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Seeing as my username on all the invertebrate forums is "Hisserdude", and it's an issue I'm passionate about, I thought I'd create a reference of what the PURE hobby Gromphadorhini are supposed to look like, since we are facing a mislabeling epidemic that threatens to inadvertently eradicate pure hisser stocks from the hobby over time, making lines less and less unique and different from each other.
 
All coloration norms mentioned here are for adults, unless otherwise specified. Hisser nymphs of even pure stock can vary wildly in coloration, and thus their coloration usually can't be used when determining whether they are hybrids or pure stock.

All of these pictures have been pulled from various sources online and are all of pure bred individuals. I've given credit to the photographers under each and every photo, if someone wishes to have their photos removed, please contact me and it shall be done.

Basic hisser anatomy that I'll be referencing in this amateur "key", (my own picture of a Gromphadorhina sp. "Hybrid" male):
 
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Aeluropoda insignis:
(Flathorn Hisser) 

Characterized by their noticeably flat appearance, and overall dark brown/black appearance with red highlights. Females and juveniles often have more red coloration than the males do, and the brightness and intensity of the red coloration is often greatly exaggerated in photos due to the camera flash.

So far only known to hybridize with pure Gromphadorhina sp. "Tiger"/Princisia vanwaerbeki "Tricolor". Most, if not all stock sold is pure.

 
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©Josef Dvořák
 
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©ArachnoVobicA

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Elliptorhina chopardi:
(Dwarf Hisser) 

Characterized by it's small size, black/dark orange pronotum, orange mesonotum and metanotum ending with darker borders, and mostly crisp orange abdominal coloration with very little to no darker striping.

Can probably hybridize with other Elliptorhina, maybe small individuals of other Gromphadorhini as well. Most, if not all stock sold is pure.
 
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©Josef Dvořák
 
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©Piotr Sterna


----------------------------------------------------------------Elliptorhina cf. coquereliana:

(Dark Dwarf Hisser)
 
A recent addition to Blatticulture, one I hope we'll see in the US sometime soon! This rare species is only being cultured by a handful of hobbyists ATM, so information on them is scarce.
They are characterised by their distinct coloration, adults have a black base coloration, with orange strips on the anterior sections of their mesonotum and metanotum. They have pale spots on their thoracic pads, and they also have thin orange stripes going across all their abdominal segments. Coloration is pretty consistent between individuals, and should not vary much at all.
Major males have very pronounced, pointy horns, but small males have horns more similar to those of chopardi or javanica.
 
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Elliptorhina davidi:
(Bumpy Hisser) 

An extremely rare hisser cultivar easily characterized by the heavily granulated (bumpy) exoskeleton of most individuals, but most noticeably nymphs and females, (males usually have rather smooth abdomens). The pronotums are either black or reddish, with the mesonotum and metanotum being a creamy orange ending with thick dark margins. The abdomen is usually a rather dark orange, no striping.
Current stock is very difficult to rear and can be prone to random mass die offs, something not seen in any of it's relatives.

Could possibly hybridize with other Elliptorhina or other small Gromphadorhini individuals, but as far as I know, no one's ever made hybrids of this species, on purpose or by accident, as they are so rare in culture already. As such, all stock sold is probably pure.

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©Lubomír Klátil
 
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©Cody Will

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Elliptorhina javanica:
(Halloween Hisser) 

This species is characterized by it's relatively small size and striking coloration. Adults either have black or red pronotums, the rest of the body is a bright, creamy orange color, with alternating bands of darker orange and black on every segment.

Can probably hybridize with other Elliptorhina and possibly small individuals of other Gromphadorhini. Most, if not all stock sold is pure.
 
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©Oscar Mendez
 
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©Roachcrossing

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Elliptorhina laevigata:
(V-horn Hisser) 

A somewhat rare species that's characterized by it's large size for an Elliptorhina, and yet slender build compared to other large Gromphadorhini, as well as the namesake "V" shaped horns on the adult males' pronotums. The base coloration of adult males is dark brown/black, with dull orange abdominal striping and thoracic pad spots visible on some individuals. Females have much more orange on their thoracic segments, and their abdomens are usually a dull red-orange with black striping.

