BlattaAnglicana

Newbie feeding questions - hissers

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HI all, I have just (about 4 weeks ago) got three adult Madagascan hissers (as pets) - a male and two females. They are being kept in a small glass terrarium with a locking mesh top, at between 21 and about 28 Celsius (I think this is about 70-80F?) with the floor of the terrarium being at 28 and the top at 21 (I have a small heat mat under about 2/3 to 3/4 of the base as the temperature in my house is generally no more than 20 Celsius in the winter). They are on a coir substrate (about 1cm thick) which was damp when I initially put it in but which has dried out with the action of the heat mat. I am now misting one corner of the enclosure about once every couple of days to give them a bit more humidity but my house is fairly humid anyway (ambient humidity is around 50-60% and in fact I have to use a dehumidifier to stop it getting damp). They have a toilet roll tube and a piece of cork bark in the enclosure as hiding places and are almost always to be found huddled under the cork!

My question is basically - how much should I be expecting three hissers to eat? I have seen very little eating going on in the first few weeks and am wondering if this is normal. They are being given crushed dried dog biscuits mixed with crushed organic oat biscuits as dry food, plus a range of organic fruit and veg cut up into small pieces which I leave in the cage a couple of days and then remove and change as it starts to go off, and there is always food in there for them. However until the last week or so I could see little or no sign of eating at all - a couple of bite marks on the fruit and veg maybe every few days and I think a little of the dog food/oat biscuit mix was being eaten although it's hard to tell.

Interestingly in the past couple of days I have started to see them eat more - a small slice of carrot and a 0.5 cm square piece of apple have disappeared from the fruit dish in the past day or so and I have also caught two out of the three of them nibbling on the cork bark. Has anyone else seen hissers eat cork bark before? And more importantly is it safe for them? I did put the bark in the microwave for a couple of minutes (until it started popping and smoking!!) and also poured boiling water over it as recommended by the guy I bought it from (at the AES insect show) before I put it in with them but I am concerned that there might be things on or in it that could be toxic or bad for them.

And could the stress of being moved from their original colony to the AES show (a large UK insect trade and entomological fair where they were basically on display in a very small tub under artificial light all day) to my home and a completely different environment have caused them to stop eating for a while? If so and they start eating better now will this have caused them any lasting harm? Or is it simply normal that three hissers just don't eat much?

Sorry for so many questions but I am a total newbie to keeping roaches (and insects / invertebrates in general) so it would be good if some of the more experienced roach keepers could let me know if what I am seeing is normal or whether I need to change something about the way I am keeping them!

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Three adult hissers aren't going to eat that much, what you are describing seems like normal feeding activity to me. :) They'll chew on just about anything, but they aren't really eating the cork bark, at least not enough to cause any health problems. Your husbandry parameters seem very nice, I wouldn't change anything unless the animals seemed sickly.

Hope this helps!

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Thanks HIsserdude, it's good to know that it looks like I'm doing things right, they don't look thin or undernourished anyway, although they aren't very active at least during the day. I have seen them wandering around a bit at night though and they can shoot remarkably quickly back under the bark if I shine a light on them when it's dark (though I have been trying not to disturb or handle them too much in the first few weeks so as not to stress them out) so I assume they are healthy.

However being new to this, are there any specific "warning signs" I should look out for if they aren't healthy?

 

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Everything sounds good to me. Signs to look for would be sluggishness, being non-responsive to stimuli, and them getting very skinny. The first two could happen though if they're getting close to the end of their lives. 

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If you got male/females living together hope you realize one day there's gonna be babies

I started with 7 small/medium sized ones as pets in a 10 gallon tank with coconut fiber substrate

after awhile the tank was overcrowded plus babies escaping because back then I did not use vaseline

one day had to get rid of the 10 gallon tank and put them in a 40 gallon sterelite bin wihout substrate

now I have hundreds and they are still breeding like crazy as of now so many babies around

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Thanks Jesus - well I am certainly hoping I will get babies from them!! :-)

I haven't seen any sign of nymphs as yet though, and I haven't seen any mating going on either (though as I've said they seem to be a lot more active at night than during the day so who knows what they have been up to whilst I have been asleep!). However both the females are looking quite fat and I assume they came from a mixed large colony before I got them so I am guessing they are carrying eggs and it will only be a matter of time before I see some nymphs! :-)

