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October 8th, 2006

detox

Hemingway almost died earlier in the week.

One of my flatmates wanted to get rid of the beetle that's been trundling through our apartment recently and sprayed Raid in her bedroom. However, she forgot that I have a pair of Madagascan hissing cockroaches in my own room. When I came home from university that evening Hemingway was scurrying around the container, crawling over the cardboard rolls inside, and rolling onto his back. Even later in the night he stopped using his third pair of legs; his second pair went motionless soon after.

When I explained what happened to her, my flatmate looked incredulous. Her hope was that he would recover, but my fear was that the poison would keep eating away at his nervous system until he died. Not a particularly pleasant way to go, even for an organism with only a rudimentary heart and no chordata. The veterinary hospital where I work has an exotics department, but it's a $30 fee for cockroach examinations. Whether that's an official quote or something the doctor made up on the spot is anyone's guess.

Pārvatī doesn't seem to be affected, and Hemingway has been improving over the past couple of days. It looks like the body chemistry between household cockroaches and tropical variants might be enough to have allowed Hemingway to survive. Interestingly, I saw the two of them together the day after his exposure, and while the idea of one cockroach soothing another might seem a little bizarre recent research from Belgium has shown that cockroaches make group decisions and communicate to one another. I wonder if this extends to care-giving?