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?
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.
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.
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.