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BlattaAnglicana

Another breeding issue :( - ootheca hanging out

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Hello all, it seems I am really not having a good time with breeding my hissers :( I now have a female with an ootheca literally half out of her. This one is definitely not a prolapse as I can see the individual eggs in the ootheca, but she has been holding it like that, apparently half in and half out of her, for about 8 hours overnight. The eggs are much yellower than they were last night and I see no sign of the ootheca being retracted again. I am really concerned she may now have a prolapse like the other females but I simply cannot keep an eye on her as I have to be out all day and can't watch her. I just hope that doesn't happen but this is getting quite stressful for me. Has anyone else had such a bad start to keeping hissers? Is there anything I can do for her? Should I remove the ootheca or will it fall off naturally if she doesn't retract it?

I really think I must be doing something wrong to get all these breeding problems :( but I just don't know what it is. The only thing I can think of is that they are not getting enough protein (as some have suggested in other threads), and I am not sure they are eating the dog food I'm giving them as it never seems to disappear from their food bowl, but it's not easy for me to get another source of protein. Should I try cat food instead? 

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Please can someone help? What should I do? The ootheca is still there after 24 hours so I assume it won't be retracted now, should I try to remove it or just leave it? She seems otherwise OK though.

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On 7.12.2016 at 11:32 PM, BlattaAnglicana said:

I really think I must be doing something wrong to get all these breeding problems :( but I just don't know what it is. The only thing I can think of is that they are not getting enough protein (as some have suggested in other threads), and I am not sure they are eating the dog food I'm giving them as it never seems to disappear from their food bowl, but it's not easy for me to get another source of protein. Should I try cat food instead? 

Yes. Hissers like misted cat food,

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Thanks IceRoach I will try that - they certainly seem to prefer the oats I put in the dry food bowl to any of the dog food so maybe they will find cat food more agreeable. Unfortunately living in a big city I am a bit limited to food for domestic animals for the protein side, I can't imagine there is anywhere in inner London I could get the sort of agricultural animal feeds that I have seen some people recommend! BTW, I assume you mean by "misted cat food", dry cat food which has been moistened? 

For what it's worth, the female did finally manage to expel the rest of the ootheca and is back to normal now. I saw her eating some of the aborted eggs too which I hope will help with her protein needs, and if I find a protein source they like in the future hopefully I will start to get better breeding results. And there is one piece of good news - one of the nymphs has had its first moult! :D I saw it last night not long after it had shed when it was still completely white, and hopefully the others (I think there are two others remaining from the original small brood) will soon follow. 

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Good to hear the female survived:D And good luck with your roaches! (My species have not reproduced yet)

 

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The ooth definitely did not look normal. Cooked or canned beans (make sure to wash well all the salt off) are another way that you can introduce a source of protein to your hissers. So far mine have done well with pinto, baked beans, black eye beans, and white beans...as well as garbanzo beans (chick peas). You can also add spinach (49% protein) or red cabbage (22& protein). Corn and squash are also sources of plant protein. These are all accepted by my colony.

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Thanks dcfarms for the suggestions - I hadn't thought to give them spinach or cooked beans but I eat a lot of both of those myself, so in future I will save some for my roaches too :D

I notice you didn't mention red kidney beans, I am guessing that's because they might still contain some of the poisonous stuff that has to be boiled out of them before we humans can eat them and roaches might be more sensitive to it?

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Just as a quick follow up, it seems my hissers love (organic, salt free!) canned haricot beans, which I slightly mush up before giving to them - I've seen at least two different females and the male munching on them with great gusto, and I have also noticed bite marks in the cat food (though I've not actually seen them eating it), so here's hoping this means there will be lots of healthy little ones soon! :)

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Well, it looks like I have lost another nymph from my remaining three (I have currently got it on a piece of moist cotton with some food in a little plastic cup on a heat source, but I have not seen any sign of movement since I found it unresponsive this morning, so I think it is dead or nearly so), and another looks pretty weak, and has had some of its antennae clipped (I'm not sure how that happened), so sadly it looks like I may be down to just one out of the four that my dead female originally gave birth to before long.

