Madagascar – Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
The foundation of this colony was donated to us in 1999 by a private individual whose colony had grown too large. These are exotic species who would not survive our Missouri winters. They are kept in a carefully monitored tropical environment of 80-82°, and misted daily. They are fed a primarily vegetarian diet of mixed produce, with an occasional “treat” of wet cat food.
You may ask “Why are these creatures at a bird Sanctuary?” Even cockroaches have their place in the environmental chain. This species plays a large role in recycling the vegetation and fallen fruit in our tropical forests, as well as being food for many other species. Nymphs undergo 6 molts before reaching maturity in 7 months. Adults can live for 2 to 5 years. Males possess large horns on the pronutum (behind the head). Females have only small bumps. Males are aggressive toward each other and hiss loudly when fighting, feeling threatened, or during courtship.
If you are really lucky when exploring our Environmental Education Center, you may witness one of the nymphs molting, or hear one of our males hissing loudly.
Species: Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
Latin Name: Gromphadorhina portentosa
Description: large, wingless cockroach from Madagascar; coloration of the mature adult is dark chocolate brown color with dark orange markings on the abdomen; both sexes have two horns behind the head
Sex: Males possess large horns on the pronutum (behind the head); females have only small “bumps”; antennae of males are hairy while antennae of females are relatively smooth; only the males are aggressive
Age: longevity is 2-5 years; however, they have an incomplete life cycle, progressing from egg, to nymph, to adult
Weight: can weigh as much as a small mouse
Habitat: forest floors of Madagascar; these are nocturnal creatures, hiding under debris or in fallen logs during the day
Status: least concern
Range: found only on the island of Madagascar off the coast of Africa
Behavior: females are ovoviparous, giving birth to live young; female carries the egg and neonate nymphs for 60 days until as many as 30-60 emerge as instar nymphs; nymphs undergo six molts before reaching maturity at seven months
Diet: mainly fallen fruit, leaf litter and decaying plant and animal tissue in the wild; in captivity are generally fed dry dog food or mouse chow, supplemented with fruit and other vegetative matter
Vocalization: Both sexes will hiss if disturbed; however the male is the only one to issue the aggressor hiss; males also his during courtship
Other Information: This insect has been used in many Hollywood horror movies over the years.