Tag Archives: enzoology

Giant Hissing Cockroaches – Oh My!

I just got two Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches for my live show and boy are they weird and creepy! Here’s what Wikipedia says:

The Madagascar hissing cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa), also known as the hissing roach or simply hisser, is one of the largest species of cockroach, reaching 2–3 inches at maturity. They are from the island of Madagascar off the African coast, where they can be found in rotting logs.

Unlike most cockroaches, they are wingless. They are excellent climbers and can scale smooth glass. Males can be distinguished from females by their thicker, hairier antennae and the pronounced “horns” on the pronotum. Females carry the ootheca (egg case) internally, and release the young nymphs only after the eggs have hatched. As in some other wood roaches, the parents and offspring will commonly remain in close physical contact for extended periods of time. In captivity, these insects can live 5 years. They feed primarily on vegetable material.

The Madagascar cockroach has become a popular pet because of its hissing sound, large size, and appearance. Their nickname, “hissing cockroach”, is due to their ability to force gas through the breathing pores (spiracles) found on their abdomen. The Madagascar hissing cockroach is believed to be the only non-human that can growl in this exact manner,[1] as most insects that make a “hissing” sound do so by rubbing together various body parts. (Some long-horned beetles, e.g., the Giant Fijian long-horned beetle, can squeeze air out from under their elytra, but this does not involve the spiracles). This hiss takes two forms: the disturbance hiss and the fighting hiss. All cockroaches from the fourth instar (fourth molting cycle) and older are capable of the disturbance hiss. Only males use the fighting hiss; they use it when challenged by other males. This results in one of the males backing down and the fight being over. Males hiss more often than females.

I’ll be doing a video episode on these freaky creatures soon – stay tuned for that. Check out my web site for other videos – www.enzoology.com.



The African Penguin

* African Penguins are also known as Jackass Penguins, Spheniscus demersus (Latin) and Blackfoot Penguins.

* They eat mainly fish (anchovies, pilchards, sardines, mackerel and herrings) but they also eat squid and shellfish.

* African Penguins are about 60cm tall.

* Boys tend to be a little bigger than girls.

* They weigh between 2.4 and 3.6kgs.

* African Penguins dive on average to 30m,

* Can dive as deep as 130m.

* They hold their breath on a dive for an average of 2.5 minutes.

* African Penguins can swim up to 20 km per hour when hunting

* Their average swimming speed is 7km/h

* Average life span is 10 years.

* Start breeding at aprox. 4 yrs old, and normally lay 2 eggs in a nest that is burrowed in guano or sand

* Incubation period is about 38-42 days, with the mum and dad sharing the incubation duties.

* They live in colonies on 24 islands and along the coast between Namibia and Port Elizabeth.

The Capybara – the world’s largest rodent

Capybaras are the largest rodent in the world! They are related to guinea pigs and chinchillas.

Capybara Facts:

They live 5-10 years in the wild
Capybaras mostly eat grass. In fact, the word Capybara means, “master of the grasses.”
People get them confused with tapirs, pigs or nutria.
They have webbed feet and are awesome swimmers!
They can hold their breath underwater for up to 5 minutes.
A Capybara can even sleep underwater, keeping its nose just at the waterline!

Capybaras can weight up to 150 pounds!

Capybaras are found in Central and South America in habitats ranging from flooded savannah and grassland, and along rivers in tropical forest.

Capybaras live in herds and are very social.

Predators include: anacondas, jaguars, foxes, birds of prey and wild dogs. Even people!

To help protect them, it is illegal to hunt capybaras in Colombia. But sometimes they are killed by humans who see their grazing as competition for livestock.

Factiod: How long do Turtles Live

How Snakes Smell

Ever wonder what’s going on inside a snakes head when he’s flicking that crazy forked tongue in and out? Well, Enzoology has a couple answers for you! There is no animal that smells like a snake. It’s crazy!

The snake flicks it’s tongue in and out capturing scent molecules.

There are two openings on the roof of the snake’s mouth. They lead to a very sensitive spot called the Jacobson’s organ. The snake touches its tongue to this organ, rubbing off the scents it has collected. The organ checks out the smells and sends a message to the brain. Then the snake knows if a meal, mate, or enemy is nearby.

But why is the tongue forked? So the snake can smell “in stereo”! Each point on the tip of the tongue fits into one of the openings to the Jacobson’s organ. If the odor is stronger on one side, the snake can tell which direction the odor is coming from. This comes in handy for tracking prey, following the trail of a mate, or finding the way to a den where other snakes are gathering for the winter.

The secret of Astronaut Underpants

Have you ever wondered how astronauts live in space? When we go back to the Moon and on to Mars, we’ll need to know more about the human body’s reaction to long periods of weightlessness.

The International Space Station is a laboratory where the astronauts conduct experiments.

In space there is no gravity. So what happens when there is no gravity? You float… Actually, everything floats. Doesn’t that sound fun? You would never have to pick up your toys because they would never hit the floor!

The first thing that happens when you get into space is that all the fluids in your body move up from your legs. Your face gets all puffy; even your nose gets stuffed up.  Your blood starts moving differently, too.  Even your spine expands. After some time in space, astronauts return taller than when they left!

But don’t worry. Things get back to normal when you get back to Earth.

In this short episode I check out where the astronauts keep their clothes. On top of the clothes is a net.  If you were to open this drawer in zero gravity without this net to hold your clothes down, your underwear might go floating down the module and you’d have to go float after it.

African Ball Python

I just got an African Ball Python! I named him Slither and he was caught wild in Africa. He’s really pretty and loves to be handled. He also likes eating mice – he can’t seem to get enough of them! Some of my friends are afraid of him but they don’t need to be – he’s really tame and never bites. Right now he’s shedding his skin – that is so weird!

