16 Types of Praying Mantis You Can Keep as Pet

The praying mantis, a masterful and skillful predator that few in the insect world dare mess with. It makes for quite a cute and friendly pet if you come to know it well enough. Its name comes from the position of its front legs in a prayer-like stance. In the world, there are more than 2000 species of such mantids, and all of them are called praying mantids.

Today, I’ve made a list of the 16 most interesting praying mantids you can keep as pets. I’ll tell you more about their appearance, habitat conditions, nutrition, and behavior. Each species has some quirks that you may want to know if you plan on getting them as pets. Here we go!

Chinese Mantis

When talking about praying mantids, the Chinese species comes to mind. It’s the most common one, originating from Asia, as you might have guessed. Now, it’s spread throughout the world, thriving in all types of climates. It’s fairly easy to care for as a pet, as well.

– Appearance

Adult Chinese Mantids are brown, with the tips of their wings being green. This mantis is a thorough specimen of what a mantis should look like. Its size is about 4 inches when it grows into an adult. Nymphs (baby mantids) have no wings or other appendages. In all cases, female mantids are bigger than males, though males have bigger antennae.

– Habitat

Chinese Mantids aren’t picky about their environmental conditions. They don’t need anything special. A temperature of 77 °F should be just fine, but they also thrive in temperatures between 71-86 °F.

During the night, mantids are used to the temperature dropping, so you can lower the temperature up to 63 °F. In terms of humidity, mantids only need two sprays of water per week in their enclosure. Mantids drink water droplets to satisfy their thirst.

– Nutrition

In the wild, Chinese Mantids are opportunistic hunters that eat butterflies, cockroaches, grasshoppers, spiders, crickets, and even moths. So, you can easily get them from a fishing shop, at least most of them.

Either way, this mantis is clearly a carnivore, and it’ll eat any insect or small animal it can fit into its mouth. They may even eat small frogs and birds (like really small birds) if they find the opportunity to do so.

– Behavior

I kid you now, mantids are extraordinary predators. If they’d be man-sized, humanity would be wiped out in a couple of months. They use their superb vision and olfactory senses to track down prey with uncanny precision.

Female Chinese mantids can’t fly but males can, though most mantids will use their arms to catch prey. All Chinese Mantids are also very active during daylight hours and hibernate during the night.

Indian Flower Mantis

This time, it’s the Indian Flower Mantis, a really friendly and sociable creature that doesn’t need complex living conditions.

– Appearance

The Creobroter pictipennis looks gorgeous. Yeah, that’s the name of this praying mantis. It has a creamy whiteish color on most of its body, with the top of the abdomen being painted green and brown.

The legs are stripped-green, with brown dashes here and there. Adult Indian Flower Mantids have green accents on their white bodies, with green wings and a yellow-white eye pattern on their backs.

– Habitat

Still the same as the Chinese Mantis, this Indian Flower Mantis thrives in temperatures between 71-86 °F. Though, a temperature of 77 °F is ideal for this predatorial insect. Unlike other mantids, this species likes its humidity a lot, so make sure the enclosure stays moist with an RH of about 60-80%.

You can spray water four times per week and use reasonable ventilation. The habitat should be 3 times the length of the mantis’ heigh and two times its length. Not too much, I would say.

– Nutrition

Fruit flies are a great food for this mantis, in captivity. But green bottle flies are just as good since the mantis can easily take on bigger prey. Crickets aren’t such a good idea but you can throw some in its enclosure from time to time. Mantids love the thrill of the hunt, and crickets are hard to catch. But stick to a fly-only diet and your Indian Flower mantis will live a good life!

– Behavior

This mantis is both active and inactive. When it spots prey, it doesn’t stop until it chomps on it. But if no prey is around, an Indian Flower Mantis can stay still for days without moving. The eye pattern on their backs allows them to scare away predators by spreading their forelegs and standing upright. Their bright colors become strikingly visible and they often intimidate predators this way.

Dead Leaf Mantis

Its name comes from its weird appearance. This mantis looks exactly like a dead leaf that’s just wasting away, doing nothing. Until its legs are tightly grasped around your throat and you breathe your last.

