Atlas Beetle – Species Profile & Facts
The Atlas Beetle is one of the largest beetle species out there, measuring up to 4.7 inches. This is one pet insect big enough to be impressive, but small enough to be manageable. Many insect enthusiasts appreciate this giant bug for its appearance and vigor.
This species of Rhinoceros Beetle is native to Southeast Asia, where it’s widely available and a popular choice for pet owners of all ages.
Despite its popularity, you’ll be pleased to learn that this species isn’t endangered. So, there’s no need to worry about its conservation status. By the way, the Atlas Beetle gets its name from Greek mythology. Atlas was the Titan condemned to bear the weight of the sky on his shoulders for eternity. That’s a pretty cool name to match this beetle’s badass look.
Atlas Beetle Natural Habitat
Learning about the Atlas Beetle’s natural habitat can give you a general idea about its needs. This beetle species inhabits tropical rainforests throughout Southeast Asia. But it’s found preponderantly in Malaysia. Its natural habitat is warm and humid. As the word “rainforest” suggests, they live in an area with heavy rainfall year-round.
The temperatures in tropical rainforests typically range from 70-85°F. Humidity levels are very high, falling within a range of 75-90% throughout the year. Yearly rainfall in this climate can reach levels of up to 400 inches. With regards to Malaysia specifically, the average temperature throughout the year is 80 °F, and the average rainfall is 98 inches.
Atlas Beetle Characteristics
There are many species of Rhinoceros beetles out there. However, the Atlas Beetle is among the most popular. It’s an easy pet for new owners, but its popularity most likely stems from its appearance. It has lots in common with other beetle species, but in the looks department, that’s where each species truly shines. So, let’s see what makes this species so widely appreciated.
Sexual dimorphism in this species is easily noticeable. Males are much larger than their female counterparts. Females don’t have any horns, and their legs are also a lot shorter. Atlas Beetles have wide, rounded bodies ranging in color from a dark brown to a beautiful metallic green. Males have thin, long, and thorny-looking legs.
Male Atlas Beetles have two long upper cephalic horns that curve outwards in a U shape. They also have a third equally long lower horn that curves upwards.
When observed from above, the male Atlas Beetle resembles a spider thanks to its long appendices. There are also minor males with much shorter horns and legs. They’re usually smaller compared to other males.
– Size & Growth
The Atlas Beetle is among the largest Rhinoceros Beetle species. Male sizes start from 2.4 and go up to a freakish-looking 4.7 inches. Minor males are typically on the smaller side.
Females are way smaller than males, averaging 0.98–2.36 inches in length. The bugs don’t reach their full body size until pupation, close to their final molting.
Atlas Beetles weigh around 3.5 ounces, but their weight also depends on their size and sex. Speaking of weight, did you know? The Atlas Beetle is the strongest animal on earth relative to its body size. This bug can lift things 100 times its body weight, thanks to its sturdy horns and body.
Atlas Beetles are herbivorous. You’d think that makes them gentler than other insects. But the truth is that these beetles are easily agitated. They don’t like being handled, and they’re quick to attack for self-defense. That’s the case with males more so than females.
These bugs tend to push and upthrow things they find in their way. Decorative rocks, sticks and branches, and other things you add to the enclosure might change place constantly. On the other hand, it’s entertaining watching these beetles “redecorate”.
When they don’t feel threatened, they’re generally quiet. However, I don’t advise keeping two male Atlas Beetles together. Males tend to fight for any reason under the sun, including food, territory, or mating rights.
These beetles are usually large enough not to become prey to other insects or smaller animals. The major threat to Atlas Beetles is other aggressive beetles in their species. This mostly applies to males, who compete against one another.
To defend themselves, Atlas beetles can use camouflage. Thanks to their brown to green tones, they can blend in well with the trees and vegetation around them.
Atlas Beetles are also strong diggers, so they can hide in the ground if necessary. When faced with a direct threat, males use their sturdy horns to push, flip, or pierce their opponent. Their wings aren’t strong enough to support their body weight for long flight durations, so they aren’t that good at fleeing.
– Life Cycle
Like any other beetle, this species also completes a full metamorphosis throughout its life. They have a lifespan of around 8-12 months when kept in suitable conditions. Females live less than males because they die soon after laying their eggs.
Atlas Beetles go through four life stages. They spend a few weeks to a month as eggs before they hatch. After hatching, the larvae are out and ready to eat. Most of this bug’s life cycle is spent as a larva. That’s about 10-17 months in total.
During this time, proper nutrition is most important. The larval stage is synonymous with feeding, as the insect goes through multiple moltings to grow. To support this development, the larva needs plenty of food and energy.
The next stage is pupation, which is when the grub prepares its transformation into an adult beetle. During pupation, the larva goes through a period of inactivity. At this stage, the bug encloses itself into a pupation chamber.
The legs and wings start developing, and the horns in males start growing as well. The pupal stage takes around 3-5 months, after which the adult beetle emerges.
