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Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Gromphadorhina portentosa

Hissing Cockroach at Henry Vilas Zoo

About Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Hissssss… The Madagascar hissing cockroach is unique compared to other cockroach species. They do not possess wings and communicate by vocalizing a sharp hissing noise. Males use aggressive hissing noises and posturing behavior to ward off intruders and threats. This is one of the largest species of cockroach in the world!


They are primarily found in the tropical lowlands on the island of Madagascar. They tend to live in the dry areas of the forest floor.


Madagascar hissing cockroaches are detritivores, meaning they feed on decaying organic materials such as plant materials and decaying fruit because it is so readily available. They also eat smaller insects and animal carcasses.

Family Life

The hissing sounds are the cockroach’s unique way of communicating. They hiss through the breathing spiracles located on their stomach. The male cockroaches establish territories that are defended from other adult males by hissing and “stilting”. The dominant, larger male will stand on it’s “toes” (stilting), which is a way of showing off to other male cockroaches. By defending their mating areas, adult males will attempt to monopolize mating with all females in their territory.

Conservation Status

The conservation status of the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach is classified as not evaluated.


  • The likely predators of the hissing cockroach range from arachnids, ants, and some ground-feeding birds.
  • Due to the political turmoil in Madagascar, conservation research on the cockroach has been difficult to conduct. In their forest habitat, degradation and fragmentation have posed a major threat to the cockroach population according to field biologists in Madagascar.
  • Luckily, funding has been improved to help conservation efforts to help research not only this species but many others that live in Madagascar.

Facts about Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

  • Class:
    Insecta (insects)
  • Order:
    Blattodea (cockroaches, termites)
  • Family:
    Blaberidae (giant cockroaches)
  • Genus:
  • Species:
    Gromphadorhina portentosa (Madagascar hissing cockroach)
  • Life Span:
    2 – 5 years (zoo & wild)
  • Size:
    2 – 4 inches (5 – 10 cm)
  • Weight:
    0.8 ounces (23 g)

Fun Facts

  • The Madagascar hissing cockroach has four different types of hissing noises! There is a combat hiss, two types of courting and mating hisses, and an alarm hissing noise.
  • Silly boys! Unlike the male cockroaches who fight to defend territories, the females are more social and will never fight with one another or with males.
  • Due to liberation and international aid in Madagascar, studying the hissing cockroach has become easier than ever before.

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