In this article we’ll lay out 15 insects that are long lived and make great pets.
Not only that, for each bug we’ll show you:
- How long the insect lives in captivity and in the wild
- Why they make great pets
- Why this particular insect thrives in captivity
- Special considerations when caring for this insect
- Costs of keeping these insects, habitat, food, heating bills etc…
Keeping insects as pets can be a truly special experience. If you choose to keep a long-lived insect, you might even end up forming a unique bond with your new pet.
So without further ado, let’s get into it:
|Phasmids (stick insect)||12 months (wild) 12-18 months (captivity)|
|Cricket||3 months (wild) up to 2 years! (captivity)|
|Mandagascar hissing cockroach||12 months (wild) 2 – 5 years (captivity)|
|Ants||Queen ants up to 30 years!|
|Mealworms||Between 2 months and up to 15 years!|
|Rhinoceros Beetles||3 – 6 months|
|Bees||Queen bees up to 5 years!|
|Giant Prickly Stick Insect||up to 15 months|
|Leaf Insects||12 months|
|Orchid Mantis||6 months|
|Silk Worm||6-8 weeks|
|Stag Beetle||3-7 years|
|Atlas Beetle||8 months|
|Chinese Mantis||18 months|
|Giant Asian Mantis||Up to 2 years|
#1 Phasmids (Stick Insects)
Life span – 12 months (wild) 12-18 months (captivity)
Captivity – Phasmids make great pets! They are visually stunning and are very content being raised by humans.
Special considerations – Medium sized containers that allow the phasmid (stick insect) to roam would be ideal.
Cost of keeping – Relatively low, they are plant eaters and prefer food to be moist and luke warm if possible.
Phasmids, often known commonly as stick insects are found around the world. They are a marvel of nature and are visually stunning. Any potential owner can impress their friends and family with this weird and wonderful creature.
Stick insects are not only cute, but also very tame. If you are not scared, you can teach your phasmid pet to sit on your hand. Just keep in mind that they are very fragile too so they should be handled with utmost care.
Life span – 3 months (wild) up to 2 years! (captivity)
Captivity – crickets make great pets! They are not fussy and will take to captivity very well.
Special Considerations – A large enclosure to allow them to hop around would be ideal.
Cost of keeping – relatively low. Crickets are usually kept as food for more exotic carnivorous insects and pets!
Crickets can live up to 2 years in captivity! This is not a common occurrence in the wild, though, as there are many predators that feed on crickets. Generally speaking crickets that are kept by humans will far outlive those in natural habitats. So, in a way, you will bee extending the crickets life by keeping it in captivity.
They are very easy to keep and very low maintenance. Not to mention cheap! Crickets are often used as live food for other more exotic pets, so they are widely available in pet stores.
#3 Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
Life span – 12 months (wild) 2 – 5 years (captivity)
Captivity – Like, most cockroaches, hissing cockroaches have adapted to human environments well. They will not have a problem in captivity.
Special Considerations – Medium sized containers that allow the roaches to roam would be ideal. Like their name suggests they do hiss though, so it might be worth keeping the container where it won’t disturb you.
Cost of keeping – relatively low, they are cockroaches and don’t require an extensive diet. You local pet store will be able to provide you with all the supplies you’d need.
A cockroach is surely not the first creature that comes to mind when one thinks about getting a pet, but hear us out: these cockroaches are such cool creatures. We know cockroaches get a bad rap and for good reason! But the more exotic breeds such as the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach make for an awesome pet. They definitely get our recommendation.
One thing to keep in mind is that these guys are, after all, cockroaches. That means they are great at crawling into small spaces and yes – escaping. They are great at climbing glass too. Therefore, the one thing you should do if you get a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach is make sure to get a secure, escape-proof container. You don’t want to end up searching for these crazy bugs all over your apartment.
Life span – Queen ants can live up to 30 years!
Captivity – Everyone should be familiar with ant farms. You might have owned as a kid, but if you haven’t, at least you’ve heard about them. High quality ant farms are available at very affordable prices.
Special Considerations – Not really, but be careful not to accidentally topple over your ant farm, it could get messy!
Cost of keeping – relatively low, they are ants after all.
Ants have been around for millions of years longer than humans. They are incredible cooperative creatures that have evolved a hive mentality. The queens of particular breeds can live up to 30 years!
So you could have your pets for quite some time. Not only this, but you’ll get to see how the complex society that is an ant colony really works.
Life span – Between 2 months and up to 15 years!
Captivity – These worms aren’t fussy. They’ll thrive in captivity.
Special Considerations – Consider the meal worm lifecycle.
Cost of keeping – relatively low, a simple contain with space to roam will be sufficient.
OK so this lifespan obviously needs a little more explanation. Mealworms are the larval form of darkling beetles and those beetles can live up to 15 years. However, the larval (worm) stage lasts quite long. Around 2 or 3 months.
After that, the meal worm will turn into a pupa and then into the cute darkling beetle which you can also keep in captivity for years to come.
Fun fact: You can keep a mealworm as a pet but you can also have it for dinner. Yes, mealworms are totally edible for humans and have been consumed in some Asian countries for ages.
#6 Rhinoceros Beetles
Life span – 3 – 6 months
Captivity – both adults and larval forms are relatively simple to keep. They do tend to live much longer in captivity. So that’s something to keep in mind.
Special Considerations – They live off fruit, nectar and sap.
