How Many Dubia Roaches does my Pet Need?

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How many Dubia Roaches does my Pet Need?

how many dubia roaches should i feed my pet

Knowing when and how much to feed growing non-mammalian pets can be a challenge and the information available can be conflicting or vague.  This article intends to capture data from the best research available on utilizing common feeder insects, rather than just repeating what another website may claim.

Crickets certainly offer nutritional benefits as inexpensive feeder insects. Dubia roaches offer other advantages.  The favorable calcium to phosphorus ratio, higher protein and slightly higher fat content makes them an appealing choice for many keepers.  The cost of these feeders is considerably more, however. 

Table of Contents

 

Bearded dragons

dubia roaches for bearded dragons

How Many Dubia Roaches for Bearded Dragons

  • Young Bearded Dragon (1-3 months old) = 30 - 50 micro roaches (1/4-inch nymphs) three times per day. Twice per day is acceptable, but your pet will grow more slowly.  Make sure to have 1,050 roaches on hand per week.
  • Juvenile Bearded Dragon (3-9 months old) = 25 - 50 medium roaches (1/2-inch nymphs) twice daily. 
  • Maturing Bearded Dragon (9+ months old) = 3-5 adult roaches (1" adults) almost daily.  Because of the higher fat content of these feeders than crickets, obesity may result if the beardie is fed these insects 7 days per week.  Skipping a day or even two may be needed.

Bearded Dragons Dietary Needs

This popular pet species has an extremely high metabolism and growth rate when young. This makes offering plenty of nourishing foods high in protein and calcium critical if the new owner wants that pet to live its full life span free from metabolic bone disease. 

Beardies progress from being carnivores when they are younger, to becoming virtual vegetarians in mature years.  Rapid growth through carnivory leads to sexual maturation as early as 8 months.  Therefore, age plays a large role in dietary composition, nutritional needs, and feeding behavior. A young beardie’s diet will consist primarily of insects so as to provide the protein and fats required for rapid growth, whereas a mature bearded dragon requires a diet of mostly vegetables for superior health and nutrition.  

 Although younger dragons are constantly hungry, some owners have difficulty getting them to eat greens before 4 months of age. This should not be of concern to the owner as long as the feeder insects are gut-loaded with items such as spinach or mustard greens less than 24 hours prior to feeding.  Dusting with a vitamin mineral supplement and calcium with D3 will be needed daily for babies refusing all greens or vegetable matter.   

Some beardies will start eating vegetables before 4 months of age, others will take longer. Since some fruits and vegetables are naturally high in phosphorous, most older bearded dragons will receive plenty of phosphorous from their diet. You should monitor your young bearded dragon’s calcium-to-phosphorous levels to make sure they are receiving the right amount of both nutrients. If the beardie’s preferred vegetables are high in phosphorous, use only multivitamins that are phosphorous-free.

Too much phosphorous can prevent beardies from assimilating calcium properly, a critical error for a rapidly growing youngster. The ideal level is 1.5±0.5 (Calcium):1(Phosphorous) or 1:1 to 2:1 Ca:P.  One advantage of dubia roaches is the 1:3 calcium to phosphorus ratio. Knowing that the feeder insects are low in phosphorus makes dietary supplementation of greens higher in phosphorus a little less problematic. 

Veiled chameleons

veiled chameleons and dubia roaches

How many dubia roaches for Veiled Chameleons

Most veiled chameleons and other species will thrive on a feeding schedule that follows the routine below.

  • Young Veiled Chameleons (1-3 months old): Feed (5) ¼-inch roaches three times per day. 
  • Young Veiled Chameleons (3-6 months old): Feed 4-5 small roaches twice every day.
  • Juvenile Veiled Chameleons (6-10 months old): Feed 10-15 medium sized roaches every day.
  • Maturing Veiled Chameleons (10 months and older): Feed 4-6 large roaches every other day and skip the weekend.

Provide the feeder items in a cup. This way they cannot burrow into the substrate and disappear, leading the keeper to believe that they have been consumed and falsely assuming that their pet is well fed. 

