Giant burrowing cockroach, contender for world's heaviest insect

Heathcliffe, the giant burrowing cockroach, and contender for the title of world's heaviest insect.

And before you go "Euwwww yuk, a cockie", Heathcliffe and his kind are not your average dirty, imported roaches.

Australia's giants give birth to live young, look after them in a burrow, make "great pets" and dine on leaves.

"Native to western NSW and north Queensland, they can reach 30 to 35g and more than 85mm in length," Sydney University senior biology lecturer Nathan Lo said yesterday.

"They are the world's heaviest cockroach and if not the heaviest of all insects, they are certainly a contender.

"They are different to other insects in a lot of ways and are totally unrelated to the American or German cockroaches found in Australian households.

"Giants can live up to eight years, which is pretty amazing for an insect. "When they give birth it's to live young, not eggs, and they leave the babies in their burrows, come out in the evening to collect leaf litter and bring it back to the burrow for the young ones to eat.

"They look after them for several months. Giants are like the koala of entomology, eating gum leaves and leading a pretty sedentary life."

Dr Lo said they were popular pets - Heathcliffe is owned by a university media manager - and can fetch $100 a pair.

But plenty of other creatures didn't survive, and they also had a lot of time to adapt," he said. Heathcliffe will be on display this weekend at the university's annual open day and visitors are invited to guess his weight.

A News from The Daily Telegraph , 28 August 2009

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