Roach Articles by Takeshi Yamada, Brooklyn, NY
ADVANCED BREEDING TECHNIQUES OF MADAGASCAR GIANT HISSING COCKROACHES
Female adult Hissers give birth to about 12 to 40 young nymphs at each time. I personally witnessed the scene a few times before. They were truly remarkable scenes. The complete process took less than half an hour. Adult Hisser females give birth to babies all yearlong and any time of the day unlike beetles.
Followings are lists of advanced techniques I use to minimize stress of Madagascar Giant Hissing Cockroaches (Hissers) and possibly increase their reproduction. I also listed techniques used by other professional pet roach breeders.
1. Place crashed dry oak leaves (collected from a local park) as substrate. I consider this substrate more “natural” than bare tank or placing pine shavings, plain soil or sands. Some of my Hissers actually love munching Oak leaves even more than carrots! (Usually, carrots are the favorite food for the most of the Hissers.)
Some professional roach breeders use two-inch substrate of soil mixed with leaf litter.
2. Divide your 10 to 30 gallon tank into two sections. Use the 1/3 or ˝ of the right floor for their “apartments”; a section with a group of toilet paper roll cores and/or egg trays (placed vertically, NOT HORIZONTALLY). Leave the 2/3 or ˝ of the left floor empty except for sponge water and food tray. I also have a few tree branches there.
It is my personal experience that even Hissers are well-fed mostly with ground dry dog food (with high protein content), they still munches newly born babies when they are happen to be near there, sadly. Therefore, this seemingly EMPTY SPACE IS ACTUALLY VERY IMPORTANT for healthy breeding. This open empty space enables the Hisser mother to safely give birth to her babies away from other Hissers that might munch newly born babies immediately after they were born.
Also, this empty space is divided by adult male Hissers to mate/pair with adult female Hissers. The more space for each adult male, the more territories for each adult male, thus possibly more mating/pairing takes place for breeding/reproduction. Remember that a male who has no territory does not mate. (See my other article about territories and pairing.)
Also, this setting enables floor cleaning extremely easy. Simple move their “apartments” and scoop their feces with a large spoon.
3. Cover the side and back of the tank with black papers. Create the environment of the dark tropical jungle forests. Also cover the front with cardboard when you are not looking at them. Remember that they like living in the darkness.
4. Spray water with atomizer once a day. (At that time, I also collect their cast-off skins to examine and record their growth and health conditions.) Do not spray directly to toilet paper roll cores. Also keep the floor dry to prevent mite infestation.
5. Better diet. To achieve maximum reproduction, instead of giving Hissers fruits and vegetables, give them dried dog food, dried cat food, oak leaves and calcium powder (dried milk and/or ground calcium pills for human) to aid in exoskeleton production. I mix ground dried dog food, dried cat food, ground human calcium and dried milk to Hissers.
In my experience, finely ground shell of bay crab was too hard for Hissers to munch, unfortunately.
(You can still give Hissers fruits and vegetables as "treats" now and then if you wish.)
6. Diet enhancement. One professional roach breeder mentioned that when any of their cockroach starter cultures are slow to being reproducing, they add a bit of olive oil to the cat food. They say that this has worked quite well for them on several species, though it is not backed up by any formal research. So, when you try this method, please report and share your results in this "roach forum" in the future :-)
7. Maintain the temperature of the tank in consistent range all year long. Make sure you have a thermometer in the tank to monitor the temperature inside of the tank all the time. Do not place their tank by the window where the temperature changes drastically even during the day.
8. Do not mix different roaches in the same tank. This was one of my big mistakes when I started breeding them. I used to breed Hissers and Discoid roaches (B. Discoidales) in the same 10-gallon tank. They seemed to ignore each other and doing OK. I was wrong. Before long, I found many Discoid roaches were missing. Hissers ate newly molted nymphs and adults. They now live separate tanks.
I will list more breeding tips when I have a time in the future.
(c) Takeshi Yamada 2002
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