This species can probably hybridize with other Elliptorhina and Gromphadorhini, however due to it's relative scarcity in the hobby, no such hybrids appear to have been documented. All stock sold seems pure.
 
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©Gabriele La Corte
 
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©Cody Will

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Gromphadorhina oblogonota:
(Wide Horn Hisser) 

A commonly cultured hisser species well known for it's large size, dark mahogany color, and the unusual width between the horns on males. Pure stock is easily characterized by consistent coloration of the adults, they should all be a dark maroon color, some individuals may have lighter spots on their thoracic pads and down the middle of their mesonotum and metanotum, this is normal. Larger males often have a large "scoop" on their pronotums. Large nymphs are dark brown/black and often have white spots on their thoracic pads, and white gaps in between the abdominal segments.

This species can hybridize with other Gromphadorhina and maybe certain "Princisia" strains. If your colony has black or light brown/orange adults popping up, or very small adults that look more like G.portentosa than oblongonota, it's safe to say your colony has been hybridized. Most stock sold of this species appears to be pure, but hybrids are out there, so be careful!
 
goblongonotamainimageC.jpg
Adults. ©Roachcrossing
 
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Nymph. ©Ondřej Machač

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Gromphadorhina portentosa:
(Common Madagascar Hisser) 

This is the OG hisser, once the most commonly cultured species, and unfortunately the species who's name is used to label the majority of hybrids in the hobby... There are a few different imports of this species, but pure stock of the oldest import, (the one without locality information, and the only one currently kept in the USA) is characterized by a relatively smooth exoskeleton, black pronotum, mostly orange mesonotum and metanotum with dark borders, little to no dark abdominal striping and crisp, orange to red-orange abdominal segments. This coloration should be consistent with very little to no variation in each generation.
Most current pure hissers in the US come from descendants of a culture maintained by the Cleveland Aquarium for many years, they apparently got theirs before the saturation of hybrids in the market and never added more bloodlines or kept other hisser species, which means they are as pure as can be. They also get noticeably larger than most hybrid "portentosa" stocks.

There are a number of "portentosa" color morphs out there, mainly black or dark brown morphs, however I don't think any of them came from lineage traced pure stock, most are almost certainly from hybrid lines, as extreme variability in coloration from the normal orange is typically the most obvious signs of hybridization.
One verified morph that's been selectively bred for over time from the pure Cleveland Aquarium stock, the "LLE Mahogany" morph, features both normal looking adults and very light colored ones. Unlike hybrid color variation, this coloration had to be selectively bred for over multiple generations before there was any noticeable difference from normal portentosa.

There are two more imports of G.portentosa being cultured in Europe, Gromphadorhina portentosa "Masoala, Madagascar", and Gromphadorhina cf. portentosa "Ranomafana, Madagascar". Both have slightly darker coloration and perhaps more black striping on their abdominal segments than is typical of pure individuals of the pure Cleveland stock in the US... However, keep in mind that while wild G.portentosa coloration is probably quite variable, unfortunately in captivity, color variation, especially lots of dark individuals in "portentosa" stocks, is usually an indicator of hybridization with other, darker hissers like Gromphadorhina oblogonata or "Princisia vanwaerbeki".
Pure colonies of the old import in the US have probably inadvertently been line bred for lighter than normal coloration over the years, so when we see colonies of the older import that have a lot of darker individuals popping up, be they black or dark brown, this is usually a sign of hybridization. Newer imports like the "Mosoloa" and "Ranomafana" probably throw out darker individuals because they are haven't yet been line bred inadvertently for any specific coloration, however these lines should always be labeled with their localities and hopefully won't be hybridized much in the future.

In short, if you see Gromphadorhina portentosa for sale, be sure to check if they're labeled as "Pure", (or if they are from the newer two imports), compare them to pictures of known pure stock, and if necessary, ask around and do some lineage tracing, (for example, if the stock looks completely pure and comes from some random hobbyist, who got theirs from Roachcrossing, who got theirs from the Cleveland Aquarium's colony, you should be good). If things don't add up and the hissers do not match the description above or the pictures below, then it's relatively safe to assume they're hybrids, most currently sold G.portentosa stock is.
 
