Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

madagascar hissing cockroachQuick Stats

  • Latin Name: Gromphadorhina portentosa
  • Size: 7 – 11 cm in length – one of the largest cockroach species
  • Color: Hissing cockroaches usually have black heads and legs and a graduated brown lower body
  • Shape: Oval in shape but quite wide compared to normal cockroaches, and their tail ends may come to a point
  • Found in: Namely found in Africa, particularly Madagascar. In the U.S. these roaches only invade homes when accidentally brought in via imported furniture or food, although some people do keep them as pets.
  • Overview: Madagascar hissing cockroaches (a.k.a. Hissing Cockroaches) are some of the most fearsome roaches on the planet. They’re commonly featured in films and TV shows because of their large size and aggressive nature.

About the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Originating on the African island of Madagascar, the Hissing Cockroach thrives in humid subtropical climates. For this reason, they’re often kept as pets in temperature-controlled aquariums or in parts of the U.S. such as Florida. They got their name from the ‘hissing’ sound they make when disturbed – a similar defense mechanism to the common rattlesnake. The noise is produced through slits in the bugs’ abdomens and also plays a significant role in their communication and mating patterns.

Because they feed only on organic and plant matter, Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches like to nest beneath logs and other decay on forest or jungle floors. They feed on everything from leaves to fallen fruit and can live anywhere from 3-5 years in the wild! With such a long lifespan, Madagascar hissing cockroaches stay with their mothers for a long time after birth, usually at least 6 months.

Facts about the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

This species of cockroach does not have wings but has excellent climbing capabilities. Though the females are slightly larger and usually docile, male Madagascar cockroaches are highly aggressive and can be seen (and heard) fighting with one another in the wild. In fact, males have “horns” in place of antennae which they use almost exclusively when fighting other males for dominance. The horns look like thicker, stronger antennae and may fall off and reproduce over time.

It is highly unlikely that you would ever spot a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach in your home. Not only are they not found in the U.S., they’re outdoor animals and do not seek out the comforts of shelter. If you come across a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach – either in captivity or in the wild – keep your distance. Suspect you may have a different type of roach problem in your home? Contact a pest professional in your area immediately.

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