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Hissers in Finland!


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Hello from Finland!

I just got my first Madagascan hissers. These critters have been on my must have list for some years, ever since I first heard of them. Now the pieces finally fell together I found my old 13 gallon aquarium and realised that I could keep the hissers in our bathroom. I've always wanted to have an aquarium there but the combination of water and electricity freaks me out. Hissers are perfect, the temperature and moisture is okay for them and they don't need a light. You can just sit on the toilet and admire the marvels of evolution... ;)

I've got two males since I heard this is best if you're not interested in breeding. Females can get surprise babies so there's a risk with them. Males might fight if it's very warm and if they're being fed a lot of protein - are these things true? They've got lots of hiding places and surface area, so maybe that's enough for these two.

I've got 4mm hard plastic sheet as a cover, there are holes on it and it's got magnets to keep it in place. There's about 2-3mm space between the cover and the frame of the tank. How do you know if they've got enough ventilation? I hope it's not big enough for them to escape though, boys are something like 2 inch/5 cm long now. And there's vaseline on top inch of the tank wall.

The temperature should be minimum 24C/75F - I've got closer to 30C now, usually it's something around 26C . There's been contradictory information on humidity, but at least 65% ? The tank will get some moisture when we use the shower and I can also spray the tank if it seems dry. I'm curious to know if anyone has used a "wetbox" for hissers. I've understood that it is fairly common thing for reptiles, basically a small plastic box with a hole for the critter to go in and filled with damp substrate. I wonder if hissers would use such a thing?

Feeding - I've got fish food, dog food and cat food that I can use. I also have some milk-based cat treats that our cats didn't like so let's see if the hissers eat them, it would give them calcium. I've got cuttlefish bone as well if that's better. I've got a tiny water bowl and a piece of cotton in there. Otherwise we will try to give whatever veggies and fruit we'll get from the kitchen. I will also collect some plants for my aquarium (dandelion, nettle etc) and give them to hissers as well. Tree leaves are also on the list. The first meal is now cucumber and some grapefruit.

I've been trying to search info on the soil type in the hissers' natural habitat. Is it black soil or laterite clay? My world atlas says there's laterite but I'm not entirely sure of the exact region where the hissers originate. Just wondering since I've seen amazing pictures of terrariums that have a natural clay bottom, they say it's easy to keep clean and antibacterial. Anyone tried that with hissers? I still haven't decided what substrate to use, right now they have nothing. Originally I was planning to use potting soil but couldn't find non-fertilized version anywhere. How about clay based cat litter?

And now that the substrate was mentioned: what is the exact location where the first hissers have been captured? I just noticed that google maps gives a really detailed satellite picture of Madagascar island, you can even see individual trees there! Would be great to put a pin on the hissers home :) .

Last few days I've been searching info on other Madagascan fauna & flora. It would be fun to have some houseplants that originate from Madagascar but so far the Traveller's tree is the only one I've found to be available as seeds. Luckily though Stephanotis floribunda (wax flower) is a common plant! Tamarind is another option but it's not endemic. Is there any info on the plants that grow in original natural hisser world? On animal side, I know there are Madagascar day geckos and chameleons and some big land snails come from there. How about aquarium fish or birds?

Needless to say, I'm curious to know everything about wildlife conservation and research in Madagascar whether it's related to hissers or not. Do you know if there are any projects going on or any societies or funds that one could support? I have this silly idea that if you get yourself an exotic pet you're sort of obliged to participate in wildlife protection somehow. There must be dozens of wildlife projects going on in Madagascar just curious if you could recommend me anything.

In general I'm interested in animal behavior and learning, cultural beliefs and folklore on animals and wildlife conservation. I'm eager to learn what these critters see, hear, smell and taste, how they experience the world and how they communicate. Like for starters I'm curious to know if they see colors. I've got these tiny led torches in different colors (red, blue and green) and I'm wondering if there's a wavelenght of light that doesn't bother them. It would be fun to spy on them when they think no-one is watching! :ph34r: How about blacklight, do they see that? I'm also interested in other bugs, such as isopods (because they resemble trilobites!) and beetles and millipedes as well. But hissers are my first exotic pet and it truly is a whole new world for me! Very exciting! :D

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As far as I know they don't see many colours, they can really only distinguish between light and dark and maybe a few vague shapes, so I would say any coloured light would be suitable for spying on them!

Also, in my experience, hissers despise cucumber, so I would say to avoid it!

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I wear a red headlamp at night so I can look into all of my bins and watch the roaches. The Hissers and the Glowspots don't notice me. The Dubias run for cover with the red light - so it seems they can see it!

How exciting to have a person in Finland on the Forum! Do you have roaches native to Finland you can share with us? Would love to see photos of your setup :)

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Hi all! Thanks for the tips, I will try the red light then. It seems they're really clever with shadows, the other one hissed when he saw my shadow move on the tank floor. They're still very shy, not sure if they've eaten at all yet. Took away the cucumber and offered banana and apple, not sure if they nibbled them at all. Have to say they're really cute! :wub:

ArtBug: We have the "Swedish" roach Blatta orientalis and "Russian" Blatta germanica that have lived as pests and Ectobius sylvestris and Ectobius lapponicus that are native. Never seen any of those! I've been reading about insects now and trying to find the biggest ones in Finland, but we really don't have much. Meloe violaceus is our biggest bug, also Geotrupes stercorarius is fairly massive. In short, if size matters, you have to go for tropic! B) The biggest pet shop chain started a bug campaign earlier this year but even they don't have roaches available. Here's a list of available bugs http://www.faunatar.fi/kovakuoriaiset don't mind the Finnish, the scientific names are also there. Not sure how popular these bugs have become now. Many people keep land snails and tarantulas though.

Yeah I will post pics of the set up when I get it ready. I still haven't got substrate but I think I'll go for aspen shavings and coconut fiber and mix them together. I also realised that if I want to try red clay, I can simply buy some from crafts shop and put a layer in a separate bowl or tray. Or simply just buy some random clay items for them to climb on. But I'll definitely add more rotten wood! At the moment they've got bark from goat willow, I'll probably get some aspen and birch later. And of course leaves in autumn, I've got good supply of maple here and I'll probably also get some oak leaves, if they're the favorite?

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