All About Dubia Roaches
Learning what to choose for your reptile to eat, and how to care for those food sources, can bring up a wide range of questions, even for experienced reptile owners. Luckily, digging a bit into the different types of live food options can often clear those questions up. Dubia roaches, for example, are quite simple to keep, and once you know how to care for dubia roaches, you can easily maintain their health until it's time to feed them to your pets.
Appearance of Dubia Roaches
Dubia roaches have an oval-shaped body and grow to between 1.6 and 1.8 inches in length. They are dark brown in color, but lighter brown or even orange spots or stripes are often visible along the insect's back. This coloring may be more or less visible depending on how the roaches are kept and what the dubia roaches eat. Male dubia roaches have long, full wings, while females have only short wings.
Lifespan of a Dubia Roach
Dubia roaches are originally from Central and South America, but they have become a popular feeder insect worldwide. Female roaches do not lay eggs—instead, the eggs gestate for about 28 days and then hatch inside the female's body. The female roach then gives birth to live dubia roach nymphs. Females can produce between 20 and 40 nymphs every month, as long as the female roach is healthy and receives a steady, nutritious diet.
Dubia roaches reach their full size in about four or six months. During that period, the roaches will go through seven molts, during which they will grow by about 25 percent each time. Adult dubia roaches generally live for between one and two years.
Pets That Eat Dubia Roaches
Dubia roaches are a popular feeder insect for a variety of reasons. They can't climb, rarely fly, and don't jump, so they're unlikely to escape from your pet's habitat. In addition, these characteristics make the roaches easy for a pet to catch. Dubia roaches are also quiet, unlike crickets.
Dubia roaches are most popular with reptile keepers, and they are a good choice for everything from geckos to monitor lizards. Dubia roaches can be fed to reptiles according to size. Smaller roaches and nymphs can be fed to smaller pets such as geckos, while bearded dragons, for example, can eat dubia roaches that are mid-sized.
Other pets, such as insects, fish, amphibians, and some birds, can also be fed dubia roaches as part of their diet.
I recommend gut loading dubia roaches before feeding them to any pet. What dubia roaches eat in turn affects the nutrition of the pet the roaches are fed to. Gut loading solves this issue. By feeding the roaches a nutritious diet, they can pass those nutrients and vitamins on to the animals that eat them. Alone, dubia roaches don't contain all the nutrients necessary to keep most pets healthy.
What Dubia Roaches Eat
Once you've gotten your roaches, it's important to know what dubia roaches eat so you can provide a diet that keeps the roaches healthy and, in return, keeps your pets healthy. Dubia roaches can be fed commercial products such as insect gut load or packaged roach food. Fresh foods, such as dried fruit or a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, will provide even more nutrition. Oranges, carrots, and many other orange or red fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, and I try to make these a staple of the roaches' diet. Carotenoids convert to vitamin A, an essential nutrient for reptiles.
Food that contains a high protein content should be avoided. It won't bother the roaches too much, but the roaches' bodies will convert this extra protein into uric acid. Uric acid can be harmful to reptiles.
Just as knowing what dubia roaches eat is essential, knowing how to offer moisture to the roaches is also crucial. When water is offered in a bowl or dish, the roaches may drown in it. For this reason, I feel that polymer water crystals are generally a good option instead.
How to Care for Dubia Roaches
Although you may not want to start your own roach colony—dubia roaches can cause allergies when there are too many of them in one area—learning how to care for dubia roaches is important in order to keep them healthy before feeding them to your pets.
I suggest keeping your dubia roaches in a smooth container, such as an aquarium, so they can't climb the walls. Dubia roaches are nocturnal and require places to hide in order to feel safe. The easiest way to provide this security is by placing a few open egg crates in the habitat. You can also turn the egg crates on their sides and line them up vertically. This will help to keep the habitat cleaner as well since the roach droppings will fall to the bottom instead of getting stuck.
Although some people may want to provide a substrate for the roaches, it's usually best not to. A substrate will simply collect waste and will need to be replaced frequently, making it harder to maintain cleanliness in the habitat.
Dubia roaches are tropical insects, but unless you're planning to breed them, you won't need to maintain a high temperature in order to keep them happy. The roaches can be kept at room temperature without health issues. If you feel the room is too cold, however, you can attach a reptile heater to the habitat.
The humidity in the habitat should remain at about 60 percent. A higher temperature will help with this, as it will cause water to evaporate more quickly. The water crystals should be enough to create the humidity required, but the habitat can also be periodically misted with water if the humidity isn't high enough.
Understanding how to care for dubia roaches also extends to keeping their enclosure clean. Be sure to clean out the dubia roach habitat every week or so, getting rid of any waste, including any shed exoskeletons. Not only will this keep the roaches healthy, but it will cut down on the risk of allergies or reactions to the roaches' droppings. Any food that hasn't been eaten within a day or so should also be removed so as to avoid mold. Mold can be life-threatening to roaches.
It's important to provide your reptiles with a balanced diet, and sometimes that can be a challenge. Luckily, feeder insects such as dubia roaches actually make feeding relatively easy, and learning how to care for dubia roaches can in turn help to keep your reptile friends in top shape.