If you’re wondering whether you can feed your leopard gecko Dubia roaches, the answer is emphatically yes! Not only can leopard geckos eat Dubia roaches, but many leopard geckos prefer them.
And what’s not to love? Our Dubia roaches are tasty, easy to keep and feed, and super nutritious. In fact, they provide superior nutrition compared to other feeder insects. They have the nutrients insectivores need for good health, and their easy digestibility means more of these nutrients are available to the reptiles that eat them. The bottom line is that leopard geckos can benefit from eating Dubia roaches like most other reptiles. So not only can leopard geckos eat Dubia roaches, we think they should!
And like other reptiles, leopard geckos love eating Dubia roaches. Leopard geckos usually find them very tasty, and they provide the right stimulus to strongly trigger the leopard gecko feeding response. As we like to say, food is a package deal — you have to take the bad along with the good. Dubia roaches have more of the good stuff reptiles need for good health and less of the bad stuff they don’t.
Table of Contents:
- Leopard gecko basics
- Feeding Dubia roaches to leopard geckos
- Leopard gecko feeding schedule
- The right size Dubia roaches for leopard geckos
- How many Dubia roaches to feed a leopard gecko
- Feeding style
- Leopard gecko feeding tip: Dubia roach moisture
- Leopard gecko feeding tip: Overeating
- Leopard gecko feeding tip: Brumation
- How to store extra Dubia roach feeders
- Common leopard gecko health problems & feeding issues
- Dubia roaches for other gecko species
Leopard gecko basics
The leopard gecko, also known as Eublepharis macularius, is native to arid desert regions of southern and central Asia, particularly Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India. It is one of the most popular lizard species in the U.S., just behind the bearded dragon.
Leopard geckos are opportunistic carnivores. In the wild, they typically feed on invertebrates, including insects, but they sometimes eat other reptiles. They have even been known to eat other geckos, though this is rare. While leopard geckos are usually housed alone as single specimens, they are sometimes kept with other geckos. In the wild, they are generally solitary reptiles but are sometimes found together with other geckos.
Feeding Dubia roaches to leopard geckos
Dubia roaches can be the primary feeder insect for leopard geckos. Like other insectivores, leopard geckos enjoy a variety of foods, and they benefit from dietary diversity. Perhaps even more so than other reptiles. For this reason, people usually feed their leopard geckos several insects rather than just one.
With captive insectivores, dietary diversity promotes health and happiness. It helps avoid monotony and malnutrition — a common issue with leopard geckos. We recommend choosing one or two primary feeder insects and supplementing them with other bugs. You can mix things up as other insects become available or as it suits your needs.
As is the case with other captive reptiles, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D are nutrients of concern for leopard geckos. Dubia roaches are 54% protein and contain more calcium than 80% of the feeder insects typically sold in pet stores and online. They have more calcium than all the insects commonly fed to leopard geckos, and their calcium-to-phosphorous ratio is between four and 15 times greater, depending on the insect. Vitamin A levels are unknown for most feeder insects, and vitamin D comes from UVB light and supplements, so you should provide these nutrients by dusting or gut-loading, as outlined below.
Leopard gecko feeding schedule
A feeding schedule depends on the gecko and the number and size of insects it consumes. The goal is to strike a balance with the size and quantity of roaches you give your gecko at each feeding. Their feeding schedule should roughly fit the following timeline: Young, growing leopard geckos often feed every day. Young adults between two and four years tend to eat every other day. Adults two years and older tend to eat every second or third day, up to once per week in some cases.
The right size Dubia roaches for leopard geckos
Leopard geckos can grow rather large. It is common for females to reach 8 inches and males 10 inches. And in some cases, they may grow larger. If your gecko is this big, it will want Dubia roaches that are large – somewhere in the 1-inch range. The general rule for any size leopard gecko is to start with Dubia roaches that are about as wide as the distance between the gecko’s eyes and no wider than the width of the widest part of the gecko’s jaw.
For beginners and people with a new gecko, choosing the right size Dubia roaches involves making an educated guess based on this information. The next step is to observe the gecko eating the roaches to see whether or not you need to adjust their size. What’s important here is that the gecko does not struggle with roaches that are too big.
Once you find the right size Dubia, the next question is how many roaches to feed your leopard gecko.
How many Dubia roaches to feed a leopard gecko
With feeding quantity, there is no absolute rule. But there is a rule of thumb. Feed your leopard gecko as many appropriately-sized Dubia roaches as it can eat in 2 to 10 minutes. When your gecko is finished eating, remove any uneaten roaches from its enclosure.
When the size is correct, leopard geckos will eat around three to seven Dubia roaches per feeding. The final quantity depends on several things, including the leopard gecko’s age and size and the size of the Dubia roaches they eat. Whatever the case, this is roughly the range you can expect. And this is the range you should aim for.
If your leopard gecko eats fewer than three Dubia roaches per feeding, it could indicate overfeeding. Or, it could be that the roaches are too big for the gecko. Alternatively, your leopard gecko may be underfed if it’s eating more than seven roaches per feeding. Or, the roaches may be too small. Again, these are rough estimates for the average leopard gecko and something to consider when choosing a Dubia roach size.
Eating more than seven or less than three roaches at each feeding doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem. For example, consider that very young (and growing) leopard geckos have bigger appetites than older ones, so some slowing over time is expected and normal. Feeding may also slow in winter.
Another rule of thumb is that it’s a good idea to note each individual gecko’s eating habits, and then watch for significant changes. When there is a change, see if it persists and search for an explanation (like aging, seasonal change, etc.).
