A1. Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches
have not been known to spread any
diseases to humans. In fact, some
roaches have been given a bad name
unfairly! In fact, mites on
Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches have
been shown to actually decrease
However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands after handling any pet, including Hissers. We recommend it as part of our Safety Rules at Critters 2 Go. A2. Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches molt as they grow. This means they shed their skin. Underneath, they are very soft and white. It takes a couple hours after molting (or being born!) to harden and darken in color. You can learn more about Hissers and even SEE them molt on the Milestones page. Interestingly, even when they are bright white and soft, their eyes remain dark black.
A3. Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are arthropods, which means they are sensitive to insecticides that may be lurking in your soil at home, and often are added to potting soils. That may be great for keeping bugs out of your garden, but when you want those bugs to remain alive and well in an aquarium, that dirt is just not safe. Don't risk it!
A4. First of all, I am so sorry for your loss. If you are grieving, here is an article recommending different ways to mourn your little pal. However, if you are ready for another Hisser, contact me. If you purchased the dead Hisser from me, I will replace your little guy for free. I know that different roaches have different personalities, so a new roach is not going to be exactly the same as your old one. But caring for your new little friend can help you get over the death of the other. Also, replacing your sick or dead Madagascar Hissing Cockroach is our policy. A5. Some people that choose to be vegetarian wish their pet to be vegetarian, too. While animals do not have our someone who is vegetarian uncomfortable to prepare meat meals for their pet. Despite groups (like PETA) proclaim, veterinary evidence proves it is unhealthy, and in fact, CRUEL to restrict meat-eating animals from eating meat. If you are vegetarian to avoid cruelty to animals, feeding your cat vegan food is a bad choice!
Unlike humans, for which meat is a choice, many animals MUST have meat to be healthy. Some of these animals are dogs, cats, ferrets, hedgehogs, Red Eared Slider turtles, sugar gliders, leopard geckos, and tree frogs. If it is important to you that your pet live a vegetarian lifestyle, it is necessary for you to have a vegetarian animal as a pet. You might pick a rabbit, a chinchilla, a Russian Tortoise... but what about Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches?
While Hissers can eat protein, like dog food, they
are primarily vegetarian. Madagascar Hissing
Cockroaches can be healthily fed purely on plant
matter. So, vegetarians rejoice! Roaches might just
be the perfect pet for you!
A6. Here in Utah, there are a few places you can see a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, though only one where you can usually hold one! Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are on exhibit at Hogle Zoo in their "Tropical Garden" exhibit and occasionally in their temporary "Nature's Nightmares" exhibit. Living Planet Aquarium has their "Animal Superheroes" exhibit, touting the roaches "super" survival, and their supposed ability to live through even a nuclear holocaust! However, if you would like a chance to handle a Hisser, contact us at Critters 2 Go. Instead of looking at these creepy guys behind glass you get to see it, touch it, smell it, hear it... just don't taste it!
A7. Nope. Hissers can NOT bite you. When they feel threatened, they either hide or hiss by forcibly expelling air through breathing pores. The males, females, and older babies produce the most common hiss, which is the disturbance hiss. The males also hiss during courtship and aggressive encounters.
Can they hurt you? Only if handled incorrectly, and even then, not much. Adults have prickly legs that can occasionally poke you a bit if you pick them up too abruptly. Usually this is not really painful even when it does happen. Don't be scared of these creepy crawlies!
A8. Yes, Hissing Cockroaches are insects. Unlike most insects, they are live-bearing (more details about that in Milestones) and they are wingless, unlike most cockroaches. But like other insects they have a head, thorax and abdomen, and six legs. More about their anatomy from the Clermont College at the University of Cincinnati.
A9. Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are pretty low maintenance pets. They will not mind at all if you leave them a few days, just add extra food (you might want to use dry dog food or other food that is less likely to spoil than fruits and vegetables) and be sure there is enough water to be sure not all of it is evaporated while you are gone. If all of their food has been eaten by the time you return, just feed them a little extra.
If you are going to be gone for a week or more it
might be a better idea to get a friend to
roach-sit for you. The experience might just make
and buy a few crawly critters from us here!
If you honestly can't find anyone to roach-sit for
you on a vacation, give us a call. I can probably watch them for a while.
A10. Nope. There are about 30
known species of cockroaches, and
even more insects that look
similar, but are not true roaches.
Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are
only found naturally in Madagascar,
an island off the east coast of
Africa. Now, there is a possibility
that you might have found a Hisser
that someone inadvertently released
into the wild. If you do, the best
thing is to catch it and contact
have it identified. Releasing
non-native species like Hissers is
On the other hand, if you find a
Hisser and know it IS a Hisser, you
are welcome to contact me and I can
rehome it. I can also help identify
other mystery insects.