I'm not sure what could have gone wrong because the middle nymph that now is dying seemed pretty healthy until just a couple of days ago and I had certainly seen it eating since Christmas. The other one was always smaller and weaker and I did think that one might not last long. A couple of days ago I had to hand feed it food and drink which does seem to have perked it up but the antennae have been clipped since then and I am now concerned it might find it difficult to find food at all. Should I isolate it and give it food separately from the adults?

Does anyone have any other suggestions? The adults all look OK and are lively, responsive and seem to be eating well (although no signs of any of the females giving birth yet, even though I have had them over six weeks) and thankfully the one remaining nymph (which was the one that moulted on Christmas day) still looks lively and healthy, but these two smaller ones have gone down hill very quickly, in a matter of a couple of days. I haven't changed anything in relation to my husbandry, the only thing I can think of is that I put some (washed, organic) blueberry and raspberry in the cage for the first time this week and am wondering whether there might have been some pesticide residue still on it that might have caused the sickness with the two smaller nymphs. I am aware that some pesticide use is still allowed in organic farming, although I had hoped there would be less chance of finding residues on organic foods than non-organic, and I don't believe farmers can use systemic insecticides in organic farming so I had thought that just washing everything organic would be good enough. Maybe that's not the case though?

Edited to add: I have now put the small nymph with the clipped antennae in a little plastic cup on its own, with some food and a moistened cotton pad, and I've put the entire cup, with the lid covering it but not firmly clipped on so air can get in, back into the main enclosure nearest the heat pad. I'm going to see if this nymph eats like this, i.e. away from the interference of adults and with food close by, and if so I may keep it like that and if if seems to be getting stronger, and hasn't escaped of its own accord, I'll release it back into the main enclosure with the adults.

The other nymph is definitely dead though :( At least I tried I guess but with so few nymphs surviving from my dead female it's still sad to lose another one.

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OK the small nymph is now drinking from some water condensation on the side of its cup, so I am now wondering whether the issue was dehydration or lack of humidity. It was definitely lower than usual this morning at around 50%, as I was out last night and did not spray the cage in the evening as I usually do, so I am wondering whether perhaps the small nymphs can't cope with lower humidity.

However I've read conflicting advice on the net about this - some care sheets say hissers need high humidity and others say keep them on the dry side and actually you can get problems with them if the humidity is too high, so I really don't know what to believe!

FWIW I've been keeping the substrate completely dry but misting down a corner of the cage most days, and after that the humidity usually goes up to about 75%-80% for several hours (including getting condensation on the glass walls) then slowly drops to about 55%-60% by the time I spray again. Perhaps leaving it a few hours longer was the issue and the small nymphs aren't drinking enough or having enough humidity in the air and so getting dehydrated? They do have a water source as well (a jam jar lid with a soaked cotton wool pad in it) but I have never seen them drink from it, so I had assumed they were getting enough water from the spraying and fruit they are eating, but maybe I'm wrong?

Edited to add a photo of the nymph with damaged antennae - does anyone know if this will cause it significant issues in finding food? It seems fairly lively now but is sat at the top of the plastic cup and seems to want to get out - I would let it out if I was happy it won't have issues finding food with its damaged antennae but would rather leave it in the cup where there is food nearby if it may have difficulty in finding food in a bigger enclosure.

hissernymph.jpg

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Yeah, looks like things may have gotten too dry in there, I'd up the humidity, or at least increase the size of their moist corner, maybe make one half of their cage moist. Apparently while hissers are tolerant of dry conditions, they do like things humid, and if it gets too dry then the smaller individuals can die. 

If you use a food dish and your food dish is big then that nymph may have trouble getting to the food, if not then it should be fine. The main damage you should be worried about is damage to the tibia, if they have been chewed off then it won't be able to climb smooth surfaces and thus can't get into a food bowl, then it will starve.

