Feeder insects such as Dubia roaches and crickets are a vital part of your bearded dragon’s diet. So it’s important that you take care of your feeders and optimize their nutritional value for your reptile with methods such as gut loading. Part of taking care of your bugs means providing the proper hydration, and that’s where water crystals come in. What are insect water crystals, how do you use them, and should you use them for Dubia roaches and other feeders?
What Are Insect Water Crystals?
Water crystals are a kind of polymer crystal that is super absorbent—as in, they can absorb hundreds of times their weight in water! They work sort of like Jell-O, expanding into a gel as they absorb moisture.
Water crystals are used in disposable diapers, potting soil, and neckties to keep athletes cool.
And of course, they are commonly used to hydrate feeder insects.
Why Use Water Crystals for Dubia Roaches & Feeder Insects?
If you've ever tried to use a plain old water dish for your feeder insects, you already know this: Dubia roaches, crickets, and other feeder insects drown. Easily. That is why we have to use alternate methods for hydrating.
Water crystals are a great choice for feeder insect hydration because, as a gel, they won’t drown your bugs. Here are some of the benefits of using water crystals to hydrate your feeders:
- A natural water source
- Long-lasting, and you only have to use a little at a time
- Safe and sanitary
- Convenient and easy to use
Be aware that water crystals can raise the humidity levels in the enclosure. This is probably not an issue if you are only keeping a handful of roaches, but if you are breeding roaches, you’ll want to keep an eye on your hygrometer.
How to Use Water Crystals
All water crystals are fairly easy to use. Some do require you to mix the crystals with water, but others, like our Bug Chug, only require you to scoop the product into the dish.
Pro Tip: Make sure your dish is shallow and textured. A deep dish with smooth sides will likely trap your insects.
If you choose water crystals that require mixing, make sure you choose larger crystals. The smaller ones can sometimes turn into a soupy mess that traps smaller roaches.
Do Dubia Roaches and Feeder Insects Need Water Crystals?
Feeder insects need water to be healthy. In addition to obvious benefits such as preventing dehydration and physical stress related to dehydration, water can also help prevent protein overload, which benefits your reptile.
Water crystals are a very low-maintenance way to keep your feeders hydrated.
We’ve already discussed the dangers of simply using a water bowl for your roaches. But why water crystals? Can’t feeders get hydration from fruit and veggies? Or what about other hydration methods?
- Produce. Feeder insects are definitely hydrated via fruits and vegetables. However, if you are giving them the more hydrating kinds of produce such as berries or cucumbers vs. staples like potatoes, carrots, or oats, you have to be a little more attentive and remove the food immediately when it goes bad, or you will have dead roaches and potentially mold.
- Damp sponge. A sponge is also an option for hydrating your feeders. You can dampen it and leave it in their enclosure. You’ll have to clean the sponge out on a regular basis to protect your feeders from mold and bacteria.
- Water crystals. The nice thing about water crystals is they are just so convenient and sanitary while delivering optimal hydration. Low maintenance for you and great for your feeders—and, by extension, your pet.
It’s important to keep your roaches or other feeders as healthy as possible to make sure your reptile is as healthy as possible, and providing water crystals is a great way to do that.
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