Veiled Chameleons Dietary Needs

It’s easier to monitor the weight of chameleons than certain other species as long as the owner knows what to look for.  To assess the body fat of a chameleon you need to examine the prominence of the bone ridge on its back. The chameleon is probably too thin if the dorsal ridge seems very prominent. Check its back monthly when your pet is completely calm, at a time when you are sure he/she has not flattened its body from stress. Making an assessment at the wrong time may lead you to conclude that your pet is too thin, when actually, they are at a good weight. The belly should also appear a bit rounded when the chameleon is relaxed and calm.  

How Many Dubia Roaches for a Mature Female?

The exception to this ‘rule’ would be for mature females. When eating more than they need, the female chameleon’s body will store fat in various places including the casque, the overall body cavity, and the internal fat pads. These areas will begin to take on a more pillowy appearance as the fat is accumulated. These fat pads are large internal fat deposits under the skin at the top and back of the spine. An obese female will also tend to produce more and larger eggs. The large fat pads become life threatening in obese females when they expand to the point that egg binding occurs. The pressure they exert on the oviduct prevents passage of the already overly large eggs out of the body.  Bear in mind that dubia roaches are slightly more fattening than crickets. Therefore, owners of obese females are encouraged to alter the feeding regimen to:

  • 3-6 months: Feed 4 food items every other day, and alternate between crickets and dubias.
  • 6+ months: Feed three food items every other day and skip the weekend.

All feeder insects should be gut-loaded with a vitamin-mineral supplement 24 hours prior to offering, and dusted with a calcium D3 supplement twice weekly.

Leopard gecko

dubia roaches for leopard geckos

How many dubia roaches to feed a leopard gecko?

The best time of a day to feed your leopard gecko is the in the evening, when they naturally start hunting. 

  • Young Leopard Geckos (0-4 months old) = 4-8  ¼ inch roaches every day.
  • Juvenile Leopard Geckos (4-10 months old) = 6-10 1-inch roaches 5-6 days a week. 
  • Maturing Leopard Geckos (10 months and older) = 14-16  1.5-inch roaches every other day. 

The length of roaches and other insects to feed will be around 1/4" inch for hatchlings and babies, 3/8 inches for juveniles (4 months and over) and 1/2 to 1 inch to adult leopard geckos (10-12 months old).

Leopard Geckos Dietary Needs

Leopard geckos are obligate insectivores, and never consume fruits or vegetable matter.  They have an extraordinarily short digestive tract that cannot accommodate fibrous materials. Therefore, this species needs to start right off with easily digested insect protein.

A great rule of thumb for gecko feeding is: 2 appropriately-sized bugs per 1 inch of your leopard gecko’s length.  Generally, this amount can be consumed in 15 minutes.  Juveniles should be fed daily, and young adults fed every other day/every 3 days. Adults whose tail is fatter than their neck can be fed every 5 days.

Well gut loaded and dusted roaches will help prevent metabolic bone disease. Since dubia roaches are already a high protein food item, they should never be gutloaded on a high protein feed such as dog or cat food.  Consistently feeding overly high protein roaches to leos can cause gout and result in painful disability and even death. 

How to Care for a Malnourished Leopard Gecko

If you have a malnourished and thin leopard gecko who is refusing all food, or is too weak to hunt, then you may need to help them regain some strength by making them eat. Kill and crush some roaches and mix them with calcium and vitamin powder. Using a cotton swab, dab a very small amount onto the end of your gecko’s nose. Having something on their nose will make them instinctively lick it off, thus getting some bug and vitamin nourishment back into their body. Repeat until they show a prey drive toward roaches again.

Is My Leopard Gecko Obese?

An obese leopard gecko can develop a fatty liver which can be a serious health problem. A healthy leopard gecko should always have some fat stored in their tail, but their tail shouldn’t become bulbous or misshapen. At that point they will start depositing fat in their organs and throughout their body, which is very unhealthy.  An animal at a good weight will have a tail that is approximately the same width as it’s torso.  Bear in mind when choosing feeder insects that dubias are higher in fat than crickets.

Tokay geckos

dubia roaches for tokay geckos

How many dubia roaches to feed a Tokay Gecko

Hatchlings don’t eat until they’ve completed the first shedding procedure which usually happens after three days. Crickets may be offered but choose the smallest ones possible and make sure they’re served alive. 

