Which Bugs Make the Best Pets? The Complete Guide

best pet insect

If you enjoy reading this article, why not check out our articles on The Top 10 Strongest Bugs – This surprised me! and How Strong Are Ants? Let’s Find Out!

Bugs Pets – Which One Is Right For You?

If you are trying to look for a pet and the normal choices are not the right fit for you, you might be interested in having a pet bug. There is a lot to choose from. From tiny insects like ants to big arthropods like centipedes and everything in between.

Bear in mind there are a lot of bugs that have social lives – even though most people don’t know or don’t believe it – and they need to be in the company of others of their same species. Other bugs are extremely solitary and need time alone, even away from you. You must choose wisely when you decide to adopt a bug as a pet.

How to Choose Your Pet Bug?

Extensive research needs to be done when you are adopting a bug. It might not seem like a lot of work, but there are a lot of things you need to learn to take good care of it. Even if they are not mammals or reptiles, like dogs or turtles, they are still living creatures and need to be respected. Do not think having a pet bug is an easy task and then let it die in a burst of negligence. There are also a lot of low maintenance bugs and a few of them need a lot of care.

Do bugs make good pets?

You should also keep in mind there are a lot of laws and regulations concerning bugs. Whether it’s because they are venomous creatures, considered a pest or can disrupt an otherwise undisturbed ecosystem, each bug has a distinct background that needs to be studied before bringing one home.

Insects That Make Great Pets:

There are a lot of options, some are children friendly, others are more dangerous and exotic and a few of them can be left alone for a long time. Choose your best ally!

Bugs Life span Species Happy Temperature
Spiders up to 3+ years 35,000 species of spiders  up to about 80 degrees F.
Tarantulas up to 3+ years 800 documented species up to about 85 degrees F.
Stick Insects 5 to 12 months  nearly 3,000 species 25°C
Leaf insects twelve months more than 50 species between 25 °C and 30 °C.
Praying Mantis around 1 year about 1,800 species  about 75-80 degrees F.
Grasshopper live five to 10 days over 11,000 species 86-112°F (30-44°C).
Crickets 2 to 3 months as larvae, 3 weeks as an adult around 900 species between 80-85° F.
Beetles3 to 6 months 250,000 described species warmer
Hissing cockroaches five years 20 known species  75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Millipedes  up to 10 years 12,000 different species  75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
Centipedes as long as six years 8,000 species 80 degrees
Scorpions 2-6 years 2,000 species 68 to 99 °F
Mealworms  over two years 20,000 65-100 F
Ant 1 to 3 years 12,000 species 75-95 degrees Fahrenheit

Spiders

Nature of bug: Spiders are all around us. They help humans dealing with small pests like mosquitoes. They can also make a great pet if you want a little companion that doesn’t need much interaction. You can capture one instead of going to the vet to buy one if you please.

Housing features: There is not much you need to take care of a pet spider. A little jar or a box with enough holes that let the spider breathe. Wherever you place your pet spider, remember to keep it sealed and with no places where the spider can escape. These little eight-legged arthropods are escape artists and won’t hesitate to leave. You need to leave a little water with them and something for them to feed off. Since spiders are predatory arachnids, they are going to need meat to live. Most spider owners prefer to handle little insects, like crickets.

Love and care: Once you have taken care of everything, you need to understand most spiders aren’t social and it’s best to leave them alone. They will spend their time eating, wandering around or webbing. Keep in mind, there are a lot of venomous spiders out there. You might want to stay away from those.

If you want more information about having spiders as pets, check out our article The Three Best Kinds of Spiders to Keep as Pets.

Tarantulas

cute spider

Nature of bug: Tarantulas are the spiders’ big brother. Technically, tarantulas are spiders as well. But most people separate the two into different categories.

Housing features: Tarantulas need the same care as spiders do: They are not social, so you don’t need or have to handle them periodically and are best alone in their cage. They need water and food to live and they can be captured from the wild. When it comes to tarantulas, it’s best to get them from a professional.

Love and care: Even though spiders can be as dangerous as tarantulas, it’s more common for tarantulas to be poisonous or aggressive towards humans, as they are afraid of us due to our size. Tarantulas need to be handled with care, as dropping them can provoke their abdomen to burst, fatally wounding the arachnid.

