Are Hissing Cockroaches Good Pets? Important Info

Many people could never imagine having cockroaches as pets, but that’s until they hear of hissing cockroaches. Researching and finding out what it takes to have them as pets can be a mind-blowing experience.

So, are hissing cockroaches good pets? Hissing cockroaches make good pets as they’re friendly to humans, easy to handle, hardy and docile creatures which don’t bite and aren’t aggressive to humans. Hissing cockroaches are easy to look after, requiring very little equipment other than housing them in a suitable tank with a suitable substrate.

Hissing cockroaches are also known as Madagascar hissing cockroaches or simply hissers. Unlike many other species of cockroaches, they have no wings for jumping or flight. As such, they compensate for their flightless nature by being excellent climbers capable of scaling even glass walls.

Are hissing cockroaches dangerous?

Hissing cockroaches pose no known danger to humans. Notably though, male hissing cockroaches are extremely aggressive especially when under threat from rival males. It is also important to note that hissing cockroaches don’t bite at all. This has everything to do with the fact that their jaws aren’t strong enough to bite many substances, including the human skin.

The Hissing Factor

Remarkably, the hissing cockroach is the only inspect species capable of hissing. Other insects only create sound by rubbing their body parts together. Hissing cockroaches on the other hand, hiss by releasing air straight from their abdominal spiracles.

While all hisses from these roaches may sound similar, they differ from time to time. In simple words, there are two kinds of kisses produced by hissing cockroaches. There’s the disturbance hiss then there’s the fighting hiss, which can only be made by male hissing cockroaches. Distinguishing these two types of sounds is extremely important for anyone who wants to keep hissers as pets.

Male hissers establish and defend their territories using a unique fighting hiss. They are overly territorial and often use their horns to fight off other male rivals. Females hiss too but they only do so when disturbed. Ultimately, hissing plays a very important role in colony hierarchy, mating, courtship and communication.


A 5 or 10 gallon fish tank can house several hissing roaches with ease. Be sure to secure the tank with a mesh lid. Aspen wood shavings that are at least two inches deep stand out as suitable substrates for hissers. Avoid pine or cedar which easily make hissers sick.

Hissers also don’t like bright light, so only provide them with subdued, ambient lighting. Add some hiding places too like cardboard roles from toilet paper, cork barks, cardboard egg cartons or driftwood.

Temperature matters too mostly because hissers are tropical creatures. This means they are comfortable when kept slightly above room temperatures of anything between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Food and Water

Hissers have weak jaws as already mentioned. That said, be mindful of what you feed them with. Fresh fruit and vegetables are ideal, apart from a few varieties like iceberg lettuce. You may also opt for pellet food like dog food, that’s high in protein. Carrots seem to be a favorite for hissers along with banana’s, apples, oranges, celery, tomatoes and pea pods.

Keep your hisser’s ‘house’ clean by removing any uneaten food after every two days. This will avoid spoilage and other harmful pests from invading the tank. Strangely, hissers are unlike so many other cockroach species.

They just won’t eat rotting or decaying food matter. Water is also an important part of hissers’ diet, so provide them with water in a shallow dish, complete with climbable little rocks or pebbles to prevent them from drowning.

Common Health Problems

Hissers are hardy, just like many other cockroach species. That’s exactly why they don’t come along with a myriad of health issues. One thing to watch out for though is dehydration. If yours look wrinkled or shriveled, they’re probably not getting enough water. It may hiss slightly when you touch it, which is normal and often a sign of anxiety.

Remember that while hissers stand out as unique, they also share some similarities with other roaches. For instance, they shed their outer exoskeleton, a process referred to as molting. It is at this point that the hisser is at its most vulnerable.

It may hide and completely refuse to eat a day or two before molting. This is normal and only what they do to prepare for shedding. Once they’re seven months old, they stop molting as they’ll have reached adulthood.

Purchasing Hissing Cockroaches

Hissers aren’t your standard kitchen or wardrobe invading roaches. You have to buy them from a reputable inspect breeder. They cost between $2 and $10 mostly depending on size. To set up your own breeding colony of hissers, buy at least 10 of them. For everyone adult male, request four adult females.

You may want to control hissers’ breeding, a move that’s extremely important if you want to maintain a relatively slow colony. Your best bed it that regard would be to get rid of the male species for quite some time.

As you do this though, avoid keep male hissers together. They happen to be aggressive and may fight each other to death. Females are quite the opposite, unless they’re fighting for food.

The hisser is a good choice for kids and adults alike. They’re particularly ideal for kids especially if you’re trying to get over the fear of creepy and crawly creatures. The hisser doesn’t skitter like other bugs. This makes it an ideal pet for those with entomophobia (fear of insects).

The Perks

As strange as it sounds, tiny mites living and feeding off the hissing cockroaches are beneficial. Scientists unanimously agree that the mites can go a long way to decrease harmful molds on the roaches as well as the environments they live in. This can in turn reduce allergic responses and reactions among humans handling hissers. The mites eat organic debris and saliva that collect between hissers’ legs. In the process, they eliminate material that facilitates mold growth on hissers’ bodies.

Routine Care And Maintenance

Hissing cockroaches have a waxy coating, which is why you must always wash your hands before and after handling them. It is also very important to avoid getting their waxy coating into scratches and cuts.

Then by all means, be keen on your hisser’s behavior. Know what’s healthy and what’s not. Regular feeding, alertness, rounded and full bodes as well as healthy exoskeletons are all signs of healthy hissers. Red flags on the other hand, include swollen limbs, weight loss, lethargy, dull exoskeletons, sores and abrasions, abnormal feces and dull exoskeleton.

Interaction With Other Insects

Hissers are generally territorial. They are known to fight off other insects especially where they feel threatened. Too much hissing especially when they’re on their own may mean they have noted danger lurking either in the form of another inspect or a predator like a bird.

Your best bet is to ensure that your hissers don’t share their tank with any other inspect. Then like already hinted, always ensure females outnumber males.

Wrap Up

Hissing cockroaches are strange and interesting in so many ways. The fact they can live for as much as three years is enough to convince anyone that they’re extraordinary insects. They also make nice pets mostly because they are harmless. But like any other pet, you have to be keen on their growth and development.

This doesn’t only mean ensuring they live in a clean environment. It also means feeding them well and looking out for red flags when or where you suspect they are unhealthy. Then by all means, educate yourself as much as possible on what it takes to take care of hissing cockroaches as pets.

Bal Kang

Bal Kang is an owner of several pets including reptiles, cats and dogs. An avid writer, who loves to share her insights into caring for pets.

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