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Pure Cleveland Aquarium Stock. ©Roachcrossing
 
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"LLE Mahogany" Stock. ©Roachcrossing
 
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"Masoala, Madagascar" Stock. ©Cafarnarium
 
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"Ranomafana, Madagascar" Stock. ©Cafarnarium

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Gromphadorhina sp. "Madagascar - Unidentified":
(Giant Hisser) 

This is a fairly recent, unidentified import in the hobby, not yet in culture in the US. This species is characterized by it's relatively large size and width, as well as the dark pronotum, rusty red abdominal coloration, (females often have dark striping), and faint dark markings alongside the lighter abdominal margins. Some adults have somewhat bright orange spots on their thoracic pads.
This species is closest to oblongonota, but the pronotums of this species, particularly the males are notably different than in oblongonota, being far less rounded and more squared off in shape.
Adults can vary quite a bit in length, but the largest can supposedly reach ~85mm, rivaling G.oblongonata in length and apparently surpassing them in width and bulk.

This species has proven to be rather slow growing compared to other Gromphadorhina and still remains rare in the hobby. Be sure to compare coloration and pronotum shape to the pictures below when determining if stock is pure.
 
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Adult male. ©Loach's Roaches
 
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Subadults. ©Loach's Roaches
 
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Left to right: Male G.oblongonota, male G.sp. "Madagascar" ©Loach's Roaches

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Gromphadorhina sp. "Tiger" (& Princisia vanwaerbeki "Tricolor")
(Tiger Hisser) 

The US stock of this species is characterized by the black thorax, red spots on the sides of the pronotum and on the thoracic pads, and the abdominal segments being a creamy yellowish coloration with black striping, (males typically being lighter than females). Individuals will occasionally have a light patch on the metanotum, or a dark line going down the middle of the abdominal segments.
Jet black individuals can very rarely pop up in cultures, and some claim to have isolated a "Black Tiger" morph of this species. However, most, if not all "Black Tigers" on the market today are just black "G.portentosa" hybrids...
As for the majority of individuals, there should be little to no variation in the striping pattern, if the pale abdominal coloration has been replaced with a dull brown or orange, the black stripes are incredibly thick and/or very abnormal compared to the below individuals of US stock, or some individuals don't have any stripes at all, these are signs of hybridization.

In the US this species has been erroneously labelled as "Gromphadorhina grandidieri", however, real G.grandidieri look nothing like these at all, like AT ALL...
In Europe there is a strikingly similar strain of hisser labeled as Princisia vanwaerbeki "Tricolor", which in my opinion is probably the same species, and possibly the exact same stock, just labeled differently and perhaps inadvertently line bred for slightly different coloration, (interestingly, it took a little longer to get established in Europe than in the US). The European ID of "Princisia vanwaerbeki" seems much more on the nose at first glance, see the holotype of Princisia vanwaerbeki... However, the pronotum shape and horn structure of adult male "Tigers" and "Tricolors" are much different than that of P.vanwaerbeki, and I'm also not 100% sure their "Tricolors" are exactly the same as our "Tigers", so we in the US should still call our stock Gromphadorhina sp. "Tiger" IMO.

This species can hybridize with Princisia and Gromphadorhina species, which leads to a lot of really dull looking hybrids with base abdominal colorations of brown and some darker brown striping, and some individuals that look nothing like "Tigers" at all... They can also hybridize with Aeluropoda, making flatter, more dully colored individuals. Most stock in the US is pure, pure stock in Europe appears to be nearly nonexistent now though, with pale, stripeless "portentosa" looking individuals popping up in many cultures...
 
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US stock. ©Roachcrossing
 
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US stock. Color a bit dark due to lighting, note metanotum spot. ©Roachcrossing
 
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Supposedly true Gromphadorhina sp. "Black Tiger" morph. ©Roachcrossing
 
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Europe's Princisia vanwaerbeki "Tricolor" stock. ©Cafarnarium


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Princisia vanwaerbeki "Black & White":
(Black and White Hisser) 

This breed of "Princisiaused to be characterized by the mostly black pronotum, black mesonotum and metanotum with small, dull red spots on the thoracic pads, and the abdominal segments being a creamy white with thicker black striping than the P.vanwaerbeki "Tricolor".
Nowadays though, all stocks of this strain are quite similar to P.vanwaerbeki "Tricolor", only being differentiated by having darker, smaller dots of red coloration on the thoracic pads.
There should be little to no variation in coloration, especially no highly dark or stripeless individuals, to be considered pure.

