Roach Articles by Takeshi Yamada, Brooklyn, NY


Carrot is one of the favorite foods of Madagascar Giant Hissing Cockroaches (Hissers). For this article, I am writing about bad, good, better and the best way to prepare carrots for Hissers.

Choose a firm and fresh carrots. Do not use old, discolored, dried or molted carrots. Then, wash your carrot and your hands under cool/warm water. Do not use any soups or detergents. Any substances on the surface of the carrot have to be washed away. The grease/sweat from your hand also have to be washed away because Hissers do not like grease/sweat of human hand.

Serving carrot as is, regardless of the size of the colony (even over 300 Hissers in 10-gallon tank) is totally bad. Hissers of any stages even can not munch the surface of the carrots. Their mouth-pad is not made to munch the smooth and flat surface. The carrots will surely be forgotten and wasted in the tank. And when you leave it for another few days, it starts producing deadly fumes for Hissers, and even starts breeding “Bad Mites (See my other articles on “Bad Mites)

Cutting the half of the carrot in 4 pieces in horizontal direction (to produce skinny long four pieces) is still bad. The surface condition is still not “easyEfor smaller nymphs to munch them.

You should never leave a large amount of fresh vegetables in their tank when you leave your home for a few days (especially for a weekend camping trip!) This is especially critical when you breed many Hissers in a small container. The bad fume produced by decomposing vegetables make them sick or kills them. The same thing can be said to other tropical pet roaches. (Incidentally the same thing can be said to crickets, too.) Roaches were abundant during the Carboniferous period, 250 million years ago (far before the time of dinosaurs) according to the comprehensive fossil records. Roaches still like almost identical environment rich in oxygen with high humidity with high temperature. In fact, over 99% of over 3500 identified roaches today live in tropical rainforests (jungles).

Use a skin peeler to prepare the carrot. You can get it at any super markets. Try to produce each peeled strips as thin as possible. The length is not matter. Now, you made a “plain carrot salad” for Hissers. The carrot prepared in this manner is so easy for even smallest Hissers to munch it. As you can see, Hissers munch each strip from their side – just like most of caterpillars eat leaves on a branch of a tree. Note that their mouthpads move side to side and their heads move from up to down when they eat. This is the easiest and fastest way for Hissers to eat carrots.

Although the carrot is one of Hissers favorite foods, it is not contain the complete nutrients. Another words it is not a “complete dinner”. (Hissers are nocturnal which means they are active at night. They eat at night the most.) Breeding Hissers with only vegetables and fruits are not recommended to produce healthy and well-breeding adults. To produce healthy exoskeleton, they need calcium. To produce healthy muscles and eggs, they need protein.

Therefore, to prepare the “complete dinner” for Hissers, we need a gourmet “toping” for the above-prepared “plain carrot salad”.

The “topping” should be made of finely ground following ingredients. They are dried dog food (protein of land animals), dried cat food (protein of under water animals), calcium powder, and dried milk (calcium). (I am still experimenting a variety of ingredients to produce better “topping”.) Each ingredient must be finely ground by any mechanical devices you have at your hand - whether it is a canvas pliers from a painter’s atelier or a coffee bean grinder from kitchen cabinet. (Make sure to ask your Mom! People can be very sensitive about grinding dried dog food in a coffee bean grinder – no kidding. Also make sure to wash the coffee bean grinder before and after using it thoroughly with soup and water for a long time.) Prepare a fairly large amount of this topping and save it in a tightly capped container and placed it into a refrigerator. They will last quite a long time with fresh/good condition. When you place the “plain carrot salad” in Hissers tank, liberally sprinkle this “topping” on it. This topping, by the way, should be the daily/main diet of the Hissers. It should be placed on a low-rise lid of a small plastic container in the Hissers’ tank for all the time. Here again, do not put too much of it. When it turns whitish, immediately toss them away because it is not good now.

The problem of the above stated “carrot salad with topping” dinner is the proportion between the carrots and the “topping”. Also, Hissers do not use utensils to mix the topping to the salad when they eat, thus some of them might miss eating “topping”. For the healthy growth of Hissers, the amount of the “topping” has to be increased for this dish. To accomplish this, follow the steps below.

1. Place carrots and “toping” in a small, round and deep plastic container.
2. Add more “topping”.
3. “Toss” them and/or “shake” them until the entire surface of the carrot strips were coated with “topping”.
4. Serve it on a plastic low-rise tray (plastic round lid of a small container). The “Tossed Gourmet Carrot Salad” should not touch the ground. Also produce many small holes on the plastic round lid to circulate the air at the bottom of the “tossed carrot salad”.

Now serve the “Tossed Gourmet Carrot Salad – Takeshi style” immediately to your Hissers! Can you see big smile on their small faces?

1. To the “topping”, you could also add a small amount of other ingredients such as oats, brown sugar and etc. Experiment and prepare “the best topping” for your Hissers.
2. Do not save the “Tossed Gourmet Carrot Salad” in a plastic container in a refrigerator to serve them the day after tomorrow. Always prepare this dish fresh.
3. Do not serve your Hissers “Tossed Gourmet Carrot Salad” everyday. Consider this dish as “weekly treat” for your Hissers.
4. Remove the remains of this dish after about 3nights (before it becomes bad), depending on the temperature and the humidity inside of the tank. Try not to put “too much” for each dish.
5. Although carrot is one of the favorite foods of Hissers, some small number of Hissers almost ignore this dish. In my Hisser’s tank, about 15 to 25 Hissers out of over 300 Hissers prefer dried ground Oak leaves over carrots. Observe what YOUR Hissers like for their main dish by giving them variety of small amount of foods as experiments. Try at least 20 different foods – dried foods, canned food, boiled foods, deep flied foods, steamed foods, “live” foods, processed foods and etc.

Good luck to you and your pet insects!
(c) Takeshi Yamada 2002


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