African Ball Python Facts

The Ball Python is one of the smallest of the African pythons. It is a constrictor which means it suffocates its prey.

Ball Pythons can live 20 to 30 years! The record is 47 years!

They don’t usually bite – instead they coil into a tight ball. They can really put the squeeze on you!

They can be found in west and central Africa.

Ball Pythons have heat sensing pits on their face between their nose and mouth.

They eat all kinds of small rodents and birds.

Pythons are nocturnal – during the day they hide in burrows made by other animals.  Then they ambush their prey.

Ball Pythons can get up to 5 feet long!

They have about 100 teeth that are curved inward so prey can’t escape. Then, they swallow it whole!

Because of their beautiful skin, ball python populations are declining.

Some people get boa constrictors and pythons confused. But pythons have one more bone in their heads and more teeth.

The biggest difference is that pythons lay eggs while boas give birth to live young.

Pythons are great swimmers and spend a lot of time in the water.

Snakes bask in the sun to regulate their temperature because they are cold blooded. Cold blooded means that their body temperature is the same as the air in its environment. If they get too hot or too cold, they can die.

Caves and Caverns

I love exploring caves and so do Enzoologists! It is amazing what can be found in caverns – how about a saber tooth tiger tooth? From cave bacon to soda straws our episode about caves and caverns uncovers the mysteries hidden deep below the earth.

Cavern Facts

A Cavern is just a huge hole in the earth’s crust –

There are six basic types of formations:

  1. soda straws
  2. stalactites
  3. stalagmites
  4. flow stone
  5. cave draperies
  6. columns

Soda straws are formed when water seeps through the earth and picks up animal and plant matter and carbon dioxide.  Water plus carbon dioxide equals carbonic acid. When carbonic acid hits the limestone, it eats it!  At the same time it picks up lots of minerals like calcite. As the water drips it forms little rings – one on top of another.

When the water evaporates it leaves the minerals in solid form and makes a soda straw or other formation.

They only grow about an inch every hundred years!

Some caves are called living caverns. Not like plants and animals – living means that it is always changing and growing. But if you touch formations, they die. Oil and dirt from your hands make it impossible for the minerals to stick to it.

So Look but don’t touch!
Cave drapery is really cool. When water drips down the cruve of the ceiling or wall it makes a drapery. My favorite kind of drapery is cave bacon!

Stalagtites come down from the ceiling. Stalagmites grow up from the ground.

Caves can contain very pure water. A water pool can look really shallow but it’s not! The water is so pure it acts like a magnifying glass.


Geckos are awesome reptiles!  Just wait until you learn about the most disgusting defense mechanism ever! They can actually shoot poop to frighten predators! It would scare me! You can see my episode about Geckos by going to www.enzoology.com! Click on the “Geckos” episode to the right of the player.

Here’s some cool Gecko facts

Geckos are small to average sized lizards belonging to the family Gekkonidae which are found in warm climates throughout the world. Geckos are unique among lizards in sounds they make, making chirping sounds in social interactions with other geckos.

There are 1,196 different species of geckos.

The name stems from the Indonesian/Javanese word gekok, which is the sound they make.

Most geckos have no eyelids and instead have a transparent membrane which they lick to clean. Many species will, in defense, expel a foul-smelling material and feces onto their aggressors.

Many species have specialized toe pads that enable them to climb smooth and vertical surfaces and even cross indoor ceilings with ease. These antics are well-known to people who live in warm regions of the world, where several species of geckos make their home inside human homes. These species (for example the house gecko) become part of the indoor menagerie and are seldom really discouraged because they feed on insects.

Geckos come in various colors and patterns. Some are subtly patterned, and somewhat rubbery looking, while others can be brightly colored. Some species can change color to blend in with their surroundings or with temperature differences.

The toes of the gecko have attracted a lot of attention, as they adhere to a wide variety of surfaces, without the use of liquids or surface tension.

The Fat Tailed Gecko smacks with his tail to frighten predators plus, they can bite.

Geckos eat lots of insects and sometimes fruit. They even change color in different seasons.

Fat tailed geckos can be found in West Africa.

This is a defense mechanism – predators think the tail is the head and when they grab it – it comes off and starts twitching on the ground. Then, the gecko takes off and runs to safety. Later the tail actually grows back!

They get to be about eight inches long and can live up to 20 years.

Geckos are active at night.

The Praying Mantis

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Mantodea

The praying mantis is one of my favorite insects. People always spell it wrong writing “Preying” instead of “Praying”. Mantis means prophet or fortune teller. If there is more than one, they are called “Mantids”.

The praying mantis has a three- segmented body, with a head, thorax and abdomen. Adults have wings and can fly. The front legs are modified into weird grabbing things. When they approach prey, they snatch them up with these legs.

Mantids have huge compound eyes mounted on a triangular head and have a large field of vision. They use sight for detecting movement of prey and swivel their heads to bring their prey into view. They are able to swivel their heads 180 degrees as well as pivot it. Their antennae are used for smelling stuff.

Praying mantids can be found in all parts of the world with mild winters and sufficient vegetation. Praying mantids will spend most of their time in a garden, forest or other vegetated area.

Being a carnivorous insect, the mantis feeds primarily on other insects. Larger mantids can consume small reptiles and even small birds! To capture their prey, mantids use their camouflage to blend in with the surroundings and wait for the prey to be within striking distance. They then use their front legs to quickly snatch the victim and devour it.

When threatened, praying mantids stand tall and spread their forelegs to allow them to penetrate the target, with their wings fanning out wide and mouths open. They also may make a hissing sound.

When they mate, the female usually eats the male! Disgusting but cool!

The natural lifespan of a praying mantis in the wild is about 10 – 12 months. In colder areas, female mantids will die during the winter.