Best Pet Mantis’s (Praying Mantis)

By Snaketracks / October 28, 2021

Mantids are rewarding pets to keep. Most of them are easy to keep and interesting to watch. While there is no one best pet mantis, your choice will depend on what you want in the pet.

Some such as the ghost mantis looks just like a dead leaf. This gives it an interesting look. Some such as the orchid mantis have a very interesting and striking coloration. Other mantids such as the giant African mantis and the Carolina mantis are excellent hunters. Their aggressive nature makes them fun to observe.

A good pet can also be one that is easy to keep. Several mantids here are hardy.

Best Pet Mantis

1. Giant African Mantis

Giant African Mantis (Sphodromantis viridis)
Giant African Mantis (Sphodromantis viridis) – source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Mantidae
  • Scientific Name: Sphodromantis viridis
  • Other Common Names: African mantis, bush mantis
  • Adult Size: 60 to 80 mm
  • Lifespan: 3 to 9 months
  • Average Price Range: $30 to $40

The giant praying mantis is one of the more popular mantes kept as pets.  This is a large and aggressive species known for its fierce hunting and ease of care. Their aggressive nature, size, and hardiness make them popular among enthusiasts. The species is tolerant of changes in environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity.

Additionally, they readily accept a variety of food offered. These include crickets, roaches, and even pinkie mice. They will even accept pieces of meat.

S. viridis is endemic to West Africa, specifically south of the Sahara desert. However, they are also found in Spain and Israel where they are introduced species.

These mantises’ color ranges from dull brown to bright green. In terms of size, the females are much larger than the males as is common with insets. Females can reach lengths of 100 mm, while marks can reach lengths of 7 inches.

In terms of care, a 5 to 10-gallon terrarium should be large enough for the specimen. Soil works well as a substrate. Having a lot of foliage and climbing opportunities will ensure the mantis is less stressed.

The enclosure should be at room temperature (around 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees celsius) to maximize its lifespan. Humidity levels should be around 50 to 70%, achievable through moderate misting. Misting also provides them with water droplets to drink. Mist the enclosure about twice a week.

S. viridis is quite an aggressive predator as such it is unwise to keep several together in a single enclosure. They are most likely going to kill one another until there is just one remaining. However, young nymphs aren’t as cannibalistic and L4 or younger nymphs can be kept in one enclosure. However, make sure to provide a lot of food and space.

2. Carolina Mantis

Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina)
Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) – source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Mantidae
  • Scientific Name: Stagmomantis carolina
  • Adult Size: 47 to 60 mm (2-2.5 inches)
  • Lifespan: 10 months
  • Average Price Range:  $25 to $40

S. carolina is the state insect of south carolina. These insects are easy to keep as pets in North America as they are native to the region. In fact, they are normally sold at garden supply centers as they are a great means of controlling pest insects found in gardens.

These insects may be called the carolina mantis, but they are endemic to the entire North America and can even be found as far south as brazil.

Females are ever so slightly larger than males. While adult males grow to a length of 2.2 inches, females can usually reach a length of 2.5 inches. The color of these insects depends on the color of the environment within which they molt. Their color serves as camouflage. They can either be green, gray, or dusty brown.

Gravid females can lay up to 200 eggs which hatch after about a month to 2 months.

Both adults and hatchlings can be housed in terrariums. The enclosure needs to be well aerated as this prevents the growth of mold. I recommend keeping young nymphs in small enclosures as it makes it easier for them to catch their food.

The temperature of the enclosure has a direct effect on the lifespan of the mantis. The warmer it is the faster the mantis matures and dies. Keep temperatures between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit humidity levels need to be 60% to 80%. It is necessary to mist the enclosure every now and then to keep humidity levels at the right level.

For young nymphs, I recommend using a paper towel as a substrate. These are easy to find and maintain. Other substrates you can use include coco fiber, soil peat, sand, orchid bark, or sphagnum moss.

You can feed these mantes a variety of insects such as roaches, mealworms, small grasshoppers, crickets, fruit flies, and even houseflies.

These mantes are quite sedentary. Males can fly and are more active. You cannot however house them n a community as these are cannibalistic insects. Sooner than later, there will be just one remaining in the enclosure.

