|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.