Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wikipedia Can Be A Great Source For The Herper

Here I sat, seeking out some info on the roaches I have been keeping for many months now. They are Blaptica dubia and I have been using them as feeders for my bearded dragons, crested geckos and for a water turtle. My colony stopped breeding and had thinned out considerably, so I raised the temperature by placing a ceramic heat emitter over their enclosure. They started to breed again. Thing is, not as much as expected. So, tonight, I decided to do a bit of research on their range and habitat and care. I did an Internet search and the first site on the list was Wikipedia.

Wikipedia has a good deal of information about Blaptica dubia. Just as with any online site, I kind of take such info with a grain of salt, that is until I check it against other sites to see how much of the info agrees between them. Surprisingly the Wikipedia site showed more information that I expected. I figured I would get a decent amount of natural history info on them but did not expect to get care information too. Yet, information on how to care for and breed them was included in the Wikipedia article.

Since I knew they came from Central and South America, I always figured that they need high humidity in the enclosure. I keep them on a substrate of cypress mulch (Keeper's Choice brand) and kept that fairly moist to very damp. That may have been a mistake as 
Wikipedia says they tolerate less humidity than other species of roaches and that feeding them moist citrus fruits can negate the need for misting. I decided I need to try a different approach and will start a new colony in which I will lessen the amount of misting and increase the amount moist fruit in their diet. I may also eliminate the cypress mulch substrate and not use any substrate but just use egg flats for hiding places. (I already use them for hiding spots and the roaches do make a lot of use of them but also dig into the mulch.)

I mostly had been feeding them on a diet of Rapashy crested gecko diet powder (both dry and mixed with water into a Slurpee style mush), pieces of fruit, second stage baby food (always fruit), 
tropical fish food flakes every now and then, and some tortoise
pellets (both dry and dampened). The diet seemed to be liked by both the roaches and by the crickets that wound up in their enclosure and also bred in there along with the roaches. I never would have thought of keeping both together until an accident had me dump some crickets in with them. Funny thing was that once the crickets were in there, the roaches seemed to start breeding more. I have wondered if they ate some of the crickets along with all of the other stuff I fed to them.

As I said above, I am planning on starting up a new colony of them. It will be set up in another enclosure, without any crickets. I will keep the original as is with pretty its moist substrate, egg flats, water dish with wadded wet paper towel in it, the same temperature range and their cricket neighbors and the small bugs that I think are fruit flies or whatever that devour the left over fruit and baby food. They are tiny but very fast flightless buggers - whatever they are. As for the new colony, I hope for it to contain only roaches, egg flats, a feeding dish and a water dish although some of those little unidentified buggers may hitch a ride; that is probably inevitable. Since they have not seemed to hamper the roaches from breeding or otherwise thriving, I am not too concerned about them and they keep the enclosure cleaner than it would be without them.

When I set up the new colony, I will assure the humidity is lower by misting it only about three or four times per week instead of daily. I will probably exclude the cypress mulch substrate. I will increase the amount of moist fruit, especially citrus fruit. I will also keep the heat on 24 hours a day. Right now, the colony I have only gets heat about 12 hours per day, the night time temps falling to the mid 70's from the daytime highs in the 80's or low 90's. My guess is that the higher constant temperatures, in the mid 80's to low 90's, will make most of the difference and breeding will commence at a higher pace than currently.

Now, as I said, I am not leaving this all to Wikipedia. I have checked some other sites. For instance NY Worms had this info, The Feeder Store had this to say and the Herp Center network said this. As you can see, Wikipedia seems spot on accurate and I think offers more info than all of the three other sites combined. As I said, Wikipedia can be a great source of information for the herper or, as it seems, just for the roach lovers among us. Me, I love my roaches, right up to the point that my herps devour them.

All the best,
Glenn B

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