Creepy Critters--Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches


Only the males make the titular sound, but both genders are labeled Madagascar hissing cockroaches. And it’s not a traditional hiss like a person or a snake would make. The sound that these insects emit isn’t a vocalization at all, rather the byproduct of air rushing out of tiny holes in the males’ backs.

But the meaning is universal—keep away from me! When another cockroach or a keeper encroaches on a male’s territory within the cockroach exhibit in Regenstein African Journey, the little guys hiss with all their might.

Keepers are happy to keep their distance when cleaning or delivering food to the exhibit, which houses hundreds of the cockroaches. And it’s not uncommon for those tending to the exhibit to feel a big bug plop down on their heads or even slip into their shirts. (There’s a mirror posted near the door, enabling keepers to check themselves for any six-legged castaways before they leave the room.)

For all the noise within the cockroach exhibit, the most vocal beings are on the other side of the glass. Zoo visitors who crowd in front of the darkened, concave exhibit shriek, squeal and scream when they realize they are outnumbered by oversized bugs.


Celebrate the Season

We’re running a series of Creepy Critter profiles in October to highligh some of the species that—fairly or not—tend to give some guests the shivers. Here are some other ways to celebrate the season at Lincoln Park Zoo!

  Spooky Zoo Spectacular

Hosted by the Auxiliary Board, Spooky Zoo Spectacular is an opportunity for children to celebrate Halloween in a free, safe and family-friendly environment.
Learn more about Spooky Zoo Spectacular

  Wish List: Fun this Fall—Zoo Style

Leaves are starting to change colors and temperatures are cooling at Lincoln Park Zoo. Help the zoo’s animals welcome autumn—consider purchasing squash for monkeys, “western wear” for the ponies and cows, and pumpkin balls for the zebras.
See What's on the Wish List