The lead in my newest book, Buying Illegal Bugs with Bitcoin, keeps a variety of insects in his bedroom. While I was writing it, I really started wanting some of my own. I kept checking pet stores to see what was available. The local places were lacking in selection, but I couldn’t even begin to count the hours I’ve spent perusing online bug shops. I picked up a lot of good info for my book along the way.
I’d kept bugs before. Years ago, I had tarantulas and scorpions. I impulse-bought three Madagascar hissing cockroaches that turned into a colony overnight. Literally. The very next morning after I got them, there was a pile of nymphs on the floor of the habitat. I ended up giving away the massive colony years later when I moved. That was probably an unnecessary move. They would have been right at home in the dirty hippy house I moved into. I heard the guy I gave them to “threw them away” after his mom freaked out when he brought them home. That really pissed me off.
It’s been more than a decade since then. It felt like time to get more bugs. I settled on hissers because they can eat cat food, fruits and veggies, which are on the shopping list anyway. They don’t necessitate regular trips to the pet store for feeder crickets. We don’t even have a close place that has them. Also, my thoroughly squicked-out girlfriend was more amenable to roaches than a big ‘ole spider.
I was going to order some wide-horn hissers, Gromphadorhina oblongonota, since they’re the biggest type of hissing cockroaches. I ended up getting the standard Madagascar hissers, Gromphadorhina portentosa, because they had them on Amazon and I had a bunch of Amazon credit from a ghostwriting gig I picked up. Thanks to honeybees100, who sent 7 instead of the 6 I ordered.
Here’s a video of me unboxing the specimens. (You’ll have to click through to YouTube if you’re reading this on Goodreads, since they don’t allow embedded videos.) You can see my hands shaking a little because I was so excited. I thought they’d be in a smaller container inside the box, otherwise I would have been more careful with that knife. They seem to have escaped unscathed.
I love these things. They’re cool as hell. They were cold and sluggish in the video, but they’ve perked up since I got them up to their preferred tropical temperature. I can hear them hiss at each other from across the room.
If you like bugs, they’re an amazing, very low-maintenance pet.
In other news, my article this week at BookCrate is about unreliable narrators. I also stumbled across this interview with John Spaduala, who I’ve mentioned before. Oh, and here’s a list of my favorite books of 2017.