If you like insects and especially praying mantises, keeping a mantis as a pet can be a lot of fun. It will give you time to study the mantis better, watch it grow and develop, make amazing macro pictures of it and observe its hunting behavior. But which mantis species is suitable for someone who never kept insects as pets?
What is the best mantis species for beginners?
Not every mantis species has the same needs. Some species are easy to keep because they can live in a wide variety of environments: its not easily too cold or too hot and they are not as sensitive to air humidity and food quality. Other species are very picky and won’t thrive if you are not on top of their precise requirements. If you are just starting out as a beginning insect keeper, it is hard to be on top of all the details. You have to check so many things, it can be overwhelming.
So for beginners I would advice praying mantis species that:
- Are easy too keep because they don’t require too much special care
- Are big and calm so they can be easily handled
- Are easy to find in the pet trade
So, which species do I recommend for beginners? Here is the top 5 mantis species for beginners:
1. Chinese Mantis
The Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) is an excellent mantis for beginners. It’s big, it’s easy to find in the pet trade and it is easy to handle. It does not require too much special care: most natural temperatures in the house are OK and it does not need to much humidity. You can spray it with water 2 or 3 times a week, this will provide all the humidity it needs. It is also not a picky eater at all. You can feed a Chinese Mantis crickets, flies, moths, roaches and morio worms. Young Chinese Mantises will eat fruit flies and small crickets. The mantis species will hunt after its pray, which is fascinating to see.
The downside of a Chinese Mantis as pet? Although opinions differ, I think the Chinese mantis is not a very pretty mantis. It is often brown in color and does not have amazing camouflage. Do you want to read more about the Chinese Mantis? Check out my page about this species.
2. Giant Asian Mantis
The Giant Asian Mantis (Hierodula membranacea) is a great mantis species for beginning insect keepers. It is a very big and quite beautiful mantis species. If you think of a mantis in general, you would think of a Giant Asian Mantis. And it’s great that it does not require much for keeping: it thrives in a wide range of temperatures, will do with spraying water 2 – 3 times a week and will eat anything from crickets to flies to roaches. The young nymphs of this species will eat fruit flies but can already attack larger prey items like small crickets from an early age. The Giant Asian Mantis is therefore a great pet for beginners.
Why I did not rate the Giant Asian Mantis as the number one pet for beginning insect enthusiasts? Well it is harder to obtain a Giant Asian Mantis in the pet trade than a Chinese Mantis. My experience is also that a Giant Asian Mantis is a bit more prone to food infections than the Chinese Mantis. Other than that it is a great pet and a beginner to keeping insects will likely have no problems raising a Giant Asian Mantis. Read more about the Giant Asian Mantis on my species page.
3. Budwing Mantis
A budwing mantis (Parasphendale affinis or Parasphendale argrionina) is a bit harder to care for than the previous two species, but it is still an easy pet and I did not want to exclude it from the list because it is just awesome. Budwing mantis females are ferocious predators and have a very interesting way of fending off birds or insect eating mammals. That makes them very interesting as a pet. And as they are not very hard to care for, anyone that is willing to pay attention and learn will be able to keep a budwing mantis as a pet. To read more about the Budwing Mantis, check out my page about this mantis species.
4. African Mantis
The African Mantis (Sphodromantis lineola) is another mantis species that will do great at your first mantis pet. It is also easy to care for as it does not require high humidity or a special temperature. It will also eat almost anything. Why it’s not higher up in this list? Well I think this species is a bit boring. Yes, it’s big and yes, it hunts its prey. But there are many species that are like this! The second and also large reason why I did not list it higher, is because it is hard to find in the pet trade. If you are lucky someone just hatched a lot of nymphs, then you can obtain one quite easily. But otherwise it will be hard as they are only bred as pets and most breeders focus on the bigger or more special species. Do you want to know more about the African Mantis and which care it requires? Check out my page about this species.
5. Ghost Mantis
Last but not least, the Ghost Mantis (Phyllocrania paradoxa). Well, actually it is least, the least suitable of this list as a beginners pet. It is suitable for beginners in keeping insects as pets, but the species mentioned above are easier to keep. I did not want to withhold you this species, because it looks amazing. It was also my first mantis species, before I had any experience in keeping insects as pets, so it can definitely be done for a beginner to care for a Ghost Mantis properly.
A Ghost Mantis is a bit hard to keep because it need high humidity, slightly higher temperature and it will eat mostly flies and moths. But the species looks amazing, is very easy to handle and can even be kept in groups. That makes the Ghost Mantis the last one on this list. Are you interested in knowing what it takes to keep a Ghost Mantis? Read my species description and follow it, keeping a Ghost Mantis is an amazing first time mantis owner experience.
Other praying mantis species
Are the other species of mantis suitable for first time mantis owners? In my opinion they are harder to keep. I would not start with an Orchid Mantis, Dead Leaf Mantis or Devils Flower Mantis for sure. Species that could still work if you are motivated to learn and to spend a lot of time keeping the environment for the mantis like it should: Indian Flower Mantis, Spiny Flower Mantis and the European Mantis. Check out my species page to read all about them.