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Unboxing Dubia Roaches & How to Create a Temporary Habitat - VIDEO

Receiving dubia roaches in the mail can be both exciting and frightening.  Sure, you're bearded dragon will love, but what how do you house 100's of dubia roaches?  This video will demonstrate what it's like to unbox dubia roaches in the mail, and how to set up a temporary habitat.

Nutritional Value of Dubia roaches - The Superior Feeder Insect?

Many people buy dubia roaches online because they are are often cited as being a more nutritional option for bearded dragons, tarantulas, and other popular reptiles and amphibians.  They are lean with protein, which is very comparable to crickets.  However, they offer nearly twice as much calcium, which is a critical nutrient to prevent metabolic bone disease.  

During the nymph stage of the dubia roach lfe cycle, they will soft bodied, which makes them an easier feeder insect to digest.  The problem with mealworms is that they will develop chitin in their exo-skeleton, which is a difficult material for reptiles to digest.  And dubia roaches have more meat compared to crickets and superworms.  This means that pets don't need to eat as many.  A bearded dragon can consume about 15-30 crickets per day.  But would only need about 5-15 dubia roaches per day.  

  Moisture (%) Protein (%) Fat (%) Fiber (%) Calcium (mg/kg) Phosphorus (%)
Dubia Roaches 61 23 7 2.9 800 2,600
Superworms 58 20 18 3 177 2,370
Crickets 70 20 7 3 407 2,950
Pinhead Crickets 77 15 3 2 275 2,520
Phoenix Worms 61 18 14 3 9,340 3,560



Why Do Bearded Dragon's Love Dubia Roaches?

Young bearded dragons love to devour dubia roaches.  And it's because dubia roaches have an excellent amount of protein.  This protein helps young bearded dragons grow into healthy, adults.  And once your bearded dragon matures, you'll need to increase the amount of vegetables they consume.  If you're searching for bearded dragon care, here's an excellent guide on which greens you can feed a bearded dragon.

But during the nymph stage of the dubia roach life cycle, dubia roaches have very little chitin.  This chitin can cause impactionwhich is a serious problem for bearded dragons, leopard geckos, and other herpy pets.  When looking to acquire a new bearded dragon, it's critical that you ask the breeder what they were feeding their dragon.  This can help you avoid a dragon that may suffer from impaction down the road.  Learning the history of a bearded dragon's diet is an important step when searching for a good bearded dragon breeder.  

One feeder that should be avoided are mealworms.  They're great for bluebirds, but the dragons can't digest that hard, fibrous chitin.  So keep them off the menu.

What's the Difference between Dubia Roaches and Discoid Roaches?

Dubia roaches are very similar to discoid roaches.  Dubia roaches are much more popular.  But, if you reside in Florida, Hawaii, or Alaska, then you're not able to receive Dubia roaches.  Which is fine, because discoid roaches are very similar nutritionally.  And they are even superior in some areas.  

Moisture Content - Advantage Discoid Roaches

The moisture content in your feeder literally refers to how much moisture is in their body.  And the higher the moisture content, the easier they are to digest.  If you're bearded dragon or leopard gecko suffers from impaction, then you'll want the feeder with the higher moisture content.  Discoid roaches have slightly higher moisture content, which would make them slightly better than dubia roaches for pets suffering from impaction.

Fat Content - Advantage: Depends on your outlook - Dubias have a higher fat-content

Both roaches have are considered a lean source of protein.  They have small amounts of fat, compared to their protein.  Which is one of the reasons they are great feeders.  However, in some cases, it's beneficial to offer a fatty meal to a malnourished pet, or a pregnant one.  Which is why superworms are a good feeder to offer your pregnant bearded dragon or leopard gecko.  Dubias have slightly higher fat-content, which makes them a better feeder for malnourished, or pregnant pets.  But if your pet needs to go on a diet, then pick up some discoids.

Chitin Content - Advantage Dubia Roaches

Chitin is that dreaded, tough, fiborous molecule that creates the hard exoskeleton on insects.  Some feeders have more than others, like mealworms and adult crickets.  This chitin is tough to digest, and can promote impaction.  Dubia roaches have a slightly less amount of chitin, which means your pet is less likely to suffer from impaction, compared to discoids.  But discoids still have much less than mealworms and even adult crickets.  

Crude-Protein Content - Advantage Discoid Roaches

Both discoid and dubia roaches offer an excellent amount of protein as a feeder.  However, owners should also be aware of the quality of that protein.  And what makes discoid roaches stand out is that they have a higher essential amino acid index.  This increased amount of amino acids means they offer a greater diversity of protein building blocks.  And because of this, they offer a superior form of protein for your beloved pet. 

