Ralph – male Madagascar hissing cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa)
This insect looks—and sounds—like anything but a run-of-the-mill roach. Madagascar hissing cockroaches are one of many fascinating animal species to hail from the island of Madagascar.
These cockroaches are shiny brown and oval-shaped, with no wings and a single pair of antennae. Males sport large horns, which give them an unusual and impressive appearance.
Males use their horns in aggressive encounters reminiscent of battles between horned or antlered mammals. Rivals ram one another with their horns (or abdomens) and during the fight often unleash the amazing hisses that give the animal its name. Winning roaches hiss more than losers, so the sounds may be used to help determine a roach hierarchy.
Hissing is also part of the cockroach's mating ritual, and can be used as an effective alarm cry. Most insects that make noise do so by rubbing their body parts together or by employing vibrating membranes. Madagascar hissing cockroaches, however, exhale air through their breathing holes. This audible use of the respiratory system is far more common in vertebrates.