Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Gromphadorhina portentosa

Fascinating Facts

  • The Madagascar hissing cockroach is believed to be the only insect that can hiss.
  • They are excellent climbers and can scale smooth glass.
  • The hissing cockroach is one of the largest species of cockroach, reaching 2–4 inches at maturity.

Physical Characteristics

These cockroaches are shiny brown and oval-shaped, with no wings and a single pair of antennae. Males sport large horns, which give them an unusual and impressive appearance.


They are from the island of Madagascar off the African coast, where they can be found in rotting logs, leaf litter, and other detritus.

At night, they become more active and scavenge for meals, feeding primarily on fruit or plant materials. At the Zoo they are fed apples and other fruit.


Social Behavior

The Madagascar cockroach has become characterized by its hissing sound, large size, and appearance. In this insect, sound is produced by forcibly expelling air through a pair of modified abdominal spiracles. Spiracles are breathing pores which are part of the respiratory system of insects. Because the spiracles are involved in respiration, this method of sound production is more typical of the respiratory sound made by the vertebrates.

Status In The Wild

They are common and not endangered.


Our Madagascar hissing cockroaches can be found at the Insect Zoo.

Animals & Exhibits