Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Unusual Pets:

In the picture above you see my grandsons and I holding these calm friendly creatures.

Don’t Have a Hissy Fit:

What is the strangest pet you have ever had? One of mine was the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. I actually had three of them for a couple years when I lived in California. I was able to pass them on to one of my students when we moved to Tennessee.

That Sounds Creepy!

Many people are creeped out by cockroaches, especially if they have had an infestation of the ones commonly found in the United States. If you find these in your house, you better call the exterminator! They can be very destructive and smelly. If they were to show up in your restaurant or hotel it might force a shut down until they were removed. Fortunately the Madagascar variety will not infest tour house or cause damage.

Movie Stars:

Since so many people are afraid of cockroaches, many movies include them to produce creepy special effects to catch your attention. You may have seen them in Men In Black as well as in shows like Fear Factor where a contestant is placed in a room with hundreds of these creatures which crawl over them creating a fearful looking stunt. Some shows even dare a contestant to eat them.

Really, Nothing to Fear!:

So why do the call them “Hissing” Cockroaches? These large insects are the only known insects to actually produce a Hissing sound by expelling air through their spiracles (tiny respiratory openings on the sides of their bodies). Three different kinds of hisses are produced by these Arthropods. One hiss is to scare away and startle enemies that get too close. Another hiss, produced by the males, attracts females. And a third hiss is the call to battle when two males encounter one another. As someone has said, “Their bark is worse than their bite”. As scary as this sounds, there is nothing to worry about (unless you are a cockroach). These insects are harmless to man and make excellent pets.

Low Maintenance:

If you want a pet that is not demanding constant attention, these guys are the ones you want. You will need a terrarium (fish tanks with a screened top work well), with a place to hide. Since these creatures are great climbers some people put a few inches of Petroleum Jelly around the top of their containers to prevent the creatures from escaping their enclosures. Though they are great climbers, they do not fly like other types of cockroaches. These ones are wingless. They do require a warm environment. If it is too cold their bodies shut down and they could die, so some people have a artificial heat source to keep their housing warm, though most of our homes stay at a reasonably stable temperature at or near 70 degrees. In their natural environment, in Madagascar, they live on an island just off the coast of South Africa.

These insects are a favorite pet for kids as well as adults. They are often featured at zoos and science centers where kids can handle them and learn more about insect behavior.

So What Do They Eat?

These insects remind you to eat your veggies. They are vegetarians and love to eat small portions of fresh vegetables as fruit. You can also get special pellets from your pet store that provide needed nutrients for their development. Some people feed them the same dry pellets they feed their dogs. You should have a small shallow source of water as well.

My cockroaches rarely hissed unless they were startled. They seemed to enjoy crawling around on our fingers.

Other Interesting Facts:

These guys have a life span of from 2 to 5 years.

About 99% of cockroach species are not pests and do not infest human habitats.

Cockroaches provide food for other organisms as well as help keep the environment clean by removing dropped fruit and leaves.

Cockroaches were created by God with a purpose.

The Scientific name of the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach is Gromphadorhina portentous.

These roaches are 2-3 inches long when they mature.

The male Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches have horns called “pronotum” as well as thicker hairier antennae than the females.

Cockroaches go through incomplete metamorphosis after emerging from their mothers as nymphs. They undergo many skin shedding (Molting) when they progress in size.

Mothers actually stay close by their young when they start their lives.

These roaches actually have companions that often live with them throughout their lives. These tiny mites (Gromphadorholaelaps schaeferi) are unique to the Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches and live in a commensal relationship with these insects and help clean the surface of their bodies while feeding on the mold that often grows on the Cockroach due to its moist environment. By removing the mold it extends the roaches life span. Both creatures benefit from this relationship.

Some states, like Florida, require a special permit for you to keep these creatures as pets, though most states do not.

Some people raise and sell Cockroaches to be used as food for reptiles.

You can often purchase a mated pair of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches for around $12.

I got my cockroaches at a Reptile show in Sacramento where they were displayed along with many snakes and lizards. Some people were purchasing them for food for their pets while others wanted them to keep as pets.

Consider This:

The more I study God’s amazing creation the more I appreciate His care in design. Every creature has a purpose and place within the larger scheme of order. I believe He desires all mankind to look closer at His creation and consider His plan for our lives as well. Did you know He created all of these things for us to enjoy? Many times we fear things in creation that we don’t understand. By taking the time to observe carefully and do a little research we can overcome our fears and appreciate seeing a larger perspective of our place in the plan He has for our lives.

Special Note:

My grandsons are much older now than when these pictures were taken about six years ago. You may see these same kids in many of my other blogs. We enjoy exploring God’s creation together whenever we have the opportunity.


One thought on “Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

  1. Oh I remember this day with the cockroaches!! The boys do too! We all talked about it at dinner today. Thank you for always teaching them such cool science concepts and encouraging them to see Gods great design in each of His creations. We love you!! Excited to share this with my tutoring student!

    Have a great day! Alyssa

    Like

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