Paying the bills with cockroaches

Kyle Kandilian of Dearborn, MI, moved out of his bedroom a few years ago to make room for some cockroaches–200,000 of them, by the latest estimate. And still more amazing, the young man’s cockroach hobby/business is paying for his college education at the University of Michigan-Dearborn!

Kandilian’s fascination with cockroaches began several years ago when he visited the University of Detroit Mercy on “tech day.” There he discovered a 10-gallon fish tank filled with Madagascar hissing cockroaches and was so enthralled that he asked his mother whether he could get some. While his mother flatly refused to give permission at that point, she and his father finally allowed him to collect and raise the insects in the house.

With time, Kandilian’s hobby became a business ( He currently raises a wide range of species in neatly stacked containers that provide the cockroaches with their preferred habitats. He sells some roach varieties to owners of reptiles who feed them to their pets. Other more exotic types, he sells to people interested in unusual pets. For instance, one species, the rhino cockroach, that can live as long as 10 to 15 years, sells for $150 to $200. According to the Daily Mail, business is brisk enough that the 20-year-old student can pay for his college tuition, more cockroaches, and other personal needs and wants.

Kandilian recognizes that many people are repulsed by the thought of having any roach in the house. However, he says that approximately 12 species out of the 4,000 that exist have given the cockroach a bad name. Therefore, one of his goals in life is to inform people about the insect and the benefits it offers, reduce the stigma and improve its reputation.