How Many Roaches Should Feed My Dragon?
This is a question that we get asked a lot. There are several things to consider.
What size of animal are you feeding the roaches to?
What size roaches can they eat?
Do you intend to feed only roaches for the insect portion of the diet (in addition to their greens), or if you are going to supplement the roaches with other insects?
This is how we estimate the amount of roaches you would need to feed (1) adult bearded dragon only roaches for the insect (protein) portion of their diet.
There are roughly 30 days in a month. Each adult dragon should eat 20-30 crickets each day which comes out to 600-900 crickets/month for each adult dragon. Since roaches have a higher meat to shell ratio and are 5-6 times more nutritious you would only need to feed 1/5 or 1/6 as many roaches of a comparable size. This comes out to 4-6 roaches each day and 120-180 roaches each month. I like to use 6-10 roaches as an estimation to provide a cushion and because they really like them. This come out to 180-300 roaches each month.
If you have a juvenile dragon they should be eating 20-30 smaller crickets twice each day. Since dubias are easily digestible they are exempt from the rule about "not feeding anything bigger than the space between their eyes". This means that you could easily feed your juvenile dragons 1/2" - 1" roaches. Since you are feeding larger roaches they are getting more protein so would not have to eat as many. From the above estimation we calculated that an adult dragon will eat 180-300 3-4 month old (1"- 1 1/2") roaches each month.
A bearded dragon will eat approximately 20-40 appropriately sized crickets at a time because there is very little meat and a lot of shell. This is the equivalent of 6-12 roaches per meal.
All Ages - Provide Fresh Greens
0-4 months – Provide appropriate sized insects (1/4” – ½”), all they can eat in 15-20 minutes, 2-3 x daily
4-12 months – Provide appropriate sized insects (1/2” – Adult), all they can eat in 15-20 minutes, 1-2 x daily
1-2 years – Provide appropriate sized insects (adult), all they can eat in 15-20 minutes, 1 x daily
2 years + – Provide appropriate sized insects (adult), all they can eat in 15-20 minutes, every other day
How old/big is your dragon? When they are young they need a lot of protein to grow and their diet should be 80% insects and 20% greens.
When they hit a year, they are still growing but not as fast, so their diet should be around 50% insects & 50% greens.
Once he’s 2-3 his diet should be 20% insects and about 80% greens.
If they don't get the protein they need when they are young and growing fast they will be small and underdeveloped and can lead to health issues when they are older. You should give your dragon as many as he can eat in 15-20 minutes at each feeding.
Find out your needs. Feed your animal a specific number of appropriately sized insects. If they eat them all in less than 20 minutes, give them more. If they don’t eat them all, give them less at the next feeding. After a week or so you should have a good idea of how many insects they are eating at each meal. Use this number to calculate your insect needs. Also remember that their diet will fluctuate day to day and will decrease at certain times of the year or during brumination, breeding, etc.
If you are using crickets to determine your insect needs remember to divide it by 5 to get the number of roaches they will need.
Determine the size of roaches your animal will eat. Feed them different sized roaches so you can see their preferred size and which size they can eat easily. Most animals don't care a whole lot how big the roaches are, within reason, and a 1 1/2" roach is basically the same as six 1/4" (or three 1/2") roaches