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7 hours ago, BlattaAnglicana said:

Thanks Jesus - well I am certainly hoping I will get babies from them!! :-)

I haven't seen any sign of nymphs as yet though, and I haven't seen any mating going on either (though as I've said they seem to be a lot more active at night than during the day so who knows what they have been up to whilst I have been asleep!). However both the females are looking quite fat and I assume they came from a mixed large colony before I got them so I am guessing they are carrying eggs and it will only be a matter of time before I see some nymphs! :-)

It's a pretty safe bet if they're large that they're gravid, so now it's just the waiting game. If you aren't getting any nymphs for several weeks to a couple months, you can try extra apple or bumping up the temp and humidity slightly.

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Well one of the females was certainly gravid as I found her pushing the ootheca out this evening, but sadly it looks like she aborted all the eggs as there is just a whitish/brownish oozing "thing" coming from her tail end :-( As far as I can see there is not a single live nymph :-( 

Is there anything I should do for her at this point as it seems not all the ootheca has come out of her yet, although she still seems to be pushing - should I just leave her be or should I try to remove what remains? Will she be OK? I don't want to cause her any damage or stress her out at this point, so any advice welcome.

The other female is still as fat as she was, so I am hoping for better luck with her.

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I was wrong!! There are some live nymphs! :-D

I haven't been able to count them properly yet but I have seen at least three live nymphs, they were huddled in a crevice in the cork bark which is why I didn't see them before! So I now have some little hisser babies :-)

Now I need to know whether there is anything special I should be doing for them, especially in terms of feeding.....

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Not really, they will usually start eating some of adult hissers droppings in start, and after that they just eat what everyone else do

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Thanks Maijan2.

I am a little worried about the female though as she seems to be wandering round trying to pull the remains of the egg case out of her tail end, but it doesn't seem to want to come out completely and I am concerned that this might actually be her insides that are coming out :-( Has anyone seen this before? Should I just wait until the morning and see whether she has got rid of it? I'll see if I can post a photo....

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Sometimes the females partly eject the ootheca to rotate it and then suck it back in, so unless the ootheca is on the ground then there's no reason to fret. Glad she was actually giving birth though, hope the babies do well for you! :) No special care is needed for the nymphs, just feed them the same as the adults.

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No it doesn't look like eggs it looks more like a piece of "skin" and she is dragging it along the ground.

Here is a photo - should I be worried?

 

 

 

IMG_2983.JPG

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3 minutes ago, BlattaAnglicana said:

No it doesn't look like eggs it looks more like a piece of "skin" and she is dragging it along the ground.

Here is a photo - should I be worried?

IMG_2983.JPG

Oh, yikes, that looks like a prolapse. :( Unfortunately there's not much you can dp for her, sometimes the part hanging out dries up and falls off and the females recover, other times they die. Hopefully your female will be one of the former.

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:-( :-( oh no, I really hope not, poor little thing :-( I hope she doesn't suffer :-(  It does seem to be drying out and at the moment she is still alert and moving around OK - how long before I know whether she will recover or not? 

I feel really sad for her, I've only had her a few weeks and even though I have tried not to get attached I will be upset if she dies :-(

 

 

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I've just misted the cage and now she seems to be drinking desperately.... I don't know if that's a good sign or not?

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15 minutes ago, BlattaAnglicana said:

:-( :-( oh no, I really hope not, poor little thing :-( I hope she doesn't suffer :-(  It does seem to be drying out and at the moment she is still alert and moving around OK - how long before I know whether she will recover or not? 

I feel really sad for her, I've only had her a few weeks and even though I have tried not to get attached I will be upset if she dies :-(

I had a female Byrsotria fumigata that had a prolapse and she lasted a week or so, she seemed fine until the day she died, though her prolapse never really dried out. I had a female hisser that had a prolapse and she lasted much longer, the bit hanging out dried up and fell off, and she lived for another month or so before dying. She was pretty old though, so she may have died of old age rather than anything to do with the prolapse. 

Hope she pulls through, keep us updated!

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I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't a fairly old female, although I can't tell as I got her as an adult, but she was much bigger than the other female and seemed to be a bit "battered" with a couple of bits of damage to her exoskeleton so that could indicate she wasn't a young adult. Having said that the guy who sold them to me said they were fairly newly moulted adults so I just don't know. It doesn't make it any easier to lose her though even if she is old anyway. I guess the one consolation is that even if she dies I do have her babies now - I have found two of them hiding under the bark but I am sure I saw another one when she was first walking around trying to get rid of the prolapse.