– Appearance

Brown is the main color for this mantis, though the actual shade of brown varies from an individual insect to another. The dark skin also has dark spots here and there, to mimic a dead leaf even better. On their backs, Dead Leaf Mantids have a large shield that completes the camouflage perfectly. Females are about 9 inches long and males are 7-8 inches long.

– Habitat

The ideal enclosure temperature for these mantids is 78.8 F but they can easily take warmer temperatures, up to 86 °F. Don’t ever lower the temperature below 72 °F, though. That’ll most likely kill them.

The only exception is during the night when you can even drop the temperature down to 64 °F. Dead Leaf Mantids thrive best in a humidity of 50-80%, so you’d better spray water in their enclosure regularly. A terrarium is ideal for these mantids, as they are a bit bigger than their cousins.

– Nutrition

From experience, I can tell you that brown crickets are the best kind of food for Dead Leaf Mantids. These insects are carnivorous only, so don’t even think about feeding them grass or greenery. Small mantids can eat 1-2 crickets every other day, while bigger mantids can go for 3 crickets every other day.

– Behavior

Despite their size, Deaf Leaf Mantids are pretty frightened by anything, even your hand. When threatened, these mantids may start running frantically or play dead to escape the threat. Often, they won’t move even if you touch them while at other times, they’ll get up and start running again. Dead Leaf Mantids may also show its front wings in an attempt to intimidate you.

Orchid Mantis

By now, you should have noticed that mantids have one thing in common – a good camouflage. The Orchid Mantis is beautiful and pink, and if it doesn’t move, you’ll easily mistake it for a flower.

– Appearance

As I said, the Orchid Mantis looks very soft, with bright-pink accents. You’ll come across white, pink, and mixed Orchid Mantids but all of them look like flowers. Interestingly enough, these mantids can change their colors based on environmental conditions like light and humidity. The Orchid Mantis has a few lobes on its legs that help it mimic a flower’s petals.

– Habitat

Orchid Mantids like living in pink flowers, bushes, and small trees. This way, predators and prey can easily overlook their presence. An ideal temperature for this mantis is 82 °F but you can easily alternate between 77-95 °F if you want to.

During the night, keep the temperature above 64.4 F and it should be fine. The humidity, on the other hand, needs to be at 60-80% RH, though Orchid Mantis nymphs need a less humid environment.

– Nutrition

Flies, butterflies, and crickets are just fine for the Orchid Mantis. This mantis catches flying insects most times in the wild, so you should offer them the same diet when in captivity. Bluebottle flies and wild butterflies make for tasty snacks indeed.

– Behavior

Orchid Mantids are very quiet and predatorial. They will stay still for days if necessary. When there’s no prey in sight, these mantids won’t move a muscle. But when the prey gets close by, they leap and make the catch. Males tend to be hyperactive, though. If you disturb them, males may even fly away in irritation.

Unicorn Mantis

Naturally occurring in North America, more precisely Arizona, the Unicorn Mantis is a special element on this list. Care to guess why? That’s right, this mantis has a horn in the middle of its head. Well, two small horns to be precise.

– Appearance

A Unicorn Mantis is dark brown with light brown or black stripes on its body. Its legs have light and dark stripes, which complement the green wings and dark-brown body.

You’d think this mantis has leaves growing on its body. The head has two small cones growing close together, creating the impression of a horn. All in all, with all its colors and patterns, this mantis looks entirely like a stick.

– Habitat

Just like other mantids, the Unicorn Mantis prefers a temperature of 82.4 F in its enclosure. During the night, you can drop the temperature all the way to 64 °F. Spraying water every 4 days is just enough to satisfy its humidity requirements of 40-50%.

– Nutrition

Nutrition is very simple to the Unicorn Mantis. Feed it butterflies, moths, and flies, and other flying prey. I don’t recommend terrestrial prey like grasshoppers or crickets.

– Behavior

The Unicorn Mantis is a sit-and-wait type of predator that only moves when the prey gets nearby. Assassination is its trade and camouflage is the tool of the job. Silently stalking its prey, the Unicorn Mantis is a thorough apex predator of the insect world.

African Mantis

African Mantids are one of the most aggressive insects out there. This mantis is very fierce and combative, probably because it knows Kung Fu. Where do you think the Mantis martial arts style was inspired from?