3. Ghost Mantis

Ghost Mantis (Phyllocrania paradoxa)
Ghost Mantis (Phyllocrania paradoxa) – source
  • Experience Level: Beginners
  • Family: Mantidae
  • Scientific Name: Phyllocrania paradoxa
  • Adult Size: 45 to 50 mm
  • Lifespan: 8 months
  • Average Price Range: $15 to $30

Ghost mantis is well known for resembling a dead weathered leaf. These aren’t the only mantes that are camouflaged to look like dry leaves, however, they are the most popular ones. This camouflage allows them to effortlessly blend into their environment.

P. paradoxa is endemic to the continent of Africa. They can be found especially in Sub-Saharan countries and southern Europe. These mantes inhabit dry grasslands, dry scrublands, and trees in the open.

This mantis is quite popular among hobbyists thanks to its unique appearance, easy difficulty in keeping, and long lifespan. Females can live up to eight months. Also unlike another mantis, these aren’t overly aggressive towards one another. Even older nymphs can be housed within the same enclosure without issue.

Because of the small size of the mantis, finding a suitable enclosure shouldn’t be difficult. The enclosure just needs to be three times as tall as the mantis is as long. The enclosure also needs to be well ventilated.

As previously mentioned you can house several specimens in the same enclosure. Regardless, cannibalism is a possibility although not a common occurrence especially if you do not provide them with enough food.

Temperatures within the enclosure can be around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. A heat mat may be needed to achieve these temperatures. The enclosure needs to be regularly misted (2 to 3 times a week). This should provide the right levels of humidity (60 to 90%) as well as provide the mantis with a source of drinking water. Ensure that the water droplets dry out between misting.

These mantes eat insects. feed the mantis food that isn’t larger than the head. They eat crickets, small grasshoppers, fruit flies, house flies, crickets, and small insects.

These insects have impressive camouflage. Not only do they look like leaves, but they also pretend to be one. They usually remain very still except for when they rock back and forth gently like a leaf swaying in a wind.

4. Spiny Flower Mantis

Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii)
Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii) – source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Hymenopodidae
  • Scientific Name: Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii
  • Adult Size: 40 mm
  • Lifespan: 6 months
  • Average Price Range:  $25 to $40

P. wahlbergii is a tiny mantis that grows to a length of just 40 mm or 1 1⁄2 inches. This tiny mantis looks like a flower and has spiny structures underneath its abdomen. These two characteristics give this insect its common name. P. wahlbergii is endemic to southern and eastern Africa.

While this insect is commonly light green and white in color, it can also be tinted yellow, red, or even pink in color. This insect also has eyespots on its forewings. This is to protect it from predation. In the wild, these insects can tolerate day temperatures of 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. During the night, however, these insects can tolerate temperatures of 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. It is necessary to replicate similar conditions in captivity.

The enclosure of this mantis needn’t be large. Just make sure that the enclosure is well aerated. These insects also prefer access to bright sunlight. As with other mantises, P. wahlbergii requires room to hang upside down as they molt. As such the enclosure should be about 5 inches tall. The enclosure can be larger if possible. You should prop a stick to the upper corner of the enclosure.

Provide a sufficient amount of vegetation within the enclosure. This can even include fake white flowers. Make sure that there aren’t any sharp objects within the enclosure.

Keep temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You can warm the enclosure using a heat mat or a heat lamp. Keep the humidity within the enclosure at 40 to 60%. High humidity is quite fatal to the species, as it is susceptible to fungal injections. Mist the enclosure regularly as it provides them with drinking water. Also, it is important to allow the water droplets to dry between mistings.

These mantes accept small prey such as moths, crickets, flies, fruit flies, and roaches.

5. Giant Shield Mantis

Giant Malaysian Shield Mantis (Rhombodera basalis)
Giant Malaysian Shield Mantis (Rhombodera basalis) – source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family:
  • Scientific Name: Rhombodera basalis, Rhombodera extensicollis
  • Other Common Names: hood mantis, shield mantis, lead mantis 
  • Adult Size: 3-4 inches
  • Lifespan: up to 18 months
  • Average Price Range: $30 to $60

Giant shield mantes are huge insects capable of reaching lengths of 5 inches. Regardless of their huge size, these insects are easy to keep. Giant shield mantes refer to all members of the genus Rhombodera. These mantes are endemic to Asia. These are also known as giant hooded mantes. They are also known as leafy mantis, hooded mantis, or simply as shield mantis.

