Giant Madagascan Hissing Cockroach
At the EcoTarium
By special appearance: The EcoTarium's Giant Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches are not currently on exhibit, but you may still see them during our programs.
About Giant Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches
The Madagascan Hissing Cockroach is one of the largest species of cockroach is native to the island of Madagascar off the coast of Africa. As decomposers, they perform an important role in nature. They eat leaf litter and other decaying plant and animal tissue, and break these materials down for nature to reuse. They are wingless and great climbers -- they can even climb smooth glass!
They get their name from their native land and also from the sound they produce through small openings on their sides, which are used for breathing. When air is pumped out, it produces a hiss, which can be heard from 12 feet away! This is an unusual way for insects to make noise; most rub their legs together instead. The Madagascan Cockroach hisses because it feels threatened, is trying to attract a mate or is fighting another male, not because it is being aggressive towards people.
Giant Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches have been found to be almost identical to fossil roaches that lived over 300 million years ago. This is older than the dinosaur era!