Do Hissing Cockroaches Bite?

Hissing cockroaches, known for their unique hissing noise, are intriguing creatures that often captivate the curiosity of many. With their large size and distinct appearance, it is natural for people to wonder if these unusual insects bite and how safe they are to keep as pets. In this article, Wildlife Informer provides answers to these common questions and more. While the Madagascar hissing cockroach, a common species kept as pets, does not bite, it has fascinating ways of defending itself against predators. Additionally, the article explores the reasons behind their hissing behavior, how they produce the sound, and the functions of their distinct pronotal horns. Furthermore, it discusses potential health risks, the suitability of hissing cockroaches as pets, and tips for their care. Whether you’re interested in learning more about these creatures or considering them as pets, this article provides valuable insights into the world of hissing cockroaches.

Do Hissing Cockroaches Bite?

Hissing cockroaches are fascinating creatures known for their unique hissing noise, which they use for various purposes. These cockroaches, specifically the Madagascar hissing cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa), are among the largest cockroach species in the world, growing up to 2 to 4 inches long. With their shiny brown or reddish-brown bodies and dark legs and heads, they often appear more attractive than the common cockroach.

Many people wonder if hissing cockroaches bite, especially since some keep them as pets. In this article, we will explore the safety of hissing cockroaches and whether they make good pets. We will also discuss the reasons why they hiss, their behavior, and the care they require.

Hissing Cockroaches as Pets

Appearance of Hissing Cockroaches

Hissing cockroaches have a distinct appearance with their shiny brown or reddish-brown bodies and dark legs and heads. They are larger than most cockroach species, growing up to 2 to 4 inches long. Their size and unique appearance make them interesting pets for insect enthusiasts.

Behavior of Hissing Cockroaches

Hissing cockroaches are generally gentle and easy-going creatures, which makes them suitable for pet owners. They won’t bite, sting, or attack humans or other animals. Instead, they prefer to hiss as a defensive mechanism when they feel threatened. These insects are also relatively clean, especially when kept in enclosed environments as pets.

Ease of Care for Hissing Cockroaches

Taking care of hissing cockroaches is relatively easy, which makes them suitable for new insect owners. They require a simple diet that includes fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as pellet food with high protein content, such as dry dog food. Hissing cockroaches can even eat their own molts. They also need a suitable enclosure with the right temperature and humidity levels to thrive.

Reasons Why Hissing Cockroaches Hiss

Scaring Predators or Intruders

One of the main reasons hissing cockroaches hiss is to scare away predators or intruders. When they feel they are in danger, they produce a hissing sound as a warning signal. This noise acts as a deterrent, often causing potential threats to back off.

Feeling Disturbed or Touched

Hissing cockroaches also hiss when they feel disturbed or touched, particularly if they are resting. Being lifted abruptly or touched can startle them, leading to a defensive response in the form of hissing.

Mating and Courtship Rituals

Male hissing cockroaches hiss during mating and courtship rituals. These insects live in colonies, and males use their hissing sound to communicate with each other and establish dominance. The male with the loudest hiss often wins the opportunity to mate with a female.

Communication Within Colonies

Hissing cockroaches use their hissing sound as a means of communication within their colonies. This helps them coordinate various activities and maintain social order.

How Hissing Cockroaches Hiss

Presence of Spiracles on Their Backs

Hissing cockroaches have small holes on their backs called spiracles. These spiracles serve as airways for breathing. When they force air out of these holes quickly, it creates the distinct hissing sound.

Process of Hissing by Forcing Air Out Quickly

To produce the hissing sound, hissing cockroaches force air out of their spiracles rapidly. The speed and force of the airflow result in the noise. Depending on the size of the cockroach, the sound they generate may vary.

The Purpose of the Horns on Hissing Cockroaches

Horns Exist Only in Male Hissing Cockroaches

The horns on hissing cockroaches are a distinct feature found only in males. Females do not possess these horns, which are located on their backs.

Used Mainly for Fighting with Other Hissing Cockroaches

Male hissing cockroaches use their horns primarily for fighting with other males. These battles help establish dominance within the colony. Instead of biting, male hissing cockroaches ram each other with their horns during these fights.

Establishing Dominance Within Colonies

By engaging in battles with other males and using their horns, hissing cockroaches establish dominance hierarchies within their colonies. The winner of these fights often gains the best food or a prime spot on a log.

Dangers of Cockroach Bites

Identification of Biting Cockroach Species

While hissing cockroaches do not bite humans or other animals, there are cockroach species known to bite. The American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) is one such species. It’s important to be able to identify these biting cockroach species to take appropriate precautions.

Symptoms of Cockroach Bites

Bites from cockroaches, including those from biting species, can cause irritation, swelling, and lesions. It’s crucial to be aware of the symptoms associated with cockroach bites in case you encounter a biting species.

Risk of Infections from Cockroach Bites

One of the risks associated with cockroach bites is the potential for infections. Cockroaches, especially those that live in unsanitary environments, can carry bacteria that may lead to infections if they bite.

Potential Health Risks of Hissing Cockroaches

Carrying Mold Spores That Can Trigger Allergies and Asthma Attacks

Hissing cockroaches can carry mold spores on their bodies. If you have allergies or asthma, coming into contact with these spores can trigger attacks. It’s essential to avoid rubbing your nose or eyes after handling cockroaches to minimize the risk of allergic reactions.

Grooming Habits and the Presence of Germs on Their Body

Cockroaches, including hissing cockroaches, groom themselves to remove viruses, bacteria, and parasites from their bodies. However, they may leave behind secretions containing germs. It’s important to be aware of these grooming habits and take necessary precautions when handling hissing cockroaches.

Suitability of Hissing Cockroaches as Pets

Gentle and Easy-going Nature of Hissing Cockroaches

Hissing cockroaches are known for their gentle and easy-going nature. They do not bite, sting, or attack humans or other animals. Their calm demeanor makes them suitable pets for those looking for low-maintenance and beginner-friendly insect companions.

Absence of Biting, Stinging, or Attacking Behavior

Unlike some other insect species, hissing cockroaches do not exhibit biting, stinging, or attacking behavior. Their main form of defense is their hissing sound, which warns potential threats to stay away.

Easy Care and Feeding Requirements

Taking care of hissing cockroaches is relatively simple. They require a suitable enclosure with the right temperature and humidity levels. Their diet consists of fresh vegetables, fruits, and high-protein pellet food. Hissing cockroaches are known to be undemanding when it comes to their care and feeding requirements.

Suitability for New Insect Owners

Hissing cockroaches are often recommended as suitable pets for new insect owners. Their easy-going nature and simple care requirements make them a good choice for those who are new to keeping insects as pets.


In conclusion, hissing cockroaches, such as the Madagascar hissing cockroach, do not bite humans or other animals. They are relatively gentle and prefer to hiss as a defense mechanism instead of resorting to aggression. However, it’s important to be cautious of other cockroach species that do bite and may cause irritations or infections.

While hissing cockroaches may not pose a direct threat through biting, they may carry mold spores on their bodies that can trigger allergies and asthma attacks. It’s crucial to consider these potential health risks before deciding to keep them as pets. Ultimately, hissing cockroaches can be fascinating and low-maintenance pets, suitable for those interested in the world of insects.

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