Why you should consider the Madagascar hissing cockroach for a pet 0 186

Pet madagascar hissing cockroach

Madagascar hissing cockroaches – sometimes referred to as “hissers” or “maddies” by enthusiasts – are hard-shelled, flightless insects that are native to the island of Madagascar…

…and they’re cockroaches.

Whilst that can be instantly off-putting to many, for those with an interest in unusual pets, maddies are a great choice.

Size and appearance

One of the larger species of cockroach, full-grown maddies regularly reach a length of 2 to 3 inches. They have hard chitinous shells and, in the males, a small pair of horns growing from the front of these.

Sociability

Madagascar hissing cockroaches are social insects that live in colonies and have seemingly complex interactions with one another. The hissing noise comes from air blown through spiracles on the sides of their abdomens. Occasionally, an entire colony of maddies will hiss in time with one another. Whilst we don’t know the reason for this form of communication, it is certainly a unique sound to encounter.

They are vegetarian and entirely non-aggressive. They do not bite or pinch, though they can make a loud hissing noise if you surprise or disturb them.

Lifespan

Madagascar hissing cockroaches are long-lived by insect standards, living anywhere between three and five years in captivity, given proper pet care and attention.

Habitat

A large aquarium is all you really need to house your roaches. Unlike other species, Madagascar hissing cockroaches cannot climb up a smooth glass surface, so there is little chance of them escaping.

Maddies love to climb, so throw in some bits of driftwood, and maybe even a couple of live plants so that they have plenty of room to explore.

As they can’t climb vertical walls, make sure your aquarium is wide, rather than tall, with plenty of horizontal space for them.

Feeding

Maddies are not fussy eaters, being satisfied with most leafy, green vegetables, mixed with some harder food – peaches, apples, celery – for variety. A particular favourite of this species is the humble carrot. A shallow dish of water with a sponge in it (so the cockroach can get out of the water, if it cannot get back over the side) is more than enough, as they take most of their water in with their food.

And there you have it – beautiful, social, and fascinating insects that are easy to keep and feed, and require a minimum of maintenance. Why not start raising your own colony of maddies?

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How to house a tarantula 0 206

If you are planning on getting yourself a pet tarantula, you’re going to need to learn how to take care of your new arachnid friend. Here’s some information to consider when housing your new spider:

Tank size and type

Make sure you research your specific species of tarantula so that you can get them exactly what they need to be comfortable. You won’t necessarily need a large house for your spider, depending on the species. A tank which is too large may actually be a bad idea, as it can make a spider’s prey difficult to find.

If you have a terrestrial or burrowing tarantula, you should purchase a tank which is around three times the spider’s leg span in length and twice the leg span in width. Aquariums often work well for housing spiders, ranging in size from around a two and a half to a five-gallon tank.

Typically, you don’t want a tank that’s too tall as it can be dangerous or even fatal for the spider if it falls. However, arboreal tarantulas will require a tall tank. This is so they have room to climb, and you’ll also need climbing apparatus like branches so the spider can spin its web.

Decor

Spiders aren’t social animals, so it’s sensible to house your tarantula alone to prevent them from getting agitated. All tanks will require a ventilated lid which has been carefully secured, as tarantulas are very good at escaping. At the bottom of the tank, you’ll need to provide a substrate of vermiculite which is between two and four inches deep. This gives the spider room to burrow. Burrowing types of tarantula will need a specific type of substrate, and all tarantulas will require places to hide in their cage.

Heating and light

Your tarantula will need heating pads in their tank. Most species of tarantula prefer the temperature between 75 and 85 degrees. Keep the cage away from windows and overly lit areas of the room, as tarantulas actually prefer darkness.

Find out more about caring for pet spiders

Photo: tarantula by lwolfartist licensed under Creative commons 2

Caring for stick insects 0 248

Found predominantly in the subtropics and tropics, stick insects can make awesome pets, especially for anyone who loves creepy crawlies. They are also great for people who don’t have as much time or space to care for larger animals.

Read on to find out more about taking care of stick insects:

Where to house your stick insect

Your stick insects will require an enclosure, net-cage or terrarium. The minimum requirements for the size of your cage should be three times the height of the insect and twice the width. If you decide to look after multiple stick insects, you’ll need to factor this in regarding the size of your cage. Stick insects require all of this space because they use it when they’re moulting.

Cover the floor of the enclosure with a substrate that absorbs moisture, like tissue paper, pebbles or potting earth. The tank will need to be cleaned regularly, as stick insects produce a lot of droppings. The enclosure’s roof needs to be made from mesh or netting to ensure that the stick insects can use it to hang from when they are moulting.

What to feed your stick insect

The leaves that your stick insect will eat depend on its species, so make sure you do some research into which species your stick insect is and supply it with the correct food. Stick insects will only eat leaves that are fresh, so to make sure that the leaves you give them are kept fresh, put the branches (with leaves on) in a container with a small amount of water. This helps to keep them tasty for your pets.

The temperature and humidity to keep your stick insect comfortable

Again, you will need to do some research into the particular species of your insect to find out what temperature they like to be kept at. To ensure proper humidity, you will need to spray water into the tank between once a day and once a week, depending on the type of tank and species you have.

Photo: stick insect by theyounz licensed under Creative commons 2