Dubia roaches have become arguably the most popular feeder insect for keepers of exotic pets over the years. Part of this appeal is simply how easy they are to care for when you’ve covered just a few basic points.
In this article we’ll be looking at dubia roach care, based on my experience over the last few years of keeping and breeding these insects. In that time I’ve produced a crazy amount of free food for my pets, I’ve experimented with all sorts of ideas recommended by others, and I feel ready to share with you what’s really worked for my colonies.
Housing / Cages
Dubia roaches are easily housed in a wide range of different containers. Dubia roaches are unable to climb smooth vertical plastic surfaces, meaning that high-sided plastic containers tend to work best. While most keepers still opt to fit a lid to the top of the container, I have personally also had success without.
Big plastic storage boxes / totes tend to work well, with some serious keepers even upping the ante and using plastic household waste bins.
Dubia roaches dislike bright light, so while you can certainly use clear plastic containers, colored plastic can be even more effective. For example, a black plastic tub will keep out pretty much all light, which can benefit your dubias.
Be sure to ensure suitable ventilation is present if you use a lid. Most people opt to cut out sections of the plastic and to fix screen door mesh over the gap.
To make cleaning easier it can be useful to buy a spare container, allowing you to move the roaches from their dirty tub into a clean one quickly and easily.
Dubia Roach Setup Tips
Dubia roaches can be cannibalistic in some circumstances, and adult males can be prone to fighting.
These factors, combined with the dubia’s dislike of sunlight, means that adding egg cartons/flats to the container is standard. This way your roaches can hide away from light – and each other – providing a feeling of safety and security.
Opinions are divided on whether to use a substrate or not. Dubia roaches are quite messy animals, especially when kept in large numbers, so many keepers prefer not to use a substrate. In this way cleaning becomes very simple indeed. Simply remove the egg cartons and shake them over a second tub. The original tub can then be wiped round.
Roach keepers who use a substrate suggest that it can help to retain moisture and humidity, which can be beneficial for dubia roaches. Coconut fibre is one of the most popular options here, though some people opt for a cereal-based substrate such as bran.
Personally, I don’t use a substrate and haven’t experienced any issues from this arrangement.
Temperature & Heating
One thing that most dubia roach breeders can agree on is that they like a warm environment. The hotter they’re kept – within reason – the faster they will grow and the more likely they will be to breed.
Personally my animal room is kept at between 22 and 25’C (68-77’F) all year round and this seems to work fine for my dubias. Other keepers recommend warmer temperature, up to 32’C / 90’F, to really ramp up growth and reproduction.
If the room in which you keep your dubias isn’t naturally kept at such temperatures then you’ll want to consider how this can be achieved. This is most commonly achieved with a reptile-safe heating pad or heat mat. This can be attached to the side of the container, providing gentle background warmth.
Food & Feeding
Dubia roaches will eat a huge range of different foods. Variety is key. Examples of suitable foods include dry cat or dog biscuits, breakfast cereals, fruits and vegetables. Most commonly these foods are fed in a food bowl, to prevent mess in the rest of the cage.
Some keepers claim, however, that adult dubia roaches can predate babies if a ready food supply isn’t available. These individuals recommend scattering dry food items around the cage, so each roach is never far from a snack.
Dubia roaches require some form of moisture – be that a bowl of water filled with moisture-retaining gel or lots of fresh plant matter to eat. Both seem to work equally well.
Personally I find feeding items such as kale and sliced carrot seems to work well, and avoid the irritation and waste of dealing with bug gel.
Whatever selection you choose, any fresh food should be replaced regularly to prevent it spoiling within the cage.
If you’re planning to breed your dubia roaches as a free source of food for carnivorous pets then one final consideration is the ratio of males to females. The reason for this is that males can become territorial and may fight. This, in turn, can stress the females, reducing the number of babies produced.
It is generally recommended to maintain one male for every four to six females. When you buy your starter colony, therefore, consider feeding some of the adult males to your pets until the optimal ratio is achieved.
Dubia roaches are easy to sex, with males having long wings that cover their entire backs, while the females maintain only stubby vestigial wings.