As you might know, there are more than 2000 species of mantis known to man. One can find some type of mantis living in the wild in any corner of the world that is at least moderately warm.
So, when you want to keep a mantis as a pet, it’s natural to be confused. Where does one even start?
Well, technically, any species of mantis can be kept in captivity providing you create the right environment for it. But, to make it easier for you, we came up with a top 3 list of amazing mantis species that make great pets.
The Top 3 Mantis Pet Species are:
- The Chinese Mantis
- The Ghost Mantis
- The Orchid Flower Mantis
Read on to learn more about each of these species and keeping them as pets.
#1 Best for Beginners: Chinese Mantis
The Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) is one of the most popular mantes to keep as pets.
This species of mantis is a great choice for beginners for many reasons.
Originally native to China, Japan, Korea and the nearby islands, the Chinese mantis was introduced in the US almost a century ago and since then it has thrived across the continent.
Due to their popularity, Chinese mantis is relatively easy to find too.
Both male and female adults from the Tenodera sinensis species typically have a light brown colour. Their appearance follows the typical mantis silhouette.
While they are not as colorful as some other species, Chinese mantis is still stunning. The typical mark of the species are brown wings with a green stripe on the edges which looks quite interesting.
There are some variations in color, though, so some Chinese mantis can be completely green too.
The Chinese praying mantis is long and slim. It’s a medium-sized mantis with most of them measuring about 10 cm in length. They are not huge by any means, but they are definitely big enough to easily see and handle.
Just like almost any mantis, the Chinese mantis is quiet and doesn’t move around a lot. These mantes often take their time stalking the prey around the cage. A great characteristic of Chinese mantis is that they are not too skittish.
They seem to be able to adapt to the presence of humans with ease. They are often chill enough to stay on your hand. Yet another reason why this species is a great introduction to the mantis world.
Creating a habitat in which the Chinese mantis can thrive is not awfully difficult. The mantis will, of course, need some kind of enclosure. The enclosure should be at least 3 times the size of an adult mantis (around 30 cm in this case).
The ideal temperature for this species is somewhere around 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 °C), which is pretty much room temperature.
The temperature in the range between 70 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit is generally considered supportive for the Chinese mantis. At night, these mantes can tolerate lower temperatures but not lower than 63 degrees Fahrenheit.
Regarding humidity, the Chinese mantis tends to be fairly low maintenance. In most cases, all you need to do is spray the enclosure two times per week.
T. Sinensis is a ferocious hunter.
Adult Chinese mantis will hunt eagerly for large prey. That’s why they’ll enjoy being fed large flies and crickets, for example.
In nature, they have been known to capture very large insects and even hummingbirds. In captivity, something smaller will suffice and younger mantis will not immediately be as ferocious – they prefer fruit flies, actually.
#2 Most Peculiar: Ghost Mantis
The Ghost mantis doesn’t only have a peculiar name, but also fascinating looks. In a true feat of biological mimicry, this mantis attempts (and succeeds) at looking like a fallen leaf.
Native to Africa, it’s latin name is Phyllocrania paradoxa.
As mentioned, the Ghost mantis has a leaf-resembling body. It has interesting life-like details all over its body – including the legs, and notably the head.
Ghost mantis is typically brown, but the shades vary from dark brown to sandy hues and sometimes even dark green. As with most mantis species, females are typically bigger than the males.
The Ghost mantis is really like a ghost in some ways.
Perhaps to its amazing camouflage, it prefers to wait for the prey rather than chase it around. It will remain quiet and hidden and only move once the catch is certain (at which point they do move quite quickly).
They seem to prefer staying hidden and prey that’s relatively easy to catch. They can get a bit scared from anything too big (including your hand) and might try to run away and hide.
A peculiar characteristic of the Ghost mantis is that the individuals are not overly hostile towards other members of their own species (as opposed to most other mantis). Still, adult individuals should be kept separated.
Coming from places like Madagascar, the Ghost mantis prefers warm and humid conditions.
A temperature roughly around 80 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for this species.
This mantis also requires fairly humid conditions (relative should always stay between 60% and 90%). This means you’ll probably need to spray the enclosure fairly often.
Ghost mantis seems to like enclosures that are fairly high, with lots of leaves and twigs they can climb upon and blend into the background.
As mentioned, the Ghost mantis prefers to eat smaller insects.
In nature, their main prey are small flies and similar insects. They are not terribly picky with food, though, and they will eat crickets too, for example.
Just make sure not to feed them anything too big since P. Paradoxa is really not much of a fighter.
#3 Most Colorful: Orchid Flower Mantis
The Orchid Flower Mantis, also known as an orchid mantis, a walking flower mantis, or a pink orchid mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) is definitely one of the most eye-catching members of the mantis family.
Native to Southeast Asia, this mantis is as exotic as it sounds.
Contrary to popular belief, the Orchid mantis does not live exclusively on orchid flowers, but it does very much resemble one.
The Orchid mantis is quite gentle and reactive to its environment in captivity, so it’s considered an intermediate species when it comes to keeping it as a pet.
The color scheme of an orchid mantis ranges from pink to white.
While they can be completely white or completely pink, most often these mantises display a combination of the two colors (with hints of light green perhaps).
Their legs resemble flower petals and their body overall looks very much like an imitation of a flower.
The peculiar thing about this species is that it can actually change color, somewhat like a chameleon.
They often change color to blend into the background. Of course, they are not actual chameleons, so don’t expect them to turn orange or blue, but they do display subtle changes within their color scheme.
Another interesting thing about the Orchid mantis is the large size difference between the males and the females.
Usually, the females will measure somewhere around 7 cm. Males are much smaller than that (a bit over 2 cm), even in the adult stage!
The Orchid flower mantis is a calm and patient creature.
In nature, it spends most of its time climbing on plants and pretending to be a flower.
There it waits until an opportunity appears to ambush an insect, like butterflies or even bees.
In captivity, they will remain fairly calm too, although they sometimes do decide to stalk their prey when fed. Males are scared easily perhaps due to their small size.
The Orchid mantis comes from the tropical forest in places such as India and Malaysia.
As such, they need fairly specific conditions when kept in captivity.
They need relatively stable humidity in the area between 60% and 80%.
For best results, you can try to mimic the forest environment by including lots of plant material to provide shades and hiding spots. The temperature should be kept between 77 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Perhaps it’s best to think about your Orchid mantis as a flower.
They pretend to be flowers and eat the insects that fall for their tricks. In nature, these are mainly flying insects including butterflies, and different kinds of flies.
To keep your Orchid mantis happy, try to come as close to its natural diet as possible. However, crickets will work in a pinch too.
Keeping mantises as pets is a wonderful and enlightening hobby.
Whichever species you choose as your first one, it can easily lead into a world of discovery, where you get to watch the circle of life manifested in the beautiful mantis.
When going for exotic species, though, there are some things to keep in mind.
Make sure that keeping an exotic mantis is actually allowed where you live (this is mostly an unregulated area but sometimes a permit is required).
Also, keep in mind that setting non-native species free can harm your local ecosystem.
More from School of Bugs about keeping insects as pets:
Bugs have a very different lifestyle than humans do; for this reason, you may see them sit in the same spot for hours. This could be happening for a number of reasons: they may be trying to conserve...
Today, we are going to look at the top ten insects that you can consume for a big hit of protein! Did you know that bugs are very nutritious and most of them are perfectly safe for us to eat? We...