  • Young Tokay Geckos (0-4 months old) = 8-10 ¼-inch roaches three times per day.
  • Juvenile Tokay Geckos (4-12 months old) = 4-5 medium roaches once daily 5 days per week.
  • Maturing Tokay Geckos (12 months and older) = 8-10  1.5 inch roaches every other day.

The size of crickets to feed will be around 1/4" inch for hatchlings and babies, 3/8 inches for juveniles (4 months and over) and 1/2 to 1 inch to adults (10-12 months old).

Tokay Geckos Dietary Needs

Most pet stores and breeders sell this species as babies so that owners can bond with their pets at a young age and be more able to safely handle this sometimes-aggressive species.  Baby geckos, however, do not have fully developed skeletal and immune systems and are therefore more susceptible than their older counterparts to developing certain diseases. Thus, they must be fed and housed appropriately when they are first purchased to try to prevent the development of common juvenile diseases.  

This species is primarily carnivorous. Some keepers feed only well gut loaded insects and some provide occasional soft fruit or baby food treats.  A 1997 analysis of wild tokay gecko diet indicated no vegetable matter in their guts.  The matter is debated hotly among fanciers.  The diet below assumes no foods offered other than insects. 

Is my Tokay Gecko Obese?

This species can suffer from obesity.  An overly fat tail wider than the body is an indication that fat is being stored internally and can result in fatty liver disease.  Older males tend to have very naturally fat tails, so the concerned keeper should also judge behavior to determine whether or not a change in diet is necessary.  This normally very active species becomes lethargic when too fat, so observation of nighttime activity and energy levels is recommended.  

Is my Tokay Gecko Malnourished?

They can also become too thin.  A lizard with a base of tail less than 2/3 the size of the torso where it enters the caudal juncture (top of the tail) should probably have its daily ration increased by one additional roach for 2-3 weeks.

This nocturnal creature will need insects well dusted with calcium and D3, especially as a hatchling and juvenile. As an adult alternate calcium with D3 with a calcium only supplement.

Crested gecko

dubia roaches for crested geckos

How many Dubia Roaches to Feed a Crested Gecko?

The best time of a day to feed your crested gecko is the in the evening, when they naturally start hunting. The feeding recommendations below take into account a diet of more than 70% commercial formulation.

  • Young Crested Geckos (1-4 months old) = 4-6  3/16 to ¼ inch roaches once per day.
  • Juvenile Crested Geckos (4-10 months old) = 3-4 medium roaches 4 days a week.
  • Maturing Crested Geckos (10 months +) = 2-3 medium roaches 3 days per week.

Gut loaded, dusted roaches should be introduced around a month after hatching. The commercial formulation should not be further supplemented.  Additional calcium with D3 can be added through proper gut loading of the feeder insects. Treats like mashed fruit should be offered no more than twice a month.

Crested Geckos Dietary Needs

This omnivorous species will eat fewer insects and more vegetable matter than the species listed above.  Many keepers use roaches in addition to a commercially prepared crestie chow. For adults, the keeper will be able to supply the prey items in ways that maintain proper weight for these particular animals.  

Hatchlings need careful observation. It can be difficult to determine food consumption, as they take tiny licks of their commercial prepared formulations and their poops are easily hidden within leaves and branches.  Also, hatchlings can live off their internal yolk sacks for a week or more after hatching. Placing food in the enclosure 24-48 hours after hatching just in case they are hungry is prudent, but feeding not being observed is not necessarily cause for concern until day 7.

Many experienced keepers do not offer live prey until between one and two months of age, in order to train the baby to consume the formulated food balanced for nutrition, instead of coming to prefer only insects and refusing their crestie chow.  

Is my Crested Gecko Obese?

Obesity in crested geckos can be a problem.  A tailless crestie should have a rounded torso, with ribs just barely visible right behind the forearms.  The hip bones should be visible, without being overly prominent.  Mature females that have laid clutches may be a little bit plumper looking without indicating obesity. Even a mature breeder should not exceed 45 gms. 

Is my Crested Gecko Malnourished?

An overly thin gecko that is expressing a stick-tail, may benefit from increased rations once disease based concerns are eliminated.  A common reason crested gecko can appear too thin overall, not just in the tail, is dehydration.  Roaches offer very little moisture, and so increasing food items for the animal may not solve the problem, but clean water in addition to extra Roaches may.   

