The Madagascar hissing cockroach,Gromphadorhina portentosa(Schaum), is indigenous only come the island that Madagascar. Madagascar, the 4th largest island in the world, is located off the east coast of Africa. It has a tropical come subtropical climate that supports very diverse fauna, consisting of some the the largest insects in the world. Top top Madagascar, this insect is generally a food source for larger pets such as lemurs, birds, and lizards. Global distribution is restricted to laboratories, classrooms, and pet stores. The huge size and also relative tameness the this varieties makes it an ideal insect pet. The following material was written to carry out owners of such a pets or class project information on the biology and care that the Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Description and also Biology

The Madagascar hissing cockroach (MHC) is around 2 come 4 inch long and weighs 1/4 to 7/8 ounces. The roach is heavily sclerotized, offering it a brownish or black shade over the entire body. Automatically after the molting process, the MHC will certainly exhibit a white coloration till the exoskeleton hardens. The cockroach need to not it is in handled during this time to stop hurting the in this vulnerable stage. Unlike many other cockroaches, this types is wingless, however can run fairly quickly. The masculine roach has actually two large tubercles (bumps) on the dorsal surface of the prothorax (Figure 1). At an initial glance, many world confuse this tubercles through eyes; however, the head is actually situated underneath this area and also is protected by the heavy armor of the prothorax. The woman MHC also possesses these bumps; however, they room not together prominent and also are quite smooth (Figure 2). Both sexes own a modified 2nd abdominal spiracle (breathing port on the side of the body). By forcing air v these spiracles, lock can develop a hissing sound throughout mating, fighting or once they are disturbed. The roaches space equipped v special pads on your feet that enable them to climb most surfaces, including glass.


Figure 1.

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male Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.


Figure 2. mrs Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.

The MHC is among the rarely ovoviviparous species of roaches, creating eggs that hatch in ~ the female’s body. This provides it show up that the woman is offering birth to live young. After fertilization, the eggs room actually incubated by the mrs in a special brood pouch within she body. The gestation duration under laboratory problems is around 60 days. The mrs pushes the nymphs the end of her body after lock hatch. The roach exhibits steady metamorphosis (development as eggs, nymphs and finally adults), wherein the immature nymphs look comparable to the adults however are smaller. The nymphs undergo 6 molts (six nymphal instars). That requires nearly five months because that the roaches to become sexually mature.

Similar to other cockroaches, the MHC is negative phototactic (moves far from light) and, therefore, is nocturnal in activity. The MHC is likewise omnivorous (eats anything), yet is strong attracted to peanut butter, bananas and also oranges. Once living in colonies, this types exhibits a definite social hierarchy. Males will certainly establish and also defend a are on a rock or other comparable structure for numerous months. He will leave it just for brief periods to achieve food and water. Mrs MHC are gregarious (form groups) and also have no been observed to hit either among themselves or v males. Females and also nymphs are permitted on the protected area that might harbor several adult females and an assortment of various-sized nymphs, yet only one male. As soon as a male intrudes top top a bordering male’s territory, a fight will certainly ensue. One male will certainly attempt to push the other out the his territory. During the battle, a great deal that movement and also hissing will certainly occur; however, no injury is done to the loser. Mating behavior of the MHC is elaborate and also involves posturing and hissing by the males to lure females.

Living Environment

The MHC is relatively easy to treatment for and makes terrific pet. Owner should keep their pet in an area that provides a dark, moist and also secluded environment. Frequently laboratory swarms are maintained in large, dark garbage cans, through cardboard dividers or wire mesh to add extra surface locations for the roaches to climb. Entomologists working v roaches usually store them in glass or plastic aquariums (like hamsters). Lumber chips, moist peat or sphagnum moss might be listed as a form of bedding they have the right to burrow under to hide from the light. Tiny rocks or tubes deserve to be included for the roaches to have actually a are to defend. Display screen covering or an additional secure kind of lid for the cage is necessary. Especially padded feet permit MHC come climb any type of surface, so the is vital to make certain the cage is adequately sealed. Be certain to administer adequate ventilation for her pets and also do not allow the medium (living environment) to dried excessively. An sometimes misting that the medium with water will carry out the proper humidity because that the roach’s cage. The cage must be put in a warm location (72 F come 76 F). Greater temperatures (80 F or better) will certainly increase task and breeding, while lower temperature (70 F or lower) makes the MHC sluggish and inactive. Perform not keep these roaches at temperatures lower than 65 F. High temperature in their aboriginal habitat often exceed 100 F, and also the MHC thrives in heat environments.

Because they room cold-blooded animals, MHC may require an exterior heat source to maintain appropriate metabolism. This have the right to be accomplished in number of ways. One simple an approach is to maintain room temperatures between 80 F and 85 F. Unfortunately, this is impractical uneven a different insectary-type room is available. A more efficient method of providing heat is with a warm tape or heating mat that attaches come the bottom the the aquarium. Warm rocks, i m sorry are fabricated rocks containing a heating element, are an additional option. These heating gadgets are designed for reptiles and also are accessible at many pet stores. Put the machine at the end of the aquarium will produce a temperature gradient enabling the insects to appropriately regulate their own body temperatures. Unless you setup to breed the roaches or have actually a poorly cook room, secondary heat resource is unnecessary.