Calcium-to-Phosphorous Ratio - Advantage Discoid Roaches

Every reptile owner understands the importance of calcium in their pets' diets.  But many aren't aware that phosphorus can prohibit the amount of calcium your pet can absorb.  So not only is it important to find feeders with high calcium, but it's equally as important to find feeders with a low amount of phosphorus.  And discoid roaches are the clear winner.  Discoid roaches have a calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of 1:3, while dubia roaches have a pathetic 1:22 ratio.  

Are Dubia Roaches better Than Crickets?

Crickets are the most popular feeder insect for reptile and amphibian owners.  And for good reason.  They offer good, lean protein, have small amounts on chitin (adults do have chitin), and are inexpensive and easy to breed.  However, the doesn't mean they are the most nutritional feeder.

Our research revealed that a typical carnivorous reptile needs a high protein, high fat, and low indigestible fiber in their diet.  What we discovered is that crickets offer more protein than dubia roaches.  This may sound good, but too much protein can cause kidney problems, meaning that the dubia roaches could be a slightly better protein option.

Both crickets and dubias are low in fat, which means you'll need to supplement your pet's diet with some chunky superworms.  And both crickets and dubias have an unsatisfactory calcium : phosphorus ratio.  Which means you'll need to dust both feeder insects.  

Superworms vs Dubia Roaches - Do Superworms Have a Nutritional Edge?

All carnivorous reptiles need both fat and protein.  And superworms offer both of these in abundance.  While dubia roaches are great protein providers, they actually are too lean to offer enough fat for carnivorous reptiles.  Where dubia roaches excel is their mineral content.  They have a near optimal calcium-to-phorphorus ratio, which means they require little calcium dusting.  Superworms have a very poor calcium-to-phosphorus ratio, which means they require significant dusting.  

How Many Dubia Roaches for a Bearded Dragon?

  • 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.

How Many Dubia Roaches for 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. 

How Many Dubia Roaches for a Veiled Chameleon?

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.

How Many Dubia Roaches for 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).

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.

Should I Gut-Load Dubia Roaches?

Even though dubia roaches are nutritionally superior than crickets and superworms, it's still recommended to gut load them.  Gut-loading is the process of feeding your feeder insects a nutritional meal, before feeding them to your beloved pet.  And during the nymph stage of the dubia roach life cycle, they will be easy to gutload due to their voracious appetite.  

But keep in mind that there are foods you should not use to gut-load dubia roaches.  These foods can harm your pet, which is why they should be avoided.  You can learn about which foods you should and should not use in our Dubia Roach Gut-Loading guide.  

Normally, crickets need to be gut-loaded for 24 hours prior to feeding them to your pet.  But dubia roaches are unique, because they have a long, 3 day digestive track.  This means they can hold more nutritional food, offering more nutritional value.  

Gut-loading dubia roaches requires the same steps as gut-loading crickets.  

Should I dust Dubia Roaches?

Yes.  Again, even though dubia roaches are naturally more nutritious, it's always beneficial to dust your feeders.  Dusting is a great way to add calcium and vitamin D to your pet's diet.  Since many reptiles, like bearded dragons and leopard geckos, receive most of their vitamin D through the sun, they need vitamin D supplements to provide them with the nutrients they naturally receive in the wild.  Since feeders are in the nymph stage of the dubia roach life cycle, only the small, medium, and large dubias need to be dusted.  

Dubia Roach Care

Caring for a dubia roach colony is easy, as long as the right conditions are provided.  Dubia roaches are a tropical species, and will thrive and breed in temperatures between 90 - 95 degrees F.  If you're looking to breed dubia roaches, then you'll want to consider these adult sized, colony starters.  Or, if you're buying dubia roaches as feeders, you're probably not interested in breeding them.  But not matter which life cycle you're looking for, feeding dubias to your beloved bearded dragon or leopard gecko is simple with the proper dubia roach care.

When you receive dubia roaches in the mail, you can keep them at room temperature.  But don't let their temps get below 60 degrees, or they are likely to perish.  And if you're attempting to start a dubia roach colony, you'll want to sustain temps above 85 degrees F, as stated in the paragraph above.

Depending on which vendor you buy dubia roaches from, you can either store them in the container they are shipped in.  Or, you can create your own enclosure.  Large, plastic storage tubs, or glass aquariums will provide the best temporary home.  Dubia roaches will not be able to climb the smooth walls, and will remain inside the container.  

Dubia roaches are sensitive to light, and prefer dark spaces.  So it'll benefit them if their temporary habitat or colony kit is covered with a lid.  Or, you can provide egg crates for them to hide in.  The egg crates will be important when caring for your dubia roaches in a clear container.  If they get exposed to light, they will become stressed, and will not breed as proficiently as a properly cared for dubia roach colony.  

