This guide provides information about how to choose the right size Dubia roaches for your animal.
Whether you’re new to Dubia roaches and unfamiliar with our sizing, or you have a new animal and don’t know what size roach will suit it best, we can help you find the ones you need.
While it’s tempting to generalize and say this kind of animal needs this size Dubia roach and that kind of animal needs that size, it’s not that simple. Animal size varies significantly within a species. While there is often a typical feeder size with specific groups of animals, we don’t like to guess about Dubia roach sizing for individual animals because there are always exceptions.
Instead, we 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: You want to identify the largest roach the animal can capture and eat without undue struggle or risk of harm. In short, eating the roach should be easy for the animal. Determining this size is often just a matter of measuring or estimating based on the size of another feeder insect you are familiar with.
The most common way to determine 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 measurement essentially tells you the width of the animal’s jaw. Animals can have problems swallowing insects that are wider than their jaw.
Note this measurement, then move on to the next step.
If you are familiar with the animal enough to know what size feeders it usually eats, you can use this to help you determine a starter Dubia size. Since people tend to misjudge the actual size of feeder insects, we recommend that you measure one.
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 how easily your animal eats its 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. Generally, Dubia roaches have robust bodies that grow thicker and fatter with food.
Like every feeder insect, Dubia roaches have their own nuances. Awareness of these nuances can help you decide whether to go with the maximum size you established with your measurement or the next smaller size. We recommend being conservative if you are new to Dubia roaches or have an animal that has not eaten them yet.
For example, unlike Dubia roaches, crickets grow fast at roughly the same rate. Dubia roaches grow slowly, and there is much more size variation among nymphs of the same age. They are also different than 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.
Dubia roaches also have a different shape than many other feeder insects. And they may behave differently. For example, the body mass of an inch-long mealworm is much less than an inch-long Dubia roach.
We often suggest people start with a slightly smaller size because your animal may need some wiggle room. Choosing the largest roach you think your animal can eat could lead to waste. Generally, if you are unsure, select the next smaller size from that of your measurement. More on this below.
What to know
Right off the bat, let us say this: If you need a specific size, start with our Dubia roaches in discreet sizes. We offer them in specific sizes like half-inch, one-inch, and more, and 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 cheaper because they take 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 are not like most other insects that grow fast 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 are 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, looks like in person. People who have not measured anything in a while 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. So they can be made smaller by withholding food and water for a few days or a week. If your animal will not eat a stuffed roach because it is too big, you may have better luck when it is hungry and smaller. If you are 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 grow much slower without the high heat they need for full growth and reproduction. At the lower end of this range, they may grow ten times slower than when kept at their ideal temperature range.
- Species-specific Dubia roach sizing is something we have addressed in various places on our website. For example, our posts about Dubia roaches and bearded dragons and Dubia roaches and leopard geckos.
How we size our Dubia roaches
In choosing the right size for your animal, you may find it useful to know how we size our Dubia roaches. While seemingly straightforward, measuring Dubia roaches is part science and part art. There is 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 from tip to tail. This is tricky because they like to curl up when handled, and they have to be flattened out. This is where experience comes 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 an error, it should be on the side of being 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 have 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 hungry. However, we see this as kind of a last resort. The potential for growing out small roaches is much greater than for shrinking large ones.
If you find a size too small, you can always size them up the next time. If you are 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. Our size sampler contains a small number of roaches in two consecutive sizes. You can feed them to your animal to see which one works best.
So these are our 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.
Have a question?
If you have a question, please feel free to ask! You can use the comment form below.