How Many Legs Does a Cockroach Have?

The minute you see a cockroach crawling on your wall or running through a glass in your home, your first instinct naturally, will be to flee as you are scared that this creepy, filthy insect might attack you.

Naturally, there’s this instant irritation that would come to you and you may find yourself looking for ways to crush this roach to the ground. 

But have you ever stopped to ask yourself how these insects can do what they do?

How they are able to crawl on walls, glass, pipes, tiles, edge of your ceiling and run around your house in such a short period.

This answer to this question is in their legs. Cockroaches are able to move, crawl, and run because of their legs. The body of a cockroach is divided into three segments; the head, thorax, and abdomen. The thorax houses the legs as well as the wings. 

How many legs do cockroaches have? Every cockroach naturally possesses six legs or limbs that enable them to move from one place to another. These oval-shaped creatures with small heads have distinctive legs; each having different names and different functions. 

READ MORE: How long do cockroaches live?

Different legs of a cockroach 

cockroach has how many legs

The legs of cockroaches are naturally lean, jointed, and spiny.

They are segmented and joined to the middle part of the body of the cockroach known as the thorax.

The thorax which also carries the wings is in three segments, each having a pair of spiny legs with specific names.

They are; prothorax, mesothorax, and metathorax.

These legs in each segment are also known as cursorial legs and are used for running really fast.

The cursorial legs are long, narrow, and help roaches to move fast.

Cockroaches have claws on their legs that allow them to hold on to smooth surfaces when they scurry through your ceiling.

Each of these legs also possesses spines that help them run and maneuver through difficult territories.

When the cockroach walks, it moves its middle legs on one side and then the front and hind legs on the opposite side. It alternates these steps to gain mobility. 

Prothorax: The pair of legs in the prothorax is located in the front area of the cockroach’s body. They are shorter than others and also tiny. They are used to slow the cockroach down. 

Mesothorax: These legs are located in the middle and enable the cockroach to either speed up or slow down. It aids speed adjustment for the cockroach. 

Metathorax: The legs in the metathorax help these cockroaches move forward. You will find them at the hind of the thorax. They are usually long and help these roaches run extremely fast, say two to three miles an hour. 

How Many Legs Does A Hissing Cockroach have?

You may think that the legs of a cockroach are dependent on the species but this is not the case. All cockroaches, including the Madagascar hissing cockroach, have the exact same number of legs as other legs.

The Madagascar hissing cockroach has six legs like other cockroaches. Though their color is slightly different from others – a shiny brown cockroach. What differentiates them is their ability to hiss.

Madagascar hissing cockroaches make this hissing sound by forcefully passing air through its spiracles – the openings in the body of the cockroach that enables breathing. 

Do cockroaches have long legs?

When you see a cockroach, the next thing you would notice after its brownish skin and long antennae, are the long legs. Cockroaches have long legs and these legs aid their movement. Hence you’ll see them running comfortably through your house. 

Do cockroaches have hairy legs?

Cockroaches have spiky protrusions on their legs.

These protrusions can be likened to hairs. It provides them with a sense of touch unlike the untrue claim of the sense of smell.

So yes, cockroaches have hairy legs and though they are pretty ugly, they have been considered as “perfect legs”. 

READ MORE: How Long Can Cockroaches Live Without Food?

Can a cockroach regrow its legs?

Among the many praises that have been sung about the uniqueness of these insects, their ability to regrow their legs is one of them.

These insects are capable of regenerating their legs if they lose them.

Like many other insects, they possess the ability to regenerate their body parts. Adult roaches when they lose their legs undergo a molting cycle which enables them to regrow their limbs during this period.

The regrown legs of the cockroach may not be the same as the lost legs but it is active, viable, and performs its function. 

The DNA of a cockroach is complex.

It makes their leg regeneration possible coupled with the fact that they possess a genome composition that sends network signals across their limbs, a signal that instructs nerves to regenerate limb tissues for these cockroaches. 

These insects effectively regrow their legs because they have to evolve, survive, and adapt to a new environment. However, their regeneration does not include heads. Cockroaches may be able to grow their legs again but cannot regrow their heads. 

Do cockroaches get rid of their legs purposefully?

A cockroach can willfully or purposefully lose its legs out of fear.

When a cockroach senses that its legs will hinder its escape from a predator or an attack, it will naturally, instinctively, get rid of its legs.

If this happens, know that the cockroach is scared at this point and will do anything to get to safety. A cockroach can also wilfully shed its legs if the particular leg is injured or broken.

In such a scenario where the cockroach has an injured leg, it will lose the injured part while the other part remains to make regeneration faster. Regeneration may take about five weeks. 

How long does it take a cockroach to regrow legs?

There is no clear cut time assigned to the regeneration of a cockroach’s legs as the regeneration is dependent on the species of these insects, the number of lost legs, and the reason for the loss of legs;

It is dependent on these factors as every cockroach has a different regeneration pace. It may take a shorter time for some, and it may take longer for others. 

That being said, the regrowth of a cockroach’s limbs may take about five weeks if the legs were taken off wilfully, by the cockroach. In a case where the legs were forcefully removed, it will take a longer time for the legs to regrow and the legs may not grow back to their full size. The regrown legs may be about 29% of their complete size. 

READ MORE: Do Cockroaches Bite? 

Can a cockroach live without its leg?

You may be wondering if these naturally nocturnal insects can survive even after losing their legs.

Will the cockroach bleed to death if it loses its legs? The answer is a big plain “No”.

A cockroach will not bleed to death. On the contrary, it can live without its legs for a while before regenerating new legs. 

Another unique and astonishing thing about these filthy pests is their ability to live with two to three legs missing.

Cockroaches can live without their legs and depending on the number of missing legs, can regrow their legs. They have the ability to live as long as other cockroaches whose legs are whole.

When a cockroach loses a leg or two, it undergoes the molting cycle and in the process regenerates new healthy, fast legs. So if you attempted to kill a cockroach and only succeeded in taking off its legs, the cockroach will survive and still grow new legs during its existence. 


Cockroaches are not insects you want in your home. They will contaminate your food with the dirt from their legs. These oval-shaped creatures with small heads and six long spiny legs will bother you when they infest your home. They also possess a tough surface which makes them really hard to kill. 

Knowing the number of legs cockroaches have may not help you get rid of them, but it will feed your curiosity and make you think of other measures to chase them out of your home for good. It can also help you to differentiate these insects from others. 

That said, when you see a roach, ensure that you kill it as these insects are tricky. If you only crush a leg, be sure to see these cockroaches bobbling up again and this time, with grown, active legs. Being aware of how cockroaches can survive without legs will help in getting rid of any disturbing roach you may encounter. The next time you hit a cockroach, ensure the cockroach is really dead. 


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