Madagascar Giant Hissing Cockroach, Gromphradorhina portentosa
The Madagascar Giant Hissing Cockroach, Gromphradorhina portentosa, is the most widely kept pet roach in the United States. The giant of all cockroaches this species will reach 2-4 inches and live for up to five years making an amazing insect for display in science classes and home vivariums.
The hissing cockroach has the ability to climb smooth surfaces, even glass. Select an enclosure with a secure lid that will not allow for escape. For our nymphs we use a Tom's Critter Keeper. We prefer this or a terrarium with a screen lid that slides in place. A large horizontal terrarium with a good amount of floor space can be used for all stages of growth. Provide a number of branches or large vines as this species will sometimes climb. Hides on the floor space are a great way to reduce territorial disputes between males. Use logs, coconut hides, leaf litter or similar covering. For breeders a good amount of stacked egg crate can be used to allow enough territory for males and females to breed. A food and water dish should be provided. We use water crystals in our water bowl to prevent drowning and the build up of bacteria and mold -- no smell unlike sponges.
Temperature, Humidity & Lighting
Temperature for hissing roaches is best provided in the 75°F to 95°F (24–35 °C) range. Like most roach species the lower the temperature the less they eat, breed and thrive. The same can be said in the higher temperatures.
- For a class pet select a temperature range of 75°F to 80°F (24°C - 29°C)
- For breeding a temperature range between 87°F to 92°F (30°C - 33°C)
Provide a high enough humidity that mold or fungus does not grow but successful molting is accomplished. We provide a humidity cycle of 60-80% to reduce the growth of mold. As a tropical species a light cycle of 12 hours a day is recommended but this species will survive and breed with a seasonal cycle of 10 hours in the winter/fall months and 12 hours during summer months.
Diet & Nutrition
Hissing roaches are omnivorous and should be fed a varying diet. Fruits, vegetables and diets such as BugBurger are recommended for daily feeding. Gut loading, a process of feeding your insects a highly nutritious diet prior to offering them as prey to your reptiles is also recommended. You may offer dandelion greens the night before as a means to increase calcium consumption or do like we do and offer SuperLoad by Repashy Superfoods.
Sexing and Breeding Hissing Roaches
This species is one of the more difficult to sex of all roaches. Males develop horns on the pronotum and thicker, hairier antennae. Sexual maturity is reached within 6 months. Females deposit and reabsorb the egg sack (ootheca) allowing the eggs to incubate internally, for 60-70 days, hatch and the nymph to exit giving the appearance of live birth. Each female can produce 20-40 young at a time.
- Hissing Roaches have a mite (Gromphadorholaelaps schaeferi) that resides on the body and feeds on it's food source.
- Check your state laws prior to purchase as some states require a permit to keep this species. Florida is an example.
- Smear a petroleum product along the top of the cage to prevent escapes.
- Offer orange slices biweekly or monthly to induce breeding.
That's it, hopefully with this care sheet you will have a class pet or thriving display animal in your home vivarium.