Goliath Beetle – Species Profile & Facts

Goliath Beetles, some of the largest beetles in the world, are pet material. It’s not exactly up my alley but hey, who am I to judge? In this article, I’ll go over the ins and outs of Goliath Beetles.

I’ll talk about what makes them tick, what they eat, how large they grow, their lifespan, health problems, how they reproduce, and much more. If you want to know more about Goliath Beetles, read on!

Goliath Beetle Natural Habitat

Most representatives of the Goliath species live across southeast Africa and other warmer climates. They especially prefer dense rainforests where they thrive due to the high humidity.

Most of these beetles live in tropical regions, that’s true, but other species of the Goliath Beetle can be found throughout subtropical regions. You may find them in Uganda, Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

Interestingly enough, adult Goliath Beetles emerge from the ground during dry seasons. They start looking for a mating partner to spread their genes. Most males die after mating, though. The experience is quite intense and unforgettable, we could say. So much so that they die not long after the sexual act.

In their natural habitat, Goliath Beetle larvae are very good diggers, while adults are adept climbers. That’s why, when they become adults, most of these beetles make nests in trees and eat tree sap, rotten fruits, and dead animals. That must be why they’re often called trash scavengers.

Where there’s warmth and moistness, you’ll probably find a colony of Goliath Beetles scavenging for food.

Goliath Beetle Characteristics

Goliath Beetles are gargantuan insects, for insect standards. Don’t think they’re as big as a house, though. Most specimens are about as big as your palm. Yeah, if that doesn’t scare the hell out of you, I don’t know what will.

– Appearance

Goliaths are generally white, black, and brown, with a different color combination for every individual. Males and females look a bit differently, but not in size or weight.

Male Goliaths have a Y-shaped horn stuck to their heads, which they use to attack. Fights are common among male Goliaths, either for mates or territory. And the head horn is their weapon of choice.

Females, on the other hand, have wedge-shaped heads that are most useful for burrowing underground. Both males and females have clawed appendages (six legs) that they can use to climb trees freely. Goliaths also possess two sets of wings, the outer ones called elytra, and the inner, more sensitive ones that they actually fly with. The outer wings act as a shield of sorts, in fact.

Goliaths use their small wings to great lengths, being capable of lifting weights approximately 850 times heavier than their bodies. That’s why I said Goliaths are some of the most powerful beetles in the world. If you were to make a human-sized Goliath, then not even an army of tanks would rip its elytra.

– Size & Growth

These guys are among the longest and heaviest beetles in the world. An adult Goliath ranges between 2.1 to 4.3 inches long and may even weigh up to 1.8 ounces. During the larva stage, these “bugs” weigh up to 3.5 ounces. They’re one of the few beetles that actually weigh more during the larva stage than they do as adults. It’s one of the weird things about them but that’s nature for you!

In the larval stage, Goliath Beetles grow at a very rapid pace. From observation, I’ve found out that they reach about 5 inches in length in just 4 months. Then, after the rainy season arrives, the larvae go into the ground and transform into pupae. Quite a bit of time will pass before the new generation of Goliaths Beetles will get out into the world again.

When they become adults, these beetles are crazy-big. Some specimens are larger than your palm, in fact. Sounds quite lovely to have such a big beetle walking around the enclosure, or having it climb your hand, right?

– Temperament

Goliath Beetles are quite territorial and aggressive in their natural habitat. Males often enter scuffles with other males, either to conquer or protect territory or to woo a female.

That’s when their aggressive behavior really shines through. Females tend to be less aggressive. Plus, they don’t have any defense mechanism other than burrowing underground in an attempt to flee their attackers.

Male Goliaths have the Y-shaped horn on their heads, which acts as the perfect weapon. It’s very hard and boney, so the horn rarely breaks from a scuffle. Usually, males prod and nudge themselves into battle until one eventually loses the fight. When in captivity, Goliaths are more relaxed and less combative but their instincts are still there.

To avoid fights among your Goliaths, I recommend having just enough females for your males. If there are too many males and not enough females, the males will eventually end up fighting during the mating season. Generally, neither of the combatants die but they still hurt each other.

– Defense

As I said, male Goliath Beetles have a Y-shaped horn on their heads. That’s how they defend themselves against attackers. They ram everything in sight to a bloody pulp and that’s it. Females are another discussion.

They have a different horn on their heads, and it’s used to dig holes. When it comes to confrontations, female Goliaths run away instead of fighting their attackers. That’s their defense mechanism as well.

But that’s not all. Goliath Beetles also have a very hard “carapace” called elytra. That’s right, their outer wings are very hard and resistant to impact. That’s why many predators can’t mess with these guys.

A good defense and a ramming horn make male Goliaths adapted survivalists that don’t take bullying from many animals. Though, in captivity, they don’t need these defense mechanisms as much.

– Life Cycle

How do you think Goliath Beetles reach such gargantuan proportions? They eat a protein-rich diet from the moment they’re born. These big boys are born in peat, which the female beetle chooses for its high nutritional properties.

As soon as the larvae are born, they start feeding off the peat and burrow into the nutritive soil. Usually, rainforests are perfect breeding grounds for Goliath Beetles, thanks to the wet leaves and moist soil that they can burrow into.

In a few months, the larvae will grow up to their full adult size and come back to the surface. But before that, it’ll go through the pupa process, another life cycle. During this stage, the soon-to-be-beetle surrounds itself in a thin cocoon and begins the transformation to a beautiful and strong Goliath beetle. The Pokémon begins its final metamorphosis to a greater state of being!

This is when the appendages and wings start appearing. Adult beetles also leave behind the cocoon and start hibernating. This hibernation lasts until the beginning of the wet season when the new Goliath emerges from the ground in search of a mate.

