PETA Says Makers of Cruel ‘RoboRoach’ Kits in Violation of Law

Showing Kids How to Mutilate Cockroaches for ‘Fun’ Is Illegal, Says Group

For Immediate Release:
October 29, 2013

Wendy Wegner 202-483-7382

Ann Arbor, Mich. — PETA has filed formal complaints calling on Michigan authorities to investigate whether Ann Arbor–based Backyard Brains—which sells the much-criticized “RoboRoach” kits that instruct children on how to cut up live cockroaches, implant electrodes in them, and control their movements with a smartphone application—is in violation of the state’s Public Health Code and the Insect, Pest, and Plant Disease Act. The group is asking authorities, including the state attorney general, to take appropriate enforcement action for any violations that they may find.

As PETA points out in its letter, cutting body parts off live, unanesthetized animals and super-gluing and surgically implanting electrodes in them—and providing online written instructions and a video demonstration on how to do so—may constitute illegally practicing veterinary medicine without a license, which is a felony. In addition, Backyard Brains offers cockroaches for shipment into the state, apparently without a required permit. 

Researchers have found strong indications that cockroaches are able to experience pain as well as evidence suggesting that they have complex memories, complex forms of learning, and spatial awareness and possess a level of consciousness paralleling that of vertebrates. 

“Cockroaches are living beings with the ability to feel pain—not inanimate objects for kids or anyone else to stab and cut apart for ‘fun,'” says general counsel to PETA Jeffrey Kerr. “The RoboRoach kit teaches kids the dangerous lesson that it’s OK to hurt and torment animals—something that PETA believes is not only never OK but also clearly illegal in this case.” 

For more information, please visit

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind