Bred invertebrate myself
Posted Apr 29, 2014
We invested in Dubia roaches because we were tired of using crickets as feeders for our bearded dragons. I can't say enough about how much I hated using crickets, and Dubias were a life saver. After an initial investment in 12 adult females and 10 males, it only took about 2 months to have a thriving colony.
When you look at the initial cost of starting a Dubia colony, it seems to be a bit of shock. I know it was approximately $70 for 22 "bugs," and that was a shock. However, seeing as we were spending about $12 a week on the horrible crickets and that was only going to increase, it makes sense in the long run. You take a couple of months of what you would spend on your regular feeder insects as an investment and in that amount of time, you have "free food." By the time we had them for about a year, there were thousands of roaches of all ages in our colony and we basically had to do nothing to maintain it.
To set up the colony, we got a large plastic tub and cut a square hole in the top. We duct taped a screen into that hole so that the roaches would have clean air and would be able to see the light. Though the roaches prefer the dark, we discovered that they wouldn't breed properly unless they had a proper circadian rhythm which required us to turn the light on and off for regular periods throughout the day. We glued together several cardboard egg flats from Costco and put them in the tote so that the roaches would have places to hide. We also got 2 small animal food dishes for the roaches' food and water crystals. Note: we did not use regular water because the babies tend to drown. Instead we purchased these crystals that would hold several times their weight in water.
The company from which we purchased the starter colony gave us some "roach food" which was basically cat food that had been put through a food processor. We used that until it was gone, then we just started putting our left over vegetables in. For example, if we used a head of romaine, the outer leaves and core got tossed to the roaches. We'd put carrot peels, banana peels, onion skins, anything vegetative that we didn't use in their tote and they loved it! After we started feeding the roaches "real" food, their breeding increased exponentially.
One thing about the roaches that my mother was afraid of was their smell, but we rapidly discovered there was nothing to worry about. At their worst, the roach box smelled like damp earth. Sometimes, if we gave them too many vegetables, there would be a slight rotten smell, but that was easily fixed. I quite enjoyed their smell.
As far as a "pet" I wouldn't rank these guys. They're not interesting to look at like Madagascar Hissing Roaches, and they like to hide - a lot. Basically, this isn't a pet, this is food. However, as food, I can say our bearded dragons liked them much more than crickets and they had none of the negative drawbacks that crickets did. I highly recommend them for anyone who is looking for some lizard food!