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normal Considering a first pet?

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12 Apr 2016 02:15 #47

Thanks for sharing Aimee. They are a great species for young beginners as well.

CEO / Insectarium of Victoria / Victorian Institute of Invertebrate Sciences

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09 Apr 2016 17:46 #45

Cockroaches... for many the very name is enough to make many people shudder. In my years of experience as a keeper for all kinds of animals both foreign and native, the number one pet I'd recommend for someone who has zero experience with animals is the giant burrowing cockroach (Macropanesthia rhinoceros). Although we are trained that cockroaches are these horribly germy things, native Australian cockroaches are generally considered very clean creatures (it is the introduced species that you have to worry about). Not only are they clean and easy to handle (though they can get stressed if you tend to over-handle them), they are incredibly low maintenance, tend not to be escape artists, and are inexpensive as for most of us, their food is free! Also as they are a relatively slow moving bulky species, it is easy to teach children how to handle them safely (open hands so as not to squish or scare them, but don't let them run off you hand and fall because this might damage their exoskeleton which could be fatal... one hand under the insect and the other in front of where it is walking to is key).

What you need:

- a small aquarium with a mostly enclosed lid so it is not too ventilated (about 30cm is good for one or two of them, but it might be wiser to go bigger as you get more).
- substrate to fill at least a half to a third of the tank (a 50/50 mix of reptile sand and cocoa peat is excellent, this should be replaced every three months)
- A spray bottle of water (I usually leave water out without a lid for 24hours or more before to allow chlorine to evaporate if rain water is unavailable).
- plenty of dry brown dead gumleaves.

How to look after it?
- Daily: Move your gum leaves to one side and mist the glass or plastic sides and substrate to keep it lightly damp, then move the leaves back across. Also it is important to add more dry leave before they completely run out because that is what they live on. It is that easy!

This species does not need regular handling to become more accustomed to people (they tend to behave the same regardless), so is also a great option for people who have busy schedules and not a lot of time to interact with their pets, since care only takes a few seconds out of your day. They need to be kept around normal room temperature, so unless you are keeping them in a room that is going to get cold ( below the 18-20 degrees Celsius area) you don't need a heater. If cold is a possibility a lamp a desk lamp and a thermometer to adjust how close can usually be adequate).

So next time you are thinking of a new cool pet, why not give the giant burrowing cockroach a go? In the process you can help get the stigma off this fascinating, misunderstood species that plays a great role in the Australian environment by helping break down the leaf litter on the forest floor and get nutrients back into the soil.

*Please note though this species is VERY long living and may last 20+ years so could be a long term commitment.

Last Edit: 12 Apr 2016 03:19 by BCandusio.

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