Where it is found? There are a lot of tarantulas’ species. You need to research which one you want to own and how to properly take care of it. For example, some tarantulas need a bigger enclosure and places to hide within it. Most tarantulas need to be in a darker place, away from the light and heat as well. If taken care of properly, most tarantulas can live for more than two decades.

If you’re worried about the dangers of having a pet tarantula, you may want to peruse our article Do Pet Tarantulas Bite? Yes and No.

Stick Insects

Nature of Bug: One of the most popular options when it comes to pet bugs. They are extremely easy to care for and extremely fragile as well. If you have captured a stick insect, there is not much you should do to keep it happy and healthy.

Housing features: They need a cage three times as tall as they are. They also need water and food to live. The water needs to be in a sealed recipient, so the little bugs don’t fall into it and drown. To feed them, you need to give them berries or fresh lettuce once per week.

Love and care: Stick insects don’t mind to be handled by humans, but if you decide to do it, you need to be tremendously gentle. You should never grab them by their extremities, only by their body. And it’s preferable you don’t grab them at all and instead use your palm to push them around.

The importance of their cage cannot be stressed enough, as they need to hang on top of their ceiling that needs to be long enough for them to fit. Failure to provide this will result in a deformed stick insect or a dead one.

Leaf insects

Nature of bug: Leaf insects are the brothers and sisters of the stick insects. They are incredibly similar and require almost identical care, with a few caveats.

Housing features: They need a similar cage, three times as big as their bodies. They can live off berries and leaves like stick insects. But if you have a young leaf insect, you need to break off the food into little pieces, as young nymphs can’t eat off unbroken leaves. You should also be aware that even though female leaf insects cannot fly, their male counterparts can. You should probably leave any male leaf insect inside their enclosure unless you want to risk them flying away.

Love and care: Leaf insects are almost identical to stick insects, the only main difference is leaf insects have adapted to camouflage using their body structure that looks similar to a leaf. They need to be handled as gentle as a stick insect. Unfortunately, they have a short lifespan and cannot live for longer than 18 months, like stick insects.

Praying Mantis

By Rouibi Dhia Eddine Nadjm - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82352026

Nature of bugs: A praying mantis can be a tricky pet to have. They need a special enclosure, a diverse diet and there are times where you can’t touch it.

Housing features: Their cage is the most important and difficult thing to accomplish. It needs to be three times as large and twice as wide as the insect. If you make it less than that, the praying mantis will be stressed out. If it’s bigger than that, the praying mantis will have a hard time hunting their prey and can starve. The floor needs to be a mixture of soil and sand so it can keep moisture. There need to be twigs on top of the cage so the praying mantis can hang when it’s molting. You cannot touch the praying mantis when it’s molting, because it lacks and exoskeleton and it’s extremely fragile.

Love and care: The praying mantis is a carnivore predator and feeds off other insects and small rodents. You need to feed your praying mantis healthy insects or it can get sick. You should also have a different set of insects to feed the praying mantis, as it needs a diverse diet to fulfill its nutritional requirements. If you feed it right, your praying mantis can live between six months up to a year.

If your praying mantis has offspring, you need to separate them immediately, as they can start eating each other.

Grasshopper

By Charles J Sharp - Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography.co.uk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75059487

Nature of bug: Even though they do not have a large lifespan, you can have a grasshopper to keep you company for five months.

Housing features: You need a big enclosure for a grasshopper and one that is sealed to avoid any unwanted escapes. You need to let air flow freely into the cage to avoid asphyxiating your pet bug. You need to put an oat or sand made a floor on the cage. And place a few twigs inside as well for the grasshopper to sit on. You should place the cage below a source of light. But you should avoid sunlight as it can heat the cage more than necessary.

Love and care: Feeding grasshoppers is incredibly easy. They are herbivores. You can leave a couple of grass leaves in their cage and they will eat it until they are satisfied. You should remove any old leaves as they can get too dry and impossible to eat. Beware of insecticides, if the grass you give your grasshopper is laced with poison, it can kill the bug. Leave the water for the bug to drink as well and change it daily.

Beware of capturing or releasing grasshoppers. Some species are endangered and others can become pests overnight.