This mantis is an excellent hunter, unlike many small mantes. They are lighting fast and usually pounce on prey in a flash. Interestingly they do not mind being handled. If they do not appreciate you handling them, they will hiss. This is an indication to place them down. These insects are diurnal and are generally active during the day.

The giant shield mantis is bright green although brown and yellow individuals exist. The thorax of this insect is large and resembles a lead or a shield and is the source of many of their common names.

The enclosure for the giant shield mantis needs to be high, at least thrice as high as the mantis’ length. The tank needs to be well aerated.  I recommend having a mesh top as it allows them to hang from it while they molt. You can have plants within the enclosure. They provide humidity and cover.

The temperature of the enclosure should be 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, the humidity within the enclosure should be 80%. You can achieve this humidity level by misting the enclosure daily or every other day. The mantis also drinks from the water droplet. Allow the water droplets to evaporate between mistings.

These mantises cannot be housed as a group as they are cannibalistic. Sooner or later, there will be just a single mantis left standing. These insects eat roaches, mealworms, small grasshoppers, crickets, fruit flies, and even houseflies.

6. Orchid Mantis

Orchid Mantis (Hymenopus coronatus)
Orchid Mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) – source
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Hymenopodidae
  • Scientific Name: H. coronatus
  • Other Common Names: kung fu mantis, walking flower
  • Adult Size: 60 to 70 mm for females, 25 mm for females
  • Lifespan: 5 to 8 months
  • Average Price Range: $10 to $70

H. coronatus is quite a striking species. This ornate appearance makes them quite popular among hobbyists. These insects mimic an orchid flower. Their walking legs resemble flower petals.

Interestingly the females are much larger than the females. The reason for this is likely female predatory selection as females tend to prey on large insects such as butterflies before the development of the species’ camouflage. Females can reach lengths of 70 mm while males reach lengths of just 25 mm.

H. coronatus can be found in the rain forests of southwest Asia in countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and even India’s Western Ghats.

The enclosure of female adults needs to be much larger than those of the adult male as females are much larger. The enclosure should be about three times as high as the length of the mantis. You can house the female in a terrarium with dimensions of 240 (h) x 160 (w) x 240  (l) mm. The enclosure should be well aerated. Ensure there are a lot of flowers and plants for the mantis to be camouflaged, these plants can be fake.

The temperature within the enclosure should be 75 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. During the night temperatures can drop to at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit. I recommend using a  heat mat to keep the enclosure warm enough if necessary.

Humidity levels should be between 60 to 80%. You can keep the humidity at the right level by misting the enclosure about once or twice a day. Ensure that the water droplets evaporate between misting, it is best to spring water or distilled water. As long as the water has no fluoride or other artificial additives, it should be fine.

These mantes use their camouflage to hunt as such they should be fed with insects that will fly towards a flower. The best insects to offer them include blue bottle flies, hoverflies, and houseflies.

7. Giant Asian Mantis

Golden Giant Asian Mantis (Hierodula membranacea) - Rajesh Balakrishnan
Golden Giant Asian Mantis (Hierodula membranacea) – Rajesh Balakrishnan
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Mantidae
  • Scientific Name: Hierodula membranacea
  • Adult Size: 70 to 90 mm
  • Lifespan: up to 18 months
  • Average Price Range:  $30 to $60

The giant Asian mantis is one of the largest mantis as well as one of the most popular. This species is kept as pets all over the world. As you can tell from the mantis’s common name, these insects are endemic to Asia, specifically southeastern Asia where they can be found living in shrubs and trees.

These huge mantes are active predators; they do not rely on camouflage to trap insects. Rather they will go after their prey. They are excellent hunters and are capable of taking on even the predatory hornet.

The enclosure for this insect should be at least three times as high as the length of the mantis. A terrarium with dimensions of 300 (h) x 200 (w) x 300 (l) mm should be large enough for the mantis. Ensure that there is a lot of foliage within the enclosure. The foliage can be fake, that is fine. The foliage provides hiding spots as well as places for the insect to perch.

Since Hierodula membranacea is cannibalistic you cannot house them as a group. Sooner or later, there will be only one left standing. Adults are generally more cannibalistic than nymphs. L1 to L4 nymphs can be housed as a group as far as the enclosure is large. Once they reach maturity, they should be housed separately.

