Madagascan hissing cockroach
Madagascan hissing cockroaches are great favourites with children visiting the Zoo and provide a great insight into the natural life of a rainforest. They are the “vacuum cleaners” of the tropical forest, cleaning up the forest floor as they go, eating plant and fruit material which has fallen from the trees.
They live in the leaf litter and logs and have one main predator, the lemur. To avoid being eaten, the expel air through tiny holes in their shiny shell, making the hissing sound after which they are named. Lemurs think that a snake is hiding nearby and move on. Madagascan hissing cockroaches can live for 2 to 5 years and, when reproducing, the female creates a cocoon-like egg case inside her body called an ootheca. This contains her eggs and neo-natal nymphs which are then born as living young. There can be as many as 60 at a time.
At the Zoo, these amazing arthropods are fed on leaves, fruit and vegetables.