The European ID of "Princisia vanwaerbeki" seems to be pretty on the nose at first glance, see the holotype of Princisia vanwaerbeki... However, the pronotum shape and horn structure of the adult male "Black & White" are much different than that of P.vanwaerbeki, thus I'm not sure that this is the right ID for this strain. 

This stock can hybridize with other Princisia strains, and almost certainly Gromphadorhina species. Pure colonies of this stock appear to be rather rare in culture, (outnumbered by "Tricolor" and "Tricolor" hybrids), and care should be taken to preserve what few cultures there are left that do appear pure. Be very wary of hybrid stocks when looking to obtain this strain.

Princisia%2B059%257E2.jpeg
Old stock ©Jörg Bernhardt
 
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Old stock ©Jörg Bernhardt
 
 
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Current stock ©Cafarnarium
 

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Princisia vanwaerbeki "Standard/Big":
(Vibrant Hisser) 

This was once the most commonly cultured Princisia form, unfortunately there are probably almost as many mislabeled hybrids of standard P.vanwaerbeki as there are of G.portentosa...
Pure stock of this Princisia strain is characterized by an overall dark brown/black coloration, with red spots on the thoracic pads and yellow borders on the margins of the abdominal segments. Some individuals have less yellow coloration than others, with thinner borders, but none should completely lack the margins and none should have actual thick striping. This coloration should be rather consistent, with no major variations.
Pronotum structure is also very important when differentiating pure stock from hybrids. Pure Princisia males should always have a noticeable "scoop" in the pronotum, as well as strong horn structure. Hybrid Princisia have very variable pronotum shapes, some males having scoops, others lacking them, and with horn structure that looks rather wimpy at times. 

Pure colonies of this strain are known to be quite finicky compared to other hissers, which may be why they are less common than the more virile hybrid stocks, (pure stock is very rare in the US right now).
Some people don't use the strain name "Big" when selling this species, which OK for now, considering there's only one pure Princisia strain in the US ATM. Doesn't necessarily mean they aren't pure, but be sure to check for color consistency of course, from any colony that's supposedly from this "default" Princisia strain...

Note that this strain, while considered by many to be the "default" Princisia strain in culture, doesn't look much like the holotype at all in terms of coloration...

This species can hybridize with other Princisia and Gromphadorhina species, and many "G.portentosa" colonies appear to be hybrids of portentosa and this Princisia strain. Most stocks sold of this species are hybrids, check very carefully for coloration of the stock you buy and receive. If they're a mix of all black, very light, thickly striped, normal and/or "portentosa" or "oblongonota" looking individuals, and males have very variable pronotum shapes and horn structure, it's safe to say they're hybrids.
 
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©K.I.D. Kucharscy
 
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©Roachcrossing

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Princisia vanwaerbeki "Androhamana, Madagascar":
(Vibrant Hisser) 

This more recent import of Princisia vanwaerbeki from Androhamana Madagascar is very similar to P.vanwaerbeki "Standard/Big" in general color scheme, but males have an abdominal striping pattern more similar to that of the "Tiger/Tricolor" stocks. So the base abdominal coloration is a dark tan color, with black stripes.
Females barely have any tan striping on their abdomens at all, and are a little more similar to the P.vanwaerbeki "Standard/Big" females in patterning.
Both sexes have black pronotums, mesonotums and metanotums, with reddish-orange spots on and right next to the thoracic pads.

They are a close match to the holotype specimen, more so than any other Princisia strain in culture, and being a recent import kept by a select few careful breeders, they have yet to be hybridized! However, their general appearance can actually be quite similar to that of various Princisia hybrids in the hobby, so it is imperative that people always label this strain with the locality "Androhamana", and that keepers take the utmost care in keeping their colonies pure, as telling these apart from hybrid stocks may be tricky, (though one would likely expect a higher amount of variability in coloration and sizes in hybrid colonies)
 
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Male, standard coloration. ©Cafarnarium
 
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Same male, different lighting, note the striping. ©Cafarnarium 
 
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Female with full abdomen. ©Cafarnarium
 
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Female. ©Cafarnarium

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I hope that this amateur "key" to the hobby hissers has proven useful, I'll try to keep this page updated with any new hisser species that enter the hobby. Hopefully we'll get some more new species and strains in the hobby soon, and hopefully we can preserve what pure stocks we already have by labeling hybrids correctly and taking measures to prevent accidental hybridization, (don't add "new blood" to pure colonies without being absolutely sure they're pure too, make sure all hisser colonies are completely escape/contamination proof, etc.). 😁
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Super interesting and helpful. Also, the topic is kind of fascinating. I wonder what we will know about hissers in another 20 years. Our understanding of the various species may be very different.

