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Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Scientific Name: Gromphadorhina portentosa

Range: Madagascar

Habitat: Forest floor

Diet: The cockroach is invaluable for recycling a large majority of the earth's dead and decaying plant and animal material

Life Span: 2-3 years, although some reach 5 years

Description: The sexes in this species are very distinct and can easily be told apart. The males have large horns behind their heads, while the females only possess small horns. The antennae of males are hairy and the females are smooth. They are a dark brown color with orange markings. They can reach 4 inches (10 cm) in length and weigh up to 0.8 oz (24 grams).

Family Life: Females of this species are ovoviviparous meaning they give birth to live young. The female carries the neonate nymphs for 60 days at which time they emerge. One female can produce 30-60 nymphs. This insect has an incomplete life cycle: egg, nymphs, and adult stage. The nymphs undergo 6 molts before reaching maturity in 7 months.

Status in the Wild: Low Risk

Nature Notes: These animals get their name from the hissing sound they make. It can be heard during courtship, when there is a confrontation between two males, and when any adult cockroach is handled or disturbed. They live in colonies, and if their colony is bumped or disturbed, they will all hiss They make this noise by forcibly expelling air through spiracles, which are breathing pores found on the sides of their abdomen. They are nocturnal, and hide under logs or stones during the day. The cockroach is one of the most primitive creatures on earth. Some are immune to high levels of radiation, levels high enough to kill a human. Some cockroaches can survive for 9 days without their heads. This is so because their brain is in their legs.




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