So, if you are interested in keeping a Praying mantis as a pet, you have come to the right place. In this article, I will be talking about the most popular Praying mantises and particular features of these species. I am very passionate about invertebrates of all kinds and Praying mantises have a special place in my heart. If I could have an invertebrates bungalow with one of every type in it, I would totally go for it.
Keeping a Praying mantis is an exciting and unorthodox hobby. It will definitely attract to you the attention in any company. While Praying mantises are not pets that everyone wishes to have, they are great companions for the people that find them fascinating. They are intelligent predators having a lot of intriguing characteristics.
The Praying mantis is a unique insect that has almost 2400 different species. They are kept as pets and loved by people due to their beauty and unusual physical appearance.
Depending on the species, keeping praying mantises can be very challenging, you cannot simply put them in the tank and completely forget about them. However, they are also considered as a low-maintenance pets and do not require a lot of care… once you have created ideal set up for them.
Why They Are Named As ”Praying Mantis.”
They are called as Praying Mantis because of the pious posture they exhibit by folding their front legs like folded in prayer. When they wait for the prey, they bent the legs and clenched them together like you do when you pray.
The Praying mantises have a triangular-shaped head, a long neck, and the stretched out thorax. They are generally green and brown colored predators having two large bulging compound eyes. There are also three simple eyes located between them, unlike the two compound ones.
However, the size and the color may vary according to the species. They can move their head 180 degrees to look at their surroundings and find their prey. The abdomen is long and elongated, covered with wings.
Unique Facts about Praying Mantises
There are a lot of astonishing facts about these pious-looking insects that will add to your curiosity about them, and you will keep them being more curious about their traits. These characteristics will also help you to understand the way you should treat them to keep them nourished and safe or what you can expect of them.
- This predator exhibits sexual cannibalism i.e.; the female mantis often beheads her partner during or soon after mating.
- The praying mantis has swift reflexes, and it can catch its prey very smartly in the wink of an eye.
- The praying mantis has an ability camouflage according to the environment.
- Mantis has a great vision. It has two bulging compound eyes enabling unique 3D vision and three simple eyes between them.
- The mantis has only one ear underside the belly.
- The mantis undergoes shedding 9 – 14 times (in general, it depends on the species) when reaching adulthood. This process is called Molting.
- Only male mantis can fly while the female cannot.
- They are Diurnal insects and hunt during daylight.
- Mantids Produce eggshells named ootheca, which protect their eggs from cold.
- Baby mantises can eat their siblings.
How to Keep Praying Mantises
There are a lot of ways you can get one of these mythical creatures. You can catch the mantis yourself or dig into the online pet store to get the most suitable species.
Keeping the Praying mantises as a pet is relatively easy and cheap. Actually, they are some of the easiest invertebrates to take care of and they do not need much of your time but you should first review the pet care guide to understand which type needs what!
However, in most cases, to start keeping Praying mantises as a pet, you don’t need a lot of equipment. It all comes down to finding a suitable terrarium (glass or plastic jar) for your mantis, making sure it has enough water (humidity), substrate and places to hide. Luckily, they will find the small, ventilated enclosure perfect for living.
Moreover, you should take care of their feed. Do not feed them everyday, like often people do, this is not good for their health. Feeding your Praying mantis a cricket or cockroach two times a week is enough. Only juvenile mantis may need to eat more often as they are still growing a lot.
Species of Praying Mantises
There are thousands of species of the praying mantises present in humid and tropical regions. Each type of them possesses several different characteristics – shape, size, color, habitat, and traits. However, there are only a few species that can be kept as pets. Some of those kinds are listed below, along with the short pet care guide to help you better understand each.
1. Orchid Mantis
Orchid mantis, named as Hymenopus coronatus in Latin, is a stunning creature with pink and white color featuring unique lobes on its legs. It resembles the flower pattern to a large extent, and that is why it is known as Orchid mantis.
