Madagascar Hissing Cockroach as Pets {2020 Care Sheet}

Although most people immediately cringe by even the mention of the word ‘cockroach’, there are certain people who find them fascinating and raise them as pets.

And if you are one of them, then you know Madagascar hissing cockroaches are an ideal pet for someone who isn’t afraid of bugs.

Despite its scary name, Madagascar hissing cockroaches are strong and easy to manage and most importantly they don’t bite or infest humans.

However, there are certain things you need to take off while you raise them as pets and this article will tell you all about that.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Care Sheet

Madagascar roaches

Behavior and Temperament

The Madagascar hissing cockroach, whose place of origin is the large island of Madagascar, is one of the largest cockroach species in size.

Out in the wild, these wood dwellers are normally found living in downed logs.

They are one of around 20 species of big cockroaches that commonly live in Madagascar, out of which; many are kept and taken care of as exotic pets 

Unlike other cockroaches, Madagascar hissing cockroach does not inhabit human dwellings unless they are kept as pets.

These insects live in forests, where they are usually found between logs, leaf litter, and other detritus.

They are nocturnal insects; therefore, they become more active and look for meals at night, feeding mostly on fruit or plants.

These giant bugs are black to dark reddish-brown in color, with a sturdy exoskeleton no wings.

However, they are excellent climbers who can even ascend on glass walls therefore if you plan to keep them as pets, you need to make sure that you keep their tanks tightly closed so that they don’t get any opportunity to climb off and get out.

The Hissing Sound

The Madagascar hissing cockroaches have a set of modified spiracles (the tubes that are used by the insects for breathing) which they use to make the hissing sound which in fact inspired their name.

Madagascar roaches

This hissing sound comes from spiracles in the insect’s abdomen. They push air through the opening spiracles to make all of their hissing sounds.

The hissing sound is usually used for three reasons-

  1. To lure and attract a mate,
  • To scare off a predator or when the cockroach is sensing danger(aka as the “disturbance” hiss),
  • And when a male cockroach is preparing to strike another male cockroach.

Diet of Hissing Cockroaches

The Madagascar hissing cockroaches differ from other cockroaches both in habitat and diet. They are scavengers, so like other cockroaches; they won’t eat stale meat and decaying food.  

Their common choice of food is fresh fruits and vegetables and among them, carrots are their favorites.

It is important to remember that while you care for these cockroaches and raise them as pets, it is important to provide them with proper feed for their growth.

It is better to give them a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits like oranges, banana, celery, apples, carrots, tomatoes, peas, and other colorful vegetation. 

While feeding them, it is better if you remove any food which is decayed or have been unused for a long period since they will not eat any spoilage.

You can also feed them a mixture of romaine and other such leafy greens my mixing it with a pellet food that is rich in proteins like a dry cat or dog food.

Also, please remember to not feed iceberg lettuce to them as the excess water from the lettuce can drown them.

How to Feed a Hissing Cockroach.

Since these cockroaches are not very particular about their diet, many people serve them a mixture of fruits and vegetables with dry dog food.

However, you need to feed them a couple of times in a week and it is important to remove any uneaten food within 24 hours from their enclosure to keep it clean and sanitary.

When you are taking care of Hissing Madagascar cockroach as pets, you need to provide them with enough water; this can be done by giving them a shallow dish along with cotton or some other piece of absorbent material.

Learning about the diet of the hissing cockroaches is very important for those raising them as pets because only by learning about their food habits can they care and provide them with the right feed.

Common Health Problems

Madagascar hissing cockroaches are sturdy and hard insects just like most of the other cockroaches and therefore there aren’t many health problems they face.

However, one thing you need to watch for is dehydration; which is very common if you are growing them in your house; if your pet cockroach looks wrinkled or shriveled, it’s probably because they are not getting enough water.

Some other signs of an unhealthy cockroach are abrasions, bumps or swelling of any kind or even dull exoskeleton- in case of these, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Also, these cockroaches shed their outer skin (molt) six times before reaching maturity. And this is the period when your cockroach is at its most vulnerable phase; it might not eat or be lethargic as it prepares before a molt.

However, once it reaches seven months of age, it stops molting.

Housing

Madagascar Hissing cockroaches are easy to house as they don’t need much room. 2-3 hissers can be kept in something as compact as a half-gallon container, provided there is enough ventilation.

In case of housing, a larger group of hissing cockroaches, a 10-15 gallon fish tank is adequate. 

The most important thing you need to remember while housing them is using a secured mesh lid or a screen top to prevent escapes from their enclosure since these roaches are good climbers, especially on glass surfaces.

You can also apply a layer of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) along the inside top rim of the tank to prevent these hissers from reaching the top.

Since these cockroaches are tropical creatures, they mostly feel at home when they are kept in a place above the normal room temperature.

They usually live well in temperatures of 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

FAQ about Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

What is a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach?

A Madagascar hissing cockroach, which is also known as the ‘hisser’ or a hissing cockroach, is one of the biggest species of cockroaches in the world, growing up to 2 to 4 inches when mature. 

They hail from the island of Madagascar, off the coast of Africa, where they are usually found inside rotting logs.

What Does a Baby Hissing Cockroach Look Like?

Baby Hissing cockroaches are known as nymphs.

They are usually opaque white in color when they are first born but after a few hours, as their exoskeleton hardens their color changes into a darker shade.

Over the next seven months, these baby cockroaches will shed their skin six times before they reach maturity and become a fully-grown adult cockroach.

How Long Do Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Live?

The average lifespan of a Madagascar hissing cockroach out in the wild is around 2 to 3 years however if these cockroaches are grown in captivity then they can live up to 5 years.

Why Do Madagascar Cockroaches Hiss?

These cockroaches create a hissing sound for mostly three reasons;

  1. To lure another cockroach for mating purposes,
  • When they sense danger (aka “disturbance” hiss) and are trying to scare off the predators,
  • And when a male cockroach is preparing to strike or attack another male cockroach.

What Eats Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches?

Madagascar Hissing cockroaches are probably eaten by many animals however this predatory-prey relation hasn’t been well documented yet.

Howbeit in some places, people also eat the hissing cockroaches because they are rich in protein and easily available.

What Does a Hissing Cockroach Eat?

Hissing cockroaches are scavengers therefore they primarily eat fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, oranges, peas, etc.

Many people also feed them dry cat and dog food mixed with fruits and vegetables as mentioned above. 

Unlike other cockroaches, they do not eat stale or decaying food.

Where to Buy Madagascar Hissing Roaches?

You can buy Madagascar hissing cockroaches on websites like Amazon.com where they sell a pair of male and female hissers together which can then be bred.

Similarly, there are many other websites that sell them; however, you need to check the site concerning your location and the availability of the roaches.

Also, since they are such a common choice as pets, you might even find them at your local pet store.

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Final Words

Although roaches always seem to create a panic among most of the people, the Madagascar Hissing cockroaches make an excellent pet and are quite popular among people who are fascinated with exotic insects.

They are low-maintenance, easy to care and make for an interesting conversational piece as well.  

You just need to make sure that you provide them with enough fresh fruits and vegetables, a favorable habitat to live in and clean drinking water and they are pretty much set.

This particular insect is anything but a run-of-the-mill cockroach which is what makes them an interesting pet.

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