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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

13 Hissing Cockroach Facts You’ll Never Forget

Insect lovers will like to read hissing cockroach facts.

Cockroaches aren't the first creatures that come to our minds when we think about pets. Despite that, the Madagascar hissing cockroaches (Gromphadorhina portentosa) have a good reputation for being spectacular pets with good behavior. People are mostly fascinated by them because of the hiss they produce with the help of a modified organ present on its abdomen, and it is linked to its respiratory system. The large size of these roaches and their wingless body does give it an added appeal compared to usual house pests.

The male roaches are extremely territorial and look different from the females because of their large horns. It is the males who predominantly produce the iconic hiss, while the young and females may only hiss when irritated. People often set up breeding colonies of this cockroach species to get acquainted with the hiss as well as the unique egg sac made by the females after laying their eggs. This species survives by munching on fruit and plant material present on the forest floor and are found in the tropical lowland rainforest of the island of Madagascar.

Are you interested to know more about the hisses of this cockroach? Then, keep on reading to learn hissing cockroach facts. Also, check out our articles on oriental cockroach facts and bombardier beetle facts.

Hissing Cockroach Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a hissing cockroach?

The Madagascar hissing cockroach is a species of cockroach that is known for its unique hissing sound.

What class of animal does a hissing cockroach belong to?

Like other insects, the hissing cockroach also belongs to the class Insecta. This species is one of the 20 hissing cockroaches that belong to the genus Gromphadorhina.

How many hissing cockroaches are there in the world?

The exact population of hissing cockroaches is yet to be known as seldom attention is paid to these species from Madagascar. Moreover, this variant of Madagascar hissing cockroaches has also become a popular pet.

Where does a hissing cockroach live?

Madagascar hissing cockroaches quite naturally belong to the island of Madagascar. However, this species along with other variants of hissing cockroaches are commonly kept as pets all around the world.

What is a hissing cockroach's habitat?

In Madagascar, hissing cockroaches are usually found on the floor of tropical lowland rainforests. As the roaches are an aid to decomposition, it likes to live amongst leaf litter or in rotten tree barks.

Who do hissing cockroaches live with?

Madagascar hissing cockroaches are known for living in groups or in large colonies. Males do form territories and can fight amongst each other. However, the female cockroaches have shown more social qualities, and cohabits peacefully with nymphs. Some males may even declare a rock as its territory for months and may only leave the place to gather basic necessities.

How long does a hissing cockroach live?

The average life span of these roaches is around two to five years. It might have a longer life span when living in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

When it comes to the Madagascar hissing cockroach, one of the most interesting things is its reproduction process. Unlike other roaches, females just don't dump their eggs. Instead, females create a yellow cocoon-like egg case called ootheca and carry it until the nymphs hatch and let the eggs develop into nymphs. The hissing sound of these insects plays an important role in successful mating between the male and the female.

During the mating season, males will often fight with each other to defend their territory. Apart from the hisses, the scents produced by females also play a crucial role in attraction. Females and males may remain stuck for 30 minutes during mating. It may take almost two months for 15-40 nymphs to emerge from the egg sack. This cockroach species may take seven months to reach sexual maturity.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the Madagascar hissing cockroaches is Not Listed as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN Red List.

Hissing Cockroach Fun Facts

What do hissing cockroaches look like?

Learn more about insects by reading hissing cockroach facts

Apart from its hisses, the Madagascar hissing cockroach is also known for its appearance. This is a wingless cockroach, so it is unable to fly. The male cockroaches look quite different from the female cockroaches, as adult males have large bumps or tubercles on the back of its head. Females lack these body parts, but a slight bump might be noticed. Large horns are present in male roaches, which it uses to fight as a way to protect its territory.

The male roach is also comparatively bigger than the female roach. The exoskeleton color of the Madagascar hissing roach can be mahogany brown to black. There is extra padding on its six legs to help it climb different surfaces. Like other cockroaches, the hissing cockroaches' body parts are divided into head, thorax, and abdomen. The antennae give these roaches the appearance of a longer body, and male roaches have bushier antennae compared to males.

How cute are they?

Calling an insect cute is quite subjective; hence we would like to leave it on you to decide if the Madagascar hissing cockroaches are cute or not.

How do they communicate?

One of the most important things about the Madagascar hissing cockroach is their hissing sound. It is predominantly made by males with the help of a pair of modified spiracles present on its underside. The hissing sound is made by releasing air from the spiracles. Females and nymphs also have spiracles but seldom produce the hissing sound. The spiracles are connected to the respiratory system of the roach and aids to take in the air to produce the sound. Males use the hissing sound as a mating call as well as an alarm call. The hiss can also be made when the insect feels threatened.

Till now, scientists have been able to identify four forms of hisses or hiss sounds as a way of communication. It is speculated that the roach may also produce the hiss as a way to mimic snakes to defend itself from predators. The antennae also help in communication as the cockroaches assess their surroundings. As a result, searching for food on the forest floor, such as fruit and plants, becomes much easier. A common behavior of male roaches is to hit each other with their horns, although their horns do not cause much physical damage.

How big is a hissing cockroach?

The average size of the Madagascar hissing cockroach is around 2-4 in (5.1-10.2 cm). It is regarded as one of the largest cockroach species. Compared to the hissing cockroach adult, the American cockroach adult is only able to reach a length of 1.3-2.1 in (3.4-5.5 cm) making it almost two times smaller.

How fast can a hissing cockroach run?

We do not know the exact speed of the hissing cockroach, but it can run quite fast because it is wingless. In general, it is said that an adult cockroach can manage to run at a speed of 200 mph or about 50 body lengths of itself in just one second.

How much does a hissing cockroach weigh?

Even though not much is known about the weight of these insects, adults can weigh up to 0.8 oz (22.6 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no distinct names for the males and females of this species.

What would you call a baby hissing cockroach?

A young or baby hissing cockroach is known as a nymph.

What do they eat?

Madagascar hissing cockroaches are primarily described as detritivore, which suggests that these insects feed on dead leaves and plant materials present on the forest floor, which might also include fallen fruit. Additionally, these roaches also eat through the carcasses of animals present in the forest. It may also chew through small insects and tiny animals.

Are they poisonous?

No, Madagascar hissing cockroaches aren't poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

It may sound odd to keep cockroaches as pets, but the adult Madagascar hissing cockroaches have become a favorite pet, especially for entomology enthusiasts. Fending for this cockroach species is quite easy, and you can keep a group of these insects without having much trouble. You can also focus on breeding these roaches because of its interesting egg sack carried by the females. At least 10 hissing cockroaches are required to set up a breeding colony. However, as the Madagascar hissing cockroach is often confused with other hissing cockroaches, you need to make sure you know about the insect before getting it.

Did you know...

Gromphadorhina portentosa or the hissing cockroach is mostly active during the night.

This species is not the pests that are usually found in human households and are not related to those household cockroach pests.

The cockroaches go through four molting cycles before turning into adults.

Do hissing cockroaches bite humans?

No, the jaws of the Madagascar hissing cockroach wouldn't support biting human skin and biting isn't in its behavior. It is actually quite easy to handle these cockroaches as the species has a docile behavior.

Can hissing cockroaches kill you?

No, hissing cockroaches aren't poisonous and it is unable to kill human beings.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these stag beetle facts and atlas beetle facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our hissing cockroach coloring pages.

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