My Pre-K Classroom received 10 Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches (MHCs or Maddies) as part of a science initiative sponsored by Rose Pest Control. The children were very excited, and my co-teacher and I even wrote a song (which you can download for free here from my bandcamp site).
So, why cockroaches?
In their defense, they are quite docile, can be handled and are easy to care for. MHCs make great pets for young kids and adults. They do not have wings, so they cannot fly. They are not aggressive and do not bite, so they can not harm humans in any way. Because they are sub-tropical insects, they will not last in our Ohio weather and cannot survive inside the building without care.
Our Maddies are artists (we have their work of art hanging in the hallway) and athletes (we hosted a Cockroach Olympics in which they ran races and mazes and had a coin-pulling contest). We have learned from experimentation that their favorite food is fresh orange slices, and we have been able to watch several of them molt.
We were very excited when we learned that, earlier this month, one our original 10 became a Mommy! That's right...we now have 47 MHCs!
Still not convinced? Here are a few of the traits that make Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches such great pets:
1. They do not bite.
2. They do not have wings. Wingless is a good thing when it comes to pet bugs. Especially when they are really huge bugs.
3. Although Maddies are an ‘exotic species’, they are not too difficult to keep as pets. They do not need or want large or costly accommodations. Instead, close and dark is much preferred to wide and spacious. The hissing cockroaches are not picky eaters and love common stuff like carrots, oranges, and dry dog food.
4. Maddies can be handled and grow used to such contact. Their use in classrooms as room pets or for showing to groups is greatly enhanced by their gentle acceptance of being touched and passed around from one person to another.
5. The little critters have social structures and practices that are really interesting to observe.
6. They don’t lay eggs the way most bugs (even other roaches) do. The female carries the eggs inside a casing in her abdomen until they hatch, and then releases them in a “live birth.” This may still sound gross, but it means that a Maddie just walking around will not leave eggs in the carpet, clothing, anywhere else!