Usually, Goliaths die shortly after reproducing in the wild. Their entire life’s purpose is to pass on the genes and that’s it. In captivity, Goliaths can live up to a year if you take care of them and feed them the rights things.

Goliath Beetle Care

How do you take care of Goliath Beetles? What do they eat and how big should the enclosure be? You should also look out for any health problems, right? Don’t worry, I’ll tell you everything down below, so keep reading!

– Diet & Nutrition

With how big Goliath Beetles are, surely, they’ll eat you out of your home, right? Actually, no. These beetles have a peculiar preference for food when kept in captivity. Remember when I said that they need a protein-rich diet? Well, you see, these beetles are also vegetarian. So, you’re going to have to feed them cat and dog food. This is what most experts recommend.

You’ll have to feed them cat and dog food on a daily basis, no less. Commercial pellets are just great for their needs. You’ll notice that Goliath Beetles have a ravenous appetite and they’ll eat a lot. But don’t overfeed them either or they may get sick. Regarding food, beetles will also burry the dog and cat pellets inside the rearing substrate, so that the larvae can eat as well.

In the wild, Goliath Beetles eat foods with a high level of sugar, like rotten fruits and tree sap. But younger beetles need a lot of protein, so they end up eating dung, animal remains, and plant matter. In a way, these beetles clean up the environment by eating decaying plant and animal matter.

– Housing

Finding the right enclosure for your Goliath Beetles isn’t hard. A 4-gallon tank filled with 2 inches of soil or peat moss substrate is enough. These beetles need quite a bit of space, especially if you keep more than one.

When females are giving birth, I recommend isolating them in a different container filled with substrate. When the larvae emerge from the eggs, bury them in the substrate and feed them cat and dog food.

General housing requirements are based on the beetle’s dimensions. Usually, a space 3 times its length, 2 times its height, and 2 times its width is just right. For every individual beetle you introduce into the enclosure, increase the housing space with 50% length and width. Fill up the tank with a good substrate like peat moss or soil, or even hay.

Most importantly, place a few branches and bark on the substrate. Goliath Beetles often get upside down, and they need a solid object to grab unto, so they can turn around. If there’s no solid object nearby, they may even die trying to turn around. While it’s amusing to watch the bug squirming about, trying to turn around, you should still help it.

– Environment

Goliath Beetles need a temperature of 73-80 degrees Fahrenheit. They prefer warmer climates with quite a bit of humidity but they despite cold. So, during winter and the colder seasons, install a heating mat or rock to keep the temperature high in their enclosure. They don’t need artificial lighting, though. Natural sunlight is more than enough, but don’t place the tank in direct sunlight.

As for humidity, adjust it to room level. You can spray the enclosure with water, and make sure the substrate is moist enough. These beetles love burrowing in the substrate, especially in the larval/pupal stages of life.

If the substrate is arid and rough, they’ll find it much harder to dig inside. As for hydration, Goliath Beetles generally drink water drops from leaves and get their hydration from food.

– Health Problems

Like with other pets, Goliath Beetles will die if the temperature and humidity are inadequate. These beetles need a high temperature and enough humidity so they can safely dig in the substrate.

If it’s too cold in the enclosure, Goliath Beetles can even die. While the natural world is harsh, these beetles have carefully selected a good habitat to live in. Other than being hunted by predators, Goliath Beetles generally only die after mating.

Unless you classify mating as a health problem, these beetles generally don’t get sick. They’ll live one year at most, in captivity, even if they don’t mate. But after mating, most Goliath Beetle males die. Another potential risk is in-fighting between multiple male beetles.

They could harm themselves badly, and this may even result in death. So, either separate them or watch out for any in-fighting.

– Reproduction

Mating is a momentous occasion for Goliath Beetles. It’s their last moment alive, after all. To create the best conditions for mating, you need flake soil and peat in a 3:2 ratio for a good substrate.

Moisten the substrate with water and then wait for the beetles to mate. After the female lays its eggs, approximately one month after mating, make sure the substrate stays moist at all times. The larvae, once born, will burrow inside.

In about 2-4 weeks, the larvae will be born. After some time, they will transform into a pupa and then become full-fledged Goliath Beetles. During their larvae stage, you can keep them inside the substrate, as they will eat rotten woods in the substrate.

Now, you need to ensure that the moisture is slightly lower than in the egg stage. After the larvae molt, transfer them to a different container with a different substrate.

I recommend putting each larva in its own container so they don’t eat each other. The substrate should be twice as thick as the larva, as well. The container needs constant ventilation but the light should be set on low.

In fact, place it in a dark place and leave it be. You’ll need to feed the larvae high-protein food like dog and cat food. But soften it in water before feeding it to your beetles.

You’ll need to replace the substrate every 2 weeks because all that food will dirty it. Their housing also needs a good clean-up every now and then. This goes on until the larvae go through their pupa stage and reach adulthood. You’ll need to change containers depending on how big the beetle becomes throughout its life cycles, pretty much


Goliath Beetles are great pets for insect lovers, that much is true. Be it their shiny carapace, their many feet, or size, we love everything about them. And taking care of them is not harder than taking care of a tortoise or turtle. Make sure their enclosure is big enough and that both humidity and temperature are at stable ranges, and you’re good!

Keep males separated if you don’t want them to fight each other. Otherwise, make sure the female population is large enough so males have no reason to fight. Mating is yet another moment you have to pay attention to. If you want to multiply your Goliath Beetles naturally, then let them mate and take care of the newborns!

Leave any questions below and I’ll gladly answer!

Beetles   Updated: October 8, 2021
avatar Welcome to Insectic, a blog to learn about insects and bugs. I'm Richard, and I've created this website to share my experience, knowledge, and passion with others.

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