If you have an exotic pet like a bearded dragon, gecko, or even a tarantula, you know caring for such an exotic pet is no cakewalk. For starters, they need different care and specialized shelter. And most new pet owners especially struggle for managing proper pet feed. While you can get pet foods from local pet stores or even order them online, it can be costly. Besides, with the pandemic and lockdown, there might be some disruption between your order and the pet feeds delivered to you.
However, there is one alternative to buying pet foods- especially bugs or insects that your pet reptile loves to feast on- by starting your bug colony. And when it comes to bugs or insects, the Dubia roach is the most common food source for reptiles. The concept of breeding and caring for a species to feed another one might sound weird at first; it’s like you are creating a small-scale food chain right at your home. Or you can think about it like, you will have two species as a pet, you have to take care of both the food (insects) and the feeder (your pet reptile). Let’s read on to learn in detail about starting your Dubia Roaches colony.
1. Arrange A Suitable Shelter For the Colony
Dubia roaches need a large container where they can spread out without getting squashed together. A smooth tub or container made of glass, plastic, or even Rubbermaid can work well for their housing. While most housing containers are transparent, allowing the light to pass through, they might not be the ideal condition for these bugs.
Like all other insects and bugs, this species of bugs prefer a dark, humid environment. Darkness is vital for their breeding and growth. So make sure to get a dark container to house your colony. The size of the container will depend on the size of your colony. You might also need additional tubs or containers for separating the babies from the adults or for regular clean-up. You can check out https://www.topflightdubia.com/dubia-roach-colony for more tips.
2. Maintain Ideal Temperature
Just like the house of your pet reptile, which has a hot and cold zone for the pet’s comfort, this species also needs two different temperature zones. They are tropical insects, and the temperature has to be at least 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Besides, female species need a certain temperature when they start breeding, while they don’t lay eggs, rather give birth to live babies in an egg-like sac, the process is more or less similar to laying eggs.
You can either use a heat mat or a heat lamp for maintaining the inside temperature. If you keep a heating mat under the container, the bottom part will be warmer than the upper part, creating two different temperature zones. Once the heat gets too much they can climb up the egg crate and find a cool spot. There is another cost-effective way to maintain the temperature- just place the container directly above the heat lamp in your reptile cage and the heat transmission will warm up the container; you don’t have to spend a buck for the heat. Besides, it will also ensure the optimum use of energy.
3. Provide Enough Climbing and Hiding Spaces
You need to put some climbing spaces so that the Dubia roaches don’t crush one another while living on the same horizontal surface. Placing some egg crates inside the container is the easiest way to provide climbing space for your colony.
However, buying fresh egg crates online can be expensive. To save you the trouble you can visit your local café and ask them for some old egg crates; they usually have no use for these, and chances are they were going to through them away into the trash can. Besides, old egg crates are more ideal for their breeding.
Once you get some egg crates, line them up vertically inside the container, so that there is some dark space left between the layers. They can scurry up and down the container however they want.
4. Provide Proper Diet
Dubia roaches love fruits, plants, and green leaves. You can feed them bananas, oranges, mango, apple, or even berries. They will also devour leafy greens such as lettuce, cabbage, or veggies like squash or sweet potatoes. For a protein source, you can ground up some grain-based dog or cat food and feed these.
There are even ground-up dog biscuits named “roach chow” available in the market. Regular table scraps from your meals can also be a good source of protein for them. You can either use another egg crate for their food or use a shallow bowl. Make sure the bowl has one side cut so that they don’t have to climb over the side every time they are hungry
5. Ensure Hydration
You can’t leave a water pot inside the bug container for their hydration. They can get drowned or their house can get flooded from the water. As a liquid source of water is completely out of the equation; you can use either water crystal or some fruits for their hydration.
Fruit like oranges or watermelon can provide them with necessary nutrients as well as hydration. In case you don’t have water crystals, you still can provide water for them by putting a soaked paper towel inside the container.
6. Ensure Proper Ventilation for Their Living Space
One factor about this species is they cannot climb up a smooth surface, they can scurry up and down a rough surface, but they are helpless on a smooth surface. Besides, these insects can’t even fly, even if they have wings. So you don’t worry about them climbing up the housing and starting to infest your home.
To ensure proper ventilation, you can cut a 6” X6” hole on the lid. Or you can even keep the lid off the box if you want, they will be perfectly content just by climbing their egg-crate surface.
7. Maintain Ideal Male Female Ratio
The ideal female to male ratio for roach productio888n is 3: 1. You have to be careful when you feed them to your pet. For instance, if your colony has surpassed the desired male number, start feeding your pet only the male members, this will bring back the balance in the male-female ratio and ensure proper breeding.
8. Make Sure You Are Not Grossed Out By Bugs
While your bearded dragon or gecko might love to feast on bugs, as the pet owner you might be grossed out by the sight of bugs. It’s one thing to dump some bugs in the glass cage of your pet reptile several times a week, and it’s another to start a whole colony of bugs just to feed your pet. And if creepy crawly bugs are not your thing, you better give it a second thought whether you want to start a roach colony right at your home.
The Bottom Line
Dubia roaches are probably the most convenient and healthiest protein source for your reptile. The groundwork for starting a Dubia roach colony is similar to caring for your pet- you need to shelter them, provide a suitable environment, and food. And setting up a colony is not that expensive if you go for the cost-effective tactics mentioned here. However, even if they are healthiest, and you have your supply of these bugs, your pet reptile still needs some variation in its diet. So don’t limit your pet’s diet only to Dubia Roaches, change it with other foods too.