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I have bred literally thousands of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches for the last 8 years. I purchased close to 5K from a guy in Ohio....the concept of purity or hybridized never entered our negotiation as I didn't care. They have never been added to, I have sold thousands in this time and continue to sell them at shows and our website as "hybrids" because I have no idea if they were pure or not. Given where I got them, and the 3" plus size they achieve as they age, and what I believe to be a very consistent color and pattern, I don't think they are hybrids...but again I don't know. I have seen a very dark morph, almost black, but I believe that dark color is either related to diet, or just a variation of the norm. The overwhelming majority of our customers, either are unaware that these might by hybrids, or couldn't care less......the idea that the vast majority of Mad Hissers that are out there come from just a small group of Hissers that were hybridized, hence all their off spring are hybrids. Or that people are out there right now trying to hybridize for reasons I can't comprehend, makes me think that the only people who care about purity are those trying to charge more for bugs that are becoming more and more common and cheaper. jmho 

hissers 3.jpg

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1 hour ago, whowadat said:

I have bred literally thousands of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches for the last 8 years. I purchased close to 5K from a guy in Ohio....the concept of purity or hybridized never entered our negotiation as I didn't care. They have never been added to, I have sold thousands in this time and continue to sell them at shows and our website as "hybrids" because I have no idea if they were pure or not. Given where I got them, and the 3" plus size they achieve as they age, and what I believe to be a very consistent color and pattern, I don't think they are hybrids...but again I don't know. I have seen a very dark morph, almost black, but I believe that dark color is either related to diet, or just a variation of the norm. 

It can be quite hard to tell pure portentosa from hybrid stock, however if they originated from the Cleveland Aquarium then they're almost certainly pure, best way to tell with portentosa is lineage tracing and of course color consistency. 

1 hour ago, whowadat said:

makes me think that the only people who care about purity are those trying to charge more for bugs that are becoming more and more common and cheaper. jmho 

Most people who actually sell pure G.portentosa sell them at normal, cheap prices, they breed just as well as mutts after all and are the "standard" hissers. Price raises are generally reserved for pure stock of the other species, which are all unique in their own ways, have consistent, unique patterning that is SO much different and more appealing than that of their hybrids IMO... Which is why labeling is so important, and why prices are higher for some of those species, as they are becoming rare due to the influx of mislabeled hybrids. 

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23 hours ago, Longhorn1234 said:

All I can say is wow. This is amazing information for everyone out there. Thank you for taking the time to post this. Amazing work!

Thanks, I worked pretty hard on perfecting it over the past few weeks, and will continue to keep it updated as new hissers enter the hobby, (and maybe replace some of the pics with my own one day). :D

11 hours ago, varnon said:

Super interesting and helpful. Also, the topic is kind of fascinating. I wonder what we will know about hissers in another 20 years. Our understanding of the various species may be very different.

Thanks! :D Indeed, a revision of the Gromphadorhini is long overdue, and I suspect will bring in some surprises. 😄 Would love for some new species to enter the hobby along the way too... 😅

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On 6/15/2020 at 10:03 PM, Hisserdude said:

Most people who actually sell pure G.portentosa sell them at normal, cheap prices, they breed just as well as mutts after all and are the "standard" hissers. Price raises are generally reserved for pure stock of the other species, which are all unique in their own ways, have consistent, unique patterning that is SO much different and more appealing than that of their hybrids IMO... Which is why labeling is so important, and why prices are higher for some of those species, as they are becoming rare due to the influx of mislabeled hybrids. 

