Why Does The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Hiss?

The hissing is the signature characteristic of the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. Among the few cockroach species that you can keep, it is the only one that can hiss and produce sound without body rubbing. Some pet owners will confess that they love the hissing, so we aim to determine whether there are specific reasons why the insect hisses.

So, why does the Madagascar hissing cockroach hiss? Hissing cockroaches produce a breath-initiated sound that is unique to its species. The main reason is for defense since they believe the sound can scare away predators and intruders. They also use it to call a female partner for mating. The cockroach can even hiss during fights with other roaches in a bid to protect their colonies. They do it to establish dominance and defend the females and the nymph. Hissers can also hiss as a way of communicating with other roaches in their respective colonies.

These insects make great pets and are fascinating, especially when they hiss. Let’s look at why they hiss, how loud the hissing sound can get, and how they do it. Stick around to find out more information concerning hissers and their hissing.

Are Hissing Cockroaches Loud?

Generally, the hissing cockroaches are loud, and the sound they produce is directly proportional to the disturbance or stress level they are experiencing. Regarding the hissing amplitude, you can hear the sound at a range of up to thirteen feet. However, it can cover a shorter distance when the animals are mating or communicating in their colonies.

How loud the hissing can get depends on so many factors. First, it relies on the intensity of the impending threat. If they feel very threatened, they are likely to hiss more. Similarly, when the fighting gets heated, you will notice the two warring males hissing louder than usual.

At first, they may hiss at you if they consider you a threat; however, they can quickly become fond of you with frequent handling, and the hissing reduces. Thus, once you establish trust, you may notice a lower hissing frequency.

Studies also show that the disturbance hiss among the roaches is the loudest, and scientists classify it as the anti-predator response. Therefore, it is typical to find a distressed hissing, especially if a predator has bitten the roach. This hissing is somewhat different from the normal one they make during courting or mating.

Moreover, after the fourth molting, the nymphs can effectively make hissing sounds just like adult cockroaches. You may also notice the cockroaches hissing when you suddenly introduce light in their enclosure, whenever shadows are passing, or during any interference emanating from their substrate.

However, when everything is calm, you need not worry about the sound disturbing you or your neighbors. It may only be an issue, over a short time, if they feel threatened or when they are fighting.

How Do Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches Hiss?

The hissing cockroach inhales air into the tiny holes on its body then forcibly drives it from the spiracles, causing a unique hissing sound that may scare predators away or attract females for mating. The hissing sound resembles the sound you produce when you blow through a straw by forcing air inside it.

A common characteristic in most insects is that they possess several spiracles along their abdomen. A hissing roach also has pairs of spiracles on its body that it uses for breathing. It is also through the spiracles that the hissers make the hissing sound. Therefore, the spiracles serve two purposes; respiration and hiss production.

Why Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches Hiss?

The Madagascar hissing cockroach hisses when defending a territory and when mating or courting hiss, which is quieter than the alarm hiss. The Males hiss when protecting their territories while females hiss when mating and courting.

The roaches’ hiss is an audible and noticeable sound. There are different pitched hissing sounds that are essential to the hissing cockroach world, each with a different meaning.

Male hissers do it when protecting their territories from invaders who may want to take their colonies. The males can even engage in combat to fight and guard their communities using their horns, and when they win, the victorious male roaches will hiss louder than the losing team.

The vulnerable groups that need protection are the nymphs who are still growing, and the females who are non-aggressive. The male hissers can protect their territories for months, and they only leave in search of food and water. When in the wild, their preferred habitats are rocks or grooves on logs.

Another reason why hissers may hiss is when they recognize an intruder or a predator in their midst. At this point, the roaches, both male and female, can hiss louder than expected and at high amplitude to scare off the invaders, especially a predator. Therefore, an intrusion from their handler and that from a predator will cause different hiss projections.

Besides, hissing roaches hiss when they want to attract mates. The females, for instance, hiss a lot during their courting and mating seasons. Studies clearly show that the hissing could be for defense and as a communication tool among the insects.

You can see this in a simple demonstration by introducing a new member into a colony; you will notice that the insects will hiss at the new member, but it won’t be aggressive.

Roaches Not Hissing?

So, what happens if your roaches are not hissing? To ensure that they keep hissing, you can be creative enough and record a hissing sound from, say, a male roach. So, when you want to hear the hiss, you will only have to play your recording and see how the females respond to the sound.

It is quite fun when they react to such artificial sounds, making it among the reasons why the Madagascar hissing cockroaches make great pets in your homes. However, younger roaches don’t hiss.

Most people are drawn to these magnificent creatures due to their signature hissing sound. Some feel more connected to them whenever they hear the sound; it’s like they are communicating.

Given that it is a normal part of their life, you will be at ease whenever you hear this familiar sound. Therefore, if you don’t hear any hissing, there may be something amiss in the colony.

Hissing cockroaches are amiable animals that you can play around with as you examine them. You can also take them to your rooms and even beddings because they won’t bite or leave any odor on your body. If you touch them often, the hissing cockroaches adapt to your touching, after which they may reduce the hissing.

Another instance when you may not see your hissers hiss is when they are still juvenile. The hissing cockroaches can’t hiss at their early stages in the first few months before their fourth instars. It is only after the fourth molt that the hissers can effectively hiss just like mature adults.

To prove this, you can put a newborn in a separate enclosure and study its behavioral changes as it grows until its first hiss. It is also possible that severe illness can disable the hissing ability of the hissers, hence ensure that you keep pets well maintained.


The Madagascar hissing cockroach doesn’t hiss for fun; hence, studies have deduced that each hissing sound is a social response. Through hissing, the roaches can warn others against impending danger. The unique sound can also attract mates to initiate male-female interaction, resulting in the reproduction of live nymphs from an Ootheca, which the females carry inside their bodies till they hatch.

The mating is essential for the growth of the colony. Hissing is also another way in which the giant cockroaches create dominance in their territories. The male insects protect their habitats by engaging in combat, and significantly, the louder hisser stands out as a more dominant one.

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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