Let’s get going.
I keep Tiger Hissing Cockroaches (1.5 – 6cm) and Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches (1cm – 7.5cm): I like Madagascans because they are slow and Tigers because they are very shiny.
Tiger Hissing Cockroach
Madagascan Hissing Cockroach
Cockroaches can live for up to four years, so don’t be surprised at this, because most insects don’t live that long. But be careful: some cockroach species, unlike Madagascans and Tigers, can fly. I hope that by the time you have finished reading this, you will be pleading for one.
I love looking at ants milking aphids on the red robin bush in the front garden, and other mini-beasts in the back garden. I look closely so that I can see the jaws, mandibles and other small parts of creatures. I look closely because I feel that I am in another world that goes about unnoticed most of the time, and not many people look at it. When I do this it makes me feel about a centimetre tall! Madagascan and Tiger hissers are large enough to let you enter this ‘hidden’ world without any tools that are specified for looking at insects, such as magnifying glasses and hand lenses.
I like keeping the hissing type of cockroach because I have seen cockroaches and almost all of them have been hissing so it seems most natural to me for them to be hissing ones. At first, I thought that hissing was only a way of saying ‘get off’, but now I have found out that it is also communication. Communicating hisses tend to be lower tones than the higher pitched ‘get off, I am not edible’ tone. I also like the hissing ones because I can mimic hisses and then I feel part of them and not a big beastie which has come to eat them. Although I have no idea what I am saying it feels nice to be able to talk to them. Sometimes they back away when I hiss, sometimes they hiss back, especially the males.
Before birth, cockroaches are inside the egg-case, the ootheca, then hatch out when they are fully developed. While the female is gravida, she protrudes the ootheca , twists it 90 degrees and pulls it back in again to get it at the right angle. Females can have from 20 to 60 babies at a time.
When they hatch they look rather like medium-sized woodlice, although they have too few legs and run much faster! After they hatch, they go through five nymphal stages of moulting before doing their final moult and becoming adult and having babies of their own.
When they moult, they are white and then it takes 24 hours for the exoskeleton to harden. If they get trodden on or squashed, etc, while they are soft, if they survive then they will be changed for life.
Cockroaches are social creatures. They have a ‘top dog’ and the males fight over being it. Sometimes they say ‘I am stronger then you’ with their antennae. If they do not think that another male is stronger than them, they fight with their horns and the one that backs up most would lose while the one that pushes the other backwards wins. They fight for females and leadership. When the top dog gets old, he will fight a younger male and if the younger one is stronger he will stop being top dog and the younger one will have a turn. The males don’t tend to be aggressive until they have their final moult. When they do they will automatically start to fight for leadership.
I think the best thing about them is that they are cute and cuddly!