The MHC is one opportunistic feeder, frequently utilizing ripened fruit that autumn to the rain forest floor in Madagascar. This fruit will carry out much that the moisture forced for the MHC; however, they occasionally drink dew from bordering plants.

Captive MHC gain a wide selection of foods including dry, processed foods for dogs, cats, fish, chickens, monkeys and rats. Supplement the diet with fruits and vegetables, including orange slices, banana peels, carrots, apples, grapes, sweet potato peelings and potato slices. Use tiny pieces (one customs square or less) and feed moist food sparingly, since high concentration of fermentation gases room harmful. The MHC nest at Oklahoma State university thrives top top a secure diet of dried dog food and water. This colony has been preserved for an ext than 16 years, with countless successful generations reared. Water is listed using a cotton wick method. A tightly sealed plastic container is filled with water. A little hole is drilled in the lid the the container and a wick is inserted through the hole and also into the water. Roaches can then drink native the wick as it soaks increase water. Wicks can be made from cotton rolled into proper lengths. They may also be make from nylon stockings or other absorbent materials. Water may likewise be noted in a little dish or cup. That is crucial to place a tiny sponge inside this form of container so smaller roaches will certainly not loss in and also drown.


After you have your swarm or separation, personal, instance roaches because that a while, you may start to notification tiny light-colored creatures crawling ~ above the roaches. Similar to dogs getting fleas, the MHC sometimes carries mites. This mites just live top top the roaches and also will not injury them or live ~ above humans. Their presence often indicates a difficulty with sanitation in ~ the cage. Leave food or dead roaches in the living atmosphere can lure these mites and administer a medium for their survival. Mites can be gotten rid of by gently shaking the roach in a plastic bag through a little amount of flour added. The mites autumn off the roach and into the flour. Remove the roach, then tie up and also discard the bag. Tenderness spray the overabundance flour off the roach with plain water indigenous a tree mister or to wash bottle. Mites may likewise be gotten rid of by brushing the roach v a little paintbrush. Repeat the therapy if mites reappear. Do not attempt to usage a miticide to death the mites, since this will additionally kill your pet.

When dealing with a MHC, pick up the insect very gently roughly the thorax (the hard section behind the head with the bumps) or just pick increase the container and dump the cockroach onto her hand. Be careful not come jerk the insect, due to the fact that the feet have actually sticky pads and also hooks the grip tightly. If you pull as well hard, you may injure the insect. Do not effort to host the roach down with your hand. The sharp spines ~ above the legs deserve to be provided as a protective mechanism and also can attract blood. Merely let her pet roam about freely indigenous one hand come another. The MHC will certainly not bite and is not extremely fragile; however, constantly be together gentle as possible.

Demonstrationsand Observations

Madagascar hissing cockroaches deserve to be supplied in classrooms or at home to study or watch insect life processes, behavior and even art. These huge insects serve as excellent specimens to demonstrate straightforward or progressed experimental concepts about the insect world. The next page has a compilation of possible studies or monitorings to conduct on your MHC.

Demonstration of Insect ConceptsUsing Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Metamorphosis— Study and observe the molting process.

Keep documents on exactly how long the takes or how many molts take place over a period of time.

Study the impacts of various environmental conditions (hot, humid, cold, dry, wind, rain) on her insect’sdevelopment.

Locomotion— Study and observe how the MHC walks. Look in ~ crawling abilities on different surfaces. Enable the roaches to walk throughout florescent paint, then ar them top top a contrasting surface to examine theirmovements. Watch the artistic designs they produce by creating pictures with their tracks. Eating— observe the species of food they eat. Using different tastes and flavors, watch if girlfriend can distinguish and file taste perception (sweet, sour,salty, etc.). Nocturnal activity— examine roach response to light. Using various spectrums of clearly shows light, watch the roach’s activity. Under red light (invisible to insects), study the nocturnal activity of the insect. Research the results of differing photophase/scotsphase on any type of life process. actions modification— recognize if your roach is trainable. making use of food or water sources during an active period, attempt to train your roach to run a maze or action on a bar (use an easy responses to watch if they have the right to be conditioned). population effects— Observe how crowding and/or isolation affect the MHC. keep records and study the growth, size, and reproductive ability of the roach under differing populationlevels. research the impacts of noise or short level electric currents on roach behavior.

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exactly how do insects behave when exposed come different types of music (rock, pop, jazz, etc.)? how do insects answer to consistent exposure come a computer screen saver? stamin of the MHC— how much weight have the right to your insect traction or carry? utilizing pennies attached to fishing line, ice or adhesive the line to her insect. Determine how much weight thecockroach can pull. Recognize if the load pulled is more or much less than the roach’s body weight. Territorial actions in males— Observe and study what environments or situations stimulate males to defend anarea. carry out females need to be existing to elicit this behavior? go food access influence territoriality? What ratio of males and/or females produces ar battles? can you produce a preferred territory v heat, water, or an item after a site has already been chosen? digestion in insects— examine the size of time required for certain foods come be spend by cockroaches. utilizing food coloring in their diet, observe and record the length of time forced from ingestion to wasteremoval. Under varying eco-friendly conditions, observe exactly how this time period changes.

Each of these researches is no exclusive the one another, nor carry out they stand for the kingdom of possibilities in observing insect behavior and also life processes. Hopefully, they will lead girlfriend to find other way of trying out the largest and also most diverse group of pets in the people . . . The insects.