What Would Happen if I Swallowed a Live Cockroach by Mistake

Well, what would happen if I swallowed a live cockroach by mistake? Although this might seem like a ridiculous question, it has actually happened before.

If that happens, the roach will undergo digestion and get dissolved in the stomach acid. Eventually, it will turn into a fluid before its nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream.

That being said, there’s more to this crazy question than you might have though, so keep reading and let’s get into it…

How Likely Are You to Swallow a Cockroach?

Well, it’s possible to swallow a cockroach but this isn’t something that occurs very frequently. 

For instance, it could happen while you are sleeping with your mouth open. Theoretically, you could also accidentally drink a sip of water (or another drink) that had a cockroach inside. Alternatively, there is a possibility that this insect could fly into your mouth when you are close to its nest. 

Various other accidents could happen, such as a child deciding to eat a bug, unaware of the danger. But, even this is still very unlikely to happen, because cockroaches aren’t that easy to catch. Most cockroaches are nocturnal creatures, usually roaming around in the dark. They are very fast and nimble too and tend to get scared by humans which would make them run away quite quickly. 

In short, the chances of swallowing a cockroach by mistake are very low. But, it’s definitely possible. So if that’s a thought that has been troubling you, let’s consider what would actually happen. 

Can Humans Digest Cockroaches? 

So what would happen inside your body if you did ingest a living cockroach. Well, the good news is, the cockroach will definitely not start walking inside your belly and eating you from the inside. The acids inside our stomachs are strong enough to kill the cockroach immediately. 

Moreover, as we will discuss below, most cockroaches are actually edible (and in some cultures, they are, in fact, eaten frequently). While cockroaches can bite, they do not have any poison or venom in their bodies, so that’s one more fact that shows us that swallowing a cockroach is not really all that bad. 

The body of a cockroach is made mostly of protein, with some fats and moisture mixed in for good measure. Their exoskeletons are made of chitin, which is similar to protein. Chitin is not digestible per se, but it can safely pass through the human digestive system, acting as insoluble fiber. 

In short, even though disgusting, cockroaches are not harmful to humans in and of themselves, even if swallowed live. But, that doesn’t mean they are completely safe! 

The actual danger that comes from swallowing a cockroach is connected to the diseases they can carry.

Would You Get Sick if You Swallow a Roach?

Well, if you accidentally swallow those basic cockroaches that are found in homes, then you will most likely get sick. Even though the acid in the stomach usually dilutes the bacteria, sometimes this isn’t effective. And, cockroaches are known to be able to carry a whole host of various microorganisms, including potentially harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites! 

Take a look at this, that if you eat food that’s contaminated by these insects chances are that you might end up feeling unwell. So, if you swallow the insect itself, understand that they carry diseases.

Sickness usually occurs due to the fact that cockroaches generally crawl in dirty areas. They walk around in different parts of the house, from the toilet, floor, kitchen counters, to garbage bins. They are even known to eat human excrements. 

This way, they usually accumulate different types of pathogens that can trigger allergic reactions or various infections. Some of the cockroach-borne diseases include:


Salmonellosis is  caused by the Salmonella bacterium. This disease usually displays its symptoms in humans like food poisoning. Symptoms usually include vomiting, fever, and diarrhea.

E.coli Infections 

This is a bacterial infection that mainly affects the gut in human beings. E.coli can result in diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Other symptoms may include chills, fever, nausea, and muscle aches among others.


Listeriosis is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. These bacteria often grow in foods that were not stored properly (such as keeping raw foods out of the fridge for too long). And, if cockroaches get into this food (which they probably would do if it would be available), then they can transmit the disease onto you. 

The symptoms of listeriosis include diarrhea, fever, and muscle aches. It’s known to be deadly for people with weakened immune systems (such as pregnant women, babies, and the elderly), so symptoms of this disease should not be taken lightly! 

Asthma & Allergies 

While there is a possibility of catching an infectious disease from a cockroach, it’s not actually a very common occurrence. By far the most common health problems connected to cockroaches are allergic reactions and asthma. 

There is a high possibility that roaches can trigger asthmatic episodes. This is because these bugs usually contain specific types of proteins in their bodies that behave as allergens in certain people. When these proteins find their way into asthmatic individuals, they might end up with severe overreaction.

The symptoms of a cockroach allergy are similar to any sort of allergy. Those include: 

  • A runny nose
  • A stuffy nose 
  • Itchy eyes and skin 
  • Unexplainable rashes
  • Itchy nose, mouth, and throat. 

In this case, there is not much you can do except take an OTC allergy medication and investigate whether you have cockroaches in your home. If you do, make sure to take steps promptly and kick them out. 

What Should I Do if I’m Worried About Being Infected By a Cockroach? 

In case you accidentally swallow one of these bugs, monitor yourself very closely. Record any change and if you notice that it’s severe, then immediately contact your doctor. 

What would be especially worrying in this case are the symptoms of food poisoning. These include: 

  • Nausea 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Stomach cramps 
  • Fever 

Try not to worry too much, though, as chances of getting seriously ill from a cockroach are low. But if symptoms do persist, definitely don’t ignore them.

Where in the World Do People Eat Cockroaches in Their Regular Diet?

Some people actually eat cockroaches on purpose! And what’s more, they say they are delicious. 

There are actually different regions in the world where farm-bred roaches form a crucial part of local delicacies. These regions are scattered across different continents.