The prolapse seems to be drying off quite quickly and I hope it does fall off soon, but there was quite a lot of "stuff" hanging out of her when I first saw her, so I really don't know. I really hope she pulls through too but I guess I have to be prepared for the worst, in case she doesn't. I did see her eating some fresh carrot I put in the cage jut now so at least her food and watering instincts are still there. I just don't know whether she is too damaged internally now to survive :-(

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You are welcome I was a begginer with hissers myself when I started years ago

sorry about your female getting sick but as long as you keep the nymphs alive you'll have your colony grow

make sure the babies do not escape I've had many babies escape thru the years specially when I did not use vaseline

if your enclosure is glass it can get messy but perhaps you don't need a barrier now that there aren't many

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Sorry about the prolapse but congrats on the nymphs! If she still seems to be struggling in a week or so and it's attached you may want to just put her in a cup in the freezer and end it. It's a good sign that she's eating and drinking though so she may pull out of it fine. 

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Thanks all for the sympathy :-) yes it's been a bit of a rollercoaster to be so happy to find the nymphs but then to find out that the female is probably now dying :-(

She is still alive this morning but her behaviour is very different from before - she's sat on top of the log and seems to have been there all night. The others too are behaving differently - the male is sat outside the log away from the other two females (before they were all huddled together under the log by this time in the mornings) and now the other female is with the one with the prolapse on top of the cork bark. I don't know how much roaches 'know' (on an instinctual or chemical level I would assume) that one of their colony is sick but it's certainly an interesting observation that their behaviour is totally different now. 

Pannaking - I hope she recovers too but I probably will put her out of her misery if she carries on for too long with the prolapse still there. Whilst I know insects probably don't suffer or feel pain in the same way as higher mammals do I still think it would be cruel to leave her alive but in a state which distresses her or makes normal life functions like eating and drinking difficult, even if she isn't actually aware of the situation. 

 

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I'm a little late to the discussion, but you asked if changing homes might cause your hissers to stop eating. All of my hissers (4 species) seemed to have a low appetite once they arrived and while settling in. It seemed to take about a month before they were eating at what I would consider a normal rate. Now they line up for food at dinner time, and usually form piles on top of the bowl. As far as how much they eat, it would depend on the temperature, the food and how long it had been since their last meal. I know my one isolated adult G. oblongonota (he has mobility issues and had to be separated) will literally run to bananas and eats an amount the size of 2 pencil erasers each night. Granted he's bigger than your portentosa ... at any rate, you should start seeing more activity and more evidence of eating over the next few weeks I would think.

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My Elliptorhina javanica love oats. For three days it looks like nothing then there all eaten. I have a red heat bulb on mine during the day and evening. This allows you to watch them in the dark. They will come out under the light. The males will battle too. I went from 27 in dec 2015 to way over 100 now. They grow fast. It's fun to mist the tank and watch the nymphs run out to drink.

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just a quick, sad update, my female with the prolapse died :( I found her dead when I came in to check on them during the night. I had seen her drinking and taking a few bites of food last night so i had hoped she'd pull through, but sadly not. I guess at least she wasn't in distress for very long, but it's sad for me to lose her this way.

At least she did give birth to (I think, as they hide in the tiniest cracks!) three nymphs and so far the other female and the male look healthy, so I am just hoping the same doesn't happen to the other female now.

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57 minutes ago, BlattaAnglicana said:

just a quick, sad update, my female with the prolapse died :( I found her dead when I came in to check on them during the night. I had seen her drinking and taking a few bites of food last night so i had hoped she'd pull through, but sadly not. I guess at least she wasn't in distress for very long, but it's sad for me to lose her this way.

At least she did give birth to (I think, as they hide in the tiniest cracks!) three nymphs and so far the other female and the male look healthy, so I am just hoping the same doesn't happen to the other female now.

Aww, I'm so sorry to hear that. :( At least she passed rather quickly, and not after weeks of suffering. Sounds like she was just old and didn't have too much left in her, I'm surprised she gave birth. Hopefully the other hissers do well, keep us updated on them!

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