If you’re looking for an uncommon yet fascinating pet, consider the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, or Gromphadorhina portentosa. Far from your average household pest, these are large, calm, unconventional pet insects that are super easy to care for and can be kept together in colonies. These cockroaches are primarily herbivores and thrive on a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables. They particularly enjoy apples, oranges, and lettuce, but they’re not too fussy. Protein can be introduced in the form of dried insects. They also require a source of water, which can be easily provided through a shallow dish or regular misting of their enclosure. A 10-gallon tank should suffice for a small colony. The substrate can be made up of peat moss or coco fibre, allowing the cockroaches to burrow. Pieces of bark can also be added for additional hiding spots, along with live or artificial plants. Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are most comfortable at temperatures between 75-90°F (24-32°C). They can tolerate lower humidity levels but aim to maintain around 60-70% humidity for optimal health.
One of the standout features of this cockroach species is the distinct hissing sound they make, which is used for communication and as a defence mechanism. Unlike other insects, they produce this sound by forcing air through their respiratory openings, making them one of the few insects capable of ‘vocalising’.