– Appearance

Green combined with beige and brown create a staunch-looking African Mantis. Depending on its habitat, the mantis will adopt new colors. It’s also one of the biggest mantids out there, one you can successfully keep in captivity. Females are about 3 inches long, while males are 2.2-2.75 inches long. Males also have longer wings than females.

– Habitat

Temperature-wise, go for 77 degrees Fahrenheit in the enclosure, with a temperature of at least 63 °F during the night. Make sure the mantis has enough water to drink by spraying two times a week.

The humidity should be around 50-60%, which is pretty normal. Being larger, African Mantids need larger enclosures, as well. Stick to enclosures that are three times the length of the insect in height and two times its width.

– Nutrition

You can feed your African Mantis flies, butterflies, blue flies, and any other flying insect that the mantis can eat. If possible, throw them a couple of live crickets and grasshoppers from time to time, so the mantis can exercise its hunting skills. Flying insects are the main course, though.

– Behavior

Female African Mantids are fierce and relentless hunters who never give up on their prey. Once they set their sights on something, that something will eventually end up as food. Males tend to be less courageous and may become afraid of very large prey. When this happens, mantids reveal their orange colors by raising their wings and moving the front arms to the side.

Giant Asian Mantis

A very common mantis species, the Giant Asian Mantis naturally lives in Asia. It’s a very friendly yet predatorial pet that doesn’t need much in the way of maintenance.

– Appearance

The main color of this mantis is green, though you may find yellow, brown, or even beige individuals. As always, mantids change their color based on the environment they live in. Giant Asian Mantids are quite large in comparison to other mantids. Females can get to 3.5 inches and males only get to 3 inches in length. Females are also bulkier than males.

– Habitat

About 75 Fahrenheit degrees are just right for a Giant Asian Mantis. Room temperature is also fine, though. During the night, these mantids can live in temperatures above 62.6 quite easily. Regarding humidity, the Giant Asian Mantis only needs a spray of water every other day for humidity and to drink. The humidity should be around 40-65% at all times.

– Nutrition

This mantis eats almost everything as long as it can fit into its mouth. Adult Giant Asian Mantids can easily hunt cockroaches, crickets, locusts, fruit flies, grasshoppers, flies, and crickets. These mantids are rarely intimidated by their prey, and predators wouldn’t dare hunt them. You can feed them anything outlined above, though flying prey is best.

– Behavior

Giant Asian Mantids are not the type to stalk their prey and wait for the right moment to attack. They will fiercely assault their prey without giving them time to mount a counterattack. Almost nothing scares them as long as it’s half their body size, at most. And these mantids are not intimidated when near people or other pets. They also won’t attack you when you try to pet them.

Spiny Flower Mantis

One of the most beautiful mantis species, the Spiny Flower Mantis naturally lives in sub-Saharan Africa.

– Appearance

The Spiny Flower Mantis is white, and it has green stripes on its legs. There’s a black and yellow swirl on their backs, mimicking an eye. Their eyes are generally purple but the shade of purple depends on the light conditions.

When intimidated, these mantids will pull their wings in an upward position and show the two eye patterns on their back. Males and females have almost no discernible difference between them, as well.

– Habitat

Heat their enclosure to 79 degrees Fahrenheit, with a temperature of at least 64.4 F during the night. A high humidity level is deadly for Spiny Flower Mantids, so keep the humidity around 60%. Make sure you spray with fresh water 3 times per week, so the mantids can drink the water droplets. Ventilate their enclosure properly so mold doesn’t appear, as well.

– Nutrition

Spiny Flower Mantids are not picky eaters at all. If it moves and it’s smaller than them, mantids will eat it. They may also eat other mantids because of their cannibalistic tendencies. Other than that, you can feed them flies, butterflies, and blue flies. Crickets and grasshoppers are also good for them, though not recommended.

– Behavior

Spiny Flower Mantids are similar to other mantids of their species. They’re the sit-and-wait type that prefers to stalk its prey rather than run head-long into battle. This mantis rarely shows its wings to intimidate predators, though some individuals do it. Even slight disturbances irritate these mantids.

