Hissing Cockroaches

"As I sit here typing this with my left hand, I hold in my right a cockroach just over three inches long and almost an inch wide. It is a member of a docile species, the Madagascar giant hissing roach. It moves more or less constantly, its clawed feet clinging to my skin as it climbs over the fleshy fold between my thumb and forefinger to reach my knuckles. It is searching, I think, for ground that doesn't wiggle and shake so much. When I pause in my typing it stops and stands waving its antennae, each thin and segmented, the right one abbreviated by some accident.

I’m sure many readers will find my comfort with the cockroach surprising. In areas where they pose a serious hygiene problem, roaches outrank even spiders as a focus of phobia. But my little friend does me no harm, unless I count his cheddary smell. He is a pet, part of a colony given to my eldest son by a biologist friend of mine. If not for human interference, he would have passed his life in the jungle, having nothing to do with me or any other human. In that way, he and his kind are like most of the 3500 species of cockroach."

Photography by Dee Puett



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