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Feeder Giant Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Giant Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa)
Giant Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa)
Feeder Hissing Cockroach Introduction

Madagascar hissing cockroaches, (also called Giant hissing cockroaches, Hissing cockroaches, Hissers or Madagascar hissing beetles), Gromphadorhina portentosa, are a relative new addition to the feeder insect market. These insects are more specifically sold as food items for the larger insectivorous lizard species. They are large, docile insects, which are often seen in biology exhibitions or used in educational demonstrations and insect zoos, where large adult specimens are often taken from their enclosures to be handled by children and skeptic parents. While being handled, the roaches will usually give various harmless hisses, hence the name "Hissing cockroach" or "Hissers".

The name "Madagascar hissing cockroach" refers more specifically to the natural origin of the species. They occur naturally in the tropical forests of the Madagascar, an island on the east coast of Africa. Specimens in the feeder insect or pet trade are often wrongfully referred to as "Hissing beetles", perhaps to cover the negative connotations with the word "cockroach".

The large size (often as big as a small mouse) and the ease with which hissers can be handled, kept and reared, makes them popular food items for large insectivorous lizards such as giant chameleons, Bearded dragons, monitors, tortoises, non-human primates, baboon spiders and tarantulas. Hissers are also popular breeding insects because of the relative easy process. A large breeding colony can be easily maintained without odour. Some people go as far as keeping Hissing cockroaches as pets.

Apart from their docile temperament and the uniqueness of having a "pet bug", they are said to be very interesting insects with a lot of social interaction with each other.

An adult roach resemble a large beetle with its apparent lack of wings and shiny upper surface. But unlike beetles, roaches do not have wings in any of their life stages. Hissing roaches are dark chocolate brown with dark orange makings on the abdomen. Females can grow up to 70 mm / 2.8 " and males up to 55 mm / 2.2 " (24 g). In exceptional cases adults can measure up to 10 cm / 4 " in length!

Hatchling roaches, or nymphs, are similar to adults in many aspects, but there are also some differences. Nymphs of different stages also differ from each other, in both their proportions and their colouration. Nymphs become darker after each molting until they reach adulthood. The most obvious difference is between mid-sized individuals and adults. Mid-sized roaches are more oval in outline when compared to adults when viewed from above.

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