This guide provides information about how to choose the right size Dubia roaches for your animal.
Whether you’re new to Dubia roaches and don’t know what a half-inch versus a 1-inch Dubia roach looks like, or you have a new animal and don’t know what size Dubia roach will suit it best, we can help you narrow your search and get you the size you need.
While it’s tempting to say this kind of animal needs this size Dubia roach and that kind of animal needs that size, it’s not quite that easy. There is so much size variation within species that there is no universal answer. While there may be a common size for certain animals of different ages and stages, we don’t like to guess about Dubia roach sizing because there are always exceptions.
Instead, we like to provide tools people can use to determine what size Dubia they need, based on their unique circumstances. And it’s easy. To get started, you need to know two things:
We’ll cover all of this here. If you still have questions, you can ask us a question below.
Taking measurement and considering sizing
Step one involves deciding what size Dubia roach the animal can safely handle. The idea is simple and straightforward: You want to identify the largest roach the animal can capture and eat easily, without undue struggle or risk of harm. Determining this size is often just a matter of taking a measurement or estimating based on the size of another feeder insect you’re familiar with.
The most common way to figure out what size Dubia you need when you have no experience with the animal or Dubia roaches is to measure the distance between the animal’s eyes. This measurment effectively tells you the width of the animal’s jaw. The width of the jaw is a good indication of the largest insect an animal can eat without undue struggle, and this is what you want.
Take this measurement, write it down, and move on to the next step.
If you’re familiar with the animal enough to know what size feeders it normally eats, you can use this knowledge to help you decide on a starter Dubia size too. Since people tend to misjudge the actual size of feeder insects, we recommend that you measure one. Just to see.
Now you have two measurements — the width between your animal’s eyes and the size of at least one of its feeder insects. Consider these two dimensions and think about how easily your animal eats his or her feeders. Could it go bigger? Does going bigger seem like a bad idea?
Now consider how the shape of Dubia roaches compares to your current feeder. Did you measure a cricket? If so, that measurement might apply pretty well to a Dubia roach. Did you measure a superworm? This measurement often will not transfer well to Dubia roaches. Consider how the shape of your current feeder compares to Dubia roaches. As a general rule, Dubia roaches have robust bodies that grow thicker and fatter with food.
Like every feeder insect, Dubia roaches have their own set of nuances. Being aware of these nuances can help you decide whether you want to go with the maximum size you established with your measurement, or perhaps the next smaller size. We recommend being conservative if you’re new to Dubia roaches or if you have an animal that hasn’t eaten them yet.
For example, Dubia roaches aren’t like crickets, which grow very fast at roughly the same rate. Dubia roaches grow slowly, and there is much more size variation among nymphs of the same age. They’re also not like mealworms, which reach a predictable size quickly and then maintain that size for a long time. Dubia roaches grow much more slowly, and their final adult size varies from roach to roach. Many factors play a role in determining how big Dubia roaches get.
Dubia roaches are also shaped differently than many other feeders. And they may behave differently too. For example, an inch long mealworm is much smaller overall than an inch long Dubia roach.
What these things mean is that you may need a little wiggle room with your sizing. Choosing the absolute largest roach you think your animal can eat could lead to waste. Your circumstances will dictate your size choice, but the general lesson is that if you’re unsure, it’s best to choose a smaller roach than the largest size from your estimate. We’ll have more on this below.
What to know
Right off the bat, let us say this: If you need a very specific size, start with our Dubia in discreet sizes. These include Minis, 1/4-inchers, 1/2-inchers, and more. We work hard to size these roaches accurately to minimize variation.
On the other hand, if you are OK with a little variation, start with our Dubia roaches in size ranges. These include extra-small, small, medium, large, and extra-large. You will see on each product page what the size range looks like. These tend to be a little cheaper because they take us less time to process.
So here are some general things you need to know about Dubia roaches as feeders when deciding on a size, along with some tips:
- Given the right conditions, Dubia roaches will grow. And the smaller they are, the faster they grow. The lesson here is when in doubt, we think it’s better to underestimate what size roach your animal can handle than to overestimate it. If you underestimate, the roaches will grow and you can feed them off when they’re ready. If you overestimate, the roaches will grow, and you will still have roaches that are too big for your animal.
- In general, people tend to overestimate the size Dubia roach their animals can handle. When in doubt, pick smaller ones. Or…
- Buy just a few Dubia roaches to start or try our Dubia roach size sampler. You get a few roaches in two consecutive sizes, which helps you figure out what size works best with minimal waste.
- Expect some size variation between roaches. They aren’t like most other insects that grow quickly at uniform rates. Crickets are a good example of uniform growth. Dubia roaches also vary by feeding status. Their bodies elongate when they eat and shrink when they’re hungry. This is another reason to underestimate the size you need. If you go with the largest size Dubia roach your animal can handle, you may end up with some that are too big. Choosing a smaller size gives you room for error.
- If necessary, we recommend looking at a ruler to refresh your view of what a quarter-inch, one-inch, etc, look like in person. People who haven’t measured anything in a while seem to tend to underestimate roach sizing when they go “by feel”.
- If you end up with roaches that are too big, you can shrink them. As mentioned above, Dubia roaches’ bodies elongate when they eat. It follows that they can be made smaller by withholding food and water for a few days or a week. If your animal won’t eat a stuffed roach because it’s too big, you may have better luck when it’s hungry and smaller. If you’re concerned about what this will do to the roaches, don’t worry. It won’t hurt them. They can survive weeks without water and months without food. Cockroaches are famous for this, actually.
- When you have the right size Dubia roaches, you can maintain their size by feeding them regularly and keeping them between 50ºF and 70ºF. They will still eat and drink, but they will grow much slower without the high heat they need for full growth and reproduction. At the lower end of this range, they may grow as much as ten times slower than when kept at their ideal temperature range.
- Species specific Dubia roach sizing is something we’ve addressed in various places on our website. For example, our article about bearded dragons and Dubia roaches provides information about how to choose the right size Dubia roach for your bearded dragon.
How we size our Dubia roaches
In choosing the right size for your animal, it may come in handy to know how we size our Dubia roaches. While seemingly straightforward, measuring Dubia roaches is part science and part art. There’s a technique to it, and experience matters. Small nuances can make a big difference in the final outcome — especially with the smaller sizes.
Generally, we measure their maximum body length, like when they are standing on flat ground. This is somewhat tricky because they like to curl up when handled and they have to be flattened out. This is where “art” and experience come in.
We aim for accuracy and consistency in our measurements. However, the nature of insects and other living animals is that there will always be some error in measurement. Of course we do what we can to minimize this, but when there is error, we try to err on the side of too small. This is because roaches that are too big for an animal are usually useless as feeders, while ones that are too small are not. They can be fattened up by feeding, grown out over days or weeks, or fed to animals as-is.
As we’ve mentioned, Dubia roaches that are too large can be “shrunk” by withholding food and water for a short time. Just as their bodies elongate when they eat, they retract when they’re hungry. We see this as kind of a last resort though. The potential for growing out small roaches is much greater than it is for shrinking large ones.
If you find a size to be too small, you can always size them up the next time. When you’re completely unsure, you can order a small quantity (like 25) of the size you think would work best, or you can try a Dubia roach size sampler, which we created for this purpose. Each one contains a small number of roaches in two consecutive sizes. You can feed them to your animal and observe which size works best for them.
So these are our basic tips for how to pick the right size Dubia roaches. As we said, it’s pretty simple, and we hope this information makes it even easier.