German vs American Cockroach: What are the Differences?

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Published: July 20, 2022
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The German cockroach and the American cockroach are both members of the Class Insecta and Order Blattodea, and that is just two of many similarities. However, there are certain distinctions between these insects that can help tell them apart. In this article, we will be going into details about the differences and peculiarities of both insects. 

Comparing a German Cockroach and an American Cockroach

German and American cockroaches differ majorly in size and appearance.
German CockroachAmerican Cockroach
SizeLength: 0.5in
Weight: 0.0037oz
Length: 1.1in-2.1in
Weight: 0.0037oz
Appearance Light-brown colorReddish-brown color
Location and HabitatLocation: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Eurasia, South America, and Oceania

Habitat: Anywhere humans live 
Location: Africa, parts of Europe, and North America
Habitat: Anywhere humans live
Predators and ThreatLizards, small snakes, frogs, toads, mice, and also humansFrogs, lizards, salamanders, rats, and cats, among others. 
DietOmnivorous; just about anything Omnivorous; anything they find edible
Litter size/Gestation periodSize: 30-40 eggs
Gestation period: 28 days
Size: 16 eggs
Gestation period: 6-8 weeks

The Major Differences Between the German Cockroach Vs American Cockroach

The major differences between German and American cockroaches are in their size and appearance. German cockroaches are inferior in size to American cockroaches, and while the former has a light-brown color, the latter has a reddish-brown color. Let’s get into some more details. 

German Vs American Cockroach: Size

American cockroach crawling

American cockroaches measure between 1.1in-2.1in.

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On average, German cockroaches are a little smaller than American cockroaches. The average length of German cockroaches is 0.5 inches, while American cockroaches measure between 1.1in-2.1in. Both cockroaches, however, weigh the same with the average weight being around 0.0037oz. 

To actually tell these cockroaches apart using their size, you would have to look very closely or use advanced measuring devices.  

German Vs American Cockroach: Appearance 

German Cockroach

German cockroaches have very slim bodies, with six long legs and spikes on each of the legs to help with climbing.

©7th Son Studio/

Truth is, German cockroaches and American cockroaches almost look exactly the same. In fact, the majority of people don’t care at all about the type of cockroach they see around. However, for curious people, it might interest you to know that German and American cockroaches actually differ a bit in terms of appearance. 

German cockroaches are light brown and they could even look tan to people who are not so accurate with colors. They have very slim bodies with six long legs and spikes on each of the legs to help with climbing. They also have long antennae of almost the same length as their entire bodies as well as two dark-brown bands on the sides of their heads. Their young, also known as nymphs, have a different coloring owing to the extension of the dark brown bands all the way down their bodies. 

On the other hand, American cockroaches have a reddish-brown color with some yellow markings behind the head. They also have very long antennae, and two sets of wings, with the strongest wings at the front and delicate ones at the rear. The nymphs look almost like them except they are wingless and have to molt over a dozen times before complete metamorphosis. 

German Vs American Cockroach: Location And Habitat

German and American cockroaches both have worldwide distribution thanks to global commerce activities. Contrary to what you might have guessed from their names, they both originated from Africa. German cockroaches are the more common species and can be found everywhere across the world. American cockroaches also have a worldwide distribution but their presence is particularly huge in some parts of Europe, North America, and Africa

In terms of habitats, German and American cockroaches are similarly drawn to places with enough warmth and moisture. They both enjoy staying close to and around human homes. However, German cockroaches prefer kitchens and bathrooms while American cockroaches like basements, sewers, crawl spaces, storage buildings, and porches, among others. 

German Vs American Cockroach: Predators And Threats

close up of an American cockroach

American cockroaches are targeted by many other animals, including frogs, lizards, mice, salamanders, and chickens, among others.

©Guillermo Guerao Serra/

German and American cockroaches have similar predators. They are jointly targeted by a range of other animals including frogs, lizards, mice, salamanders, chickens, to mention a few. They also have a common enemy in humans who are strongly averse to them because of their proneness to mass infestation and carriage of harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi. However, German cockroaches fall victim to human attacks more frequently since they prefer to stay in parts of houses that are most frequented by humans (kitchens and bathrooms). 

German Vs American Cockroach: Diet

German and American cockroaches are both omnivores and like most other roaches, they can eat anything. We are talking papers, stamps, feces, meat, sweets, toothpaste, and plastic, among many other organic matters. As far as diets go, there are no differences between German and American cockroaches. 

German Vs American Cockroach: Litter Size/Gestation Period

Types of Cockroaches - German Cockroach

German cockroaches gestate a lot faster than American cockroaches.


In terms of litter size and gestation periods, German cockroaches and American cockroaches are quite different. While a female German cockroach has an average litter size of 30-40 eggs per egg case, a female American cockroach‘s litter size is just around 16 eggs per egg case. Also, while both insects have similar reproductive and growth processes, gestation periods are different. 

The gestation period for a German cockroach is 28 days while it takes American cockroaches anywhere from 6-8 weeks. In other words, German cockroaches gestate a lot faster than American cockroaches and that’s interesting, considering the former has a much bigger litter size. 

German Vs American Cockroach: Speed

As we mentioned before, German cockroaches and American cockroaches suffer constant attacks from humans. While it’s true they like to live around humans, these roaches are very wary of human presence and would often scurry out of sight upon sighting or perceiving humans. German cockroaches have a top speed of 3 miles per hour while American cockroaches boast an average speed of 3.4 miles per hour, making the latter a bit faster. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © skifbook/

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