Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Facts

Scientific Name

Gromphadorhina portentosa


What Do They Look Like?

madagascar cockroach picture
  • Size: Growing up to 7.5 cm in length, they are one of the largest cockroach species.
  • Color: Madagascar hissing cockroaches are brown in color.
  • Characteristics: Both nymphs and adults are wingless with horns and long antennae. Males have larger pronotal humps on their thorax and bushier antennae than females.

How Did I Get Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches?

Homeowners who find a Madagascar hissing cockroach have likely discovered someone’s missing pet. In the U.S., these insects live in classrooms as display insects and pet stores that offer these critters for sale. Padded feet allow these cockroaches to climb anywhere, so it is possible for them to crawl out of containment that is properly sealed and made inescapable.

How Serious Are Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches?

These insects pose no known danger to humans. Males are extremely aggressive and are commonly seen fighting with rival males.

How Do I Get Rid of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches?

What Orkin Does
Your local Orkin technician is trained to help manage Madagascar hissing cockroaches and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep cockroaches in their place and out of your home or business.


Behavior, Diet, & Habits

These cockroaches are also commonly referred to as hissing cockroaches. Some people refer to them as giant cockroaches. Despite their large size, Madagascar hissing cockroaches are capable of hiding within incredibly narrow spaces.

What Do They Eat?
In their natural environment, they are helpful as consumers of carrion and decay. Hissing cockroaches are omnivores which feed primarily on:

  • Animal carcasses
  • Fallen fruit
  • Rotting plants
  • Small insects

Where Do They Live?
These large pests thrive in warm climates and become sluggish as temperatures cool. Madagascar hissing cockroaches live in moist areas including:

  • Beneath rotten logs
  • Forest floors
  • Tropical areas

Geographical Range
These roaches are native to Madagascar. Because they aren’t native to the country, these pests are rarely the cause of cockroach infestations in the house.

Life Cycle
Young Madagascar hissing cockroaches stay in close contact with females for an extended period of time after birth. Nymphs undergo six molts in a span of approximately seven months before reaching the adult stage and can live up to five years.


The Madagascar hissing cockroach is the only known insect species capable of hissing. While other insects create sound by rubbing body parts together, these cockroaches hiss by releasing air from their abdominal spiracles. These roaches produce two kinds of hisses: upon reaching a certain developmental stage, all hissing cockroaches can produce the disturbance hiss, but only males ever emit the fighting hiss.

Male cockroaches establish and defend territories using a unique sound. They are very territorial and use their horns in combat. Females only hiss when disturbed. The hiss plays an important role in:

  • Colony hierarchy
  • Communication
  • Courtship

Why Do They Hiss?
Male Madagascar hissing cockroaches hiss to communicate with other cockroaches to:

  • Attract mates
  • Scare off enemies
  • Warn others