poop and eating gel bait

Written by: A O’Neill, Licensed Pest Management Professional

What Does Roach Poop Look Like?

In general, the size of the roach determines the appearance and size of the droppings.

The droppings from small cockroaches, such as the German cockroach, Brown-banded, and the Asian cockroach, are black and look similar to ground black pepper or ground coffee. 

German cockroach droppings tend to be more moist than the others because they need to live in areas with high humidity. 

German roach feces sticks to surfaces, and in large infestations where the roaches congregate together, they will poop in the same area so you will see a dark, dense mass instead of separate pepper-like droppings.

You’re most likely to find German cockroach poop in your home more than any other type of roach as these are common domestic roaches that infest homes and buildings.  

The larger species, such as the American cockroach (Palmetto bug), Oriental, and Smokybrown, produce dark brown to black cylinder-shaped solid poop and are bigger than German roach droppings.

German cockroach droppings and fecal stains in corner of a cupboard
Cockroach droppings and smear marks

What Are Cockroach Smear Marks? 

Cockroach Smear marks are basically liquid roach poop left behind when the roach crawls across a surface. These stains are irregular-shaped dark streaks that are visible on walls and wherever else they crawl.

Smear marks occur in areas of high roach activity and high moisture levels; and will be found in German cockroach infestations for those reasons. 

Related: more roach poop pictures

Does Finding Roach Poop Mean You’ve Got an Infestation?

If you find roach excrement in your home, it does usually mean you have an infestation. As these pests are nocturnal, it’s unlikely you’ll see them during the day unless you have a large population of them, so be on the lookout for other cockroach infestation signs that will confirm whether you have a problem, such as cast skins and egg casings.

Finding roach droppings not only indicates there is a roach problem, but it also means you and anyone else living at the property are at risk of health issues due to the bacteria and allergens found in their droppings.

Does Roach Poop Look Like Mouse Poop?

It’s not uncommon to confuse American cockroach droppings with mouse droppings and vice versa. The two look different upon inspection, but I doubt you want to spend your time doing that.

Cockroach Poop vs Mouse Poop – How Do You Know The Difference? 

American roach feces has ridges running along the length of it and has blunt ends. It is also smaller than the droppings from a rat or house mouse, which is smooth with pointed ends and often contains hair.

Does Roach Poop Look Like Any Other Bug Feces?

German roach poop also resembles bed bug droppings as the fecal spots they both produce look like small black specks.  

As cockroach nymphs can often be found in the same places as bed bugs, it can be difficult to tell their fecal matter apart. 

There are a couple of ways to find out if it’s roach feces or bed bug feces, which are:

1. German roach excrement has a rough texture, whereas bed bug poop is smooth. 

2. Bed bug feces is water-soluble and will smear if you wet it with a damp cloth, unlike cockroach feces. Bed bug feces smear because it is digested blood taken for a blood meal. 

Related: Bugs that look like cockroaches

Do Cockroaches Eat Human Feces?

The answer is yes. These pests are scavengers and will eat anything they can find, including animal feces and human feces. Some types of roaches are commonly found in sewers and other places where human waste is present, so they will happily dine on poop as a food source. 

As well as feasting on human feces, roaches also eat other roach droppings. German roaches, especially nymphs, eat roach droppings, which is called coprophagy

As gross as this sounds, it can actually be a good thing because as the roaches eat the insecticide put down in your home, they will excrete it into their feces, which the nymphs will eat and also be poisoned and die – don’t rely on this to get rid of a whole infestation! 

Can Cockroach Feces Make You Ill?

Yes, roach poop can make you sick as cockroaches can transmit bacteria to our food and surfaces where we prepare food. As mentioned above, these unsanitary creatures crawl through and eat all sorts of filth, including feces, that they then excrete onto your kitchen countertops, cooking utensils, dishes, etc. 

Their feces can contain bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli, as well as parasites and viruses. If you eat food contaminated with roach droppings, you may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Cockroach allergens from their poop and body parts can cause allergic reactions and trigger asthma attacks in those who are sensitive to them. 

We are just briefly touching on the subject here, but you can find out in more detail how harmful roaches can be by clicking on how cockroaches affect your health page, as it’s not only their feces that can make you ill.

cockroaches crawling on countertops feeding on sugar and leaving harmful bacteria behind
Cockroaches crawling on countertops

Does Roach Poop Attract Other Roaches to the Hiding Spots?

Roach poop certainly does attract other roaches to the harborage sites. 

German cockroaches are gregarious (which means they congregate together); this behavior is due to the pheromones released in their droppings that act as an aggregation signal. This often leads to overcrowding in the hiding areas.

Related: What are cockroaches attracted to in your home?

Where to Check for Roaches and Their Droppings

Cockroaches have many harborages, and German roaches are found mainly in the kitchen. They can spread to bathrooms and utility rooms because they need frequent access to moisture for survival. 

I’ve mentioned below a few areas where you should look, but for a more detailed list of their harborage areas check out where do cockroaches hide?

  • refrigerator
  • freezer
  • dishwasher
  • washer and dryer
  • microwave and other appliances that produce heat
  • sinks
  • leaking pipes and where pipes enter a wall
  • cupboards, cabinets, drawers, and their corners 
  • pantry, grocery boxes, and food containers
Lots of cockroach droppings in refrigerator
Cockroach poop inside a refrigerator

What To Do If You Find Cockroach Poop

As roach droppings can be harmful to your health, they need to be cleaned up.

How do you clean up roach poop? Never touch the droppings without wearing protective gloves. You’ll also need to wear an appropriate face mask so you don’t breathe in the allergens. 

Check for droppings in the places suggested above and vacuum up any that you find. Ideally, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter as it stops any allergens from becoming airborne. 

Clean the affected areas thoroughly and wipe them down with a disinfectant spray.  

Your next step is to contact a pest exterminator to control and eliminate the cockroach infestation for you. 

Alternatively, read how to get rid of cockroaches if you want a guide on controlling them yourself. This will include using sticky traps, clearing out clutter, and removing water sources and food sources by wiping up crumbs and covering pet food, for example. As roaches are prolific breeders, it’s always best to get a professional pest control company to treat the infestation.