Why Do Hissing Cockroaches Spit?

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Written by Anthony

I am a content creator by profession but exotic animals are one of my great passions in life. Over the course of my adulthood, I have had the pleasure of looking after stick insects, terrapins, an Egyptian tortoise, giant African land snails, a crested gecko, a Chilean rose tarantula, a couple of curly-haired tarantulas, and a selection of millipedes, centipedes and worms!

Last Updated on October 27, 2020

There are many weird and wonderful animals that individuals keep as pets, but perhaps one of the strangest in many eyes is the hissing cockroach. For most people, cockroaches are a source of disgust and are associated with filth or unhygienic practices. For some though, this gentle creature makes for a fascinating and rather wonderful pet.

Madagascar hissing cockroaches are easy to care for, good-natured, and the ideal starter pet for those with an interest in keeping insects. Nevertheless, individuals who are new to cockroach keeping will undoubtedly have a lot of questions, particularly when asking why these insects spit. Well, they might be surprised by the answer to this particular question.

Are Hissing Cockroaches Indestructible?

Cockroaches have been dubbed as indestructible due to being extremely resilient creatures (indeed, there are cockroaches that have survived nuclear blasts). They also have superior immune systems that help them avoid succumbing to diseases that they might otherwise pick up from the rotten food they eat as well as the filthy conditions they live in.

Due to their natural ability to survive, most people assume that cockroaches are fearless insects, but this is not entirely true. In fact, hissing cockroaches can become quite stressed by a new environment, being handled too often, and, in particular, being dropped.

How to Know if a Hissing Cockroach is Stressed?

One of the most obvious signs of a stressed hissing cockroach is the hissing sound that it makes, which is obviously where the name comes from. Other signs include fighting and a loss of muscle tone. However, one sign that researches have recently attributed to a stressed cockroach is spitting.

A hissing cockroach that is stressed might emit a clear liquid from its mouth. Although not a common occurrence, if your hissing cockroach is spitting out liquid, it could be a clear indication that it is under stress.

This liquid is saliva and cockroaches tend to produce this in large amounts in order to help with digestion of their food. Some cockroaches will use pheromones in their saliva when they are trying to attract a mate or when they are warning of danger.

Giant Hissing Cockroaches
Giant Hissing Cockroaches

If you notice this behavior in your hissing cockroach, it would be a good idea to think of what could be causing undue stress. Are you handling your cockroach too often, or have you introduced a new insect to its tank?

Try to minimize handling and if you have introduced new insects, consider separating your cockroach until this behavior settles down.

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