Cuddly bug is a big hit

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The Independent Online
Last year's unlikely Christmas favourite was Gooey Louie, a plastic doll with an exploding brain and lifelike mucous coming out of its nose.

This year's sensation with schoolchildren in Queensland, Australia, is no less bizarre: Macro Bug, the world's biggest cockroach, which sell at about A$25 (pounds 10.50) each.

The cockroaches, native to Queensland, are about 80mm (three inches) long and weigh about 35 grams (1.25 ounces) - 30 times heavier than the typical Australian house cockroach.

Geoff Monteith, the insect curator at Queensland Museum, discovered a colony of the giant roaches six months ago. He said that Macropanesthia rhinoceros eats only dead leaves and is wingless with a hard, smooth shell. The giant roach lives in burrows about one metre under the earth.

"They're very robust, the kids can pick them up and cuddle them and play with them and hand them around and then put them back in the box," Mr Monteith said.

- Reuters, Brisbane