Praying mantises are an interesting and uncommon pet to own. Those who own them know that they are intelligent and intriguing. Keeping them as pets, though, can become complicated as they need an ideal setup to thrive. Below, we’ll look at the 5 best praying mantis species to keep as pets and a brief overview of how to care for them.
Why They Are Called Praying Mantis?
The praying mantis was named as such because of their tendency to fold their front legs and bring them together in a “praying” posture. They exhibit this stance when patiently waiting for prey.
The 5 Popular Pet Praying Mantises Species
Different praying mantis species have different needs. Your experience and the level of difficulty you wish to engage in will help you decide on which praying mantis species is right for you. Below are common species that are suitable as pets.
1. Chinese Mantis
If you are a beginner at mantis keeping, the Chinese Mantis is a great choice for you. This mantis is brown and green and is the largest mantis species in North America. These mantises can become friendly enough to perch on your hand and even be hand-fed. This mantis can survive in normal house temperatures and only requires misting 2 or 3 times weekly. It is not a picky eater and will eat moths, spiders, crickets, flies, grasshoppers, and morio worms.
2. African Mantis
Another mantis that is great for beginner mantis keepers, the African praying mantis is low maintenance and an active hunter. They will fiercely chase their prey once it is spotted. They are often green and sometimes brown, with the brown mantis often having purple-colored eyes. They are one of the larger species of mantises measuring at 2-3 inches long. As the name suggests, these mantises originate from Africa. They survive in a wide range of temperatures and only require misting about 2 times a week.
3. Ghost Mantis
This relatively small species will only grow up to around 2 inches. This species would be considered easy to medium difficulty to care for as they require higher humidity levels and temperatures. This species is an expert in camouflage. Their bodies imitate withered leaves and are usually dark brown, but light brown and green specimens can sometimes be found. This mantis is a patient hunter and will wait for their prey to approach before quickly attacking. A neat attribute of the ghost mantis is that, unlike other mantises, they can be kept with other mantises in their enclosure and will not harm each other as they are a mostly peaceful species. Just be sure there is adequate room and food for all the mantises.
4. Orchid Mantis
This beautiful mantis mimics the orchid flower and has striking pink and white coloring with special lobes on its legs that resemble flower petals. This mantis is well-loved due to its unique appearance. This species is more delicate and requires more advanced care. They require high humidity and a temperature range from 77° to 95° F. Adult orchid mantises cannot be kept together. The females are much larger than the males and cannibalism is quite common.
5. Spiny Flower Mantis
Another beautiful species, the spiny flower mantis is white and orange with green stripes all over their body. This mantis also has purple eyes. They are most commonly found in Africa. The spiny flower mantis can grow to be 1–2 inches long. When they are threatened, they use a deimatic display by raising their forewings to reveal markings that are meant to look like large eyes to scare away predators.
Caring for Praying Mantises
To take care of your praying mantis you need a terrarium that is at least three times the height of your praying mantis and two times the length. There should be substrate and plenty of places to hide in the setup. Some mantises require specific temperatures to be kept and differing levels of humidity. They should be fed every 2 to 3 days.
Keeping praying mantises as a pet can be a great learning experience and very rewarding. Their hunting techniques can provide entertainment and their unique and beautiful markings are wonderful to look at and can be great fun to photograph. Be sure you have the equipment and have done adequate research before keeping one as a pet. Enjoy your praying mantis journey!
Featured Image Credit: Milchdrink, Pixabay