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I got back into reptiles with my new beardie because my daughter and wife caught the reptile fever along with the other neighboring families who added reptilian and amphibian additions to their homes over the holidays. I remember my first pet reptile which was an Iguana who I raised well into adult hood and over 6ft long. Feeding Iguanas is about as easy as it gets but these Beardies have much more varied diet.
I've actually jumped head first into the feeder aspect of ownership and I wont lie, this is more exciting to me than even the dragon itself because as an engineer I like planing, constructing and watching the results, learning from them and improving to this produce and even better product. I'm new to the whole Dubia thing but it seemed like the best option opposed to any other (I hate crickets with a passion but as a kid could never convince my parents to let me use roaches no matter what...) I've accumulated a few abandoned colonies from my boxing instructor of all people, and want to transform them into one super colony that I can split off into 2 later, one for feeding and the other for sale to help maintain the first batch and expand even more.
I'll hopefully have my own pics up tomorrow along with some videos of hopefully something successful. I have a nice head start so next up is seperating everything and getting a true count of what I have. An estimate of over 1000+ adults is quite likely.
Ok so I am going to sort of use this as my personal "build" thread as we call it in the racing world I come from. Give a little time to time updates and hopefully keep this thread alive long enough for others to chime in as well..
So here is where it all starts:
The colony had gone pretty dormant. There were 2 "colonies" a large and a small with this larger one being in this 50/60gal tote (HUGE!) and the other in one closer to 25gal or so. This bigger one was in a make shift box, wrapped in a comforter and had heat wire along the bottom on one end that even on the coldest nights according to my buddy they never saw bellow 70 degrees. Needless to say it stunted the growth cycle but seeing that he went from feeding 5-6 dragons to only 1 snapping turtle he didn't want it being too out of hand. The smaller colony was just out in the open with a small UTH. I am sure it saw temps in the 50s (Its CA so its not like it got super-super cold *although anything under 65* might as well be a blizzard to us
) When we opened that bin the roaches were alive but moved like sloths or kept still. They bunched on the bottom and still didn't wanna budge. We dumped a bunch in the big tote for me to take as well (he kept some for his turtle and placed that box into the make shift insulator which it fit MUCH better and probably will be able to keep proper 80+ temps in the cold) and off we went.
So! I made a plan of attack
-Purchase all needed supplies
-Clean bin and assess 'inventory'
-Separate small nymphs from adults and mid sized nymphs (all of the mid sized nymphs will remain with the breeders. I only have 1 dragon that I am trying to rehome until I can get a baby leather back so I'll be able to build a good sized brood)
-Find my original recipes for other roach/cricket feeders I use to make and replicate
-Sit back and enjoy...
The bin SMELLS... It surly due to the few inches thick of frass in what is a GIGANTIC tote. I'm purchasing a respirator specifically for this (don't wanna waste my expensive rebreather for my painting on the roaches so off to harbor freight my wife will be going) It will eventually find its way out into the garage but with its current setup I wouldn't be able to be very productive until I move some things around to build an insulated enclosure. I am hoping that cleaning this filthy thing will get it to a point I can at lease house them in my bedroom closet.
So back to my list!-Purchase all needed supplies:
Lots of cool stuff and I kept the price LOW. I would say roughly $20 or so worth of additional stuff.
First off, BINS! The biggest addition to the effort. Color codded to keep me from needing to label them, the dark slate blue one was originally there to house the larger sized nymphs and the aqua for the smalls (I have plans to eventually offer these FS anyways) but instead the gray bin will be used to thin the main breeder colony of the extra males if there are way too many. (look out in the FS section soon) or if the number balance out enough to warrant it I will be using the darker tote to start a secondary colony that will be much smaller and dedicated solely to producing for my own personal use the the larger will keep breeding for expansion.
Small 2Gal or so buckets with pour spots that will make sorting a lot easier to do. I actually almost considered using these to separate the colony because at only $1 a pop the price was right but it was much too small. I will be using it to help hold small quantities and its shape is PERFECT for pouring them back into their colonies.
A measuring cup I will be using for counting (I will still be putting it on the scale)
Cheap and heavy duty HD buckets that will last FOREVER... These will be the separator buckets for the time being.
With a clean up job of this magnitude, I expect to find some nasty crud on the bottom of that bin and can only imagine just how many damn babies are that uber thick layer of frass... Picking through a 60gal tote is not even an option... Next I figured I could make a 3rd bucket for sifting but kept my options open. When we hit the Dollar Tree I found some small strainer options that didn't seem like they'd cut it but then my wife (who was tired of waiting in the car for half an hr) literally walks in, finds me asked me what I was looking for and before I could say anything other than 'frass' she spun right around 180* points at what you see bellow, it was like a 'magnet attracting awesome.'.. The god of all frass strainers:
I'm actually excited now..