Cockroach delicacies are prevalent in different parts of the world, but especially in Asia. These are some places where cockroaches are typically eaten: 


In China, there are many farms where edible roaches are bred. In fact, farmers take this business seriously because they have to supply certain restaurants with large quantities of these bugs.


This is one of the most toured regions in the world. Bangkok is a place where different cultures meet and interact. So, it’s not strange that you will find some restaurants serving cockroaches.

In fact, if you are a Bangkok local, you shouldn’t be surprised if you find that these bugs are now being sold in your local food markets.


This is another region where roaches are likely to be eaten. There are many parts of Africa that experience drought and hunger often.

So, locals have to diversify and find alternative means in order to survive. Roaches are good alternatives because they are highly nutritious insects.

Would Swallowing a Cockroach Pest in Your Home Different from the One Bred for Consumption?

Absolutely. There is definitely a big difference between a roach that’s bred for consumption purposes and those that feed on dirt. For starters, no one takes care of bugs found in your home. This means that they eat all kinds of dirt from food remnants to faces. So, they do carry diseases.

On the other hand, roaches bred for consumption are well-nourished for nutritional purposes. They are bred in a hygienic environment with a proper food supply. As a result, they are usually sumptuous and healthy.

If you find a breed that is always fed fresh fruits and vegetables, you will definitely love its juicy body. For instance, a well-bred Madagascar Hissing Cockroach will deeply engage your taste buds and leave you craving for more.

This is because these roaches are not only usually tasty but they have an amazing texture, just like the feeling you would get when eating a fleshy and greasy chicken.

As you know, there are actually restaurants in the Asian continent that specialize in making delicious dishes featuring roaches only. And it’s not strange that they have hundreds of food lovers who order these bugs weekly. It’s worth noting that chefs have also specialized in the way they prepare them.

That’s why if you buy it in a food retail outlet, you might find that the roaches have been prepared with cream to enhance their high protein and nutritional value. Generally, consumers say they can be quite tasty, crispy, and fragrant.

Does the Species of Cockroach Matter

If you are going to consume a cockroach as an edible, the species definitely matters. Research studies indicate that there are certain species of roaches that are edible but under certain environmental conditions.

Generally, the roach wouldn’t be something random that you can just pick from the dustbin. It needs to be clean and fed a good diet. One of the most consumed species of roaches is known as the American cockroach.

Also known as the Palmetto bug, this is one of the largest roach species around (and very popular in China). Interestingly, this is the same species that infests some homes as a pest. But there is a big difference between home invaders and cockroaches bred for food – those that are meant to be eaten grow up in sanitary conditions. 

It’s normally consumed due to its medicinal properties. It is said that American cockroaches can help to treat a wide range of diseases including respiratory tract issues and stomach ulcers. Besides that, some people simply use them as a tonic.

It is said that this species has a positive impact on enhancing the functionality of the immune system. That’s why there are some people who incorporate them into their diet. It should be noted that the roaches that are grown for consumption usually come from farmhouses.

So, they have been well-catered for in a clean environment and supplied with the right food content. In some Asian households, these bugs are known for their detoxifying effects as well as diuretic benefits.

Other Benefits of Incorporating Roaches into Your Diet

There are many food varieties out there. So, why should you try and incorporate bugs such as roaches in your diet? Apparently, there are several benefits that come with eating these bugs and they include:

Improved Nerve Functionality

This is based on the fact that these insects have high amounts of vitamin B12. It’s estimated that the amount of vitamin B12 in these insects is almost 12 times more than the RDA. It should be noted that vitamin B12 usually helps to improve nerve function and keep the blood cells healthy.

Facilitating the Process of DNA Making

It said that these sumptuous insects can also facilitate the formation of DNA cells. This is because of the high amounts of vitamin B12 that help to enhance the effectiveness of generic material found in the body cells.

Note: if you don’t have enough vitamin B12, you might end up suffering from anemia, nerve system problems, and heart diseases.

Formation of Healthy Hair and Nails

The presence of this vitamin is vital for the formation of other essential elements in the body. This includes healthy skin development, nails, and hair.

The effectiveness of cockroaches in promoting all these is based on the fact that the high amounts of vitamins they contain usually aids in constant skin renewal. Besides that, vitamins aid faster cell reproduction which leads to the formation of supple skin, healthy nails, and good hair.

Note: when eating bred roaches, understand that they are highly nutritious and contain significantly high numbers of calories. So, if you consume too much of it and frequently, you would definitely end up gaining a few more pounds. So, make sure that you only eat these bugs less frequently.

It’s unclear of cockroaches can cause harm or unwanted reactions in pregnant and breastfeeding women. There is still a need for more research studies to establish this.

Meanwhile, those who are vulnerable or suffer from a certain type of allergic reaction should exercise great caution when eating the bred roaches.

The Bottom Line

Even though your chances of accidentally swallowing a cockroach are quite slim, we can’t rule out that this may, in fact, happen.

Well, it can happen more frequently if you are the type to sleep with your mouth open in a home that’s infested with these bugs.

While the common bugs found in homes can be dangerous, there are actually well-bred roaches that can be eaten. These insects have a high nutritional value and that’s why they are normally used for their medicinal purposes.

If you want to learn more about various insects, then checkout our site categories, we have a bunch of articles there that are totally worth reading:



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All the best


Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page https://schoolofbugs.com/about-steve-foster/

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