This brings us to feeding style. How you offer Dubia roaches to your leopard gecko at mealtime is entirely up to you. You can use a shallow feeding dish if roaches wandering around your leopard gecko’s enclosure are an issue. You can hand-feed your leopard gecko if you like. Or, if you prefer, you can feed them with tongs. You could even go au naturel and let your leopard gecko hunt for roaches in its enclosure. Dubia roaches won’t hurt your animal, so escape and evasion are the things to consider in this case. There’s no right or wrong way to provide Dubia roaches to your leopard gecko. What you choose is up to you.
Leopard gecko feeding tip: Dubia roach moisture
Provide your Dubia roaches with plenty of moisture-rich foods before feeding them to your gecko. Feed roaches to your leopard gecko when the roach’s stomachs are big and round, full of food.
Leopard geckos benefit from the moisture they get from their feeders. As you may know, good hydration is required for the health of captive reptiles. Specifically, leopard geckos are prone to developing impaction, a potentially serious health issue. Adequate hydration is among the best ways to prevent impaction.
You can ensure your leopard gecko gets plenty of moisture by providing dubia feeders with moisture-rich fruits and vegetables. Good choices include carrots, apples, and bananas. You can add one or several of these to your Dubia bin and allow them to graze. Alternatively, you can add water to your gut load. Impaction is rare among properly-hydrated leopard geckos with access to proper heat and UV light and that are fed suitably sized insects.
Leopard gecko feeding tip: Overeating
When young and growing, leopard geckos eat a lot. But their feeding slows as they age, and they are very good at extracting and storing fat from food, such as in their tail. Consider feeding less or slowing feedings if you notice your leopard gecko becoming fat. In particular, avoid high-fat insects if weight is an issue. High-fat feeders include superworms, mealworms, and waxworms.
Leopard gecko feeding tip: Brumation
Leopard geckos can enter a state of brumation, where their feeding interest and activity may slow. This usually occurs in the cold winter months, and it’s considered the reptile equivalent of mammalian hibernation. While you may want to rule out serious causes when a leopard gecko loses its appetite, be aware that brumation exists, and a loss of appetite among some leopard geckos at certain times of the year may occur. When reptiles are in brumation, it’s best not to force any feeding.
How to store extra Dubia roach feeders
After feeding your gecko, you’ll need a place for the leftover Dubia roaches. Keeping and storing Dubia roach feeders is easy. You can put them in a plastic container and set it in a warm, dark spot. Or you can keep them at room temperature if you like. They don’t require much, but you can go deep into Dubia roach nutrition and care if you like. See our Dubia Roach Care Sheet for in-depth information about caring for Dubia roach feeders that goes far beyond the basics.
Common leopard gecko health & feeding issues
Leopard geckos are hearty reptiles. However, like other reptiles, they can develop health issues in captivity when their environment and nutrition are inadequate. Though serious, most health issues can be prevented with knowledge and a little care. The following are the most common diet-related health issues in leopard geckos.
Metabolic Bone Disease
Leopard geckos are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dusk and dawn. Because they often sleep during the day and tend to avoid light, they commonly suffer from vitamin D deficiency — perhaps more than other reptiles who spend their days basking in the warmth of the sun or an artificial UV light source. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to Metabolic Bone Disease in leopard geckos and other reptiles if the deficiency is not corrected.
Geckos with MBD present with pathological fractures, twisted or bent long bones, inability to feed due to mandibular softening, neurological symptoms, or chronic wasting. For this reason, many Internet forums and veterinarians recommend dusting (external link) a leopard gecko’s feeder insects with vitamin and mineral powders like calcium and vitamin D at every feeding or every other feeding.
Dubia roaches are high in calcium and magnesium and are easy to dust with vitamin and mineral powders. Like veterinarians, we recommend gut-loading with a prepared gut load and providing Dubia roach feeders with high-quality foods before feeding to your animal. We don’t make animal-specific recommendations about dusting frequency. For that, consult with a veterinarian or check leopard gecko discussion forums. However, we recommend gut loading frequently – up to every feeding.
Chronic malnutrition is common in captive leopard geckos. Offering quality feeder insects like Dubia roaches to your leopard gecko, gut-loaded and dusted with mineral powder, helps prevent malnutrition. Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin A each play a role in leopard gecko malnutrition, so be sure to read up on gut loading and dusting if you haven’t already. We raise our Dubia roaches on nutritious, vitamin and mineral-rich foods, so you can be sure you’re starting with healthy feeder stock.
As mentioned above, leopard geckos tend to suffer from impaction. Impaction is when the animal cannot pass stool. Though there are many causes, one way to help prevent impaction is to provide your animal with adequate hydration.
Relating to feeder insects, you can improve hydration by providing all the moisture-rich fruits and vegetables your Dubia roaches can eat. When you give them carrots, apples, or other similar foods and the roach’s bellies get big and round, they are adequately hydrated.
Hypovitaminosis A in leopard geckos is caused by dietary inadequacy. You can address this inadequacy by feeding leopard geckos a diet containing nutritious feeder insects, gut-loaded with healthy foods, and dusted with a commercial vitamin powder designed for this purpose.
Dubia roaches for other gecko species
While this information is specific to feeding Dubia roaches to leopard geckos, it also applies to other gecko species. Geckos known to do well on a diet of Dubia roaches include tokay geckos, gargoyle geckos, crested geckos, giant day geckos, fat-tail geckos, and mossy prehensile-tailed geckos. While there are some differences in care and keeping requirements for some of these different gecko species, they all eat insects and have feeding habits and nutritional requirements similar to or the same as the leopard gecko.
Wrapping it up
Dubia roaches are super popular and nutritious feeders. They’re healthy, easy to feed and keep, leopard geckos love them, and they provide more of the nutrients leopard geckos need for good health with less of the bad stuff they don’t. If you haven’t already, give Dubia roaches a try! If in doubt, start with a small size and quantity of Dubia roaches, test them on your leopard gecko, and go from there!