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Starting a Dubia Roach Colony

Are you tired of the endless trips to the pet store to get feeders for your reptiles? There’s an easy solution: set up a dubia roach colony! They are easier to breed and much less smelly and noisy than crickets, not to mention nutritious.

Here is a basic step-by-step guide to setting up a dubia roach colony


Your colony can be housed in a 10 gallon or larger aquarium or a 40 qt or larger plastic tub. Although dubia roaches don’t climb or fly, get a cover to keep them safe. For an aquarium, get a screen cover. Most plastic tubs come with covers. Use a hot soldering iron to make ventilation holes along the sides of the tub near the top (press the iron into the plastic), or cut a hole, at least 6″x6″ in the cover and glue a piece of screen on. The ventilation will also help keep the enclosure dry, which is essential for good roach care. Another good solution is to get a plastic drawer unit. 
It’s useful to have an extra tub to use when you’re cleaning your colony.

Examples of what to buy:

10-gallon tank

Sterilite tub


Dubia roaches produce best when kept at approximately 90 degrees F (32C). You can achieve this temperature by using an adhesive under tank heater, heat cable, or a ceramic heat emitter. Be sure to use a thermostat or a lamp dimmer with the heater so you don’t fry your roaches or melt your plastic container. Plug your heat source into the thermostat or dimmer and plug the thermostat or dimmer into the outlet. The thermostat dial can be turned to the proper temperature. You will have to experiment with the lamp dimmer to see where to set it. Use a thermometer with a probe to check the temperature and adjust the dimmer up or down until the temperature is correct. Most heat sources take about 6 hours to reach a reasonable temperature, but, in my experience, many will continue to increase gradually for a few days.


Examples of heat sources:


ZooMed UTH

zoo-med heat cable

Ceramic heat emitter

Thermostats and lamp dimmers

Zilla thermostat

Home Depot lamp dimmer


Your roaches need places to stand, or else they will crush each other. The best solution is egg crate –cardboard pieces that look like the cartons that come with the eggs you buy. Don’t use those cartons; they are frequently treated with chemicals that are bad for roaches. Check out egg flats at Stack the cartons in the enclosure, making sure that they don’t go all the way to the top, so they don’t end up being roach steppingstones to the great outdoors.



Food: Roach chow, cricket feed (included in the kit) or any commercial gut load is good for roaches. Some people use dry dog food or chicken mash, but we do not recommend. Place in a small lid, where it won’t get stale or moldy. You can supplement your roach chow with fruit and vegetable peels such as carrot, apple or orange.


Water: Roaches will drown in a dish of water. Polymer water crystals (included with the kits) and put them in a shallow bowl.



Roaches have a life cycle, just like any other animal, including humans. A successful colony has:


More females than males, because one male can impregnate multiple females

A hefty number of breeding size roaches. Juvenile roaches (nymphs) are too young to breed, and old roaches are less productive

Have your enclosure, heat, egg crate, food, and water set up before the roaches arrive.

Get the roaches from a reputable dealer. There are no special roaches for breeding. Get the same roaches you would use for food. Some dealers sell starter colonies that contain a group of young adult roaches in the proper male to female ratio. If you want to put your own starter colony together, get medium roaches so you know they are young and will be in top breeding condition. Start with at least 20 roaches, 5 male roaches (full wings) and 15 females (wing stubs only). The more roaches you start with, the more babies you’ll end up with.

You’re in business!

Put the enclosure in a quiet, dark place. Provide food and water regularly, clean out the enclosure every 1-2 weeks

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