With the growing popularity of Dubia roaches as feeders, especially for reptiles, more and more people are re-evaluating their choice of crickets as feeders and considering making the switch to roaches. It’s useful to consider some of the reasons why so many former cricket users have decided to use roaches instead:
Why do crickets smell? The live crickets themselves don’t particularly smell bad. The horrible smell is the rotting flesh of dead crickets. This is much more of a problem with crickets because they have a much shorter lifespan than Dubia roaches (9 weeks as compared to 2 years) and they dehydrate more easily, especially when young.
Well cared for roaches will live longer. Even when they die, roach keepers find that they don’t smell bad like crickets.
One of the most frustrating aspects of keeping crickets is dealing with the escapees that leap out of the enclosure, jump out of the transfer container or escape from the reptile cage. It can be very embarrassing to have crickets marching across your living room rug when you’re entertaining. An adult cricket can easily make a home in your home for the rest of its 9-week lifespan.
Although roaches have wings, they don’t fly. They also don’t climb and don’t jump. If kept in a properly covered enclosure, there should be no escapees to deal with. The only chance that a roach would escape would be the result of human error: dropping the feeder container, or improperly sealing the roach or reptile enclosure. Roaches don’t survive in most temperate climates, and will certainly not breed or infest.
Crickets are noisy
Juvenile crickets are soundless, adult aren’t. Some cricket keepers comment that their homes sound like campgrounds all the time.
Roaches are silent throughout their two-year lifespans. The only noise you may hear would be the rustling sound of roaches moving in their enclosure and eating their roach chow.
Crickets carry disease
A common complaint by those who use crickets as feeders is that their reptiles sometimes get pinworms from the crickets.
Roaches do not carry pinworms or any other type of parasite
Those pincers around crickets’ mouths do just that: pinch.
Roaches are easier to handle and don’t bite. While they do have “generalized chewing mandibles (Wikipedia)”, their body construction, with the head tucked under the shell, makes it much less likely that those mandibles will encounter a human finger, or a reptile body either, for that matter.
Crickets don’t grow as large
Roaches are available in a greater range of sizes. Newly born roach nymphs are similar in size to newly hatched crickets but are nearly twice the size of crickets by adulthood, an excellent feeding solution for keepers of large and small reptiles.
Crickets aren’t as meaty
Compare the plump, soft bodied juvenile cricket to the stringy, fibrous adult cricket. Once the cricket reaches adult size, it seems to have less tender meat
Although dubia roaches do have a significant shell, under that shell they are all meat. Some sources suggest that a single full-sized roach may have as much meat as 3-4 adult crickets.
Crickets aren’t as nutritious
Reptile nutritional needs is a complicated issue and varies from species to species. It’s clear though that all reptiles require a certain amount of calories, protein, some fat, vitamins and minerals. Generally, it’s accepted that reptiles require relatively high protein and relatively low fat.
They also require vitamins and minerals. Among the most important of these are calcium to make strong bones, vitamin D3 to help metabolize the calcium and phosphorus to help metabolize the fats and protein. You will often hear about the calcium to phosphorus ratio in reptile nutrition. This refers to the amount of calcium relative to the amount of phosphorus in reptile food. Too much calcium, and the phosphorus can’t do its job. Too much phosphorus and the calcium can’t do its job. The ideal ration of calcium to phosphorus is about 2 to 1.
So what does all this have to do with crickets and roaches? The nutritional content of the crickets and roaches is what supplies the reptiles with their nutrition. Here’s the situation regarding the nutrients described above:
Vitamin D3: Neither crickets nor Dubia roaches contain vitamin D3 in their nutritional makeup, so it has to be supplied either through UV light or in powdered supplement form
Fat: According to available information* crickets and Dubia roaches are about equal in fat content: 6% for crickets and 7% for roaches
Protein: According to available information* crickets are about 18% protein and, by contrast, Dubia roaches are about 36% protein, with roaches clearly a better bet for protein content.
Calcium: According to available information* crickets contain about 14mg of calcium per 100 grams and roaches contain about 20 mg of calcium per 100 grams, another advantage to using Dubia roaches as feeders
Calcium to phosphorus ratio: According to available information* the cricket ratio is about 0.14:1 and the Dubia roach ratio is about 0.4:1. This indicates that although additional calcium supplementation is necessary for either feeder, Dubia roaches require less supplementation since their ratio is 4 times better than that of crickets (ideal ratio, if you recall, is 2:1).
* The nutritional information cited above is based on comparison charts that can be viewed in many places on the internet. After an exhaustive search, I have not been able to locate any reliable source for these figures.
This means that if these figures are reliable, Dubia roaches are nutritionally a better choice than crickets. If they are not reliable, Dubia roaches are no worse a choice than crickets. Given the additional advantages of Dubia roaches described above, Dubia roaches continue to be a clear advantage over crickets for a variety of reasons.