Absolutely! Leopard geckos can most certainly eat Dubia roaches. In fact, their high protein, low chitin, and balanced calcium-to-phosphorus ratio makes them one of the best staple feeders for your leo.
When determining the best diet for your leopard gecko, however, there are a number of factors you need to take into consideration. This article will help you determine which insect is the best primary staple – SPOILER: it’s the Dubia roach – and why you should still include other insects in your leopard gecko’s meal plan.
A Great Addition to Your Leopard Gecko’s Diet
Dubia roaches are one of the most popular feeder insects among reptile, arachnid, and amphibian keepers.
Originally from the hot and humid climate of Central and South America, Dubia roaches have become a popular alternative to crickets as a staple feeder. Their popularity among lizard keepers in general, and leopard gecko keepers in particular, rests to some extent on the ease with which one can establish and maintain a colony.
Pro Tip: Dubia roaches are illegal in Florida and Hawaii, and one can face hefty fines or even prison time for possessing Dubia roaches. This is because the heat and humidity in those states are perfect for Dubia, and there is some risk of them becoming invasive. These conditions don’t exist in the rest of the U.S., however, and there is little to no risk of Dubia roaches becoming an invasive species.
The primary reason Dubia roaches have so quickly become such a popular feeder is because of their nutritional value.
As an Insectivorous lizard with a short digestive tract, leopard geckos need a varied diet that consists of higher levels of protein, relatively high fat content, and low levels of carbohydrates and indigestible fiber.
Studies of various insectivorous lizards, including leopard geckos, show that they need:
- Protein levels between 30-60%
- Fat content between 40-70%
- Calcium-to-Phosphorus ratio of 2:1
- Low chitin/fiber
This is great news for those who rely on Dubia roaches as staple feeders!
When it comes to protein, nutrients, and minerals, Dubia roaches are one of the best options to consider for your leopard gecko’s diet. Their nutritional benefits include:
- Protein = 30%
- Fat = 5%
- Calcium = 5.8
- Phosphorus = 5.9
- C-to-P Ratio =1.101
- Fiber = 4%
Dubia roaches’ protein levels are in the right range for your leopard gecko. The chitin (a fibrous material that makes the Dubia’s exoskeleton rigid) is fairly low. And its calcium-to-phosphorus ratio, while not perfect, is the best among feeder insects – nothing that dusting your Dubia roaches with a Calcium/Vitamin D3 supplement won’t fix.
Compare this with the two other popular leopard gecko feeders: crickets and mealworms.
Are Dubia Roaches Better Than Crickets for Leopard Geckos?
There are many staunch cricket-feeder adherents among leo keepers. And understandably so! Crickets are a great option for your leopard gecko’s diet (especially if you live in Hawaii or Florida). But are crickets a more nutritious feeder than Dubia roaches for your leopard gecko?
The nutritional value of crickets include:
- Protein = 18%
- Fat = 7%
- Calcium = 2.1
- Phosphorus = 5.9
- C-to-P = 1:3.7
- Fiber = 1%
When comparing these numbers with Dubia roaches, the first thing you’ll notice is the lower protein levels. This makes crickets less than ideal for baby and juvenile leopard gecko, who need higher levels of protein while they’re still growing rapidly.
This doesn’t mean that you ought not to feed crickets to your leopard gecko. It just means that you need to be sure and offer it a wide variety of other insects as well.
The next thing you’ll notice is that crickets have a really bad calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. In order to process calcium, leopard geckos need a 2:1 calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. Crickets flip that number on its head and offer a 1:3 ratio.
As with all feeder insects, dusting your cricket prior to feeding will help remedy this imbalance.
Crickets are a great staple feeder, but the numbers show that they make a better secondary staple, while Dubia roaches make a better primary staple.
Are Dubia Roaches Better Than Mealworms for Leopard Geckos?
The other popular staple feeder among leopard gecko keepers are mealworms.
Like Dubia roaches, mealworms are an easy insect to colonize. They don’t smell. They’re easily contained. They don’t jump and they’re easier for your leo to catch. They’re also pretty easy to breed.
But are mealworms a better primary staple feeder than Dubia roaches for your leopard gecko? Again, let’s look at the numbers.
The nutritional value of mealworms includes:
- Protein = 18%
- Fat = 9%
- Calcium = 1.2
- Phosphorus = 14.2
- C-to-P Ratio = 1:7
- Fiber = 2%
You’ll immediately notice that mealworms have a much lower protein content and much higher fat content than Dubia roaches. However, mealworms are also lower in fiber, with a softer chitin than Dubia roaches, making them easier to digest.
But mealworms’ calcium-to-phosphorus ratio is 1:7, meaning they have less nutrients and minerals to offer your leopard gecko than Dubia roaches. As with crickets, mealworms make a good staple feeder, but only when offered in combination with several other feeders like crickets and Dubia roaches.
Make Variety a Part of Your Leopard Gecko’s Diet
In the wild, a leopard gecko’s diet consists of whatever insects it can get ahold of. For this reason, it tends to be quite varied. Leopard geckos don’t rely on one single kind of insect for all their nutritional needs in the wild.
Similarly, you shouldn’t rely on one single feeder insect for your leopard gecko’s diet.
Your leo needs variety in its diet.
Although many believe that Dubia roaches are the best primary staple feeder for leopard geckos – and the numbers certainly seem to back that up – your leo will still need secondary feeders like crickets and mealworms, plus the occasional treats like:
- Darkling beetles
- Pill bugs
- And more
Since many of these insects are readily available at very affordable prices from your local pet store, you don’t necessarily need to establish your own colonies – although you can easily do so. However, you should have some of them on hand to add further variety to your leopard gecko’s diet, alongside Dubia roaches, crickets, and mealworms.
How Many Dubia Roaches to Feed Your Leopard Gecko
In addition to the nutritional benefits mentioned above, Dubia roaches also have long lifespans, compared to other insects. They can live for up to a year, and sometimes even longer!
This means you can find the perfect sized Dubia roach for every stage of your leopard gecko’s life.
When considering the size and quantity of Dubia roaches – or any other feeder insect – for your leopard gecko’s diet, you need to keep in mind the age, size, and health of your leo. As with humans, one adult leopard gecko may need more food than another.
With that in mind, these general rules can serve as a good starting point for working out your leopard gecko’s meal plan:
- Babies – Should be fed five to seven Dubia roaches daily. The Dubia should be no larger than ⅜” in length.
- Juveniles – Should also be fed daily. The Dubia roaches should be slightly larger than what you’d feed a baby. Again five to seven Dubia should suffice, but they should be around ¼” in length.
- Adults – Should be fed every other day. The Dubia roaches should be between 1” to 1 ½” in length. You can offer two Dubia per every 1” length of your leo’s body. So, for a 6” leopard gecko, you’d offer it twelve Dubia roaches.
Takeaway: Leopard geckos can certainly eat Dubia roaches. In fact, Dubia roaches have quickly become one of the most popular feeder insects for leopard geckos because of their high nutritional value.
If you’re looking for a reliable source of high-quality Dubia roaches for your leopard gecko, then look no further than Dragon’s Diet’s Dubia roaches. Our Dubia roaches are humanely raised and fed a well-balanced diet of highly nutritious foods like barley, alfalfa meal, beet pulp, crushed apple, and more. We even gut-load them prior to shipping them to you, making them the perfect feeder for your leo. Order Your Dubia Roaches Today