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I Need Help/Advice, Dying Halloween Hissers

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I have small colony of Elliptorhina javanica, and I've had three mystery deaths in the past three weeks, I'm hoping someone can give me advice on what to do. I've never had any of them die before this.

So here's some background to the colony;
I originally only wanted a handful of them as strictly pets, so I ordered 5 male nymphs back in March of last year. However when they matured, I realized that one was actually female, which caused the males to start fighting over her. Eventually I got more comfortable with bug-keeping so I decided I was fine with having a breeding colony, so I bought a bigger, nymph-escape-proof-enclosure, and 5 more females, which arrived last month (March 16th). Well, then on March 20th one of my original males died. I found him belly up laying out in the open. Nothing visible was wrong with him, no missing body parts (antenna was damaged but it had been that way for months). A week later, one of the new females passed, same deal with nothing visually wrong. And now today I just woke up to find a very disturbing sight- another of the new females dead, with a huge hole in the bottom of her abdomen and tiny nymphs gathered in another area of the tank. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I assume that she died before she could give birth and the babies just had to make their own way out? The babies all seem to be alive though so I guess they were developed enough already to manage on their own.

Anyway, none of my original 5 had ever died in the year since I got them, and now 3 out of 10 passed in the last three weeks. My best guess is that the new females had some sort of illness or parasite that they've passed around, but I have no idea how diagnose or treat something like that. Any theories are appreciated, and advice on how to keep the rest of them from dying is ESPECIALLY appreciated. I already tried cleaning out all the substrate and rinsing decor.

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I have had a similar issue with my Gromphadorhina portentosa recently. I have figured out the cause of the decline, though: mites. There has been a massive mite explosion in my breeding tank, and my adults are covered in them. I have read that too many mites can clog spiracles and kill roaches. I think the mite explosion was caused by high humidity. I recently moved my adults into a new tank separate from the juveniles in order to enlarge my colony, and the new substrate was much wetter than the substrate they had been living in in the original tank. I have been trying to dry out the tank as I acquired 44 new adults, and I do not want them to succumb to mites. It is looking like there is not enough ventilation to dry it out in time. I have some drier substrate, so I will probably have to take the wet substrate out of the tank, freeze it, and replace it with the dry substrate. This should fix the humidity issue. Does it look like your roaches have excessive numbers of mites on them? 

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RE the female with the "hole" in the abdomen - without a photo it's hard to diagnose but on occasions I have seen female hissers give birth and then prolapse their insides really badly and die off quite quickly after. Admittedly I've never seen it in E. javanica but I have seen it in G. oblongonota quite a bit and once in G. portentosa. 

Whilst this never looks like a "hole" to me (more like white stuff protruding from the abdomen) it's possible she gave birth, prolapsed and died a few days ago and (sorry if this is a bit gruesome) the others might then have basically eaten her - to them any dead body is just carrion (and therefore food), they obviously don't see it as "cannibalism" like we would, and quite often I will find dead roaches which have clearly been part eaten by the others. So it's possible this is what may have happened.

I don't know why your other hissers have died - the male could simply have been old age if you have had him a while, and this species I find doesn't live as long as G. portentosa and G. oblongonota, and maybe the other adult female that died was not that young either. Alternatively I do think that hissers can get stressed in transit, and maybe that has caused the deaths - I have had a few die off not long after I got them.

Personally I don't keep mine very damp - the substrate is pretty much completely dry, they get sprayed for 15 seconds by an automatic mister twice a day and so that one corner is a little damp but that's it. So yes I would suggest making sure they are not too damp. I have seen a huge explosion of grain mites which was due to over damp conditions and which definitely caused deaths in my E. javanica colony but it sounds like you don't have a problem with mite numbers (and I assume they are "hisser mites" rather than grain mites anyway).

Good luck with them and hope you don't have any more unexpected deaths.

 

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Here is a photo of the female with the hole. I suppose it's possible that this body and the nymphs are unrelated, but they both showed up the same morning, so I assumed they were related.

How long would you expect E. javanica to live? I couldn't find any information on their lifespan so I assumed it was about the same as other hisser species. I believe the male was under 2 years old, as he was a medium-ish nymph this time last year. The females were sold to me as "subadults", but I don't know how to tell if a hisser is sexually mature or not aside from seeing them mate/give birth.

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OK that just looks like she has died and been partially eaten, it’s not a prolapse. She might have been the one who gave birth but I wouldn’t say the two events were necessarily connected - it’s just as likely that another female gave birth to the nymphs and this one happened to have died on the same night.

in my experience E. javanica live about two years, they don’t seem to live as long as the other hisser species, although to be fair my javanica colony is more crowded than my other hisser colonies so that may also be a factor.

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Alright, little update. I had initially doubted mites could be the cause because I rarely ever notice any mites by glancing around at individuals, but this morning I was staring at one for a while and noticed a good cluster of mites on its head/neck area?! I've checked all three of the bodies so far for mites and never found any, do mites immediately abandon the dead bodies? I'm fairly confident I've found all the bodies within hours of the time of death.

Also, even if mites aren't the cause of deaths for the others, should I be concerned for the poor guy with them on his face? What can I do for him?

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No more deaths so far. I've still been noticing more mites, on some individuals more than others, but I guess overall they seem ok? Also saw a female airing out her ootheca yesterday so more babies are apparently on the way ^^

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