Crickets

Nature of bug: Having a pet cricket is not a new idea. Ancient Chinese civilizations used to do it as early as twelve century AD. You can capture a cricket or buy them in bulk, but beware two things: One, they have an extremely short lifespan: One to two months. And second, male crickets make a lot of noise, you need to be ready to be able to handle it.

Housing features: Having a pet cricket isn’t hard at all. You can have them in small plastic containers with holes for them to breathe. You should leave two small containers, like two bottlecaps. One filled with water and the other filled with food. Crickets need both greens and meat, so you might want to buy special food for them. Or leave them a few greens and a little dog biscuit. If they lack meat, crickets will start to eat each other.

Love and care: If you have female crickets, you need another bottlecap filled with dirt. The female cricket will use it to plant her eggs.

Beetles

By Geoff Oxford - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13290111

Nature of bug: Having a pet beetle might not seem normal in the west, but it’s a popular thing down in Japan. It’s so popular that dollar stores have them for sale. A beetle can be a tricky thing to take care of, as you can get them from the larvae stage and full-grown, each life stage needs different things. You also have different needs for different types of beetles.

Housing features: Normally, an adult beetle needs a plastic tank with around two inches of humid soil to walk on. You need a big enclosure for your beetle, as they love to move around. You should also leave a few twigs in it as well. You should put the enclosure under a light bulb, but make sure the entire cage isn’t heated by it, as sometimes beetles prefer colder places.

Love and care: A beetle diet can vary widely from each species, but most beetles feed off fruits. Beetles don’t live for long, usually three months. But you should be ready for a long relationship with beetles. Because they are social it’s better to have them in pairs -one male and one female- and they tend to reproduce rather quickly.

If you’re interested in keeping a ladybug as a pet, take a look at Can You Keep Ladybugs as Pets?

Hissing cockroaches

By Ltshears - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6701122

Nature of bug: Most people find cockroaches disgusting. But there is a select group of people that like them and decide to have one or more with them. Hissing roaches are your best bet when it comes to pet cockroaches. They don’t look like regular cockroaches and they are docile enough for humans to handle.

Housing features: Cockroaches are highly social, and you need to keep more than one if you want them to be happy. A 15-gallon tank will house enough cockroaches for them to form a colony and live without stress. The enclosure needs to be sealed, as roaches will escape the moment they can. You should also keep in mind they will reproduce, and smaller roaches won’t hesitate to escape through little holes as well. The cage should be in a warm place, as hissing cockroaches prefer heat. They also love to hide, and you should provide enough twigs and places for them to do it

Love and care: Hissing roaches need a diverse diet filled with greens -like veggies and fruits- and protein -like dry dog food-. You should provide water for your roaches soaked up in cotton, if you leave a small recipient filled with water it is likely the roaches will drown in it.

Beware a hissing cockroach is not the same thing as a regular cockroach. You should always opt for hissing roaches as pets. They are slow, docile, and are easy to care for.

Millipedes

Nature of bug: Millipedes have similar needs to hissing cockroaches. They need a 10 to 15-gallon tank -or at least twice as long as an adult millipede- and they like a warm habitat. You should also have three or four inches worth of soil to let them bury themselves in. Millipedes have no problem living with one or more of their own. But if you decide to have them together, bear in mind millipedes will reproduce rather quickly.

Housing features: You should leave two small recipients filled with water and food. Millipedes love decaying food, so leaving their food one or two days won’t bother them, but you should change their water daily. They mostly eat greens and fruit, cut into little pieces. If you want to keep your millipede as healthy as possible, you need to include calcium in their diet. The best way to do it is by powdering their food with a calcium supplement.

Love and care: Millipedes have a great lifespan, considering they are arthropods. If they are healthy enough, they can live up to a decade.

Centipedes

By Medsile - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79574697

Nature of bug: Centipedes are similar to millipedes, but only in their looks. While millipedes are docile and easy-going, centipedes are the extreme opposite. They are carnivore arthropods who won’t hesitate to bite anyone who bothers them. They are also venomous, and they can affect humans, so choose carefully.

