Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Babies! Of the cockroach kind, that is

I mentioned back in June that I though one of my females was pregnant. Well, guess what...

Baby hisser #1 next to daddy Frankie
The two still-pregnant females: Lola and Brigite
I was re-wetting my cockcroaches' watering sponge this morning and found little baby roaches! I don't know how many there are yet, but my other two females are also clearly preggers so there are going to be a lot. I'm expecting that all-told there will end up being around sixty. It amazes me how fat they get when they're gravid. Their exoskeleton expands and pale bands start to appear along the abdomen.

Yes, unlike most insects Madagascar hissing cockroaches give live birth so I'm not kidding when I'm calling them "pregnant." Interestingly enough, if there is no male around they will create an entire set of eggs and then expel them if they are not fertilized. The first time I saw it I thought there was something wrong, but it's completely normal.

Unfortunately, I think momma Louise is going to die soon. She's been lethargic for about three days, which in the past has been the first sign that they were going to die. I'm really not surprised as the females were at least a year or two old when I got them and I have had them for some time. Louise was also one of the first two adults I obtained. She's still responsive, though, so I'm hoping she will recover. Her original partner in crime Thelma died some time ago. I also lost my younger male, Walter, recently after he had been getting progressively thinner for several weeks. I think Frankie, who I believe to be the father of the babies, had been keeping him away from the food.

I was going to clean the terrarium today, but instead I'll clean it tomorrow. I'm a bit concerned about the nymphs being delicate right now because their bodies may still be soft. They are born white and will darken to a dark brown color over time. This happens again each time they shed, and when they are still pale they are vulnerable and shouldn't be handled. When I do clean their terrarium I'll replace the bedding and separate out the babies and count them. 

Baby roaches #2 and 3 on the water sponge
Baby roach #4 on the wheat bread that the roaches love so much
I also found a millipede outside. It's a North American millipede (Narceus americanus), which is incredibly common around here. I used to keep these guys as pets but the three I had died earlier this year. They are mostly black or nearly so and have bands of yellow, orange, red, or even purple. This one is obviously red. I find them quite cute, and they're completely harmless. The do excrete a chemical irritant (though it's only irritating to some people) when startled that will stain your skin. I know this from experience, having caught many of these creatures in the wild and coming away with purple fingers.


  1. Baby hisser looks like plastic -- I almost want to pick him up and paint him, except HE'S A ROACH. Well, I feel like I learned something that I wasn't sure I wanted to learn with this post. Thanks... I guess. =)

  2. They do look incredibly odd when they're small. They're about a quarter of an inch long right now, and they'll be two to three inches long when full grown.

    I think I need to stop blogging about insects and other invertebrates for a while. I'm bothering more than a few people, lol.

  3. I love the u love and care so mucj for what 99% of us loathes and deem pest. All creatures need someone like you on their corner! And as a gay black man i know all to well what it feels like to feel.....well hated! U are a kind soul. Please continue your blog!

  4. I have 6 MHC's as pets and all of my females are pregnant as well for they have the paler stripes, are slower, and are happier to eat and drink more. I LOVE my hissers for they eat cat food, fruit, nuts, vegetables, basically anything, but they LOVE when things are sauteed with sugar or have a lot of sugar in them (like fruit, apples, strawberries, etc.) I was wondering how many do you have? and what do they like eating? I just would like to try more food for my weird little sleepers(they're really lazy!) Hahaha I have 6 of them and they're all so nice and all have different personalities.