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Madagascar hissing cockroaches mysteriously dying! Please help!

Discussion in 'Spiders and Inverts' started by mariekf, Jul 26, 2018.

  1. mariekf

    mariekf PetForums Newbie

    Jul 26, 2018
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    My 4 year old daughter thinks bugs are the best, and after talking about it for months, we started a simple tank with Madagascar hissing cockroaches. It's really simple: cocosoft bedding, a heater that sticks to the outside bottom of the tank, multiple egg cartons to climb and hide under, mesh lid.

    We just had our fourth mysterious death today, and I need help!

    The first death was soon after we got our first cockroaches, and I attributed it to being dropped too often onto the kitchen floor, so we changed the rules about holding cockroaches (only on the carpet, only sitting down) and no one else has been dropped. The second death happened about a week after the first, and I didn't know what to make of it. The third death happened a week after that, and I removed the bark we had in the tank. My daughter had pulled thick, long strips of bark from a log the landlord left in our yard, maybe an oak tree, almost definitely some kind of hardwood. I thought that maybe, because the cockroaches didn't evolve around that kind of tree, they couldn't recognize it as poisonous even though it was really bad for them. Then we didn't have any deaths for a week and a half after that, and I thought I'd solved the problem until just now, when we discovered one of the really big males, dead in his usual hiding spot.

    They don't show any signs of poisoning or illness. I just find them dead in the morning. They aren't wobbly or weak. The only thing that stands out behavior-wise is that I remember them being more active when I had a colony as a kid, but they run pretty fast when they are set down on the carpet, and climb around when they're not in their tank and at night.

    They are eating "taste of the wild" dog food, and organic fruit and veg--grapes, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, apples, bananas and banana peels. They have plenty of water, and the tank is usually 70-80 degrees and 70-80% humidity.

    I'm going to relocate the survivors to a box and clean out the entire thing and start fresh tonight, soaking the interior walls with white vinegar to kill any mold or spores before I put them back in.

    Here are my ideas about what could be causing the deaths--I would so much welcome other suggestions!

    - I got their 20-gallon tank from someone who used to keep fish in there. It looked clean, and the gravel that was in it was clean, so I dumped the gravel, wiped out the bit of dust that was in the gravel, and set it up for bugs. Could there be something left from the fishies that's making them sick?

    - Maybe something is wrong with the dog food (I mean, it's clearly fine for the dogs, but maybe hissers shouldn't eat it). When I had hissers when I was a kid, I remember feeding them only fruit and vegetables, but the care guides I looked at this time around all said they need a protein source and suggested dog or cat kibble.

    - We've had a full week of non-stop rain and 95-100 percent humidity, and now there's a little bit of stringy white mold growing in the cage. It only appeared today or yesterday, so I don't see how it could be related to the earlier deaths, but it made me wonder.
  2. Acrophylla

    Acrophylla PetForums Member

    Apr 16, 2008
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    Hi, Keeping Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches in a tank is not a good idea. The surroundings are too humid. I always keep them in a large cage with two mesh sides. They climb up the sides. I feed mine on sliced oranges and dead oak and dead sycamore leaves. I give them rinsed out hen egg shells for extra calcium and a shallow dish of water to drink from. The protein source is from protein dog biscuits. I put a few in there every week and they nibble on those. Mine are active and healthy. Hope this helps.
  3. dingal2000

    dingal2000 PetForums VIP

    Oct 18, 2009
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    Change the cocofibre for Orchid bark , use dried cat chrunches, they absolutely love lettuce , NOT iceberg though cucumber is lovely and apples , change the water for bug gel this is more appropriate for them. Mount the heat mat on the side of the enclosure not the bottom as they love to burrow and could cook themselves , egg crates are great so well done there. Then you should have no problems. It could be that your deaths were because they were old . Keep that in mind as you may have done nothing to cause it
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