How to Care for a Pet Hissing Cockroach

A thing of beauty they are not, but Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches can be the answer to a pet lover's exotic dream! "Hissers," as they are sometimes called are 2"-3" at maturity and, in their native home, Madagascar, live in rotting logs. Hissers are popular because of their size and radical hissing sounds. In addition, they are not aggressive, do not bite and most of all, do not bite! Entering this world in a most unusual way, females create a cocoon within to shelter both the eggs and the neonatal nymphs inside their bodies. When the time comes for their birth, up to 60 living cockroaches leave their mother's protective body. Who needs whispered sweet nothings when you have hissing? Hissing cockroaches exhale air through their breathing holes to give a cry of alarm or to attract the opposite sex. As a matter of fact, the hissing gets quite loud when involved in a fight or in love making. During fights, males use their horns just as other horned mammals when they go into battle, ramming their opponents with either their horns (or abdomens), and crying out with rousing hisses. The winning male is often the loudest, establishing the hissing cockroach hierarchy. Although they are wingless and slow moving, don't underestimate your new pal! They are excellent climbers and can scale smooth glass, so although a fish aquarium with a screen over the top is best for their habitat, it is necessary to coat the first few inches of their abode with petroleum jelly! While preparing the cockroach's new home, spread a bit of sand in the bottom prior to adding any structures. As a general rule of thumb, roaches feel most secure when in contact with a structure of some sort, so have plenty of things for them to climb on, around and under to hide from the light and to provide for that sense of security. Remember, roaches are from Madagascar, so place his home in a warm spot away from drafts! An easy way to make sure they have a heat source is to place them near a cable box or some other electronic appliance that remains on day and night. Feeding your Hisser is easy! A cockroach will eat anything. In a shallow ceramic dish, supply him with a smorgasbord of gourmet treats! Every other day, offer bits of crushed pellet shaped, dry dog food, crackers, fruit veggies and bread. Soon you'll get to know your new friend's eating habits and understand exactly what he will eat eagerly. To ensure he has plenty to drink, soak a cotton ball or a sponge in water and place it on another ceramic dish at the bottom of his home. To safely handle your cockroach, pick him up and cradle him gently in the palm of your hand, being careful not to pinch his legs. As he relaxes he will travel up and down your .hands and arms. If you carefully take care of your cockroach, he should live for up to 5 years!