There are other tricks to the trade when beginning your dubia roach colony.  These tricks come with years of experience, that require more than a simple blog post to express.  So be patient with your dubia roach colony, and prepare yourself for early failures.  Breeding dubia roaches isn't difficult.  But maintaining their colony, and keeping it at their desired temperatures and humidity is what will create a proficient dubia roach colony.  

Will I Become Allergic to Dubia Roaches?

It is well documented that keepers can become allergic to dubia roaches.  As roaches grow, eat, and wrestle for space in their habitat, they can start to shed particles and proteins from their body.  These particles become airborne, and are easily inhaled by the keeper.  As the keeper inhales these particles, their immune system constantly tries to fight off the particles, which ultimately creates a respiratory problem.

Follow These Safety measures when handling dubia roaches:

  1. Wear gloves
  2. wear a respirator
  3. wear a tyvek suite

This may sound like a lot of work.  But it will help prevent respiratory and allergy problems down the road.  

Dubia Roach Life cycle

Under ideal growing environments, the dubia roach life cycle will generally last up to 16 months.  The females normally live longer than the males.  Throughout her life cycle, a female dubia roach will start breeding at about 5-6 months, giving "birth" to a brood of about 20-40 nymph roaches.  She'll do this about once per month, producing as many as 400 tasty nymph roaches in her life cycle.

Nymph Dubia Roaches (aka Feeders)

The first stage in a dubia roache's life cycle are the nymphs.  Nymphs are immature dubia roaches, incapable of reproducing.  The only thing they do is eat and grow.  A nymph will grow about 1/8" every 3-4 weeks.  Their growth rate will depend on their diet, and on their temperatures.  If they are raised in temperatures of about mid 90 degrees, they will grow at their maximum rate.  

Nymph dubia roaches are the feeder insects that you'll offer your bearded dragon, leopard gecko, or insectivore pet.  They have an exceptional amount of protein, which means they're a great feeder option for young juvenile pets.  And they have very low amounts of chitin, compared to mealworms.  

Adult Dubia Roaches (Sexually Mature)

At about 5-6 months, dubia roaches will become sexually mature.  At this time during the dubia roach life cycle, breeders and keepers will be able to identify if a dubia roach is male or female.  Nymphs do not have any distinguishing characteristics to identify their gender.  But when they mature, males will grow wings that are as long as their bodies.  Females grow stubs, which but still have noticable abdomens.  

Female dubia roaches will live for about 16-18 months, meaning they can breed for about 10 months once they mature.  Males will only live as long as 10 months.  If breeding and trying to begin a dubia roach colony, it's important that breeders maintain enough males to keep the gestate the females so that they keep giving birth to hatched eggs.  

How to Breed Dubia Roaches

Breeding dubia roaches can be a great alternative to buying them once every 3 weeks.  And considering how quickly they breed, it's easy to see why reptile owners would want to breed them.  We wrote an indepth guide on how to breed dubia roaches.  But if you're looking for a quick and dirty summary, here's the breakdown:

Dubia Roach Housing

Dubia roaches are like every other roach; they don't like light.  So when you set up your habitat, it would be thoughtful to use a container with dark sides.  However, it's very common that breeders use clear aquariums or clear plastic tubs.  Which is perfectly fine, so long that you provide them with places to hide inside the tub or aquarium.  Egg crates are popular, but toilet paper rolls are another great option.  

Temperature and Humidity

Dubia roaches are your typical tropical insect.  And that means they like it hot and humid.  So when you set up their habitat, don't treat them like Eskimos.  Make sure their temps are atleast 85 degrees F.  But the will breed faster at about 95 degrees.  And for humidity should be about 60 degrees.  This is more humid than what your house is going to be.  So be sure to mist the bin maybe once every day or two.  

Substrate and Hiding Places

You don't need a substrate for your dubia roach colony.  Crickets stink, which is why we recommend vermiculite or peat moss for their substrate.  However, dubia roaches do not stink.  So there's no need to add a substrate in their colony.  

But as we mentioned above, they do like places to hide because they don't like light.  These hiding places can be egg crates, or toilet paper rolls.  Or they can be anything else that's cheap and easy to access.  No need to make it too difficult or expensive.  Because they are feeder roaches, after all.

How to pick the right size of Dubia Roaches

choose dubia roach sizes

The rule of thumb for choosing the proper dubia roach size is that they should be equal to the distance between your pets' eyes.  It's dangerous to offer them something too large, because they can either choke, or have difficulty digesting something too big.  

As we've been stating throughout this article, the nymph stage of the dubia roach life cycle is the best dubia feeder you can offer your bearded dragon or leopard gecko.  During then nymph life cycle, dubias can be as small as 1/8" in length.  And they will grow another 1/8" every 3-4 weeks.  Their nymph life cycle will continue until they reach sexual maturity at about 1.5" in length.  So please be responsible, and don't offer a juvenile bearded dragon a 1.5" dubia roach.