European Mantis

This right here is the archetypal prayer mantis, the one that gave the species its name. It originates in Europe but at present, it spread into North America as well. Back in the 1600s, people brought it there to combat plant-eating insects.

– Appearance

Its light-green coloration is easily distinguishable when compared to other mantis species. The pattern on its front legs is unique, so to speak. While other mantids have small dots on the insides of their front legs, the European Mantis has a clear patterned black spot with a white spot in its center.

The result is a perfect predator eye that intimidates other predators. Female European Mantids are generally 3.2 inches long, while males are only 2.75 inches long.

– Habitat

When it comes to the temperature in the habitat, the European Mantis needs 73 – 83 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, during the night, it doesn’t need such high temperatures. A humidity of around 40-65% is enough for this mantis, so you’ll only need to spray the enclosure 2-3 times per week.

– Nutrition

Its appetite is no different from the thousand other mantis species. A European Mantis eats flying insects like flies, butterflies, and moths for the most part. You can feed it grasshoppers and crickets from time to time, but make sure they’re smaller. These mantids are not that large.

– Behavior

When not feeding, the European Mantis likes to sit still and not do anything. Just like most of us couch potatoes. But when it’s hungry and actively stalking prey, this mantis becomes relentless and fierce. It won’t give up on a potential prey even if it means not moving for a few days from its hiding spot.

Thistle Mantis

Hailing from North America and the Canary Islands, the Thistle Mantis is a beautiful specimen. Also known as the Small Devil’s Flower Mantis, it’s quite a big insect that’s voracious and fierce at times.

– Appearance

Thistle Mantids are beige most times, with light-green stripes veins growing on their wings. On the back, you’ll see a pointed shield where the mantis is hiding its forearms. There’s a range of orange-blue-white colors on the insides of its legs, as well. When predators approach the mantis, it’ll raise its legs and wings, and flash these colors for intimidation. They usually grow up to 2.36 inches.

– Habitat

An ideal temperature range is between 86- and 104-degrees Fahrenheit, but 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. As for humidity, a Thistle Mantis needs an average of 30-40% humidity, a bit less than its cousins. But you’ll have to spray the enclosure once a week so the mantis can drink the water droplets.

– Nutrition

Flying insects are this mantis’ staple food. Why do you think it has such scythe-looking arms? To catch flying insects straight from the air, of course. Moths, flies, even butterflies can become its food if they’re not careful. When kept in captivity, you can feed it flies (blowflies, soldier flies, blue bottle flies) exclusively.

– Behavior

While not very aggressive at times, the Thistle Mantis will sometimes flash its deimatic display to intimidate potential predators. Most times, it’ll stay hidden and camouflaged, waiting for the perfect prey to enter its line of sight. Once it does, the mantis will leap forward and use its raptor-like arms to catch the prey.

Budwing Mantis

Budwing Mantids are naturally occurring in East Africa, in places like Kenya, Tanzania, and Somalia. They make for great pets, which is why many people from Japan and the US have them at home.

– Appearance

Medium-to-light brown, with dark and beige colors varying from individual to individual, the Budwing Mantis is quite a looker. Female mantids are about 2.75 inches long, while males only reach 1.6 inches in length.

This is the biggest difference between male and female mantids I’ve been able to find. The females have a pair of non-functional wings that are only ever used for the deimatic display. You’ll notice that the underside of their wings is yellow, with a vivid orange coloring their front legs.

– Habitat

Budwing Mantids are to be kept at 79 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. They don’t particularly dislike temperatures ranged between 75.2- and 86-degrees Fahrenheit, though. During the night, you can even lower it to 65 °F. The air humidity should be at 50% at all times, and you need to spray the enclosure at least once or twice a week. Mantids need to drink water, as well.

– Nutrition

Give your Budwing Mantis flying insects like moths and flies. Even butterflies are quite tasty for these mantids. Their size allows them to easily hunt butterflies in the wild, so make sure you include this in their diet. Budwing Mantids are big enough to eat even larger cockroaches and other land-dwelling creatures.

– Behavior

Few mantid species are as aggressive as the Budwing Mantis. This small creature can be very voracious and fierce. Once a female Budwing stalks a prey, it will never let it go until it becomes food. When it feels threatened, this mantis will spread its forearms and try to intimidate you. Males get scared easier due to their small size.