These mantes aren’t easily intimidated and would hunt and eat big roaches, locus, adult crickets, fruit flies, and grasshoppers. The molt stage of the individual should help you determine the prey to offer the mantis. L1 nymphs are quite small so you should offer the small insects such as fruit flies.

This species is endemic to hot and humid environments and as such can handle high temperatures with no issue. Room temperatures should be okay for the mantis. Keep temperatures between 20 to 24 degrees Celsius or  68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  Night temperatures should however not fall below 17 degrees Celsius or 63 degrees Fahrenheit.

Humidity levels should be kept between 40 and 65 %. Unlike some other species mentioned, high humidity levels can be detrimental to the health of the mantis.

8. African Flower Mantis

African Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra ocellata)
African Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra ocellata) – source
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Mantidae
  • Scientific Name: Pseudocreobotra ocellata
  • Other Common Names: Spiny flower mantis
  • Adult Size: 40 mm
  • Lifespan: 6 months
  • Average Price Range: $20 to $40

Pseudocreobotra ocellata is endemic to Africa with a geographical range that extends from Senegal all the way to South Africa. This species is a flower mantis. These are called flower mantes because they are mimics of flowers. They hide within flowers waiting for prey.

The coloration of this insect is cream and green. The disruptive coloration serves to break up the outline of the mantid allowing it to hide against flowers and leaves. These aren’t particularly large insects. Females reach lengths of 32 mm while males reach lengths of 25 mm.

Because of the small size of the mantid, the enclosure doesn’t need to be large. However, the enclosure needs to be well ventilated. If possible you should provide access to sunlight. As with other mantids, the African flower mantis needs room to molt. The enclosure needs to be tall. I recommend an enclosure that is about 5 inches tall.

The enclosure should be as large as you can get it. I recommend propping a branch to the upper corner of the enclosure. The mantid can molt here.

There should be several plants in the enclosure as well as fake flowers and leaves that the mantis can hide on. 

Temperatures in the enclosures can be from the mid-70s to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  You can use a heat mat or a heat lamp. Keep the humidity within the enclosure at 40 to 60%.

High humidity is quite fatal to the species, as it is susceptible to fungal injections. Mist the enclosure regularly as it provides them with drinking water. Also, it is important to allow the water droplets to dry between mistings.

The prey you offer the mantid depends on its size. L1 and L2 nymphs can be offered small fruit flies.  L3 nymphs can be offered large fruit flies (D. hydei).  L4 to L6 nymphs can be offered large fruit flies and blue bottle flies.  L7 nymphs and adults can be offered moths, crickets, flies, fruit flies, and roaches.

9. Chinese Mantis

Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) by Bobby Fingers
Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) by Bobby Fingers
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Mantidae
  • Scientific Name: Tenodera sinensis
  • Adult Size: 110 mm
  • Lifespan: 6 to 9 months
  • Average Price Range: $20 to $40

T. sinensis is endemic to Asia, specifically China, Thailand, Micronesia, and the Korean Peninsula. These species are commonly confused with Tenodera aridifolia which is also confusingly called the Chinese mantis. Although native to Asia, this invasive species can be found all over North America.

T. sinensis is perfect for first-timers as they are hardy, easy to find, and easy to keep. It is essential however that you do not accidentally release them into the wild as they are an invasive species known to consume even beneficial insects including the Carolina Mantis.

T. sinensis is a huge mantis and is capable of reaching lengths of 4.3 inches. These insects have a lifespan of up to 9 months.

These insects require a well-ventilated enclosure. I recommend providing them with a screened cage. The screen covers allow in a lot of air. You can also acquire a vivarium or a terrarium for this pet.

When it comes to the enclosure, just make sure that the enclosure is at least three times are high as the length of the insect. The length should be thrice the height of the mantis. Have some branches and plants in the enclosure for molting.

The temperature of the enclosure can be anywhere from the 70s to the 80s. The higher the temperatures the shorter the lifespan will be.

High temperatures make the mantids mature much faster. Humidity levels within the enclosure should be 60 to 65%. Misting the enclosure every one to two days should allow you to achieve this humidity level.

Feed these mantids prey that isn’t larger than a this of the mantid’s length. As such the smaller the mantid the smaller the prey should be. Some insects to offer to L1 to L3 nymphs include fruit flies. For L4 and L5, offer blue bottle flies, house flies, and small crickets. L6 and adults can be offered roaches, mealworms, crickets, and other feeder insects.

