As suggested by the name, Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina Portentosa) is native to Madagascar and among a few species of cockroaches which can produce a hissing sound.
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach is one of the biggest species of roaches, which can grow to a length of 3 inches (7.62 cm). In fact, it is the 4th largest species of roaches coming right after Giant Burrowing Cockroach at the third spot, Blaberus Giganteus at the second spot, and Megaloblatta Longipennis being the largest species of cockroaches.
It’s also a beautiful cockroach due to its unique gradient tan color. The hissing sound also makes it special, and it’s a very popular exotic pet roach.
It’s an outdoor specie of roaches and can not survive on its own to infest homes.
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Hiss and Sound
The hiss of a Madagascar Roach is very loud and prominent. It can be heard from around 10-14 feet away. It is produced when it expels air with force from respiratory openings called spiracles, specifically from the fourth segment of its body. However, these openings are across its body and are found in all cockroaches.
The specialty is expelling the air with force and from a single segment to make the sound. Attached is a video showing the hiss of a hissing cockroach. Also, note that this sound is different from the normal noise cockroaches make by rubbing their body parts at a high frequency.
The cockroach will produce this hissing sound when it is threatened. This cockroach also uses this hissing noise to communicate for warnings, defense, or fighting with a rival male roach.
These cockroaches also have small horns not found in any other species of roaches. They use these horns while protecting their territory from other male roaches. They will ram other roaches with these horns.
Interesting Fact: Madagascar hissing roaches also use hissing capability as a strength. While fighting, they can decide a winner concerning how many times an individual can hiss.
Pregnant Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
It’s not hard to identify a pregnant Madagascar hissing cockroach. I have written a complete article on how to tell if a cockroach is pregnant.
You can find out if your hissing roach is pregnant or not by doing this simple procedure.
Press the abdomen gently and look at the rear end to know if your Madagascar cockroach is pregnant. A white capsule will appear and go away as soon as you stop applying pressure.
A hissing cockroach also lay an egg case like all other cockroaches, but it keeps it inside its body before it opens once the baby roaches are ready to come out.
See below a video of a hissy roach laying more babies.
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Lifespan
The life span of Madagascar hissing cockroaches widely depends on how you take care of them. The biggest factor that plays in this roach’s overall life is temperature.
In nature, these roaches can survive from 1 to 3 years. In human care, they can live from 2-5 years. If these cockroaches are kept at a lower temperature where it’s not too cold for them to die, they will survive up to five years.
Although these roaches do not like cold and want to be in a hot environment, cold temperatures like 20-25 Degrees Celcius will highly affect their growth, which is directly proportional to their aging.
Good hot temperatures help these roaches achieve adulthood more quickly to lay down eggs and babies to complete their life cycle. Lower temperatures hinder that process. But if the temperature is too cold, they can die.
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Habitat
These cockroaches are specifically found outdoors. Madagascar is mainly lush green foresty land, so these roaches thrive under decaying logs, leaves, litter, etc.
Madagascar roaches in humid and hot environments and remains hidden in the daytime. These are nocturnal and will come out at night to feed on fruits, plants, or other decaying matter.
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Care
Madagascar hissing cockroaches are beautiful, and the sound they produce makes them very desirable. Therefore, these roaches are often kept as pet roaches. If you plan to keep them as pets, follow these instructions for taking care of them.
Are Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches Legal in California?
According to 3 CA ADC § 3558, you don’t need a permit to keep a Madagascar Cockroach of the following species:
- Gromphadorhina portentosa
- Gromphadorhina spp.
You will need permits for other species of Hissing cockroaches if you import or keep them in California.
Note: It’s not legal advice, and an individual shall contact local authorities before keeping a hissing cockroach as a pet.
The reason for getting a permit is to avoid introducing an invasive specie of cockroach to the environment. These roaches can grow in huge numbers as a single female roach can lay up to 60 baby roaches in a single shot.
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Diet
Madagascar hissing cockroaches have a similar diet as other cockroaches. They will feed on any decaying matter, but if you keep them as pets, you need to take extra care with fresh and healthy food for better health and life expectancy.
Please note that these roaches don’t prefer rotten food over fresh and will be more healthy if provided with fresh food.
The ideal diet a hissing cockroach should get is the following:
- Fresh fruit cuttings
- Fresh vegetable cuttings
- Dog or Cat food after damping it with water
- A lot of water. Submerge a cotton ball in water and place it in a small try inside the enclosure.
Madagascar hissing cockroach enclosure
Madagascar hissing cockroach is an excellent climber. It can even climb smooth glass surfaces, which is difficult for other cockroaches to climb.
Therefore it is always recommended to have an enclosure with a lid having tiny breathing holes.
- A recommended size for the enclosure is around 20L.
- A glass fish tank works great.
- It’s recommended to have a substrate layer at the bottom in the form of wooden pieces. It’s also advised to spray water on the substrate layer daily.
- A hiding spot for the roach as it does not like to remain open.
- A lid with small holes for fresh air to pass.
- 22-16 Degree Centigrade of temperature is recommended to maintain.
- A water tray with a small cotton ball fully emerged in water and shall be placed in a tray.
Following are a few enclosures I will recommend. You can buy these from Amazon.
1. Crapelles Reptile Amphibians Terrarium Glass Box for Small Pet
- Glass terrarium for a hissing cockroach
- Single-door for 360 viewings, visual accessibility.
- Waterproof, every terrarium is tested for leaks.
- Top window ventilation, safe lock prevent escape, a feeding hole.
- Size 7.8×7.8×5.9 inches. Perfect for a desk, a pet always accompanies you.
2. NANEEZOO Magnetic Acrylic Large Enclosure 2.5 Gallon, 12 x 8 x 6 Inch
- 360-Degree full view visually completely transparency to observe the behavior of your pets easily.
- Size: 12″ x8″ x 6″, appx.2.5 gallon, suitable for hissing cockroaches.
- Sliding design and strong magnetic closure for easy access and anti-escape, convenient and lightweight.
- There are several ventilation holes on top and both sides, which provides sufficient air circulation.
- It is made with high-grade acrylic material to provide a sturdy and durable home for your pets.
4. Zilla Micro Habitat Terrariums with Locking Latch, Terrestrial, Large
- Perfect for Small Reptiles and Amphibians or Invertebrates like cockroaches.
- Clear Acrylic with 360 Degree View
- Locking handle and designed to keep your pet secure
- Easy to assemble when needed, or disassemble and store when not needed
- Unique stackable design
- The molded base holds water or substrate without leaking
How much do Madagascar hissing cockroaches cost?
Madagascar hissing cockroaches can cost differently in different states. You can get a pair at most pet stores for 15-20 USD. You can get a pair of Gromphadorhina Portentos for around 15 dollars from Amazon. Check the current price here.
Do Madagascar hissing cockroaches bite?
Madagascar hissing cockroaches don’t bite for the sake of defending, but if they are hungry and crawling on you, they may take a bite to confirm the edibility of what they are crawling on.
These roaches have small horns on their heads which they use to defend themselves. They also use loud hissing sounds as a defense mechanism. Generally, there is no risk of being bitten by a Madagascar hissing roach.