In short, the answer is evolution. Over the years, cockroaches have developed many amazing skills and characteristics that help them survive long periods of hunger, extreme cold, and even perpetually reproduce. The cockroach is one of nature’s finest examples of Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory. It converts nutrients into energy that can also combat and neutralize life-threatening chemicals. See the links below for some interesting roach facts.
It is all in the design. Insects are generally less complex, and less complexity implies less of a chance of total catastrophic failure. Cockroaches are small; thus food needs are minimal, and what they can get is often enough to sustain them for a while. They have been known to consume postage stamp glue and survive off of it during periods of starvation. Their radiation resistance comes from the fact that their cell division is limited to its molting period. However, cockroaches are simply common, enough to include in a widely spread conjecture of a saying that they will “inherit the earth”, come nuclear warfare. They are not as radiation resistant as fruit flies, and cannot survive in a vacuum like the waterbear. They’re definitely tough critters though!
In addition to the answers given by chiabia and limbonics, the size and shape of the body of cockroach added to its ability to survive. Its flat nature makes it easy for it to hide away from predators in small cracks and crevices. Their rate of multiplication is also high while they feed on food debris where you think is dirt free. Their ever active antennae are also good detectives for danger.
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