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Maternal instinct for infertile ootheca?


Keith
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I keep 2 species of Blaberus roach in 1 tank, Giganteus and craniifer. Of the mixture of my roach pets all are female and all are virgin females (never mated with a male ever) I didnt want tons of roaches thats why and IMO the females live longer when they never mate, 2 years but usually never 3.

So here is what I have observed.

Usually the roaches are always seen climbing to the highest point of the tank (not on the ground meaning) to rest which makes sense cause in the wild they will live on cave walls or hide under tree bark or logs and not burrow. BUT, when one has to expell the infertile ootheca, it climbs down to the ground, digs in the substrate to make almost a bird nest shape indentation so it's body is not fully exposed and hidden under the substrate (only the wings are exposed) and then it expells the ootheca which is hidden under it's body like a bird sitting on an egg. If another roach comes by, it is promptly chased off or bitten by the female, as if she is protecting her ootheca from being eaten, then she returns back to the ootheca and sits over it. I have observed this happening for usually 3 days straight, meaning the female will not eat or leave that spot for 3 days on end! Once a female did this for a week but that was only once. After 3 days are up the female will either eat her own ootheca or leave it and the other roaches will eat it. Then she returns to her normal behavior of eating and climbing again.

So this made me think a lot. For those of you who have bred these species, do the females watch over the newly hatched young until there exoskeleton hardens? Do they fend off other roaches for a few days? I dont know the answers to this since mine never gave birth to young.

And why do they come to the ground and dig what is like a pit. Is the ground full of more moisture so perhaps the added moisture aids in easier birthing? Do the young hide in this pit and burrow? Why not give birth above the ground like in a cave where the young can hide in cracks? Perhaps the ground is full of nutrients and/or dead/decaying plant animal matter, which is great for young roaches to feed on?

Any theories?

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Females of most live bearing species guard over the new young for at least the first few hours as their exoskeleton hardens. The pit you see is likely so they can stay under the protection of the mother's wings more easily. In captivity maternal care is usually very difficult to observe because of overcrowding and unnatural physical surroundings.

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Females of most live bearing species guard over the new young for at least the first few hours as their exoskeleton hardens.

That's exactly the answer I was looking for, I think that's pretty cool. I only have 2, yes 2, roaches in a 20 gallon tank. There is plenty of space for me to observe their behavior and thats why i observe these things most dont notice.

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