Ghost Mantis

Yet another camouflaged praying mantis, the Ghost Mantis species looks like a leaf. Nothing more and nothing less. You can easily mistake it for vegetation if you don’t look carefully.

– Appearance

After you’ve seen this mantid, you’ll never look at leaves the same way. This mantid has a darkened body, with leaf patterns and decorations. There’s a cone on its head that aims to further create the impression of a leaf. Most Ghost Mantis specimens have dark skin, with brown colorations, but you’ll also find green variations. They also look like leaves.

– Habitat

Like always, you need to keep a temperature of 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit in the enclosure, ideally. But Ghost Mantids can live in temperatures between 68- and 86-degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

At night, the temperature can go as low as 64.4 F but not any lower. As for humidity, Ghost Mantids need at least 60% and can go up to 90% humidity in their enclosure. You’ll need to spray water about 5 times per week to achieve this humidity.

– Nutrition

Phyllocrania paradoxa, aka Ghost Mantis, is an avid eater of flies. I also recommend crickets and grasshoppers, as this mantis isn’t picky about its food. For future reference, only feed it food that’s no bigger than the head of the mantis. If you get flies and small crickets for them, your Ghost Mantids will live a happy life.

– Behavior

Thanks to its innate camouflage, the Ghost Mantis is the stalker type. Its name should tell you everything about its hunting methods. Not even its natural predators can see this mantis once it hides among dead leaves in trees. Its prey won’t even know what hit it once the Ghost Mantis leaps forward.

Egyptian Mantis

This mantis is commonly met in Africa, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Mauritania, and more. There are more species of Egyptian Mantids but the one we’re talking about is Miomantis paykullii.

– Appearance

One of the smallest praying mantids out there, the Egyptian Mantis reaches 1 inch long in adulthood. Females tend to be bulkier and heavier than males but their size is the same. Its color can be beige, light-green, dark-brown, or light-brown, depending on the individual mantis. These mantids also lack any distinctive markings or patterns on their bodies.

– Habitat

This mantis doesn’t have high requirements when it comes to its enclosure. The ideal temperature is 77 degrees Fahrenheit, but anything between 64.4 and 86 is also fine. During the night, you can even lower the temperature all the way to 59 °F.

Egyptian Mantids need about three water sprays per week, as they have low humidity requirements. Include sticks and other decorations in the enclosure, as well.

– Nutrition

It’s not hard at all to feed your Egyptian Mantis. It eats any flying insect if it fits into its mouth. Fruit flies, especially, are a staple food for this mantis. Moths, crickets, green bottle flies, they’re very good and nutritious for an Egyptian Mantis. As long as the insect is half the size of the mantis, it’s good food.

– Behavior

The Egyptian Mantis is neither hyperactive nor a silent stalker in the night. Once it eyes the prey, it’ll pursue it until the prey can’t run anymore. If its position is advantageous, the mantis will hide and wait for the right opportunity. Even bigger prey doesn’t intimidate this Egyptian Mantis. Moreover, this mantis has no specific defense mechanism. It’ll only run away when scared.

Carolina Mantis

Carolina Mantids are native to North and South Carolina in the United States. But they can also be found in South America and throughout Mexico. They make for great pets if you can take care of them.

– Appearance

Male and female Carolina Mantids look quite different from one other, both in size and color. Females are bulkier and bigger, with smaller, unusable wings, while males are smaller, darker in color, and can fly. Females are usually green and they look very sturdy, while males are more agile and thinner.

– Habitat

In terms of the living environment, the Carolina Mantis is similar to other mantids. Its enclosure should be three times its length in height and twice its length in width. The humidity levels should be somewhere around 50-60%, so should spray water in the enclosure once or twice a week. As for temperature, keep it between 68- and 86-degrees Fahrenheit and it should be fine.

– Nutrition

Carolina Mantids generally eat arthropods like butterflies, flies, spiders, termites, and small insects. But they may also eat small lizards and frogs as a supplement to a deficient diet. In captivity, you can feed them the same thing. Fruit flies, blue bottle flies, butterflies, crickets, and grasshoppers make for the ideal food for the Carolina Mantis.