I wouldn't argue your point, however my experience has been 180 degrees opposite. We vended 28 shows last year and seen a lot of folks selling Hissers.....they were always much more expensive than what we were selling them for....10 for 15.00 dollars. I had one guy tell me how mine were hybrids and his were pure stock based upon the size of his compared to mine. I let it pass.... however what he failed to note is that he wasn't selling any of his Hissers at his price point and that's why his were larger, they were older. It wasn't the first time I heard another vendor claim his were the real deal hence the higher price. I've seen something similar with Death Heads.... one guy in Nashville was claiming his was the larger Riverside morph and hence their 10.00 a piece price tag. When I asked them where he got them from...he couldn't tell me. Folks who know their stock....know exactly where they got them from in my experience.....most are rather anal about it.

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20 hours ago, whowadat said:

I wouldn't argue your point, however my experience has been 180 degrees opposite. We vended 28 shows last year and seen a lot of folks selling Hissers.....they were always much more expensive than what we were selling them for....10 for 15.00 dollars. I had one guy tell me how mine were hybrids and his were pure stock based upon the size of his compared to mine. I let it pass.... however what he failed to note is that he wasn't selling any of his Hissers at his price point and that's why his were larger, they were older. It wasn't the first time I heard another vendor claim his were the real deal hence the higher price. I've seen something similar with Death Heads.... one guy in Nashville was claiming his was the larger Riverside morph and hence their 10.00 a piece price tag. When I asked them where he got them from...he couldn't tell me. Folks who know their stock....know exactly where they got them from in my experience.....most are rather anal about it.

Hmm, well maybe it's different at shows then, most vendors I've seen online sell both hybrids and pure bred portentosa for very similar prices... With hybrids being more often sold in bulk online, since most people I know use them more for feeders, and pure stocks usually being sold exclusively for "pet" prices, (then again, I have seen lots of hybrids sold for those higher "pet" prices too). 

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2 hours ago, Mwewe said:

Thanks so much @Hisserdude, this is amazing 😍

I got the two gals I “adopted” some friends, and I’m guessing they’re not pure. A couple of them were very very dark. 

Thanks, glad you liked it! :D And yes those are definitely "portentosa" hybrids for sure, given that highly variable coloration you see, typical of those hybrids. 

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2 hours ago, Hisserdude said:

Thanks, glad you liked it! :D And yes those are definitely "portentosa" hybrids for sure, given that highly variable coloration you see, typical of those hybrids. 

Darn! It is what it is. I got them at a very affordable price, and put them in the composter with the everyone else 😂 If I ever get to the point of selling them, I’ll be sure and let people know they’re hybrids. I almost sent you a PM about them... but then you made this topic 🙌

Might be a little too much anthropomorphism, but I figured the two adults were lonesome from months in solitude and would be happier with more of their kind.
Plus hissers are fun to handle 💕

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2 hours ago, Mwewe said:

Darn! It is what it is. I got them at a very affordable price, and put them in the composter with the everyone else 😂 If I ever get to the point of selling them, I’ll be sure and let people know they’re hybrids. I almost sent you a PM about them... but then you made this topic 🙌

Might be a little too much anthropomorphism, but I figured the two adults were lonesome from months in solitude and would be happier with more of their kind.
Plus hissers are fun to handle 💕

Yeah, best to just label them Gromphadorhina sp. "Hybrid" if you end up selling them for sure. :) And yeah most generic, cheap hissers nowadays are indeed hybrids, so that makes sense. 

They probably do enjoy the company, hissers seem to be naturally gregarious. LOL they are definitely fun to handle, something I unfortunately can't really do with mine though, due to me developing an allergy to them... 

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7 hours ago, Arthroverts said:

Excellent information here. This is going on the Other Resources page on my blog...

Thanks for sharing,

Arthroverts

Thanks, glad you find it useful! :)

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Added Elliptorhina cf. coquereliana, a species that's apparently been in the hobby for a little while now, but people are just now starting to post about them in some of the roach groups...

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Hisserdude, thank you so much for taking the time to put together this beginner's reference to hissing cockroaches. Earlier this year, I adopted 3 adult hissers (1 male, 2 female) and 15 to 20 juveniles of various sizes through Craigslist. My intention was to use them to establish a colony of feeders for a Tokay Gecko I intended to purchase, since the volume of crickets required would be too demanding to propagate or too expensive to purchase. (I do propagate crickets to feed my smaller herptiles.) My purchase of a Tokay Gecko has been delayed by an unexpected work schedule, but my Hissers have been "working" diligently, and I now have over 50 adults! I plan to set up a larger habitat for them soon.

