Madagascan Hissing Cockroach – Mom, Can I Keep Him?

I’m an animal lover whose idea of a fun Sunday afternoon is going to the pet store to look at all the unusual and exotic pets. But there’s one resident recluse that I just can’t wrap my heart around: the Madagascan Hissing Cockroach. Forgive me if I don’t understand – I have an open mind, really I do. But harboring a cockroach in my house – on purpose – just seems counter intuitive. So what do you do when your son or daughter decides they just have to have one?

Madagascan Hissing Cockroach

Thinking of a cockroach as a pet probably goes against everything you’ve ever imagined to be true. But because they are so easy to care for, the Madagascan Hissing Cockroach actually makes a good first pet for kids. Image credit: Adrian Pingstone

Get the Facts

The Madagascan Hissing Cockroach comes from – well, Madagascar. And according to the Amateur Entomologists’ Society, they do make good pets. They are relatively easy to care for – compared to a dog or cat – which makes them a good first pet for children. Their preferred foods (like rolled oats or ripe bananas) can usually be found in your kitchen, and according to National Geographic, they are not pests and do not infest human dwellings.

Madagascan Hissing Cockroach

I bet they kind of grow on you after a while. What do you think? Image credit: TimVickers

Kick the tires

Before you say no, why not load up the kids in the minivan and check out your local pet store? I have found that small, privately-owned stores are better for this purpose than the big chains. The people working there tend to be consummate animal lovers who know their stuff, and are willing to take the time to share their knowledge. Observe, ask questions, and ask to hold one. I’m guessing it won’t be as awful as you imagine – kind of like getting a flu shot; once the initial shock is over, it’s not so bad after all.

Madagascan Hissing Cockroach

Look at it this way … Letting your son or daughter keep one of these exotic pets will make you the coolest mom on the block! Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Set the Rules

I suggest not making a decision right here and now. Go home, think it over. If you’re lucky, you may at least be able to get a few days of good behavior out of Junior while he awaits your decision. If you do decide to add to your household, clearly communicate the expectations. Does caring for his “pet” become part of his daily chores? What’s the outcome if he fails to hold up his end of the bargain? Be firm, but realistic in relation to his age and abilities.

Caring for a pet is a good way to teach children responsibility, and I suppose, having a pet like a Madagascan Hissing Cockroach may even nourish their creativity and individualism. They’re sure to be the hit of second grade show and tell, and who knows – they may even turn out to become the next Jeff Corwin.


  1. I can’t do the entire bug thing. I Can’t. It hurts. It makes me want to jump out of my skin and run around the room flailing around. It is super sad I know but it’s true.

    • I know, right? Everything about this is counter to what we have been taught. But they really aren’t harmful and do make good first pets.

    • A lot of people are with you, Joanna! I haven’t had one, but I think it would be cool. I don’t get weirded out over bugs and such.

  2. Nope. I don’t think so. Also out are snakes and rodents we trap. I do think its good for kids to have pets though. It teaches them great responsibility.

  3. Wow the Madagascan Hissing Cockroach is an interesting creature. I would not want my Son to have one as a pet either. I had no idea people kept them.

  4. While I still do not necessarily want one – you have made valid points. I love all nature including all creatures but they do still creep me out a bit lol. Thank you for shifting some of my views though.

  5. I consider myself open minded when it comes to pets, but I think a cockroach is where I personally draw the line. It totally deserves to be loved and cared for, just not in my house.

    • That’s too funny! I know bugs of all types creep a lot of people out. Luckily, I’m not one of them. I pretty much like bugs.

    • That certainly seems fair enough! But I love watching different species of animals and how they live, eat, sleep, interact, etc.

  6. I think I’m going to have nightmares lol. There are not many living things I hate, but these and spiders are exceptions. I’m sure they’re misunderstood and have their benefits, but I can’t!

  7. Ewww no way would I let my kids have these in our home. We have a dog and that is enough for me.

    Animals are awesome but I found taking care of hermit crabs that I end up killing them, unlike dogs or cats. 🙂

  8. Insects can actually be some of the most amazing creatures on the planet if you can get past the creepy crawler factor that so many people have. My kids kept a Praying Mantis for a pet themselves. The bug you mentioned is probably just the same as keeping a goldfish except the kids can occasionally take it out to hold if they like. Great post about a different kind of pet option!

  9. It’s good that your kids are taking up the responsibility of having a pet but a hissing cockroach? I can’t.
    I’d probably afraid to sleep in the same room with it in fear of it getting out of its cage and crawling over me.

  10. I’m down for this when our old lab shuffles off the mortal coil. Much lower maintenance, even if they aren’t as cuddly, either.

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