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Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches can be ordered from Carolina Biological Supply

Scientific name: Gromphadorhina portentosa

Hissing Cockroaches


  • Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches (available to order from Carolina Biological Supply, or come visit Explorit's hissing cockroaches)


  • Everyone (visitors and presenters) must wash their hands before and after handling the hissing cockroach.

  • When removing a hissing cockroach from its cage it’s often easiest to use your thumb and forefinger to gently clasp the sides of the thorax abdomen up near the base of the legs or just scoop one up in the palm of your hand.

  • Visitors can either pet the hissing cockroach or hold it in the palm of their hand (they do not bite).

  • Guests may notice that the cockroaches feel ‘sticky’, like they are gripping their hand. This may be intimidating – it’s also a really cool feature to point out. Hissing cockroaches can climb straight up a completely flat surface, such as glass!

  • Presenters need to ensure the hissing cockroach is held directly over its plastic carrying container. This is important because if a guest accidentally drops a cockroach it will fall safely back into its container instead of onto the floor.

  • The cockroaches may sometimes excrete a clearish liquid that can be wiped off easily. Occasionally harmless mites may be visible on their abdomen.



Activity Objectives 

  • Students will gain an understanding of the importance of camouflage to a variety of animals.

Vocabulary/Literature Resource

  • Vocabulary: Camouflage, blending in, color, pattern, habitat

  • Adapted from ESC’s “Amazing Animals” Classroom Adventure Program


Consumable supplies to gather and/or purchase:  

  • Pictures of camouflaged/uncamouflaged animals

  • Colored foam punchouts

  • Coloring pictures of animals

  • Crayons   

Permanent supplies

  • Tweezers

  • Container with aquarium gravel

  • Timer

  • Tray

  • Furs

  • Preserved animals

Activity Plan

  • Have students color the camouflaged animal pictures. Encourage them to choose colors that help their animals to blend in.

  • Have students try to identify animals that are camouflaged in the sets of animal photographs.

  • Investigate the furs and preserved animals.  Ask students to decide whether they think that these animals are camouflaged in their natural habitats.

  • Students can also play the camouflage game.  They should try to find as many foam pieces amongst the aquarium rock as possible before time runs out. Ask them which pieces were the easiest or most difficult to find.



Activity Objectives 

  • Students will learn about different types of animal teeth, and different things that animals eat. 

Vocabulary/Literature Resource

  • Vocabulary: Predator, prey, meat-eater, plant-eater, sharp, flat

  • Adapted from ESC’s “Amazing Animals” Classroom Adventures Program.


Permanent supplies:

  • Skulls from various animals.

  • Magnifying glasses

  • Protective cloth

  • Mirror

Activity Plan

  • Students and parents should be invited to investigate the skulls, using a magnifying glass as necessary.

  • Some questions to ask:

  • What type of animal do you think this is?

  • What do you notice about this skull (shape, color, location of features)?

  • What do you notice about its teeth?

  • What do you think this animal eats? Why do you think that?

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