Madagascar Hissing Cockroach


Lifespan: About 2 years in captivity.

Wild Diet: Decomposing plant and animal matter

Zoo Diet: Salad, dry feed

Predators: Predators include frogs, toads, lizards, snakes, birds and insectivorous mammals.


IUCN Status:: Not Evaluated.

Habitat/Range: Biomes: Temperate forest, rainforest, desert, tropical, deciduous, and scrub forest

Characteristics: Some 3,500 species of cockroaches world wide. Less than 1% are considered pests by man. Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are one of the largest species of cockroach, reaching 4-5 inches at maturity. They are a dark chocolate brown with dark orange markings on the abdomen. These cockroaches resemble a large beetle, but do not have wings. Flat body. Claws dig in and hang on tight to almost any surface. Cockroaches hear sounds we can't. Their eyes consist of a layer of crystals that can see in the dimmest light. On the last segment of their body, they have two tiny points called cerci (SIR - see). Hard to sneak up on a cockroach because the cerci feel even the slightest movement of air. They have long antennae. Cockroaches go through life face down, using their antennae to "look" - touching things and picking up smells. Males can be readily distinguished from females by their thicker, hairier antennae and the pronounced "horns" (humps) on the front of its body to use in ramming other males when establishing or defending its territory.

Behavior: Important omnivore and scavenging insect of the tropical dry forest of Madagascar. Breaks down both plant and animal products releasing essential nutrients back into the soil. They are nocturnal (active at night). Without cockroaches, dead and decaying vegetation would smother tropical forests.Important omnivore and scavenging insect of the tropical dry forest of Madagascar.

Reproduction: Females lay eggs in a purse-like capsule known as an ootheca. Egg case is retained within the body until the eggs hatch and young roaches appear as tiny nymphs. Nymphs are 1/4 to 1/2 inch long and flat. Incubation at least 60 days. Female can produce 30 ootheca in a lifetime. Adults will not eat young nymphs. Mymphal roaches will molt six times during their life. Nymph becomes sexually mature after the last molt at five months.

Conservation: Considered one of the most primitive creatures on earth. Some are immune to high doses of radiation (that would kill humans), and some can survive up to a week after losing its head. Interestingly, a cockroach will die from dehydration.