Semester of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Science (MS)


Veterinary Clinical Sciences

Document Type



Dubia roaches (Blaptica dubia) have emerged on the market as a high protein and low-fat alternative to other feeder insects for captive reptiles. However, much like other insects, dubia roaches naturally have an inverse calcium to phosphorus (Ca:P) ratio. Offering insects to reptiles that are deficient in calcium can lead to nutritional disease (e.g., nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism). For dubia roaches to be a valuable feeder insect, their Ca:P ratio must be corrected. Several studies have assessed their nutritional composition, but no studies have manipulated the calcium content of these insects. Using a high calcium (8.3% calcium, dry matter) dubia roach specific diet, it was possible to correct the Ca:P ratio. The roaches Ca:P ratio significantly increased (P < 0.0001) over time, with positive ratios at 12 hours (1.4:1), 24 hours (1.7:1), and 48 hours (2.1:1). Based on the results, a gut loading time of 24 hours is recommended in dubia roaches.

Unfortunately, there are a plethora of “gut loading” diets available on the market, with claims that may not always be true. As such, several studies were conducted to determine if commercial diets with claims of being balanced could provide an appropriate level of nutrition. Results of this study demonstrated that not all commercial diets meet the nutritional claims advertised on their label. Roaches fed the high calcium diet for 24 hours had a Ca:P ratio of 1.5:1, while roaches fed the low calcium diet had a Ca:P ratio of 0.2:1, which was similar to fasted roaches (0.2:1).

Finally, gut loading is thought to be detrimental to the health of insects. High calcium diets are often high in dry matter and low in moisture and other nutrients essential for growth and maintenance of the insects. Results of this study found no significant difference (P ≥ 0.06) in the mortality rates of roaches fed the high calcium or low calcium diet for 7 days.

These results support my hypothesis that dubia roaches can be a nutritionally appropriate insect for captive reptiles, if their Ca:P ratio is corrected. Additionally, mortalities should not be of concern when feeding roaches, a high calcium diet.



Committee Chair

Mitchell, Mark A.



Available for download on Tuesday, March 31, 2026