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Gift Idea: Madagascan Giant Hissing Cockroach

Should you give someone a Madagascan Giant Hissing Cockroach as a stocking stuffer?

That might be a bit risky, but Emma Craib -- an art teacher at Waddell -- says that this large insect makes a great elementary school pet or traveling exhibit for the classroom.

“Children go ‘eww’ at first, but when they get to know them, it’s like they have a puppy,” said Emma, who said she learned about giant cockroaches from an entomologist more than 20 years ago.

“They don’t fly; they don’t bite,” Emma says. “If a child has hot or warms hands, it will just sit there. And when they have babies, the kids are like, ‘awwww … so cute.’”

Emma has raised thousands of cockroaches over the years and said she is happy to give them to Manchester teachers for free. She even made a website years ago -- which you can see here -- touting their appeal in classrooms and reviewing instructions for care, feeding and more.

Some background: Madagascar is just off the east coast of Africa. These cockroaches can grow to about three inches and typically live 2-5 years. They like temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s. When they are bred, they produce a brood of 20-60 nymphs.

“After you get to know them, you get past that ‘packaged’ response,” Emma says, alluding to the inevitable initial revulsion. She said students love to touch the hard shell -- which feels just like fingernail material.

Incidentally, Emma says she doesn’t name her cockroaches. “But if a child asks, I’ll say I call i ‘Archie.’”

So,teachers, are you interested?

“If you want one (or a breeding pair) just ask,” Emma says. “If you want to borrow one for a unit and then return it, that's fine, too.”

She can be reached at b57ecrai@mpspride.org.

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