Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach


Throughout Madagascar


Under rotting logs and leaf litter on the forest floor.


Male hissing cockroaches sport large horns, which give them an unusual and impressive appearance. They use these horns in aggressive battles similar to big horn sheep. The males ram each other with their horns and hiss at each other. The more a roach hisses, the more likely it is to win.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Hisses are also emitted for communication with other cockroaches, mating, and when threatened by predators. They produce the hiss by forcing air out of small holes on their abdomens called spiracles. Four hisses with different social purposes and amplitude patterns have been identified: a male combat hiss, two types of courting and mating hisses, and an alarm hiss (a loud snake-like hissing that startles predators).

Interesting Facts:

Hissing cockroaches are one of nature's best recyclers. These insects aid in decomposition, build soil and clean the forest floor by feeding on fallen decaying fruit and vegetation. Although they are not currently threatened, the forests that they live in are one of the most threatened habitats in the world due to agricultural expansion and mining.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
Did YOU Know?    
Like 99 percent of all cockroach species, Madagascar hissing cockroaches are not pests and do not inhabit human dwellings.
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
Class: insects
Order: Blattodea
Family: Blaberidae
Genus: Gromphadorhina
Species: portentosa
Length: 2-3 inches
Weight: up to 0.8 ounces
Wild Diet: Dead and decaying plant matter and fruit that has fallen to the forest floor.
Where at the Zoo? Off Exhibit: Education Animal Facility

Learn more about insects or animals from Africa!
Or, cross-reference the two!