They are greatly loved and kept as a pet because of their striking color. These mantises can also change their color according to the environment they are living in. The female is about 6 – 7 cm (2.3 – 2.7 inches) long, while the male is only 2.5 to 5 cm (1 – 2 inches). They also look very different in appearance. The male has white wings with the pink body, while the female may vary in color. Moreover, the male has a brown spot on the back while a female has a green spot.
Orchid Mantis is commonly found in Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Thailand, China, Hawaii between the white and pink flowers, where it camouflages itself amazingly. They need 60% to 80% humidity level to live, and the suitable temperature is around 25 – 35 C (77 – 95 F). High humidity without adequate ventilation will kill specimens.
Orchid Mantis is indeed a gem of the mantid kingdom. Unfortunately, they require a little bit more care and attention than most other species.
The female is a quiet hunter while the male is agitated and gets disturbed easily. They mostly eat flying insects like flies, butterflies, and moths, etc.
Care level: medium/difficult.
2. Spiny Flower Mantis
The scientific name of this beautiful and exotic Praying mantis is Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii. They are white and orange and have green stripes all over the body. The adult has a green patch on the wings that looks like an eye. This mantis has purple eyes. Sometimes the eye color may vary from lilac to dark purple that looks fascinating. They are 4 to 5 inches (10 – 12 cm) long. And the males and females mostly look alike, but the females are bigger than males.
Spiny Flower Mantis are commonly found in Africa.
They need a relatively high temperature (25 – 30 C or 77 – 86 F) and humidity in their enclosure.
This is the small species and eats small insects. They can be fed flies and moths. They are quiet while hunting and smartly capture the prey; however, they sometimes get agitated and open their wings when disturbed. The female is quite aggressive, so it should not be brought near the male if it is starving.
Care level: medium.
3. African Mantis
African mantis (Sphodromantis lineola) is often found in green color; however, there are brown-colored mantises too. The brown-colored African mantises have fascinating purple eyes. They can easily be made captive, and most of the people keep this type of mantises. They are one of the largest mantises, and the females are approximately 7 – 8 cm (2.7 – 3.2 inches) long, and the males are 6 – 7 cm (2.3 – 2.7 inches) long. The males are thin, and they have long wings, while the females have shorter wings with a yellow spot.
They are usually found in Africa. You should maintain 50% to 60% humidity and 25-degree centigrade temperature to keep them fine.
African mantises are widely kept because they are easy to care of. They are active hunters, especially the female that can handle even a large prey like Locusts. They are cannibals, and females are very aggressive to males. Females are larger and heavier than males, and mating takes a lot of time.
Care level: easy.
4. Ghost Mantis
Ghost mantis (Phyllocrania paradoxa) looks like a withered leaf due to which it can easily camouflage between fallen autumn leaves in the woods. The color of their skin is usually determined by the environment they live in, and it can be any tone of brown, but the most common color is dark brown.
This is a relatively small species and can grow only up to 5 cm (2 inches) long.
There is strong sexual dimorphism in Ghost mantis. All males are significantly thinner with longer wings, compared to females who are bigger and have shorter wings.
Phyllocrania paradox species is commonly found in continental Africa and Madagascar. About 26 degrees (or 79 F) temperature suits these tiny creatures, while the humidity should be maintained up to 60% to 90%.
The Ghost mantis is a quiet predator and waits for its prey. It can hunt the moving prey that is mainly flying. They are intimidated by large insects, so it is recommended to feed the smaller insects.
Care level: easy/medium.
5. Dead Leaf Mantis
Like its name, the mantis looks like a dead leaf. The scientific name of the creature is Deroplatys Desiccata. These mantises are brown; however, the tone may vary. The females have a wider body than males and smaller wings, while males have longer wings.
Dead Leaf Mantis are usually found in Malaysia. They need humid environment and prefer temperature between 26 – 28 C (79 – 82 F). They are not easy to keep and should not be picked by beginners.
