In the Wild - The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach: Gromphadorhina portentosa
In the Wild
 Brown-black insect with 6 legs, antennae and no wings
 Size: 2.5 inches long
 Weight: 40 grams
Habitat and Range:
 The island of Madagascar
 Tropical lowland forests, rainforests
 Live primarily on the forest floor
Detritivores: Eat decaying plant and animal matter; may also eat smaller insects
 Hiss by expelling air through spiracles (holes in the sides of the abdomen)
o Adult males hiss during aggressive encounters and during courtship and mating
o Females and late-stage nymphs hiss only when they’re disturbed or threatened
o Hiss is their defense against predators
o Hiss can be heard up to 12 feet away
 Males have “horns” (females’ may too, but much less pronounced)
o Called pronatal humps
o Males ram each other when vying for females
 Defensive stance (on their “toes”) is called “stilting”
 “Hooked” feet are perfect for climbing
 Flattened body is good for navigating narrow places
 In captivity: 2-5 years
 In the wild: Unknown
Ecosystem relationships
 Decomposers – help “recycle” and keep waste at a minimum
 Prey for many animals, including ground-feeding birds, tenrecs and arachnids
 Breed year-round
 Females are ovoviviparous (bear live young)
o Gestation is roughly 60 days
o Females create an “ootheca,” a cocoon-like egg-case to carry the eggs and
neonatal nymphs inside their bodies
o May bear up to 60 nymphs
 Nymphs reach maturity in five to ten months, or usually after 6 molts
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach: Gromphadorhina portentosa
Incomplete metamorphosis: egg nymph adult
 Nocturnal
Other “fun facts”
 3,000 – 4,000 species of cockroaches exist
 99% of cockroach species, including Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, are not pests
 Have no wings – cannot fly
 Nearest relatives include mantids, grasshoppers, stick insects and termites
 Known as “living fossils”, these insects are very similar to the prehistoric cockroaches
that lived on Earth long before the dinosaurs
 People eat Hissing Cockroaches too!
o High in protein
o Eating insects is called “Entomophagy”
Conservation Status and Threats:
 Not-listed by the IUCN
 Although they are not endangered, they are an important part of the ecosystem of the
rainforest habitat where they live.
At the Zoo
Current group of roaches first acquired in 2005 and added to several times since
Have both males and females
Embassy roaches are fed produce
What We Can Do
Make environmentally responsible lifestyle decisions to help conserve habitat –
conserve energy, reduce litter and pollution
Choose your pets carefully, the illegal pet trade threatens many other species
 Buchsbaum, Ralph. Animals without Backbones. Third ed. Chicago: University of
Chicago, 1987. Print.
 Grzimek, Bernhard. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Van Nostrand
Reinhold, 1972. Print. Insects.
%20Coc kroach.pdf