Emperor Scorpion

dubia roaches for scorpions

How many dubia roaches to feed an Emperor Scorpion?

Young Scorpions

For owners wanting their young pet to reach their maximum and impressive size of 7 to 8 inches quickly, scorplings can be counted on to consume as much as they can get their little pincers on and sting into submission. The more they eat, the faster they pass through their instars to adulthood. 

Tiny, white, baby scorpions that have just been born and have yet to molt (first instar) will not be able to feed themselves and will depend on mom to do that for them.  She will shred prey items and feed them to her young manually.  

Juvenile Scorpions

Once the first molt has occurred and they enter their second instar, they can be fed one ¼ inch roach per week for slow growth, two roaches for more rapid maturing. Scorplings receiving more generous portions must be carefully observed for upcoming molts.  When the exoskeleton turns dull, withhold all roaches.  Once the molt has been successfully performed, wait three days.  Once the carapace has hardened, ¼ inch roaches can be offered every day for three days in row.  But after that, reduce feeding frequency to every third day at most. 

Older scorplings can be fed a ½ inch roach every three days without danger of overfeeding. Signs that this may be too little will include pouncing on things and agitated skittering. Then one ¼ inch roach should be offered immediately and a second one the next day. Over feeding is also possible, so if your pet seems uninterested in food, skip a couple of days.  Even a week is not too much fasting and can help reset your pet’s prey drive.

Mature Scorpions

An adult emperor scorpion will eat about 1-2 adult roaches per week and should be fed every other night. Two roaches at a time should be consumed by morning if your pet is hungry.  If one roach is consistently left over, change the feeding schedule to every 3rd day. Sometimes a particularly lazy scorpion will be able to be maintained on one 2-inch roach per week.  Observation is the key.

Is my Scorpion Obese?

A fat scorpion is not necessarily a well-nourished one.  To ensure a full complement of vitamins and minerals, roaches should be dusted with calcium once per month, and dusted with a high-quality vitamin and mineral supplement weekly.  Carefully gutloaded roaches will serve most needs, however, malnourishment is difficult to determine in this species, as they can go months without eating for no apparent reason. Err on the side of caution and supplement occasionally.

Tarantulas

tarantulas and dubia roaches

How many dubia roaches should I feed my tarantula?

Young Tarantulas

For baby tarantulas, called slings (1/4-3/8″ or so in size) small food is needed.  Fortunately, unlike the invertebrate pet described above, slings and spiderlings will scavenge for food and do not require moving prey items.  One-week old roaches (3/16) are usually the right size for very small spiderlings. Or a keeper may choose to pre-kill and cut up a larger prey item into a more appropriate size. This is a great way to make sure that they can eat as much as they want while not putting them in danger by dropping in an overly-large prey item.

An appropriately sized roach once a week is a good feeding regimen for spiderlings. Feeding less often may cause dehydration in baby tarantulas that are too small for a water bowl and are acquiring their water from their food. 

Juvenile and Maturing Tarantulas

Most species of tarantulas do well with a regimen of no more than two roaches per week. However, after molting all ages are at their hungriest. Following molt, increase feeding to three roaches the first week or two. As the spider fattens, feeding should be altered to either less often or smaller foods.  If the spider appears to be gaining weight still, then reducing intake of food to once every two weeks may be needed.

When feeding full sized roaches to full sized tarantulas, many keepers crush the heads of the roaches first.  This allows the spider’s fangs to find the right place to penetrate before the prey gets away.  Large roaches can take over an hour to subdue, depending on the hold the spider has.  This is tiring for your pet and possibly cruel to the prey item. 

Is my Tarantula Obese or too skinny?

Judging spider weight can partially be determined by the size of the abdomen.  A well-nourished and well hydrated spider will have an abdomen approximately the same diameter as the thorax. Putting the spider on a diet of only feeding once monthly may be needed if the abdomen appears significantly larger than this, and this will have the effect of lengthening the molt cycle substantially. Smaller than that and it may be dehydrated, larger than that and it may be fat. The older a tarantula gets, the less it will eat and molt, so adjustments will need to be made.  

Vitamin supplements are generally not recommended for tarantulas, but properly gut-loaded roaches are, and their usual ration should include dark green leafy greens and fruits to provide complete nutrition for this arachnid pet. 

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