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Will Hicks - Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

The Madagascar hissing cockroach, also known as the hissing cockroach or simply hisser, is one of the largest species of cockroach, reaching 5 to 7.5 centimeters at maturity. They are native to the island of Madagascar, which is off the African mainland, where they are known to be found inside of rotting logs.

Gromphadorrhina portentosa

Madagascar hissing cockroaches live in forests on the island of Madagascar. They are herbivores. They live in hollow logs and scavenge amid the leaf litter and rotting wood of the forest floor for food like fallen fruit.

Hissing cockroach behavior and facts

  • Hissing cockroaches live in large colonies.
  • They hiss when threatened by a predator, to sound an alarm for other roaches in their colony or during male cockroach fights. Small holes called spiracles on their backs are used for breathing. If they force air out of the spiracle quickly, it makes the hissing sound. This audible use of the respiratory system is more common in vertebrates (as when humans emit a heavy, noisy sigh). Most insects that make noise do so by rubbing body parts together or by vibrating membranes.
  • They're most active at night.
  • Males sport large horns, which they use in aggressive encounters like the battles between horned or antlered mammals. Rivals ram each other with their horns or abdomens and hiss as they fight. Winners hiss more than losers, so the sounds may help determine a roach hierarchy.
  • They're an important link in the food chain, breaking down forest debris and providing food for larger animals.

From birth to death

  • Lifespan: up to 18 months
  • Vital statistics
  • Length: 2 to 3.5 inches
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