Oct 31

Species Spotlight: Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Just in time for Halloween, I have found something creepy and crawly for today’s species spotlight: A Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. You maybe be wondering why SeaWorld would have cockroaches on hand but they are an important part of our animal ambassador team.

At any given time we have between 25-50 Hissing cockroaches in our colony. They will usually sit on people’s shoulders and are a big Halloween hit with our local TV news anchors. Many park guests find the roaches repulsive at first, but soon find themselves uniquely entertained by this cool bug. Because of their calm nature, kids can pet and sometimes hold a roach during an in-park-encounter, making it one of the coolest interactions of the day.

Many people ask why do they hiss? They make soft hissing sounds during courtship and louder hissing sounds in defense. These sounds are produced by forcing air through spiracles (modified openings) found on their sides.

A female hissing cockroach gives birth to 20 – 30 live young by retaining the developing eggs within her body until they hatch. The newly-born nymphs are already inch at birth.

All species of roaches (4,000 in fact) eat dead and decaying plant or animal matter along with some fresh vegetation. Because the soils of tropical forests are very nutrient poor, the decomposing abilities of roaches are important for a healthy environment.

Here SeaWorld Animal Ambassador Jen Miller to show us a few of these creepy, crawly roaches.

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