Dubia Roaches Vs Superworms
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Superworms or Dubia Roaches? The choice is complicated. Both insects have certain benefits and detriments, and there are many factors to consider. While these insects look and behave very differently, they have a similar composition of fat and protein. However, dubia roaches have an advantage when it comes to minerals.
In this article, we will take a look at all of the most important aspects when trying to decide which of these feeders to use! We will consider
- nutrient profiles
- mineral content
And we even consider how much fun your reptile or amphibian will have hunting and catching these insects!
The nutritional profile of an insectivorous lizard (like a leopard gecko) should be balanced in the range below:
Typical Carnivorous Reptile Diet
- High in Protein (30-60%)
- High in Fat (40-70%)
- Low carbohydrates and Indigestible Fiber
Other, omnivorous species, have slightly different dietary requirements. However, the insects they eat should be close to this composition for maximum benefits! The high protein allows your pet to build new cells, repair injuries, and create new proteins. The fat serves as a major energy source - eventually being turned into energy for each cell in your pet’s body!
So, let’s see how Dubia Roaches and Superworms stack up to this “ideal” standard, based on information compiled in this large study of insect nutritional composition:
Dubia Roaches Protein and Fat Content
- Protein - 46%
- Fat - 24%
Superworms (Adults) Protein and Fat Content
- Protein - 47%
- Fat - 42%
In the case of Superworms vs Dubia Roaches, the nutritional profile is very similar. However, you might notice that Dubia Roaches have slightly less fat content than Superworms. In fact, dubias have slightly less fat content than what is desirable for the “perfect” feeder insect. Superworms fall perfectly within the range of fat content and protein content - making them slightly superior when this is the only criterion looked at.
That being said - fat content and protein content are not the only important aspects of feeder insects. While Dubia Roaches have slightly less fat content, we will see that they are a much more balanced species when it comes to mineral content.
Insectivorous pets and many omnivorous pets require a diet with calcium and phosphorous minerals. These key nutrients are part of many different physiological processes and can lead to very serious conditions if the dietary requirements are not met.
While levels of these nutrients vary among different insects, the most important measurement of these minerals in a feeder insect is their ratio to each other.
Phosphorus and Calcium Ratio
Phosphorous is needed to properly process and utilize calcium, so there must be a balanced ratio for each mineral to be absorbed and utilized properly. Unbalanced feeder insects - while they might contain enough calcium - may not contain enough phosphorous to properly utilize that calcium and your pet will develop a mineral deficiency.
Experts recommend that the calcium-to-phosphorous ratio somewhere around 2:1. Here are the actual mineral contents of dubia cockroaches and Superworms:
Dubia Roaches (g/kg) Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio
- Calcium - 5.8
- Phosphorous - 5.9
- Ratio - 1 : 1.01
Superworms (g/kg) Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio
- Calcium - 1.2
- Phosphorous - 8.3
- Ratio - 1 : 6.9
As you can see, Superworms are clearly much further from this optimal ratio. Dubia Roaches have an almost 1:1 ratio. So, in order to get the ratio up to 2:1, all you need to do is use a calcium supplement - generally available as a dust or as a gut-load for your feeder insects. With this supplementation, dubia roaches have the perfect balance of calcium and phosphorous.
By contrast, Superworms show a ratio of nearly 1:7. This means you would have to add nearly 13 grams of calcium per kilogram of Superworms in order to balance out the ratio. While insect calcium dust may help balance this ratio a bit - each insect will need a huge amount of dust to become sufficient nutritionally.
In order to properly digest their food, carnivorous reptiles and amphibians need food that is not too fibrous. While fiber is an important part of the human, omnivore, and herbivore diets, it generally hinders most carnivorous organisms from obtaining all of the nutrients present in a feeder insect.
Insects contain chitin - a fibrous substance that is hard to digest and binds many of the important minerals your pet needs. So, in general, insects with less chitinous exoskeletons are easier to digest and will give your pet a higher level of minerals. Less chitin usually translates to a softer, squishier exoskeleton - much like you see on maggots and other soft grubs
Interestingly, Dubia Roaches seem to have very little chitin compared to other adult beetles and insects, practically the same as Superworms:
Dubia Roach Fiber
- Fiber - 8%
- Fiber - 8%
With approximately 8% fiber each, Dubia Roaches and Superworms are remarkably similar in their digestibility! Each insect is relatively low in chitin content - which can sometimes be as high as 50%!
Just remember, while these insects have similar fiber content, they have a different mineral content and slightly different fat content. Dubia roaches have a much higher and more balanced mineral content - so they will provide a better mineral source for your bearded dragon or leopard gecko.
Other Factors to Consider
Superworms and Dubia Roaches are both adaptable to captivity and can be reared in a captive environment quite easily. Dubia Roaches can be reared on a wide variety of food waste products, whereas Superworms require a more specialized diet of oats or wheat bran supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables.
In terms of cleanliness, Superworms have a slight advantage. Superworm colonies often smell like the substrate they are housed in (oats or wheat bran, typically), whereas Dubia Roaches can develop a very musty odor if their habitat is not rigorously cleaned on a regular basis.
While Dubia Roaches are one of the most mellow roaches in terms of their ability to jump, fly, and escape captivity - they are still much more active than Superworms, even the adult beetles. This makes Superworms slightly easier to rear as feeder insects.
Which Insect Will My Pet Prefer?
Natural behaviors are one of the most interesting things your pet will do. In the case of a hungry lizard, watching them seek, hunt, and capture prey is super fun for the owner. At the same time, displaying these natural behaviors actually stimulates your pet’s brain and increases their health and vigor!
For this, Dubia Roaches provide your pet with a much-needed challenge. Dubia Roaches are pretty fast, and will not be caught easily. This will give you pet exercise, engagement, and a variety of opportunities to express behaviors like chasing, waiting, and observing insects.
On the other hand, Superworms wiggle like crazy and will certainly attract your pet. For pets that are old, sickly, or need to gain fat reserves, a handful of superworms is a great way to supplement their diet. The worms are easy to catch, abundant in fat and protein, and are very appetizing. Superworms are often good for juvenile animals that need to gain weight - given that they are properly dusted with calcium first!
Don’t Forget Variety!
As you can see - neither Dubia Roaches nor Superworms fully satisfy the entire set of requirements for insectivorous reptiles and amphibians.
Dubia Roaches have a well-balanced mineral content and low fiber, but they are also slightly low on fat. By contrast, Superworms are wildly imbalanced minerally, but they do provide plenty of fat content and are also very digestible.
Dubia Roaches will serve well for most insectivores as a primary feeder, but Superworms can occasionally be given to support the fat requirement and help your pet build up their fat stores. For juvenile pets and pets owners are planning to breed, this fat content is very important! These groups should receive more Superworms than older, breeding-retire individuals because the fat content will help them create the stores they need to grow new tissue (whether that is a larger body or eggs for the next generation)!
Plus, there are a wide variety of other insects out there that can add variety to your lizard’s diet! While Dubia Roaches can make a great base - variety is the spice of life! Feeding variety will not only engage your pet more, but it will ensure that the nutrient deficiencies in Dubia Roaches (or your main feeder) are properly countered with nutrients from another species.