Dubia roach vs cricket on a navy blue background

Dubia Roaches vs Crickets: Which Is the Better Feeder Insect?

When it comes to choosing a staple feeder insect, Dubia roaches and crickets tend to go head-to-head as the most popular options. Both offer essential nutrients for commonly kept reptiles, amphibians, and more. This guide walks through the benefits and pitfalls of Dubia roaches and crickets so you can determine which one is a better choice for your bearded dragon, gecko, chameleon, tarantula, or other exotic pet.

Dubia Roaches vs Crickets: A Quick Look

This chart explains the key differences and similarities between Dubia roaches and crickets, at a glance. 

Dubia Roaches vs Crickets: Nutrition 

Dubia roaches are often touted as the most nutritious feeder insect for many different reptiles, including bearded dragons. They are a great source of protein, they have more calcium than most other staple feeders, and they are also a good source of vitamins and minerals. In addition, their low chitin (a tough material in the exoskeleton) makes them a lot easier on the digestive system than many other feeder insects.

For the most part, crickets are nutritionally comparable, with the key differences being the calcium to phosphorus ratio and chitin content.

  • Calcium to phosphorus ratio. Although both insects have more phosphorus than calcium, Dubia roaches have a better calcium to phosphorus ratio, making it easier to increase the calcium level by dusting with a high quality calcium powder (such as our Reptile Greens & Calcium Powder).
  • Chitin. Crickets have almost 3x more chitin than Dubias, so they are tougher on the digestive system. This can be problematic for some smaller or younger reptiles, or reptiles who are already suffering from digestive issues. 

Healthy Dubia roaches also have more protein than crickets, but the difference is not vast.

Dubias vs Crickets: Size 

Now let's talk about sizethe size of the insect and the size of the pet you have. In some cases the size of your pet may determine what feeder you choose. For example, if you’ve got a poison dart frog, pinhead crickets are going to be better than Dubias, solely due to size. For many other pets, however, Dubias and crickets are interchangeable. 

  • Dubia roaches range from .25 inch to 1.5 inches, making them suitable for small to extra large pets (think leopard geckos, bearded dragons, tarantulas, Chinese water dragons, skinks, and turtles).
  • Crickets range from pinheads (the size of ants) to over an inch long, making them suitable for much smaller pets.

Dubias vs Crickets: Price & Availability

Dubia roaches tend to cost more than crickets. Dubias take a little more time and care to raise, and due to their longevity and slightly better nutritional profile, they are considered more valuable.

Both can be bought online and at some in person pet stores although crickets are usually a lot more prevalent. Dubia roaches are illegal to ship to, or own in, Hawaii and Florida. So if you live in one of those states, you'll have to use crickets or find another staple feeder that meets your pet's needs.

Dubias vs Crickets: Care & Keeping

This is the area where Dubia roaches and crickets differ the most, and for many reptile and exotic pet owners, this is the determining factor in their decision.  

  • Dubia roaches are quiet and have no odor. They won’t escape if they are kept in an enclosure with smooth sides.
  • Crickets are very loud (imagine all of that chirping on a summer night, in your home). They also tend to stink and are notorious for escaping, although this can be prevented if you take the necessary precautions.
  • Crickets also tend to die off quickly, whereas Dubia roaches—when they are well kept—can live up to 2 years.

So as far as smell, noise level, escaping, and lifespan, Dubias are the clear winner. 

However, this comes with a caveat.

Dubia roaches can cause allergies in people who frequently handle them. Wearing gloves can help prevent this, but if you are already allergy-prone, you may want to avoid Dubias, or at least set up a subscription vs. breeding. Dubia roach breeders are more likely to develop a roach allergy due to constant handling. 

Dubias vs Crickets: Disposition 

Dubia roaches tend to be docile, although they’ll still give reptiles a good chase. Crickets can be frenetic and can scare a timid reptile when they hop around, so if you’ve got a shy pet, crickets may not be the best feeder, at least initially.

Dubias or Crickets...Which Will You Choose?

Hopefully, this blog post has given you a good idea of the various aspects to consider when deciding between Dubia roaches and crickets as staple feeders for your pet. Maybe you’ll decide Dubias are the better choice, or maybe crickets; or maybe you’ll opt for a mix of the two. By weighing all the relevant factors that would affect you and your pet, you can make the best decision.

Takeaway: From a strictly nutritional standpoint, Dubia roaches are the better option for most exotic pets. They are also the better option when weighing care issues such as noise and odor, longevity, and ease of escaping. However, there are many other aspects to consider, such as the size of your pet, your budget, your allergy risk, and where you live. So there are definitely some cases where crickets are the better choice. It boils down to your preferences and your pet’s needs.

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