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Are Dubia Roaches better Than Crickets?
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The choice between Dubia Roaches and Crickets can be a hard one. Both insects have avid proponents that argue the benefits of one over the other. In general, dubia roaches offer a more balanced nutrient profile and higher digestibility, though both insects have their advantages.
In this article, we take a look at several different aspects of these feeders from a scientific perspective to really get to the bottom of which insect is better for your pet! We cover all the important aspects - nutrient profiles, digestibility, and most importantly, which one your pet reptile or amphibian will like more!
When it comes to nutrient profile, experts suggest that most carnivorous reptiles and amphibians need a diet with the following specifications:
Typical Carnivorous Reptile Diet
- High in Protein (30-60%)
- High in Fat (40-70%)
- Low carbohydrates and Indigestible Fiber
While some species require specialty diets or will not eat certain types of insects, this general diet suits most carnivorous pets well. High levels of protein and fat make up most of the diet, with low levels of carbohydrates and fiber that are hard to digest.
So, let’s see how Dubia Roaches and Crickets stack up to this “ideal” standard, based on information compiled in this large study of insect nutritional composition:
- Protein - 46%
- Fat - 24%
- Protein - 66%
- Fat - 22%
As you can see, both of these species seem to satisfy the protein portion of the diet. Crickets are on the high end - and too much protein can cause kidney problems. Dubia roaches have significantly less protein - which may be good or bad depending on your goals. Juvenile animals tend to require more protein, whereas adults tend to need less protein.
In terms of fat, neither of these species meets the standard of 40%. So, it is not wise to feed your animal ONLY dubia roaches or crickets. See the section below on variety for more information.
Two of the most important minerals for carnivorous animals to receive are calcium and phosphorous. More important than the level of each mineral within a food item is the ratio of calcium to phosphorous in the overall diet. Reptiles need phosphorous in order to process calcium, so the relationship between them is important.
Experts recommend that the calcium-to-phosphorous ratio somewhere around 2:1. Here are the actual mineral contents of dubia cockroaches and crickets:
Dubia Roaches (g/kg)
- Calcium - 5.8
- Phosphorous - 5.9
- Ratio - 1:1.01
- Calcium - 2.1
- Phosphorous - 7.8
- Ratio - 1:3.7
So, both of these insects will require a calcium dust supplement to get their calcium content up to an acceptable level for most reptiles and amphibians. That being said, dubia roaches have a much more balanced mineral content and are likely better feeders to use regularly.
Digestibility is a measurement of how easily food can be broken down and how easily minerals from that food can be absorbed into the bloodstream. One of the main factors for the digestibility of different insects is the amount of fiber the insects contain.
Insects contain a substance called chitin in their exoskeleton that is a fibrous, hard-to-digest material. Oftentimes, insects with less chitin in their system are easier to digest than insects with high levels of chitin. We can essentially see digestibility in the level of fiber each insect contains:
- Fiber - 8%
- Fiber - 12%
Dubia roaches, with slightly lower fiber content, are likely much more digestible. Since they also have a more balanced mineral profile, they make for a much better “full-time” feeder insect. Crickets can be added for variety and can be gut-loaded with various diets to increase their mineral load, but they will still be less digestible. Omnivores, which digest and pass lots of fiber, may be less hindered by the deficiencies in crickets.
Other Factors to Consider
Both crickets and dubia roaches can be reared in a captive environment relatively easily. While the evidence is only anecdotal - dubia roaches seem to smell much less than crickets. Crickets produce a very strong musk, easily detectable when there is a cricket habitat present.
By contrast, dubia roaches are “cleaner” and if they are kept in housing that is well-kept, the smell is minimal. While this has very little to do with their nutritional content, it is important to consider if you want to start your own colony.
Which Insect Will My Pet Prefer?
One thing that all reptile and amphibian owners find delight in is watching their pet exhibit its natural behaviors - such as stalking, chasing, and capturing a meal!
Crickets and dubia roaches will act in a very similar way. They will try to avoid bright light sources and quickly try to scurry under any available shelter. When the lights are off, they may wander around in search of food and water.
This is desirable for nocturnal predators and pets that like to eat under the cover of night. However, pets that like to hunt in the heat of the day often have trouble finding and catching dubia roaches and crickets when they are hidden in the substrate. If your pet is a daytime species, it may prefer less active insects like superworms or black soldier fly larvae.
Don’t Forget Variety!
Almost no feeder insect makes a perfect diet - by itself. With a diverse diet, your pet gets many different nutrients from different sources. This can make a big difference because a variable diet tends to hide any nutrient deficiencies that a single species of insect contains. Your pet may be picky about different insects, but they should be offered many different varieties to try to maximize their nutrient potential.
Omnivorous animals also eat insects, but they have a slightly different nutrient profile based on their more complex digestive system. Omnivores should also be given a wide variety of insects, but be sure to consider the fat and protein content of any insects you feed in addition to the fruits and vegetables your pet will take - and make sure those levels are appropriate for the species you are feeding.