I need to tell you a long but worthwhile (I promise) story about how Dubia roaches escape their confines, and if you are squeamish, this tale may displease you. I am going to warn you right before the part that might make you want to smack me and in order to be polite and not run you off. You can choose to read the creepy part or not!
But we need to talk about bugs. Specifically, bugs that bearded dragons like to eat.
Becoming ‘exotic pet’ owners has been quite the experience. We’ve only ever had cats and once a betta fish. Growing up, we rehabbed a few chipmunks and squirrels but never a pet that would fall under the ‘exotic’ category. So caring for our bearded dragon, Kevin, has included some hurdles.
The first hurdle was overcoming our squicky feelings about bugs. When Kevin was young, we learned to feed him crickets. Young beardies need a LOT of protein and crickets are the cheapest. We would order 500+ through the mail in a BOX and then empty them into a 20 gallon tub with a screen lid to hop around and smell like the devil until it was time to go see the big dragon in the sky. Crickets smell AWFUL after a few days, even when you keep their habitat as clean as possible, and we all hated them.
But we did get used to them, and grabbing a stupid cricket became an everyday, flinch-free occurrence. Kevin would eat 25-30 crickets at a go, at least once a day. We even researched how to breed crickets because ordering those boxes is fraught with peril for various reasons, like mail delays, cold weather, hot weather, and escapee situations. I will be linking to another person’s cricket situation at the end of the email, but for now I want you to stick with me :).
Crickets Are Terrible
However, beardies get better nutrition from other bugs, such as Dubia roaches, black soldier fly larvae, and certain types of worms (mealworms, superworms, not earthworms). Beardies are also supposed to grow up and become 70% vegetarian, too, so the amount of bugs they eat eventually slacks off. And the other bugs? They don’t smell like crickets of death. OMG that smell. In the winter we had to move the cricket farm inside, in the basement utility closet under the stairs, so anytime you were going up and down the stairs, you would be huffing cricket dooky smell whether you wanted to or not. I started taking those stairs REALLY fast, and I’m too old to be running up and down some stairs that often.
Thus we redirected our interest, and Kevin’s, toward Dubia roaches. These tropical critters don’t smell bad like crickets and don’t hop and aren’t great at climbing and aren’t particularly fast. While they do need to be kept warm, you can just stick them in a tub with some egg crate material for them to hide in and feed them fruit or veggies every day. A lot of people would have trouble deciding what was worse — crickets or roaches, but these are, well, they grow up to be sizeable. They remind me of pill bugs (roly polies, doodle bugs), except bigger. They don’t really remind me of the roaches I’m used to seeing, which are gross. They’re pretty delicate, and Kevin is a huge fan. We get ours here.
But it isn’t as if the roaches NEVER manage to get free. And did I mention we have cats? Probably not — in this essay — but we have cats. The cats are hugely fond of escaped bugs and sometimes the bugs escape. Including the 2 inch long yes 2 inch long Dubia roaches.
The First Incident…and Stop Reading Here If You’re Squeamish!
The first Dubia incident was me on the couch in the basement (like Clue, except I’m clueless). The cats had been scrabbling at the back of the couch all day. I ignored them, because the cats in question are 2 young dudes who scrabble at everything all the time. But then, a while later, in the cool silence of my basement, I hear the noise. Scrittle, scrittle, tick tick tick.
I glance to my left and there, sprinting along the back of the couch headed straight for my face, is a GIANT ROACH! COMING RIGHT AT ME! OMG Dubia roaches escape!
Luckily I recognized this roach as one of our friendly neighborhood Dubia roaches and only kind of flung my laptop into the floor as I bolted off the couch, hollered, and then accidentally flipped the roach into the garbage can before I could trap it in my empty coffee cup. I did apprehend the escapee in a timely fashion and take it back to its Rubbermaid home which is 2 rooms away from where I work.
The Second Incident
The second Dubia incident was less invasive. One of the cats was just going to TOWN on a cardboard box of DVDs. Closer inspection of said box revealed, you guessed it, a roach in the box. How did the roach meander across 2 room and hide in that box? Nobody knows. This roach was also rescued and sent back to her home.
The Third Incident
The third Dubia incident takes a little more telling. We have two old lady cats and two young man cats. The young men were rescued from a feral colony when they were kittens together and about 6 months ago, at age 18 months or so, both started playing fetch. Out of nowhere. I had never known a cat to play fetch and it was a delight!
But one day Magnus, the flame point Siamese looking idiot, came running to my husband and me when we were cuddled happily on the same couch watching TV with our teenage daughter, who owns the bearded dragon. Magnus leapt into our lap — how sweet! — but then he presented us with his prize because he wanted to play fetch.
It was a living 2 inch long Dubia roach. The hubs, NOT being as accustomed to the bugs as me and the teenager, flinched himself off the couch, but I calmly picked up the roach, looked him in the eye, and said, “How did you get out?” The roach would not tell me, so I put him back and discussed with the teen that maybe, just maybe, we might want to think about a more secure top for the roach tub than an upside down oversized lid that she wasn’t bothering to fasten because it was, as mentioned, oversized.
Fourth and Final…I Hope
And the fourth Dubia incident, well, you need to be sitting down for this. Peeking at what I’m about to tell you between your fingers. And every word I’m about to say is true.
I was asleep. This blessed state is sometimes interrupted by harrowing cat vs toes battles or the hurk hurk hurk of the 4 am hairball. But this night the blessed state was interrupted by the feel of a cat’s moist nose on my cheek and something…biggish…crawling….ON MY FACE.
“Magnus!” I yelled, batting at the assumed culprit and fumbling for the bedside lamp. I also vaulted mostly out of bed since that one time I found a bug in bed, it was a brown recluse, but that’s another story for another time.
The light went on. Magnus was on the floor, staring at me with very dilated pupils and a whippy tail. I turned, slowly, to inspect my pillow.
Magnus had carefully placed a huge Dubia roach ON MY FACE in the middle of the night, and the roach was now nestled into my pillow and ready for a nice nap.
The husband did roll over to get further away from the roach as I protested the situation at the top of my lungs. Then I picked up the roach (they really aren’t very fast…they’re like the turtles of the roach world) and escorted him back to his roach tub with prejudice.
Now that you’ve read about my roaches, here’s another buggy tale:
Man’s mail order crickets escape — SFW!
Also if you want to know more about the roaches, email me and I’ll send you more pics and tell you alllllllllllllllll about them! It’s been…interesting.