Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pet Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches


This male hisser is the most outgoing chap on my roach ranch.You can tell he is a male by the two big horns he has on his pronotum, which is a sort of shield that covers his thorax (upper body). His head (a pair of feelers or antennae are attached to it) is tucked under the pronotum. Barbaro probably exhibits normal male hisser traits such as head-butting, but I have yet to catch any of my male hissers head-butting each other. In the pic to the right, Barbaro is intently examining something very interesting on my finger.


Formerly known as Missy Roach, Big Mama is now a proud mommy of about 20 baby hissers. Unlike Barbaro, Big Mama doesn't have two big bumps on her pronotum. Big Mama doesn't engage in head-butting and other such violent pastimes.


Madagascar hissing roaches, back in their homeland, live on the forest floor in warm, humid hisser paradise - plenty of rotting logs to hide out it, and lots of fallen fruit to snack on. My hissers are managing okay in their 10 gallon tank although they probably miss paradise. They hang out under the cardboard egg cartons placed in the warmest part of the tank. It's warm because the heating pad is situated beneath. I've snuck out at night and caught them roaming around the tank, eating and drinking. I don't put any bedding, peat moss or soil or leaf litter in there though. It makes the weekly clean up much easier, and doesn't seem to get in the way of them breeding like mad (see pic to the right). It doesn't take long for a colony to get big. A female hisser is ready to reproduce at 6 months, and gives birth to 20-60 live young every so often. Hissers live several years.

I feed my hissers cat food and fish flakes, and throw in apple slices, banana peels, cucumbers and assorted salads every week. There's a bottle capful of fresh water that I stuck a piece of sponge in so the baby hissers have a personal flotation device if they accidentally take a swim. I change that out every two to three days. Also every time I clean out the bottom of the tank, wiping with paper towels, I leave a little bit of roach poop in there. Baby roaches (nymphs) need to nibble on the grown ups' droppings to get roach-friendly bacteria in their own digestive systems. Think of how we eat Lactobacillus-laden yogurt to boost our friendly gut bacteria population.

If you have any questions, or have suggestions on what you would like to see added here, I welcome you to email me!

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