They are easily scared of the large prey and run away or play dead when threatened. In this case, they lie motionless and do not move even when you touch them. However, sometimes Dead Leaf Mantis can decide to fight back and open their wings when they are disturbed. They often display their wings to fright predators.
Care level: medium/difficult.
6. Giant Asian Mantis
Giant Asian Mantis are commonly kept as pets and scientifically known as Hierodula membranacea. They are widely popular because they are easy to keep. They are bigger than the other common species. The color of the giant mantis can be green, yellow, brown, and beige. The environment can trigger a change in their color.
The females are big (8 – 9 cm or 3.1. – 3.5 inches) and hefty while the males are considerably thinner and smaller (7 – 8 cm or 2.7 – 3.1. inches) than females.
They are usually found in Asia.
To keep the Giant Asian mantis, you should maintain the humidity level from 40 to 70%, and the ideal temperature lies between 20 to 24 C (68 – 75 F).
The giant Asian mantis is an active hunter. It never gets scared of large prey. It can eat large prey easily like large cockroaches and locusts etc.
Care level: easy.
7. Arizona Unicorn Mantis
Arizona Unicorn mantises have a scientific name Pseudovates arizonae. It is called unicorn mantis because It has a unicorn-like cone-shaped horn on the head. It can camouflage itself like a stick and mostly found in dark brown color having black and light brown stripes. The adult mantis has green wings over the brown body. The legs are thin and curvy. The males are thinner than the females, but they have longer antennae.
They are found in North America. You can keep them appropriately at 28 C (82 F). Moreover, you should maintain about 40% to 50% humidity to keep them alive. The tank (enclosure) should be two times bigger than their height.
They are quiet predators and love to eat flies. It is recommended to feed them the prey live flies and moths etc.
Care level: medium/difficult
8. Egyptian Pygmy Mantis
They are called Pygmy mantis (the scientific name Miomantis paykullii found) because they are very tiny in size, hardly 1 inch long (~2.5 cm). The males and females have the same size, but the females are heavier than males. They are usually light green and brown colored creatures and do not exhibit any other pattern or color on their body.
Pygmy mantis can be found in Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, and Senegal, etc.
This species does not require high humidity and will enjoy the temperature range from 22 – 28 C (71 – 82 F).
They are colored creatures with a calm and quiet nature. They eat all the insects of the appropriate sizes. However, they run away or fly when they are scared by any predator. They like fruit flies very much and other small insects as well.
Care level: medium/difficult
9. Devils Flower Mantis
The Devil flower mantis (the Latin name is Idolomantis diabolica) is famous for its color and size. It has a fascinating green marking on its white-colored body with a shield on its back that displays different colors.
This type of praying mantis is costly and challenging to keep. So, it should not be the first choice for beginners. The Devil flower mantis are quite large. The males and females have the same body length (10 cm or 4 inches), but the males are thinner having long antennae.
This stunning colored mantis is commonly found in Africa and Tanzania.
The Devil flower mantis needs a high air humidity and temperature from 30 – 40 C (86 – 104 F).
They are very scared of large prey and run away from them. These mantises prefer to eat flies. They can also eat other insects, but it is not recommended to feed them other insects because they are harmful to them.
The Devil flower mantis mantises need to be fed continuously. Make sure that they are not left without food for more than two days. They can easily be disturbed by people and act cowardly. They exhibit fascinating deimatic display when they get stressed out or try to threaten the predator. You can keep them fine at a considerably high temperature and high humidity.
Care level: difficult.
Keeping Praying mantis as a pet can be a wildly interesting hobby for anyone interested in biology, or just in having a pet that is a bit more unconventional than dogs, cats or even fish.
Praying mantis is a very unique pet you would love to keep. However, you should go at least through the basic pet care guide to understand better these invertebrates.
All beginners should start with the easy to care for mantis species to build skills, knowledge base and get some experience. Once you have raised them and kept for some time, you can go for more demanding species.
Orchid mantis photo by Igor Siwanowicz