Live Animal Educational Display


Did you know that Fountain Rock Nature Center has twenty-one (21) live small animal displays for educational purposes?  Wow!  That is a lot of critters.  The live animals consist of reptiles (snakes and lizards); amphibians (frogs and turtles); and an assortment of spiders and insects.


The animals are housed in aquariums inside the nature center.  Today, we begin a series to provide a brief highlight each of these displays.  We will give you a brief background on their natural habitat along with information on how we care for and feed them.  We will also give you an overview of how they are used within the educational context.  You are encouraged to come and visit Fountain Rock Nature Center and talk with our staff to see the animals and learn even more. 


Today we will explore the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach which is sometimes referred to as “hissers” due to the hissing sound they can make.  Our hissers are native, or originally from, the island of Madagascar.  Madagascar is an island located off the east coast of Africa.  The climate the hissers live in is hot and humid. 




photo used by permission under a creative commons license

Natural habitat:  The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach usually lives on the forest floor among decaying leaves and fruit.  It helps the environment by eating and helping to decompose the dead plants.  It is a large bug.  It can grow to between 2 to 4 inches in length. They like dark, moist and secluded areas.

 Care and feeding:  The hissers are kept in a clean aquarium in the nature center. The floor of the aquarium is covered with a layer of wood shavings.  A live plant is inside their living area along with a water source.  They love to eat carrots and small bits of fruit along with dry pet food.  Our staff and volunteers keep their living areas clean and keep them well feed.  Their aquarium includes a large piece of folded bark that they like to hide inside.


Educational Context:  An excellent site, including a detailed page for teachers on demonstration of insect concepts using Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, is located at:


There is also an excellent youtube video (Cindy meets the Giant Madagascar Hissing Cockroach) suitable for younger children located at:


Want to know more?  Come visit us!  The Nature Center building housing the live animal displays is open on Saturdays from 10am to 4pm and on Sunday from 1pm to 4pm.  The main park is open daily (except holidays) from 8am until Sunset. Visit our website:

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