Mantid keeping is a fascinating hobby, these are truly unique critters that behave and look like nothing else on earth. There is a huge mind-blowing choice of species too, all with varying requirements and needs – and many with various unique characteristics within mantids too. They are relatively easy to keep and provide some of the most bizarre and fascinating behaviour – including their (possibly gruesome?) hunting and feeding habits. It’s easy to see why keeping mantids can become an obsession – they are up their with spiders as the most compulsive animals to keep. Many keepers start with one only to find they have several dozen shortly afterwards!
We would advise that a beginner starts with one that is a little older and past their delicate stages. But for those with the experience and knowledge this is the commonest way to start, with a youngster and then grow it up to adulthood. Housing them throughout their life is simple and basic, plastic is best, with a mesh or similar ceiling allow them to hang down to shed their skin. The plastic enclosure needs to be large enough not only to allow day to day movement and activity but importantly to allow skin shedding too – otherwise deformity or even death can occur. As they shed their skin and grow just provide a larger enclosure- it’s that easy! Each mantid species requires differing levels of humidity and different temperatures, but it’s fair to say spraying young mantids daily, adults once or twice a week and a temperature range of 20-25C is quite often the norm for many. Please check the specific requirements before attempting to keep any mantid species. Once adult, if the keeper wants an ornamental terrarium (and to rarely see or find the mantid!) they look great and do well in a naturally planted terrarium. If a more “sterile enclosure” is wanted you must provide climbing opportunities such as twigs, as well as the mesh ceiling (some keepers using kitchen towel) to allow for skin shedding. Keep mantids separately, they will eat each other!
Feed them on a wide variety of insects, their feeding habits are amongst the most impressive in the animal kingdom – a mixture of stealth, power and ruthlessness. We provide a large mixture of appropriately sized crickets, locusts and other bugs that have all been fed a good quality diet beforehand.
The biggest piece of advice is to provide their needs then sit back and enjoy keeping them! They are a captivating animal to keep – full of beauty and surprises!