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Cockroach Care Sheet

Hissing Cockroach

gromphadorhina portentosa

This species is a large wingless cockroach; the name refers to the unusual hissing sounds they make.

Hissing Cockroach

Hissing Cockroach Facts

Scientific Name gromphadorhina portentosa
Average Adult Size up to 3 inches long
Average Life Span 1 to 3 years with proper care
Diet herbivore

Will reach adult size in 7 months, under ideal conditions.


A well-balanced hissing cockroach diet consists of:

  • Romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, apples, carrots and occasional overripe fruits.


Things to remember when feeding your hissing cockroach:

  • Fresh, clean, chlorine-free water should be available at all times.
  • Feed daily and remove any uneaten foods within 24 hours.


  • Size - Appropriately sized and shaped habitat to accommodate normal behaviors and exercise, with secure lid.
  • Habitat - Provide hiding areas using non-toxic plants, branches, logs or cork bark; maintain high humidity by misting daily.
  • Substrate - Mulch-type commercial material such as coconut fiber bedding, dampened sphagnum moss and reptile bark.
  • Temperature - Temperature between 75 and 85°F; use an under-tank heater.
  • Lighting - Cockroaches are nocturnal and have no special lighting needs; don’t expose them to direct sunlight for long periods of time; to view cockroaches at night, use a nocturnal or infrared light.
  • Water - Use a shallow commercial cricket waterer or a shallow water bowl; use chlorine-free water and place stones in the bowl to prevent roaches from drowning. Commercial water drink (gel) is a good alternative water source.
  • House adult cockroaches together but do not house different cockroach species together.

Normal Behavior

  • Male cockroaches have large horns behind their heads while females have very small horns.
  • Cockroaches are nocturnal (active at night).
  • Handle cockroaches gently; while they don't bite, they do have sharp spines on their legs.
  • Juveniles molt several times before reaching adulthood; once grown, they do not molt again.

Habitat Maintenance

  • Change water daily. Thoroughly clean and disinfect the habitat with a 3% bleach solution and replace the substrate every two weeks.

Grooming & Hygiene

  • Cockroaches have a waxy coating; always wash your hands before and after touching your cockroaches, and avoid getting the coating into cuts and scratches.


Signs of a Healthy Animal

  • Eats regularly
  • Body is rounded and full
  • Active and alert
  • Healthy exoskeleton

Red Flags

  • Swollen limbs
  • Lethargic
  • Bumps, sores or abrasions
  • Weight loss
  • Abnormal feces
  • Discharge in mouth or eyes
  • Dull exoskeleton

If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.

Common Health Issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health Issue Dehydration Symptoms or Causes Slow moving, shriveled appearance. Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian and spray-mist the habitat more frequently.
Health Issue Falls, injuries Symptoms or Causes Bleeding Suggested Action Immediately consult your veterinarian.


Ask a store partner about Petco’s selection of books on invertebrates and the variety of private brand products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All private brand products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all invertebrates are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your invertebrate or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for invertebrates and should consider not having an invertebrate as a pet.

Go to for more information about invertebrates and disease.

This care sheet can cover the care needs of other species.

Note: The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, refer to the Sources on the back of this Care Sheet or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.