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Video:Keeping Pet Mantids

with Jacob Taxis

Praying mantises aren't the most traditional of pets, but they can make for surprisingly easy and interesting ones. Here's a guide to keeping praying mantises as pets.See Transcript

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Transcript:Keeping Pet Mantids

Hi, I'm Jacob Taxis for About.com. In this video, you will learn how to properly keep a praying mantid as a pet.

Materials Needed for Keeping a Praying Mantis as a Pet

Praying mantids can make wonderful pets. Depending on the species, many mantids live approximately six months. Like cats, they keep themselves well-groomed and never lose their predatory focus. Be careful to approach your new mantid pet very slowly at first. Most mantids adapt to people very quickly. When they do get used to humans, they can be handled quite easily. Before you bring home your new praying mantis, you'll need:
  • A tank or a cage
  • A mesh cage cover or a plastic cage cover with small holes
  • A spray bottle filled with water
  • Twigs, sticks, and leaves
  • Crickets, mealworms, and flies
  • Soil, peat, and sand, which is optional.

Housing for Praying Mantis

Housing your mantid can be great fun. Design the cage according to the type of mantid you've acquired. Mantids should be housed individually. If you decide on housing them together, make sure they are well fed and have plenty of space. With that being said, understand that there’s still a very good chance they will chow down on a neighbor. Most mantids have no qualms about eating their own kind. The general rule used to determine the size of your mantid's cage is the length of your mantid. In most cases, the cage should be three-times as tall and two-times as wide as your mantid is long.

Temperature and Humidity for Pet Praying Mantis

It is very important to keep high humidity within the cage. A regular light misting of the tank should create a healthy humidity level. As with humidity, the proper temperature for your mantid will vary with species. It's highly important that you find out what your specific mantid needs in terms of temperature. If you find that your mantid needs a warmer tank, purchase a small under-tank heating mat that is used for keeping reptiles. On average, however, mantids do very well in room temperature. Molting is the process by which the mantid sheds its exoskeleton to allow for further growth. Be sure not to disturb your mantid at this time. Each of these stages of growth is called an instar.

Environment for Praying Mantis

Provide plenty of surface area in the cage by adding textured, natural items like sticks, bark, and leaves. First, leaves and small plants provide your mantid with hiding places from which it will surprise its prey. Second, vertically placed sticks and twigs — which should reach to the top of the tank — provide perches from which your mantid will molt. In addition, you'll also want to attach a plastic screen along one side of the cage. This provides your mantid with a variety of molting options. However, be sure that you do not overcrowd your mantid. It loves to hunt and needs space to do so.

Praying Mantis Food

Mantids prefer to catch their own food and, in the same spirit, enjoy eating it live. Mantids eat many kinds of insects. Therefore, it's beneficial to the health of the mantid to give them variety in their diet. In general, crickets, grasshoppers, fruit flies, houseflies, and mealworms from your local pet store will suffice. A mantid hunting and feeding is an incredible sight to witness. Mantids receive most of their water from their prey. However, they will also drink water from droplets on plants and from a small dish on the floor of the tank.

Cleaning Praying Mantis Tank

Simply transfer the mantid to a glass jar or a smaller tank. For cages without soil, any food waste or droppings should be cleared every other day and the cage should be washed thoroughly once per week. For cages with soil flooring, replace the soil once every few weeks. Remember to learn as much as you can about your particular mantid species. This way, you'll help give it everything it needs to flourish. A healthy praying mantis can make a great pet.
 
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