I have never met a group of people so dedicated to their pets as reptile owners.
Owners of bearded dragons and other reptiles will go to great lengths to ensure their babies have the best lives.
But along with the research and dedication comes fear. What if I’m not doing it right? Is my beardie sick? Could it be MBD? Or bearded dragon gout?
We’ve covered what causes MBD – and how to prevent it – already. Today, let’s talk about gout.
What is Gout?
Gout in reptiles is a metabolic disease. To learn what gout is, first we have to understand how reptiles like bearded dragons process their food.
Bearded dragons process protein by breaking it down into uric acid. After uric acid is formed, their kidneys remove it from the bloodstream, and it comes out in their excrement.
Reptiles with gout are unable to effectively eliminate excess uric acid from their bodies. Uric acid builds up, causing ill health.
VCA Animal Hospital has a great article that goes over the signs of gout and how to treat it.
Can Dubias Cause Bearded Dragon Gout?
Can dubia roaches cause gout in reptiles? Yes and no.
Unfortunately, we don’t know yet what exactly causes gout in bearded dragons. But we do have a couple suspects.
As the authors of Noninfectious Diseases and Pathology of Reptiles put it, “Uric acid is produced as a byproduct of protein and nucleotide metabolism and excreted by the renal tubules. Excessive concentrations of uric acid in the body therefore occur with increased production or decreased excretion.”
What does that mean? Protein intake and hydration play key roles.
Let’s look at protein first.
Diets too high in protein are a leading factor of bearded dragon gout. So is the wrong kinds of proteins.
Dubia roaches and gout are often correlated with each other, leading some reptile keepers to avoid dubias altogether.
But let’s look a little closer. Why are dubia and gout correlated?
Well, dubia have a unique way of processing protein. They thrive on very low protein. Much lower than other feeder insects like crickets. If dubia roaches are fed a high protein diet (20% or more), they store excess protein in their bodies as – you guessed it – uric acid. The ideal range for dubia roaches is between 5 and 15% protein.
But not many people, including commercial breeders, know this. Feeding dubias a high protein diet such as dog food or cricket chow will result in dubias with an abnormally high protein content. And that’s why we see a correlation between dubia and gout.
Bottom line: Properly fed dubias won’t have excessive protein and will not normally contribute to bearded dragon gout.
But protein isn’t the only factor in bearded dragon gout. Hydration is just as important.
Remember, uric acid is processed through the kidneys. And dehydration impairs kidney function. So making sure your reptile is properly hydrated can go a long way towards preventing gout.
Tips for Avoiding Gout
Now that we know what gout is, how do you avoid it? Here are a few tips for preventing bearded dragon gout.
- Monitor hydration. Proper hydration is key for kidney function. Dehydrated reptiles are more likely to develop gout.
- Feed variety. We’ve all heard that variety is key. We recommend alternating between at least 2 staple insects. It’s also a good idea to rotate the types of greens your bearded dragon eats.
- Buy from trusted sources. Dubia roaches fed cricket chow, dog food, or other high protein diets should not be fed to reptiles. We feed our dubias a high quality, low-protein, plant-based diet.
- Gut load carefully. What you feed your dubias is just as important as what the breeder feeds. Keep protein levels below 20% to avoid uric acid buildup. Check out our article on what to feed dubia roaches for bearded dragons for more detailed information.
Get Healthy Dubias Today
Dubia roaches fed a proper, low protein diet are an excellent staple feeder. They are high in calcium, low in fat, and loved by most reptiles.
Ready to add nutritious dubias to your reptile’s diet? Take a look at our selection of dubia roach sizes!