If his tibia are damaged and you use a food dish in your main enclosure I'd recommend keeping this guy separate until he molts again. However from the picture you posted it seems his tibia are pretty much intact, so it should be fine to reintroduce him to the others. :)

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Thanks Hisserdude, no it's only the antennae that were damaged, its feet seem perfectly fine to me, and it was climbing up the smooth surface of the plastic cup with no problem. The food is in several milk bottle tops and jam jar lids so although they have a "lip" to get over to get onto the food it is very low and certainly low enough for this little one to climb over, so hopefully it will be OK. I have however left a few pieces of food directly on the substrate for the time being - obviously I'll have to check them more often for mould but at least initially this one should be able to find food without having to climb a smooth surface anyway.

I have now released the nymph back into the main enclosure with a small piece of orange next to it in case it is hungry, although I suspect it will wander off before it eats again!

I've also re-used the plastic cup by cutting a "door" in it and turning it upside down to make a sort of "high humidity" small shelter with a piece of soaked cotton wool and some food in it, which I hope will stay at a higher humidity level than the rest of the enclosure, so if this little one (or the other small one) need higher humidity hopefully they will find it and go in there if the rest of the enclosure is too dry.

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Alright then, sounds like it should be able to climb into the food bowl with no problems then! :)

Hope that humid shelter works out, and I really hope no more of your nymphs die off! 

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Thanks Hisserdude, I have to admit I am not too hopeful about the small one with the clipped antennae, as it has always been behind the other two in size and development, but at least the largest one which has already had two moults seems so far to be healthy, so I am more hopeful that one will make it to adulthood.

I just hope one of my females gives birth soon and doesn't have any of the complications the first two had - a couple of them are certainly looking very fat, and I've seen several of the females eating the higher protein food I've been giving them, so I am hopeful of getting some more, hopefully healthy, babies soon! :)

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Unfortunately more bad news to report - the small nymph that was very weak died today, although I think it was inevitable as it had become slower and more reluctant to eat and was moving more and more slowly over the past few days, even though I was hand feeding it, so at least I was prepared for it, although it's still sad to lose another one from such a small litter; and I have had another ootheca abortion :( 

However I'm sure it's the same female that aborted before AND the same one who had the prolapse, so I am now thinking that the prolapse probably has caused her to be incapable of making and holding a healthy ootheca to term. It seems that the second ootheca was also misshapen like the previous one, and what I think may be happening is that she was trying to turn it (as I understand it the females "air" and "turn" the ootheca about half way through gestation) but because it is mis-shapen and perhaps because her internal musculature has been damaged by the prolapse, she can't retract it, so she then has to abort it :(

At the moment the ootheca is still half way out of her (and has been since at least 6am this morning, UK time, i.e. 13 hours, so I am assuming it won't get retracted after that sort of time) but I am hoping that she will abort it fully within the next day or so like last time and otherwise be unharmed. It's a bit sad as I had hoped she might make a full recovery and eventually have a full litter, but I am guessing she is now incapable of doing so and this will happen every time she becomes gravid. I guess as long as she aborts the ooth each time she will still live a normal life span though?

On the plus side the remaining one nymph from the litter of four from my female that died has already moulted again (last moult was Christmas day so it's only just over two weeks!) and I think is now a fourth instar, so it seems to be growing up very quickly! I am now just hoping that one of my three new females finally gives birth without any issue some time soon - I've had them for about 7 weeks so I am assuming they will do!

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Just to add, I spotted her this evening trying to "scrape" the part-aborted ootheca off by rubbing her butt on the cork bark. She almost managed it but in the end I intervened and gently helped to pull off the dried up part of the ootheca. I've left the aborted eggs in the enclosure as I know they sometimes eat them for the protein.

However it's clear there is still some of it still inside her as it was only sticking out about 3/4 inch and I'm sure a full ootheca is longer than that. Does anyone know if this will be OK for her? i.e. will it cause her any issues, health wise? I've not seen her trying to push anything out since then but does anyone know if the remaining eggs might still go to term or will she just abort the rest of the ootheca at some point?

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That's a shame, was hoping that nymph would recuperate. :( I really don't know why that one female keeps aborting her oothecae, I mean you are feeding them fruit, they are being kept heated, I really don't know what you could be doing wrong, so perhaps she's just an old female? 

At least that one nymph is doing OK, really hope your new females will give you nice big litters! If only you were in the US, I'd offer to send you some of my excess hissers for free. 

