Gromphadorhina portentosa Care


This page is about the most popular pet cockroach, Gromphadorhina portentosa or the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. The Hissing cockroach is a rather long cockroach (2.5"-3.25"), and is one of the heaviest in the hobby. They are originally from the island of Madagascar off of the East coast of Africa and are a sub-tropical cockroach that enjoys moderate humidity and higher temperatures. The Hissers are not endemic to the Americas but has been introduced into Southern Florida several years ago. Currently you can only purchase male Hissers in Florida.

The "HISS" of a hissing cockroach is produced by the roach expelling air from its bronchial tubes that run along its abdomen. Although other species can make a similar noise when expelling a defense odor the hissing cockroach produces only the noise itself and rather loudly at that. This fun trait is one of the reasons hissing cockroach are one of the more popular pets.

There are many "hissing" cockroaches in the hobby and all of them are from Madagascar. This list includes:
Elliptorhina chopardi (Dwarf Hisser), Elliptorhina javanica (Halloween Hisser), Gromphadorhina grandidieri (Tiger Hisser), Gromphadorhina grandidieri "Black" (Black Tiger Hisser), Gromphadorhina portentosa (Madagascar Hisser), Princisia vanwaerebeki (Vibrant Hisser), Aeluropoda insignis (Flat Horn Hisser), Gromphadorhina oblongonata (Wide Horn Hisser)

Many of the above cockroaches are constantly being argued over. It seems most of these are either misidentified or hybrids and always up for debate. More testing is required and I'll leave that up to the experts; I'm just here to tell you what we know at the moment.
 
Species Specific Care: G. portentosa
G. portentosa is a "live" bearing cockroach. The small nymphs can climb very well so be sure you have a good barrier and a sealed or locking lid. All stages of development can climb smooth surfaces but none can fly (no wings).

Checklist of items to have ready before your cockroaches arrive: HISSERS
1.) Plastic Rubbermaid style bin with a sealed gasket style lid.  If you want to show these wonderful animals off, a glass tank 10-20 gallons in size that has a built-in screen lid with a lock. The 1i nymphs are escape artists, be prepared to seal any little gaps with hot-glue or tape. I personally use sterlite bins without a gasket because it's too cold and dry for escapees to survive. I use petroleum jelly in a 4 inch band around the edge and ON the rim to act as a barrier and a seal.  
2.) You may use eggflats as this species can be kept in a less humid enclosure. I recommend the use of corkbark because it doesn't get soggy or mold easily and makes for great decoration. These animals prefer it hot and moderately humid, 75ºF-90ºF and 65%+ humidity. 
3.) Substrate. I always recommend substrate for moisture control and odor reduction. In a show tank a substrate is a must. What natural setting doesn't have dirt or leaves? However, if you provide enough hides you do not need to supply a substrate, it's up to you. You can include fake plants as well but be aware that roaches will eat live plants and they could be toxic to them. 
4.) A food dish. Keeping food in a dish helps to reduce mold and you can avoid misting the food by simply pulling out the bowl when you do so. 
5.) A water dish, remember roaches need moisture in either their diet or as a straight water source. You can use water gel or a shallow bowl filled with water and pebbles to keep the roaches from drowning.

Nutrition: 
G. portentosa will eat very little compared to other similarly sized cockroaches. However, you should always keep a protein supply (dog food works well) and a moisture supply (oranges, water gel, water) at hand in their enclosures. They are not very active during the day and unless you only feed once every week or so, you will likely see little feeding activity. They love fruit however and bananas are one of their favorites; they always seem to come to fresh fruit and start feeding. Remove food immediately once it starts to mold or rot. 


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