Becoming a new leopard gecko owner can be fun, exciting, overwhelming, or even scary to some.
The exotic animal industry is filled with misinformation that’s enticingly easy for us owners that are to help make big companies a profit. However, this is very often at the expense of the animal that the product was marketed towards in the first place.
This creates a bit of an issue when it comes to sourcing good information about things such as the diet for reptiles.
Of course, there are many ways of doing things that can have different pros and cons for different keepers and most importantly their reptiles, and though this is true, there are some methods of creating a healthy diet for your reptile that is rarely disputed among seasoned keepers.
Now, we are going to get into the nitty-gritty, so to speak, about a very underrated food source for your reptile: dubia roaches.
Is it a good idea to give my leopard gecko dubia roaches?
Dubia roaches are an excellent food source for many reptile and amphibian species, including leopard geckos.
Many keepers have found that these bugs make a great dietary staple for their gecko and, can become a nutritious core component to their diet that is not only beneficial for them but very convenient for us keepers as well.
Nutritional value breakdown of dubia roaches
What many consider to be the best quality of these insects is their incredibly high protein content.
Dubia roaches have a very large amount of protein for their size, being more than 60% of the nutrients found in the roach, as noted in a scientific study featured in the ZOO BIOLOGY journal that compared the nutritional value of different roach species at their nymph and adult stages.
It was also found in many studies that the percent fat content was significantly lower in dubia roaches than in other feeder insects.
This makes them especially well suited for leopard geckos, as they tend to have a higher likelihood of becoming overweight than other geckos.
Many keepers find that the low-fat content alone is enough of a win for them to switch over to dubias as the base of their leopard gecko’s diet.
How many dubia roaches to feed your leopard gecko in different stages of life
The rule of thumb for leopard geckos is that you should feed them two appropriately sized roaches per length on their body.
When we say appropriately sized, it comes down to the size of the leopard gecko and its mouth.
Just make sure it is reasonable; subadult and adult leopard geckos usually do pretty well with most sizes, but you want them to be big enough to provide enough nutrients.
A juvenile leopard gecko can handle food that is a little big but doesn’t do anything too big because it would likely deter your gecko from eating or could pose a choking hazard.
Keep in mind, juveniles will be around five inches, whereas adults can be anywhere from seven to ten inches in length.
If you ever notice that your leopard gecko has a smaller or skinnier tail, then do not hesitate to vary the diet or add extra forms of nutrients.
How to prepare dubia roaches for your leopard gecko
Preparing your leopard gecko’s food is pretty easy, though some people prefer to tong feed the insects to their leopard gecko which can take a little bit longer, the actual feeding is not all that time-consuming either.
Calcium Supplementation and Vitamins
When you are getting ready to feed your leopard gecko, be sure to acknowledge when they were fed last, and when they were last given any vitamin supplements.
Supplementation of calcium and other vitamins is essential for the health of your pet.
Always make sure to lightly dust the feeders with calcium before giving them to your reptile. This should be given around twice a week with usual feedings.
A vitamin supplement should also be given anywhere from once a week to every other week.
For some people, keeping a schedule for feeding and dusting the insects works great to keep them on track with all of the feedings. Many keepers will do this especially when they have more than one reptile.
A lot of people have their colonies of dubia roaches, so they must get lots of nutrients built up so that the leopard gecko has more nutrients to absorb from the roach.
Many refer to this as gut-loading: giving your feeders lots of nutrients to be passed on to your reptile when they get eaten.
Breeding your own dubia roach colony
Many reptile keepers, especially those that have more than one reptile, will choose to breed and keep their own dubia roaches in a colony to have available whenever they need them.
Buying feeders every couple of weeks from the pet store can be pricey and inconvenient so sometimes people greatly prefer this over frequent pet store trips, but honestly, it is really up to preference.
What you will need to start a dubia roach colony
To house the roaches, you’re going to want a tank at least the size of a ten-gallon or a tub that is around 40-50 quarts.
Then just getting some egg cartons and arranging them for the roaches to gain traction and climb on will be just fine for any sort of substrate.
Dubia roaches do require a warm enclosure, so keeping an under-tank heater is usually best to keep them happy and breeding. You can also use other heat sources like ceramic heat emitters
A water bowl is also necessary of course, but there are some precautions you must take.
The roaches can drown in a water dish, so it is definitely important to prevent that from happening by adding something like a sponge to the water.
Feeding your dubia roaches
Dubia roaches can eat a very wide and extensive variety of foods, I mean, they are still roaches after all.
There are plenty of gut-loading diets on the market, but adding leftover table scraps like carrot and banana peels can also bolster their diet so that they are more nutritious for your reptile.
Choosing between these options depends on the individual, so experimentation is always encouraged when it comes down to finding what you like and what is best for your pet.
What is good about feeding dubia roaches?
Dubia roaches are an excellent staple food for your leopard gecko’s diet. They are very easy to keep and breed, which can save us, keepers, a good bit of money in the long run.
Another pro is that they are a lot less smelly than feeders like crickets. They also can not bite and are very quiet.
They are quite nutritious, being high in protein compared to other species of feeders, and having significantly less fat content.
This is a major help to leopard gecko owners, as lots of leopard geckos will struggle with excessive weight gain.
When it comes down to choosing which feeder to give your gecko as a staple, you will of course want to prioritize the nutritional value that the feeder offers to your gecko, but when you narrow it down, there is nothing wrong with having different favorites that work for you and your gecko that differ from other keepers. Remember that every gecko is different and so is every keeper, so it is natural to have preferences.
What are the cons of feeding dubia roaches?
Feeding dubia roaches, and especially keeping a colony can pose some health risks to those taking care of them.
Many keepers can become allergic to the roaches, which can be largely attributed to the amount of dust that could be involved in keeping them.
Something that helps with this would be keeping the humidity a little bit higher than usual to keep it from being so dry.
Are dubia roaches better for leopard geckos in terms of nutrition?
Dubia roaches are very saturated with nutrients that will greatly benefit your leopard gecko, however, that is not to say that other insects do not have their benefits. However when it comes to sustaining a good diet, many would agree that dubia roaches are much higher in protein and calcium, and much lower in fat.
Are dubia roaches easier to feed?
Dubia roaches are considered to be one of the easier feeder insects to raise in a colony. It is convenient to have a quiet insect that does not smell all that much as opposed to one that is smelly, loud, and bites.
Overall, dubia roaches make one of the best, if not the best feeder for many reptiles including the leopard gecko.
They are hard to beat when it comes to the number of nutrients they contain and their convenient housing and storage that can keep your reptile hobby more self-sufficient.
With all that being said, every leopard gecko is different, and so is every keeper, so sometimes the best for you is not the best for others and that is okay.
Leopard geckos can have very funky personalities and specific preferences on what they eat, so making sure they are receiving adequate nutrients in their diet is what truly matters.