The fellow who gave me the initial Hissers had purchased them from a chain pet store and did not know the exact species they were, but I'm fairly sure they are the all too common Gromphadorhini hybrids being sold everywhere. Given my intended purpose, this is not especially important to me, although I feel it is unfortunate that the species are hybridized for no apparent reason, since the majority of species that are interbred have no negative issues in propagation or potential purpose that can be improved through crossing species. I may begin selling a few "extras" online, but rest assured that I will be listing them as impure hybrid stock, since to do otherwise would not only be dishonest, but could compound what I see as the biggest problem in the hissing ccockroach trade. Diligence is needed to preserve the natural species purity of these unique animals.

Hey, just remember what happened when they started messing around with cockroach genetics in the movie, "Mimic"! 😋 That's a good Halloween movie choice for all cockroach aficionados, especially if you haven't seen it!

--T.B.

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I'm in awe. So much info and so well put together! I was unaware that our tiger hissers are likely Princisia. What are your thoughts on correcting the species name in the U.S. hobby? It seems like a major undertaking, but I would much prefer to use the actual species name rather than the commonly used name. 

Question on the Elliptorhina laevigata: My adult males look like sausages. They're so round I often mistake them for very, very gravid females. Is this characteristic of the species? And are they slow or difficult to breed? My females are equally fat (and have been for nearly 4 months), but no nymphs yet. 

My Elliptorhina davidi females (I have 13.2.X 🙄) each just gave birth. Any tips on helping them reach adulthood?

I'm waiting to get some of the Cleveland Aquarium stock from Kyle, but I'd also love to get my hands on pure lines of:

Gromphadorhina sp. "Madagascar - Unidentified"
Princisia vanwaerbeki "Black & White"
Princisia vanwaerbeki "Androhamana, Madagascar"

Do you know who is keeping these in the U.S.? 

Again, bravo on the exceptionally informative post. This one is going in my invert bookmarks.

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On 10/26/2020 at 3:55 AM, RadRoacher said:

Hisserdude, thank you so much for taking the time to put together this beginner's reference to hissing cockroaches. Earlier this year, I adopted 3 adult hissers (1 male, 2 female) and 15 to 20 juveniles of various sizes through Craigslist. My intention was to use them to establish a colony of feeders for a Tokay Gecko I intended to purchase, since the volume of crickets required would be too demanding to propagate or too expensive to purchase. (I do propagate crickets to feed my smaller herptiles.) My purchase of a Tokay Gecko has been delayed by an unexpected work schedule, but my Hissers have been "working" diligently, and I now have over 50 adults! I plan to set up a larger habitat for them soon.

The fellow who gave me the initial Hissers had purchased them from a chain pet store and did not know the exact species they were, but I'm fairly sure they are the all too common Gromphadorhini hybrids being sold everywhere. Given my intended purpose, this is not especially important to me, although I feel it is unfortunate that the species are hybridized for no apparent reason, since the majority of species that are interbred have no negative issues in propagation or potential purpose that can be improved through crossing species. I may begin selling a few "extras" online, but rest assured that I will be listing them as impure hybrid stock, since to do otherwise would not only be dishonest, but could compound what I see as the biggest problem in the hissing ccockroach trade. Diligence is needed to preserve the natural species purity of these unique animals.

Hey, just remember what happened when they started messing around with cockroach genetics in the movie, "Mimic"! 😋 That's a good Halloween movie choice for all cockroach aficionados, especially if you haven't seen it!

--T.B.

No problem, glad to hear it was of use to you, and it does sound like your Gromphadorhina are probably hybrids. Thank you for committing to selling them as such, and I hope they work great as feeders for your gecko when you get it! :D

(And yes, Mimic is an awesome movie, perfect for Halloween lol!). 

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On 10/30/2020 at 10:42 AM, Philology said:

This is the kind of content that I am a member for; Hisserdude, thank you for your efforts. While I am not so big on Hissers, it feels good to know a little about them. Maybe i'll trade for a pure stock soon...