– Behavior

As long as they have enough food, Carolina Mantids will rarely leave their trees. They like this sedentary lifestyle the most. Males will often move around looking for females, especially at night. Interestingly enough, these mantids are capable of hearing the high-pitched noises of bats, and they go into hiding when bats are nearby. Otherwise, these mantids are very relaxed and chill.

Devils Flower Mantis

Here comes one of the most popular and infamous mantids out there. The Devils Flower Mantis, also called Idolomantis diabolica, is stunning, beautiful, and gorgeous. You’ll see why.

– Appearance

This mantis has a large shield on its back with red, black, white, and blue markers splayed on it. As a nymph, it’s black and shiny, just like a devil’s spawn. As it grows older, the nymph becomes beige and light-brown, nothing too spectacular. But as an adult, the Devils Flower Mantis has white and green stripes on the outside. But on the inside, the arms are bright-red, with blue, white, and black markers.

When not threatened, you can’t see these colors. But when the Devils Flower Mantis wants to intimidate you, it’ll raise its appendages and awe you. Moreover, when fully adult, Devils Flower Mantids are over 4 inches long, both males and females.

– Habitat

Seemingly confirming its hellish descent, the Devils Flower Mantis prefers a hot temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Even 104 degrees Fahrenheit won’t subdue this devil’s child. During the night, you can go as low as 68 F but not any lower. I recommend using light bulbs to heat the enclosure. Devils Flower Mantids also need specific air humidity. Their enclosure needs a lot of fresh air, so ventilate it during the day and spray water during the evening.

– Nutrition

The Devils Flower Mantis should only be fed flies, moths, mosquitoes, and other small insects. I only recommend you feed it a fly-only diet, with fruit flies, blue bottle flies, green bottle flies, and even moths for a change. But other insects may be toxic and harmful to these mantids. Moreover, you should feed the Devils Flower Mantids every day because it needs its food stat.

– Behavior

You’d expect this devil bat-looking thing to be ferocious, frenzied, and impressively combative. But no, unfortunately. This mantis is very skittish and easily scared. Stress is a major problem for the Devils Flower Mantis.

Anything can scare it, and at that point, it’ll either run around scared or try to intimidate you with its deimatic display. And, oh yeah, the Devils Flower Mantis is a sit-and-wait predator through and through.

Violin Mantis

One of the biggest mantids out there, the Wandering Violin Mantis looks amazing. This species has superb camouflage that improves its hunting prowess tenfold. This one, too, is a sit-and-wait predator.

– Appearance

This mantis is called this way because it looks somewhat like a violin’s soundboard. The thin middle section is the neck of the violin, while the top would be the head. This mantis can have many colors, from light to dark brown.

You’ll also notice that it has many leaf-looking appendages hanging about. Those are its camouflage. As for size, the female commonly reaches lengths of 4 inches, and males getting to 3.5 inches.

– Habitat

High temperatures of 95 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for this mantis. It can take lower and even higher temperatures, but never any higher than 104 F and lower than 68 F during the night. As for humidity, this mantis doesn’t really care that much. Spray water in the enclosure every 3 days for best results.

– Nutrition

Flies, flies, and flies again. Violin Mantids love flies. They love hunting and eating them, that is. Crickets, grasshoppers, cockroaches, the mantis doesn’t bother with them. Even if you feed them to the mantis, it may ruin the mantis’ health. Instead, go for bluebottle, greenbottle, and fruit flies. Even house flies are good when the mantis is older. The mantis will need daily food, as well.

– Behavior

This mantis is not aggressive and gets scared easily. It’s the sit-and-wait type of predator that only moves when it has complete certainty of the kill. When it feels threatened, the Violin Mantis will show its deimatic display in an attempt to intimidate you. But it won’t attack no matter how scared or confident it is.

Wrap Up

So, there you have it – 16 different types of praying mantids that you can keep as a pet. I hope you’ve concluded what mantis is right for you. Most of them don’t have high maintenance requirements, so they’ll be easy to care for. Watch the temperature and the humidity, and only feed them flies, if possible. Good luck!

Mantids

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