10. Gambian Spotted-Eye Mantis

Gambian Spotted-eye Flower Mantis (Pseudoharpax virescens) by Teddy Kinyanjui
Gambian Spotted-eye Flower Mantis (Pseudoharpax virescens) by Teddy Kinyanjui
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Galinthiadidae
  • Scientific Name: Pseudoharpax virescens
  • Other Common Names: Gambian spotted-eye flower mantis
  • Adult Size: 25 to 30 mm
  • Lifespan: 4 to 5 months
  • Average Price Range: $20 to $40

P. virescens is endemic to west, east, and central Africa. Their geographic range includes the Gambia. Also, this species has two eyespots on the abdomen. These eyespots and one of the countries it is endemic to give this mantis its common name. 

The species are quite tiny, reaching a length of just 30 mm. L1 nymphs are under 40 mm in length. During the night the Gambian spotted eye flower mantis changes their eye color. During the day, their eyes are light green but during the night their eyes are dark red. Females are slightly larger than males with females reaching an average length of 28 mm while males can reach an average length of 25 mm.

The temperature within the enclosure of this insect should be between 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 30 degrees Celsius) during the day. During the night try and maintain a temperature of about 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius). The humidity level within the enclosures should be between 50 to 70%. You can achieve this by misting the enclosure once every two or three days. Make sure that the water droplets evaporate before you mist the enclosure again. 

The enclosure needs to be large enough. Since this mantis is tiny, they do not require a lot of space. An enclosure with dimensions of 150 x 100 x 100 mm should be large enough. 15 is the height of the enclosure here. 

I advise against communal housing as these are cannibalistic species. They will kill each other. L1 to L3 nymphs can be kept in one enclosure as such as the enclosure is large enough and they are well fed. 

There are a wide variety of foods you can feed these critters. Since they are tiny, small prey is recommended. They are capable of attacking prey larger than they are. Offer them flies such as blue bottle flies, hoverflies, and houseflies.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What does L1 to L8 mean?

If you are interested in keeping a mantis as a pet, you have most certainly noticed codes including L1, L2, L3, L4, L5, L6, L7, and L8. you may be wondering what all these mean. Well, these denote the developmental stage of the mantis. When the mantis hatches that is L1. After the first molt, that’s L2. with each molt the number will increase until L8 when the mantis becomes an adult.

How much does a mantis cost?

Depending on the species, a mantis’ asking price can be as low as $6 or as high as $40. Prices can vary from breeder to breeder and from place to place. The real cost however comes with care.

The mantis requires a screened cage (such as Fresh Air Screen Reptiles Habitat, 18 by 12 by 20-Inch) as adults or a small container as a hatchling, a spray bottle for misting such as Itisll Manual Sprayer, a digital thermometer, and a hygrometer such as ThermoPro Digital Hygrometer/Thermometer, live feeder insects, substrate, and live plants/ decoration.

In all, you are looking at an initial cost of $300 to $500.

How often should I feed my pet mantis?

I recommend feeding your pet mantis every 2 to 3 days. It is essential that you don’t go weeks without feeding the mantis. 

Is it normal for a mantis to refuse food?

If your mantis refuses to eat for a few days this is normal and nothing to worry about. This just means that that the mantis will be molting in a few days’ time.

Are mantids dangerous?

Mantids do not bite and even if they did they cannot really do any harm. Imply put, mantes aren’t dangerous to humans. They may get scared though so handle them with care. 

How do I know an ootheca is fertilized?

An ootheca is the egg case of insects such as mantes. There is no real way to know if the ootheca is fertilized or not. Females will produce ootheca that isn’t fertile if she hasn’t mated. If the female has mated, you will just have to wait and see if they do hatch. 

Video on the Praying Mantis as a pet

Conclusion

Mantids are interesting insects to have as pets. They are generally hardy and easy to keep. Since most are aggressive hunters, they are interesting to watch as they hunt their prey.

Mantids come in a variety of sizes and looks. Some such as the ghost mantis resemble a dry leaf while others such as the flower mantis have an interesting coloration that allows them to camouflage themselves among flowers. Others such as the giant mantids are huge, reaching lengths of 100 mm.

A hardy species is always a plus as this gives you room for error. Hardy species such as giant shield mantis, ghost mantis, and carolina mantis are excellent for beginners. 

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