Live Dead Vertebrates as Food in Caves

Those cockroaches that live in bat guano opportunistically feed on live, dead, and decomposing bats. Juveniles in maternity roosts that lose their grip and fall to the cave floor are particularly vulnerable (Darlington, 1970). Blaberus sp. have been observed rending the flesh of a freshly fallen bat, starting with the eyes and lips (D.W., 1984). Among the species recorded as feeding on dead bats are Blattella cavernicola (Roth, 1985), Gyna caf-frorum, Gyna sp., Hebardina spp., Symploce incuriosa (Braack, 1989), and Pycnoscelus indicus (Roth, 1980). Cockroaches that live in the guano of oilbirds are treated to fallen eggs and occasional bird corpses (Darlington, 1995b). LMR once placed a dead mouse into a large culture of Blaberus dytiscoides and it was skeletonized overnight; he suggested to his museum colleagues that the cockroaches might be used to clean vertebrate skeletons.

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