really do keep cockroaches, and not just free-roaming around their kitchens.
The most interesting ones, the Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, are not
generally available as household pets. Technically, in the state of California,
in order to obtain and keep them, one must have a permit from the Department
of Agriculture. Such permits are only granted to educators, researchers
Because roaches reproduce
like, well, cockroaches, particular care must be taken to avoid accidental
breeding between males and females (unless, of course, you are breeding
them for food for other animas), and taking appropriate measures to assure
females who have been kept with males do not escape. Hissing cockroaches
are ovoviviparous - they bear live young. Often. A lot of them. Most of
the 3,500 or species live in the warm and humid tropics. Some have become
domesticated by man, and has followed (actually, been transported) by
man where ever man has gone. The ones we are most familiar with, and spend
a great deal of money trying to eradicate, are the American and German
and Feeding Your Cockroaches
are kept very much like millipedes. House on orchid bark on which clumps
of dry and damp sphagnum moss have been placed. Mist the moss and sides
of the tank every day. Feed poultry mash, natural (low fat) granola, oatmeal
into which reptile vitamins have been mixed, and offer pieces of fruit,
dark leafy greens. A small jar lid of water may also be offered. Clean
the tank at least monthly.
Control and Tank Security
If you are
going to have male and female cockroaches, and do not want to start your
own population explosion, you will have to keep them separated. One way
to do so while at the same time keeping them close together for easy comparison
is to place the female inside a firmly sealed aquarium or "critter
carrier" (clear plastic carriers with brightly colored tops) with
her food and water supply. Then, place her aquarium inside a much larger
aquarium in which you have the male with his supply of food and water.
His aquarium, too, must be securely fastened. Using this "double-bagging"
method will help assure that a possibly pregnant female does not get out.
Keeping them separate assures that the female will not become impregnated
while you have her. Another method of keeping the two sexes separated
is to house them in two separate aquariums. For ease in comparing the
two sexes, the aquariums can be placed side by side. Feed your roaches
high-quality dog kibble or rabbit food pellets. Water should be offered:
either use a piece of fruit (apple, strawberry, orange, grape halves)
or place a new piece of sponge in a shallow dish, then pour water into
the sponge every couple of days to keep it moist. The kibble or rabbit
food can be used as the substrate as well as the food. Roaches can also
be kept in pine or cedar shavings or orchid bark. The food can then be
offered in a pile or scattered throughout the aquarium. Replace the soiled
sponge with a piece of fresh sponge every couple of months.
Note: Hissing cockroaches
make great food for insectivorous lizards. You just may not want to tell
your friends (or landlord) that you are breeding them on purpose...!
over 6,500 species of millipedes, most living in tropical climes where
some species reach a length of 8 inches. California is home to the Luminodesmus
sequoiae, a luminous millipede. Contrary to their name, millipedes
do not have 1000 legs. Their class name Diplopoda is more accurate - they
have two pairs of legs on each body segment. Most millipedes possess 30-40
body segments, bringing the average number of legs to a total of only
120-160 legs. This arthropod's legs are found on the underside of it's
cylindrical body. Each segment is covered by a hard chitinous exoskeleton.
As the millipede grows, it sheds its old, too small exoskeleton, emerging
from the old wearing the new. One of nature's scavengers, millipedes eat
decaying plant matter, finding its way about with its antenna, chewing
up food with its single pair of jaws. When frightened, the millipede curls
itself into a tight flat spring-like coil, with it's head tucked neatly,
and inaccessibly, in the middle. Millipedes can be held by placing your
hand under it's body and supporting it's body as it moves along. Millipedes
are not the same as centipedes.
of the class Chilopoda, are venomous carnivores, killing their prey by
injecting a venom when biting with their one or more mouthparts. Centipedes
have only one pair of legs per body segment; the largest centipede may
have up to 173 body segments for a total of 346 legs. Centipede bodies
are flat in shape, and their legs emerge from the sides of each segment.
Unlike millipedes, centipedes move very fast. Both are terrestrial.
Housing and Feeding
bark in the bottom of a glass or plastic aquarium. Place a few clumps
of damp sphagnum moss in difference places in the tank; also place clumps
of dry moss in tank. Millipedes may be kept at room temperature in rooms
that get no colder than 72 degrees during the day. No special lighting
is required. When the substrate is soiled or wet, remove and replace with
Feed dark leafy greens,
pieces of apple or potato. Since they are scavengers, millipedes may wait
until the food has begun to rot a bit before eating it, so don't be too
hasty to clean out uneaten food. Drinking water must be provided by misting
the sides of the tank and some of the moss every day. Remove really rotted
food, replacing it with fresh foods every couple of days.
Do not be surprised
if you find yourself raising a crop of fruit flies in with your millipedes.
So long as there are no other food sources around, the flies will stay
in the millipede tank. When you disturb the tank for whatever reason,
the flies will fly out and about, but will eventually return to the tank.
With thanks to Steve
"Bugs Are My Business" Kutcher, keeper and educator extraordinnaire.