Housing features: Their enclosure needs are similar to millipedes. They need a big enough enclosure to wander around, twigs to have fun and hide, and a warm, humid environment. You should be extra careful with the enclosure’s lid, as centipedes tend to use their strength to open their tanks and escape.

Love and care: Their diet is completely different, as they are carnivores. Centipedes feed off insects and you need to feed him small ants or crickets if you want it to live.

You need to research and think long before you decide to adopt a centipede. They are aggressive and the hardest bug to foster. Their venom might not kill a human, but it can create a problem for us. And a centipede won’t hesitate to bite or poison their owner if they are angry enough.

Scorpions

Nature of bug: If you want a challenging choice but centipedes are not for you, a scorpion might be a good fit. There are a lot of scorpions out there, and some are deadly for humans. If you choose to have a pet scorpion, you need to ask your local veterinarian which one is available for you to foster. They are also a long-term commitment, as they live from 6 to 8 years, sometimes more, depending on their species.

Housing features: You need a big enough cage for scorpions to wander around. Depending on where the scorpion is from, you might want to use soil, sand or a different thing for the floor. They also need hiding spots in their cage. You can choose to have one scorpion or more. One scorpion needs a 10-gallon tank, and multiple scorpions might need a tank as big as 20 gallons. But no larger than that, as scorpions can have difficulty finding their prey in big enclosures.

Love and care: Scorpions share the centipede diet, as they are predatory arthropods as well. Crickets are a great choice to feed a scorpion, and they need one every one and a half-day, or six per week. A common issue with scorpions is dehydration, you need to constantly keep water in a shallow dish for it to drink. Avoid using any other dish as scorpions might drown.

A scorpion isn’t a pet you can handle or touch. It’s for you to put in their cage and admire it from afar. Attempting to handle a scorpion might lead it to sting you or try to attack you with their claws.

Mealworms

By Beatrice Murch from South America - Meal worm in venus fly trap, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2640160
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Nature of bugs: Mealworms are probably the easiest pet bug to take care of. They don’t need much, they won’t attempt to escape and they won’t attack you, ever. They can be safely handled as they are not fragile, which makes them a great option for children.

Housing features: All you need to do is keep them in small plastic storage and keep two inches of oats in it. On top of the oats, keep a shallow dish with water and another one with half a potato or a carrot for the mealworms to eat. Replace their food every couple of days or so, before it gets moldy.

Love and care: Mealworms don’t live for long, or rather, they turn into beetles after three weeks. The beetles will lay a couple of eggs and then will die as their lifecycle ends. If you buy a dozen mealworms and keep good care of their enclosure, you might find yourself with a colony quickly, where beetles lay their eggs, die and the larvae hatch as the cycle starts over.

Ants

By Thomas Fuhrmann - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=78892018
Leafcutter ant (thera are 47 species; wtf) carring a stone 10 times bigger then its head – Tyrona Nationalpark, Colombia; PanAmericana 2017 – the image was taken on an overlanding travel from Ushuaia to Anchorage – taken by Thomas Fuhrmann, SnowmanStudios – see more pictures on / mehr Aufnahmen auf www.snowmanstudios.de

Nature of bugs: Keeping ants as a pet is considered by many as a hobby. It takes a lot of effort and can be sometimes an exhausting job. You might think it seems absurd as ants are rather small.

Housing features: But keep in mind you won’t have one ant but an ant colony. There is no one ant to choose, but rather different families of ants. According to the ant species you choose and what your goals are, you are going to get an ant farm (The ant colony’s cage) for all of them. When it comes to food, alive or dead insects are good for ants. They are going to need sugar water to handle their thirst. Depending on the type of ants you choose from, you might need to keep your ant farm moist or dry. Most ants thrive in a 20C environment.

Love and care: When it comes to ants, you can buy them from an expert or capture them from the wild. Your best option would be to talk to an expert, as he can guide you through any questions you may have about your soon-to-be hobby.

We have a whole article devoted to Ant Farms Gel vs Sand, Which is Best? if you’re thinking of starting up your own ant farm.

If you enjoyed reading this article, why not check out our articles on Which Bugs are Attracted to Light? Let’s Find Out and Everything You Need to Know About Bugs and Pain

Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page https://schoolofbugs.com/about-steve-foster/

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