Cost of keeping – relatively low
Such a cool and fearsome looking animal. For my money, this is one of the most impressive beetles to look at. A Rhinoceros Beetle deserves a cool enclosure and that can add to the joy of keeping this cool insect.
Rhino Beetles are cute, fascinating, and can get quite huge. But keep in mind that they should be admired from a distance. These are not cuddly pets and they don’t enjoy being picked up.
#7 Honey Bees
Life span – Queen bees up to 5 years!
Captivity – It goes without saying that bees thrive in a semi captive environment. Humans and bees have been working together for hundreds of years.
Special Considerations – Beekeeping requires a bunch of special equipment and knowledge. This probably isn’t for novices.
Cost of keeping – it depends on what route you go for. Simple hives are cheap but something like a flow hive can cost upwards of $500.
No list of potential long lived pet insects would be complete without a mention to beekeeping. The obvious benefits would be that they produce honey!
A beehive on your property could be a great way to pollinate plants in your garden and local area too.
#8 Giant Prickly Stick Insect
Life span – 12 months
Captivity – They are not bothered by captivity and take to it very well.
Special Considerations – Most lives off blackberry leaves
Cost of keeping – they are found throughout the world and make great pets, unlike hissing cockroaches they are quiet!
Yes, we’ve already mentioned stick insects, but this giant and beautiful species deserves a special mention. Just like the Rhino Beetle, this phasmid is one of the most visually impressive creatures ever. It would make a great addition to a school biology classroom for all the students to admire.
#9 Leaf Insects
Life span – 12 months
Captivity – They are pretty much stick insects so the same is true for them. They live well in captivity.
Special Considerations – Not really.
Cost of keeping – relatively low, most insects are cheap to keep.
Speaking of insects that pretend to be something else, leaf insects are another a good option. I’m amazed by how they have evolved to disguise themselves as plants in order to camouflage from predators.
#10 Orchid Mantis
Life span – 6 months
Captivity – Orchid Mantis fare quite well in captivity. They don’t need a huge enclosure, but you will need to keep the temperature and humidity levels in there just right for your mantis to thrive.
Special Considerations – mantis eat a lot! relative to other insects they have a ferrous appetite.
Cost of keeping – even though they have a large appetite, the food is still very cheap.
You can keep various species of mantis in captivity, but the Orchid Mantis is definitely the most stylish of all. Yes, they look just like orchids.
Imagine how many times you’ve walked by an orchid and there could have been a orchid mantis hiding in there! If you are going to keep this incredible creature then I’d recommend putting some orchids in its habitat!
#11 Silk Worm
Life span – 6-8 weeks
Captivity – They don’t seem to mind captivity.
Special Considerations – their diet is a little more specialized. They feed off mulberry leaves.
Cost of keeping – relatively low however finding the leaves might be tricky.
On the lower end of the long lived insects, but still a cool insect none the less. This would be a cool pet to educate your kids on where silk comes from!
Silkworms are fairly easy to keep as pets too. If you keep them away from direct sunlight and give them enough leaves to munch on, they should be fine. But do keep in mind that you’ll need to clean out the enclosure quite often, otherwise the worms can suffocate in dead leaves and their own droppings.
#12 Stag Beetle
Life span – 3 – 7 years
Captivity – They do not mind captivity and are a popular pet.
Special Considerations – Not really.
Cost of keeping – relatively low.
I’m always surprised at the lifespan of beetles. For such small creatures they tend to have long lives. This is however dependent on a number of factors including weather.
Luckily, when keeping a beetle as a pet it’s fairly easy to create optimal conditions and keep your pet bug alive for quite a few years.
#13 Atlas Beetle
Life span – up to 8 months
Captivity – Most beetles make good pets. As you can see, their lifespans vary but you can choose the one that suits your needs the best.
Special Considerations – Not really.
Cost of keeping – relatively low,.
This is the last of our beetle recommendations. The Atlas Beetle looks very similar to the Rhino Beetle mentioned earlier. Only with a slightly longer life span.
The Atlas Beetle is also very beautiful with it’s green hues and crazy horns in the front. If you can’t decide which beetle you’d like as a pet, you can also try keeping different species together. Despite the look, beetles are quite peaceful and will not fight each other.
#14 Chinese Mantis
Life span – up to 18 months
Captivity – They live well in captivity.
Special Considerations – Better housed individually in a small tank rather than in a group.
Cost of keeping – Quite low. It can even be virtually free if you build your own enclosure and catch insects to feed your mantis yourself.
A classically impressive mantid and closer to what people think of when you say the words preying mantis! Chinese Mantis are widely available and are popular both as pets and as a form of natural pest control.
#15 Giant Asian Mantis
Life span – 12 – 24 months
Captivity – Mantids aren’t picky, as long as you keep them fed and comfortable they are happy creatures
Special Considerations – Big appetites (like all mantids)
Cost of keeping – relatively low, food can be purchased from most pet stores.
The last pick on our list is another mantid. This one is quite special because it’s the largest type of mantis: they can be up to 10 inches long, and yes, they can fly!
However, Giant Asian Mantis are also great pets. They don’t require much care except keeping them fed, and thrive in moderate conditions (in other words, room temperature should be fine).
So there you have it! 15 long lived insects that make great pets.
If you want to learn more about various insects, then checkout our site categories, we have a bunch of articles there that are totally worth reading:
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All the best
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