Praying Mantis on a beach

When most people think of a praying mantis, they think of them as pesky insects that invade their gardens. While these creatures can be a nuisance, they can also make great pets. Praying mantises are relatively easy to care for and they are fascinating creatures to watch. If you’re considering adding a praying mantis to your family as a pet, here is some information on what you need to know before bringing one home.

What is a Praying Mantis?

A praying mantis is an insect in the order Mantodea. They are elongated, green or brown insects that have a triangular head with bulging eyes. They are named for their prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle similar to that of hands clasped in prayer. Praying mantises prey on a variety of animals, including crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, flies, bees, and even hummingbirds. They catch their prey by stealthily stalking them before seizing them with their powerful front legs. Some species of praying mantises can also fly short distances.

Do Praying Mantis Make Good Pets?

Praying mantis make great pets. I’ve had quite a few over the years and had my current one for nearly a year now. She has been nothing but a complete joy to watch and is very low maintenance in terms of care. The only thing you really need to worry about is making sure that their habitat is large enough for them to move around freely, as they are quite active creatures. Other than that, all you need to do is feed them live insects (which can be easily obtained from pet stores or online) and provide them with fresh water daily. Praying mantis are truly fascinating creatures, and I highly recommend them as pets for anyone looking for something a little different.

Is it Legal to Keep Mantids as Pets?

It is legal to keep some mantids as pets although, some mantid species are seen as exotic, and to keep one, you will need a special license to be granted. In the United States, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has jurisdiction over the importation and interstate transportation of live mantids. The primary reason for these regulations is to prevent the spread of disease. In addition to complying with USDA regulations, those who keep mantids as pets should also take precautions to house and care for their insects in a safe and healthy manner.

What do Praying Mantis Eat?

Praying mantis are carnivorous hunter insects that prefer live prey. In the wild, mantises usually consume animals that are equal in or slightly larger in sizes than themselves, such as grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, bees, flies, and small moths. Large mantises may be seen chasing anything that moves including lizards, frogs, spiders, and birds. Any type of moving animal is fair game for a praying mantis! Praying mantises will also eat carrion (dead animals) if they encounter it while hunting. They have even been known to cannibalize their own kind — including their mates!

How Much Space Does a Praying Mantis Need?

A praying mantis needs a relatively small amount of space to thrive. In the wild, they are typically found in areas with plenty of vegetation, such as forests and jungles. A small cage or terrarium that is at least 12 inches tall and 8 inches wide (amazon link – opens in a new tab) will suffice for most species of praying mantis. However, some larger species may require a larger enclosure. Regardless of the size of the enclosure, it is important to ensure that there are plenty of places for the mantis to hide, climb, and rest. Providing a variety of perches at different levels will also help keep your mantis healthy and happy.

Are Praying Mantis Easy to Care for?

Yes, praying mantises are actually quite easy to care for! All you really need is a bit of space and some crickets or other small insects for them to eat. Within their cage or container, they will need a space that is at least 2-3 times their body length in all directions. For smaller species of praying mantises, a 10-gallon aquarium can typically be used; however, larger species may require something bigger, such as a 20-gallon tank. The bottom of their enclosure should be lined with substrates, such as bark chips, peat moss, potting soil, or sand. This will help retain moisture and create a humid environment that praying mantises need. Additionally, some live plants can be added to the enclosure to provide both privacy and humidity.

How Long do Praying Mantis Live For?

The average lifespan for a praying mantis is about 6 months in the wild. In captivity, they can live up to 2 years, but most die within around 18 months. They are able to live longer in captivity because they are not as exposed to predators and their environment is more controlled.

Are Praying Mantis Expensive to Keep?

After the initial outlay for the terrarium and habitat setup, they are very cheap, and they can be fed on insects that you can collect yourself or from pet shops. They don’t need a lot of space, so even a small vivarium will do. The only real cost is in setting up the terrarium correctly in the first place – you need to get the right balance of moisture and humidity, and make sure that there is enough ventilation. You also need to provide some branches or other perching places for the praying mantis to hang onto.

Conclusion

Praying mantises can be great pets when properly cared for. They are interesting creatures to watch and, once you get used to their diet and handling needs, they can be easy to care for. If you’re interested in getting a praying mantis of your own, do your research first and make sure that you are prepared to provide the right environment and food for your new pet.

Praying Mantis Fact Profile Infographic

Reptile Wrestler Tips!

“Check whether the species of mantis you want to own requires any special license!”

“Mantises need an enclosure that is higher than it is wide to accommodate their desire to climb!”

“If your mantis is in a screen cage, gently mist your mantis enclosure each day to keep the humidity levels up!”

“Remember to gut load your crickets and other prey items to ensure that your mantis gets the best possible nutrition!”

FAQ’s

Is it legal to catch a mantis and keep it as a pet?

Yes, it is legal to catch a mantis and keep it as a pet in most jurisdictions. Mantises are not currently listed as an endangered or protected species, so there are no restrictions on catching or keeping them as pets. They make interesting and relatively low-maintenance pets since they do not require much in the way of housing or care.

Do mantises eat crickets?

Yes, mantises do eat crickets! Crickets are a common prey item for mantises, and mantises will typically eat any cricket that they can catch.

Do I need a license for a pet mantis?

It depends on the species of mantis. For example, some exotic species may require a license, while others do not. In most cases, a license is not required to keep a pet mantis. However, it is important to research the specific species of mantis before you obtain one.

Do praying mantis make sounds?

Yes, praying mantises hiss when threatened. This is a way of communicating to predators that they possess a dangerous weapon – their powerful front legs which can be used to snatch and kill prey.

Interestingly, the noise praying mantises make is not always due to fear or aggression. When two males are courting a female, they will often hiss at each other as part of their ritualized display.

Is it OK to hold a praying mantis?

Although it may seem tempting to hold a praying mantis, it is not advisable as they are very delicate and fragile creatures. Their exoskeletons are not strong enough to support their weight, so they can easily be injured if mishandled. In addition, they are quite skittish and might try to escape if you hold them too tightly. If you must handle them, do so gently and with great care.


About Me

Hi, I’m Stuart and I’ve had reptiles for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I studied for a master’s in Herpetology. Over the years I have worked at several zoos before opening my very own reptile sanctuary. In my spare time, I run this website – which is a resource for people who want to learn more about their little beasties.

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