How to Identify Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Hissing and fighting are proud characteristics for this cockroach. But are they dangerous or are they domesticated?

Famous for its appearances in movies, the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa) is native to its namesake island off the coast of Africa. It’s not indigenous to the Americas, so you shouldn’t expect to find these in your home or business unless it’s an escaped pet. More on that later.

What are Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

The Hissing Cockroach is best known for the obvious — the hissing. You can audibly distinguish these cockroaches from others by the way they aggressively fight and hiss. They aren’t typically found in the United States, except among people who keep them as exotic domesticated pets.

What do Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches Look Like

It’s possible you have seen this pest in a Hollywood film as a stand-in for all cockroaches. They are large (two to three inches) with long, hardened brownish backs. They lack wings, but males do sport a single pair of horns.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Behaviors

Unlike other types of cockroaches, the Madagascar Hissing cockroach does not seek human contact, nor will it typically invade human structures. These roaches live in the forests on the ground floor, living and hiding under leaves, trees and other foliage. They scavenge for food like most cockroaches, feeding on plants and fruits in the woods.

Males can be especially aggressive, which is typically when you will hear their hissing. If you hear that sound, it could be for a few reasons  — mating calls, or scaring or warning potential adversaries. You might even see two male cockroaches fighting.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Life Cycle

The Hissing cockroach lives on average for two to five years, making it one of the longer living roaches in the order. They go through the typical stages of egg, nymph and adult for metamorphosis, undergoing about six moltings before becoming a fully functioning adult.

Signs of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

This species is not native to the United States and homeowners will not typically find more than one in the home or yard. If you do spot a hissing cockroach, it is most likely an escaped pet someone kept nearby. If you hear unusual hissing sounds, there is a chance a Madagascar Hissing cockroach is near.

How to Get Rid of Hissing Cockroaches

If you come across Hissing cockroaches in the home, typical cockroach removal methods should work. If unsure what to do, call an exterminator, especially if you spot more than one.

Hissing Cockroach Safety

While bigger and louder than most cockroaches, the Madagascar Hissing cockroach poses little threat to people. While males can be aggressive and emit loud hissing sounds, it typically won’t move toward people unless it fears for its life. But for the most part, this roach is harmless.

Cockroach Resources

For more information about cockroaches and what it means when you find this pest in your home or business, check out these pest control articles.