Again, sounds to me like an old female, hopefully she passes the rest of the oothecae soon. 

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Yeah initially I thought it would survive too as it was quite active initially, despite somehow damaging its antennae, but over the last couple of weeks it just seemed to slow down and stop eating. I am sure its damaged antennae wouldn't have helped it finding food if I'd just left it alone, but I had been hand feeding it and leaving food very close to it so even if its sense of smell was very compromised I thought it couldn't fail to find something edible nearby. Unfortunately though towards the end it didn't seem to want to eat anything at all - I tried banana (including really pulpy soft banana), pear, apple, softened carrot, mushed haricot beans, moistened cat food and moistened oats and whilst it took a few bites of most things initially, by the last couple of days it wouldn't eat anything even if I put the food directly under its mouth.

I haven't seen the female properly since I removed the dried up part of the ootheca but she is alert and seems to be showing normal behaviour (i.e. hiding and moving further under the cork bark when I open the cage or shine a white light on them rather than sitting out in the open). I'm trying not to disturb them too much at the moment in case stress has been causing the die offs and abortions but I'll check properly on them over the weekend to make sure she looks OK (i.e. no sign of ill health or anything like an infection or the rest of the ootheca getting stuck if she's been trying to push it out). 

I found one post in the archive where the OP says that their female had a similar thing (half aborted ootheca where the part outside eventually dried up and fell off) and someone there replied to say that she might take the remaining eggs to term, but there was no follow up post from either person so I don't know whether their female eventually gave birth successfully or not. So who knows maybe she will still give birth yet if she can keep the remaining eggs inside her to full term! Have to admit I'm more expecting to find she expels the rest of it eventually though.

As you say, just got to keep my fingers crossed the new females give birth to healthy litters with no complication!

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I know this one is a couple months old, but I'm curious as to how your hissers are fairing? By now there should have been a brood or two if things are going well. These guys are generally very hardy and don't usually die off easily, and it sounds like you are doing all the right things.

I've not had a problem due to low humidity; where I live is very dry and for nearly a year my hissers went with very low humidity and they thrived. Sounds to me that your taking very good care of them so my knee jerk assumption to the what is causing all this is bad genetics in the female.

I'f your looking for an alternative food for protein you could look into fish flakes; they are usually packed with protein and easy for nymphs to eat due to their thinness. 

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HI Marrader21, there has been (mostly) good news since this last post - two of my three new females gave birth without issue, one to a pretty large litter, and the other to 7 or 8 or so, and overall I now have about 30 nymphs at varying stages of development, with the oldest/most developed I think being fourth instar. They seem so far to be doing well with only one death (a nymph which didn't seem to make it past first instar at all) and I am much more hopeful that most of these will reach adulthood. 

Unfortunately it hasn't all been good news as one of my new females from a different colony also prolapsed whilst giving birth and died shortly after :( - I think there were a few live nymphs from the litter and there are certainly some which are smaller (second instar) which I think are probably hers as she gave birth a couple of weeks later than the other two. The most recent birth was not that successful either - the female was OK and there was no prolapse, but I think there were only one or two live nymphs, and the rest were stillborn (developed enough to look a bit like nymphs rather than eggs but not developed enough to survive, sadly).

So I must still not have everything exactly as they need as I don't think it can be down purely to bad genetics if there has been another death and a premature birth from the females from both colonies. I did recently move the colony to a larger enclosure and although I have tried to keep the conditions as close as I could to the previous one it is a little dryer (lower humidity) and there is a steeper temperature gradient simply because the heat mat I am using can't heat the whole enclosure as well as the smaller one, so maybe the stress of that is causing problems at the moment and I am hoping that once they get used to their new enclosure the births will start being more successful again. Food wise I'm pretty much doing the same as before, a mix of "dry" protein from cat food and oats, "wet" protein from haricot beans and sweetcorn, and a mix of leafy greens and fruit. Interestingly the nymphs seem to prefer the green leafy veg and the adults prefer the fruit, but both like the cat food, beans and oats!

On the plus side if most of the nymphs I now have survive to adulthood then there is a good chance of the colony growing and thriving, as long as I don't let it get too overcrowded either :o

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