The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Meet 8-Year-Old Shelby Counterman, and Her Pet Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Meet 8-Year-Old Shelby Counterman, and Her Pet Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Shelby’s Oklahoma room is filled with thousands of roaches, but the pests don't bug her at all.

This second grader has been taking care of a colony of Madagascar hissing cockroaches for the last five years as her pets.

She began with a small batch of male cockroaches, but she later decided that she wanted them to breed and brought in females.

The African insects, which have no wings and a single pair of antennae, began multiplying exponentially.

The girl's mother Meg says that her daughter first became interested in creepy crawlies when she was 18-months old.

However the invertebrate keeper was shocked when she heard a local news anchor, News on 6's, LeAnne Taylor, say that she detested the hissing bugs.

So Shelby sent a picture to the journalist and invited her to fight her fears and meet her beloved pets. 

The elementary school student keeps her pets in special plastic containers, as well as aquariums with vaseline linings to keep her prized possessions from escaping and scampering around the house.

The Countermans also keep a bearded dragon lizard named Toothless in case any members of the bug collection, which also includes Indian cockroaches, escape.

Madagascar hissing cockroaches are one of the largest species of roach, and can grow up to three inches in length, according to Orkin.

Males make a hissing sound for mating by expelling air through slits in its stomach, though the bugs also make their namesake noise when they are alarmed.

The scavengers, active mostly at night, eat fruits and vegetables and can live for as long as five years.

Some states place restrictions on the importation of the roaches because of fear they could become an invasive species in the wild.


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