Thanks, glad you found it informative, it's not a definitive key or anything, but I think it'll prove useful! 🙂

On 10/30/2020 at 4:34 PM, Acro said:

Wow . . . somehow I missed this!

Super job, thanks for posting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This should be a "sticky"!

No problem, thanks for reading! 😁

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On 10/30/2020 at 6:18 PM, Axolotl said:

I'm in awe. So much info and so well put together! I was unaware that our tiger hissers are likely Princisia. What are your thoughts on correcting the species name in the U.S. hobby? It seems like a major undertaking, but I would much prefer to use the actual species name rather than the commonly used name. 

Question on the Elliptorhina laevigata: My adult males look like sausages. They're so round I often mistake them for very, very gravid females. Is this characteristic of the species? And are they slow or difficult to breed? My females are equally fat (and have been for nearly 4 months), but no nymphs yet. 

My Elliptorhina davidi females (I have 13.2.X 🙄) each just gave birth. Any tips on helping them reach adulthood?

I'm waiting to get some of the Cleveland Aquarium stock from Kyle, but I'd also love to get my hands on pure lines of:

Gromphadorhina sp. "Madagascar - Unidentified"
Princisia vanwaerbeki "Black & White"
Princisia vanwaerbeki "Androhamana, Madagascar"

Do you know who is keeping these in the U.S.? 

Again, bravo on the exceptionally informative post. This one is going in my invert bookmarks.

Well the thing is, Princisia is likely an invalid genus, so calling our tigers Gromphadorhina sp. "Tiger" seems the most accurate way of labeling them to me... Additionally, I've since noticed that the pronotum shape of "Tigers/Tricolors" VS the pronotum shape of confirmed P.vanwaerbeki is quite different, pure vanwaerbeki males will consistently have "scoops" in the pronotum and an almost triangular pronotum, whereas the pronotums and horn structure of "Tiger/Tricolor" males don't always have scoops, are more rounded, and overall quite different... So I might have to edit my "key" a bit. Calling them Princisia vanwaerbeki is still more believable than calling them G.grandidieri though when considering patterning alone. 

Yeah Elliptorhina laevigata get pretty thick, I don't know if that's a species specific characteristic, but it is normal for that species. And yeah they're known to be on the finicky side, getting females to give birth can be hit or miss. 

That's awesome to hear about the Elliptorhina davidi, congrats! Just keep them as you've been keeping the adults and hope for the best, avoid crowding at all costs too, as they may die off if kept to crowded. We're still not sure why they have their random colony collapses unfortunately... 

Brandon Maines sells that same Cleveland Aquarium stock of G.portentosa BTW. 

And no, no one in the US breeds any of those species unfortunately, and I am doubtful pure Princisia vanwaerbeki "Black and White" still exist TBH, or that they're any different from our Tigers...

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9 hours ago, Hisserdude said:

Calling them Princisia vanwaerbeki is still more believable than calling them G.grandidieri though when considering patterning alone.

I don't think your statement is true and this is probably the only current stock that didn't come through Europe. You're basing your assessment on some photos of misidentified wild specimens. 

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14 hours ago, Allpet Roaches said:

I don't think your statement is true and this is probably the only current stock that didn't come through Europe. You're basing your assessment on some photos of misidentified wild specimens. 

I'm basing that assessment off of the description of a lectotype male of Gromphadorhina grandidieri, which describes the males as having black thoracic segments, and a purplish brown abdomen, which closely matches the individuals identified as grandidieri by George Beccaloni.

See my comment on this topic:

On 3/31/2020 at 7:28 PM, Hisserdude said:

I decided to revisit this topic, and found that the above paper describes G.grandidieri males as having a black thorax, and purple-brown abdomen, like this wild individual. However, besides that one black female in the above paper, it seems that most wild grandidieri females are a similar shade of brown... See this female, almost certainly grandidieri given the range, (and was ID'd by George Beccaloni, the person who photographed the wild male G.grandidieri above).

Unless that paper is dead wrong, and George Beccaloni (@Megaloblatta?) erroneously identified that live male pictured on the CSF as grandidieri, then it would seem that the tiger hissers in the hobby are not very similar to grandidieri at all. I'll ask around and see if I can't find the original description for the holotype of this species... 

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