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Caring for your Praying Mantis

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There is much to be learned about these fantastic invertebrates! The primary care of mantids is reasonably straightforward. Still, once you are done reading this highly generalized care sheet, you will want to check out the advanced care sheet and see if there are any special requirements for the species that you own/are interested in owning.

Praying Mantis housing: The general rule of thumb for house a mantid is to provide an enclosure that is three times the length of the mantis in length and at least twice the height of the mantis in height. For example, A flower mantis could live in a 32 oz. Deli cup throughout their entire life and a Sheild Mantis would need a 2-gallon aquarium, 1.5-gallon plastic enclosure, or a 12″ x 12″ net cube. However, a mantis who is not yet an adult will need plenty of room for molting, or you will run the risk of molting problems. For a mantis who is not, however, an adult, you will want a vertical height of about three times the length of the mantis. For an adult, height is not as important, but for your mantis’ comfort, it should be at least twice the length of the mantis in height.

Food: Most species of mantids will eat fruit flies as young nymphs and either houseflies or bluebottle flies from L3 to adulthood. Some species will also eat crickets, roaches, mealworms, superworms, grasshoppers, moths, or virtually any other type of smaller insect you can find for them. If your mantis will not eat, it means one of three things: 1) A young mantis who refuses food is usually about to molt, leave it alone (except for misting) until it has molted. 2) Mantids have an innate sense of what is toxic for them, and what is safe trust your mantid’s instincts! There is some anecdotal evidence that suggests feeder crickets that have been hydrated by feeding them carrots can make your mantis ill. We have tested this theory extensively and found it to be bunk. Potatoes are worse for feeding to crickets than carrots, as vegetables can harbor botulism, 3) It is also natural for a mantis to begin refusing food if it is a female about to lay an oath (most will do this even if unmated) or in its old age…perhaps not unlike other animals in their later stage of life.

Water: The only water your mantis will need is what you provide by misting the enclosure each evening. Often, you will see the mantis sucking up droplets from the side of the container or cleaning water off of their raptorial arms. Do not offer a “water, cup” as your mantis could drown, and most certainly, any feeder insects would drown before being eaten.

Temperature: Many species will do just fine at ordinary household temperatures between 72-76 degrees. Some of the more tropical species (think Africa & Asia) need higher temps, so check your species you may need supplemental heat for them! Additional heat can be provided by placing your mantis near a desk lamp with a 60-watt bulb. Make sure the enclosure is no nearer than 12″ from the bulb, give it a few minutes, and then place your hand near, but not touching, the mantis’ enclosure. The back of your hand (nearest the bulb) should feel barely warm.

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6 Comments

  1. I am the primary owner/operator of Mantis Pets (a subdivision of Green Oasis Reptiles). I work to pack orders from 7 am to 3 pm every Monday thru Thursday, feed & mist mantises every evening for 2-3 hours, make enclosures, run packages to the dropoff location, make purchases for the business, answer emails, check inventory, write up instructions/packing slips/inserts, update the website on weekends (when we aren’t vending reptile shows!), & provide customer support on an ongoing basis. In addition, I also run family errands, prepare meals and homeschool 2 of our 4 kids! So, if you are wondering why, on occasion, an order goes out a day or two late or the website hasn’t been updated in a couple of weeks; this is why! LOL! Regardless, it is my honor & privilege to be able to work with some of God’s most amazing creatures & provide them for other hard workers & their families for enjoyment.

  2. Steve is my beloved husband and “IT guy”. Steve’s primary job is in the aerospace industry, manufacturing parts for commercial & private jets. He is also a fully accredited airframe mechanic. In addition to his full-time work, Steve also manages the Green Oasis Reptiles operation (with the exception of the geckos, which I handle myself), and works to ensure that the computer system always stays up & running. Occasionally, Steve will also help me with keeping up with emails & customer support, so while your email response may SAY it is from me, sometimes it is from Steve. ;^) (I’ll be there, though, responding when he says, “Hey, what do I tell this customer?”) LOL Steve is the most intelligent man I know and helps me stay on-track & not forget orders. He is an invaluable asset to the business…despite me not paying him for the work he does! (Okay, I make his dinner, which is all he ever asks.)

  3. Alex is our 20-year-old son & helper when I get swamped and can’t keep up with the mantis care. For Mantis Pets, he mists & feeds mantises at least once or twice a week, and cares for them while we are away at reptile shows. He also breeds & cares for the bearded dragons and feeder rats, which are his “share” in the Green Oasis Reptiles Business. He doesn’t make much, but he enjoys being able to “help out” when us old people get behind. ;^)

  4. AJ is our 17-yr-old daughter and has, in the past, helped with insulating boxes, filing paperwork, and just general running around & helping wherever needed. She still helps when dropping off packages at the dropoff location & wherever needed when she is not doing schoolwork or babysitting. AJ also takes care of the geckos while I am away at reptile shows.

  5. K is our 15-yr-old son. K’s share in the business concerns more to do with “support” (rather like AJ), so he helps by taking care of chickens, running out trash, dropping off packages, and helping Alex with the mantises as needed, or when we are gone at reptile shows.

  6. E is our 5-yr-old daughter. E’s primary function for the business is moral support. Sometimes even just an “Oooh, cool!” when she sees a new mantis is all I need to keep going for a little while longer when I am dead on my feet. :^)

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