Atlas Beetle Care
Caring for an Atlas Beetle isn’t that different from other Rhinoceros Beetle species. However, you might have to make a few tweaks, especially if you had smaller-sized beetles beforehand.
If you’re a new insect owner, don’t worry, I made sure to include all the crucial details in the following sections. Keep reading to learn more about Atlas Beetle care and enrichment.
– Diet & Nutrition
By far the most important detail to keep in mind is food. Luckily, Atlas Beetles are herbivorous animals with simple dietary requirements. As long as you offer your insects a species-specific diet, they’ll meet all their nutritional needs.
In the wild, larvae consume decomposing plant matter. It’s usually a combination of fermenting wood, rotten leaf mulch, and even bacteria-rich soil. You can purchase flake soil, as it’s suitable for growing and feeding beetle larvae.
Adult beetles need a diet consisting of mostly fruit. You can offer them cubed ripe fruit, but remember to dispose of any leftovers. Fruit spoils quickly, and it can make your tank very stinky if left out for too long. Another alternative is special beetle jelly. It doesn’t go bad as quickly, but it’s still a delicious, nutrient-rich meal for your bugs.
You can use any type of enclosure. Just make sure that it allows proper ventilation. It should either have some holes to allow air to pass through, or you can cover the top with a mesh screen. Atlas Beetles are large, so they need lots of space to move around freely.
An adult beetle needs at least three times its body size in floor-length, and at least 2 times in tank height. But the more space, the better! For each additional beetle in the enclosure, you’ll need 50% extra floor space and height.
I wouldn’t recommend housing multiple beetles together. Males are aggressive, competitive, and territorial, so they’ll hurt each other. Only keep males and females together if you intend to breed your beetles.
You can use any type of beetle-specific substrate in your enclosure. But any substrate that maintains moisture is suitable. Line the floor of the tank with bedding around 3-4 inches high. Keep the enclosure away from direct light exposure. Light can heat the tank, leading to moisture loss.
Last but not least, decorate the tank with branches, small decorative logs, tree bark, and maybe even some rocks. Atlas Beetles like climbing on these higher surfaces. If your beetles fall on their backs, they can also use these objects to turn back on their legs.
In their natural environment, Atlas Beetles are exposed to temperatures ranging from 70-85 °F. I recommend sticking to a narrower range of 72-77 °F for the enclosure. This is the most comfortable temperature for them, and it encourages healthy growth.
Depending on where you live, you might not be able to achieve these levels just by using room temperature. If that’s the case, make sure to use a thermometer to monitor temperature fluctuations.
If the room temperature isn’t enough to keep the enclosure warm, you can use a lightbulb to warm up the space. Don’t aim the light directly at the center of the enclosure! Keep the light on one side of the tank to create a gradient of temperature.
Moisture is also important. In their natural habitat, Atlas Beetles enjoy high humidity levels, ranging from 77-88%. You should mist the tank several times a day, especially if you use a lightbulb for heating. Check the substrate daily. It should always be damp, but not wet.
– Health Problems
Atlas Beetles are strong and resilient. As a result, they don’t have any specific health issues. As long as you offer them enough food and keep the enclosure warm and humid, there’s not much to worry about. Perhaps the biggest issue that might arise is missing limbs.
Atlas Beetles have thin, delicate legs that break easily. Sometimes, the legs break during molting, other times it’s due to a fall or improper handling. If you want to pick up your beetles, never grasp them by the legs! Always lift them by their body.
A common cause of death in pet Atlas Beetles is violent tank mates. Males are very aggressive with one another, and even with female beetles. Keep your beetles separate if you want to prevent stress and prolong their lifespan.
Speaking of lifespan, female Atlas Beetles die soon after laying their eggs. If you want to keep them living for longer, you should avoid breeding your beetles.
After the pupal stage is over, and your adult beetles start feeding, they’re ready to reproduce. If you want to breed your beetles, just house a male and a female together.
Be cautious when introducing the female beetle in the male’s enclosure. Startling the make beetle might make him aggressive. You want him to approach the female beetle, not attack her!
If mating doesn’t commence in the next 20 minutes, this means the male beetle is still stressed. If that’s the case, remove the female beetle from the enclosure and try again in a couple of days.
Once mating has taken place, you can move your female beetle in a separate tank for egg-laying. Feed her as you normally would until she’s ready to give birth.
Female beetles lay eggs in the following weeks after mating. They need a moist substrate containing rotten and fermenting leaf and wood matter. That’s where they lay their eggs, and the larvae feed on this material as they grow. When she’s ready, the female beetle will lay up to 50 eggs, which take around 2-4 weeks to hatch.
Atlas Beetles make interesting pets if you’re into bugs. They’re quiet and low-maintenance. They’re easy to care for, and they have a long lifespan, compared to other insects.
Although they’re feisty and they look intimidating, they don’t pose a danger to human health. Their bold temperament is a small tradeoff considering their unique appearance.