Madagascar Giant Hissing Cockroach

Gromphadorhina pertentosa

Range & Habitat
They forage on the tropical rainforest floor near river banks, logs or trees on the Islands of Madagascar.

General Description
Cockroaches have changed very little in the past 300 million years. They were on Earth before dinosaurs. They are oval-shaped insects that can easily fit into narrow spaces. They are nocturnal, so they are sensitive to sounds, touch, humidity and light. They shy away from excessive noise and vibrations. Cockroaches are odorless, very clean and easy to handle. They are slow moving and wingless. They prefer temperatures of 68-96 degrees F. They can go without food for three months. Some can survive being frozen for two days. Some can even live a week after losing their head. Their main defense is the hissing noise created when it forces air out through holes (spiracles) along sides of its body. Some can even survive 100 times the amount of radiation that would kill a human.

Reproduction & Growth
Male cockroaches will hiss when courting females. They have an incubation period of 60-70 days. Female gives birth to 30-60 watermelon seed shaped nymphs. Nymphs mature in 5-6 months. They will molt about six times before they reach maturity. Their life span can be up to three years. Adults rarely exceed three inches in captivity; though they have been known to reach six inches in the wild. There are striking differences between the sexes. Males possess large horns on the pronutum (behind the head), while females have only small 'bumps'. The presence or absence of the pronotal horns allows easy identification of the sexes. The antennae of males are hairy while the antennae of females are relatively smooth. Finally, the behavior of males and females also differ: only males are aggressive.

In the Wild: They are "decomposers". They forage for food during the night, eating rotting vegetation or meat. In the Zoo: Fruit.

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