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Mantis need to be housed in cages at LEAST 3 times the length of the mantis but aim to provide much bigger. Mantis like all insects need to moult out of their exoskeleton. Mantis, the same as stick insects do this by hanging upside down from a cage decoration or mesh lid. Their exoskeleton splits around their pro-thorax region and gravity does the rest; they gently slide and wriggle out of their old skin. Once they are hard enough, they will detach from the old skin and find somewhere quiet to harden completely. Your mantis cage needs to have the space and right furniture to allow this process. It is important not to overcrowd their cage as decor can get in the way of a mantis moulting leading to tragic consequences.
Decor can be a well planted naturalistic terrarium or a tub with kitchen roll and a couple of twigs. Your mantis will most likely hang from the top of the enclosure no matter how much effort you’ve gone to making it nice for them. Ungrateful little monkeys!
See below for some housing ideas.
I am looking to stock enclosures very soon! However in the mean-time you can find most of what's below from your local reptile shop or ebay.
Brilliant for space, lots of surface to hang from, light, easy to clean with hot soapy water, easy to get into and easily stacked.
Cons – Can be flimsy, doesn’t hold humidity very well and for that reason I would not use on species that need high humidity. They can also be chewed by livefood and on occasion I’ve had over enthusiastic mantis chew holes. They grab hold of livefood and mesh in one swoop and then they just....eat.
Loose substrate in the bottom causes a bit of a mess so use kitchen roll or find a tray the right size to place inside it. I decorate with simple lightweight plastic foliage sewn to the top.
These do pretty well too. Holds humidity fairly well with its plastic base. Easy to clean. The grilled/vented lid has decent foot hold spots. They tend to be more long than high so double check they are high enough for your mantis to moult from.
Cons- small livefood can escape through the vented lid. Get a section of organza mesh or grannys net curtain cut to size and trap down under the lid to prevent escapees, this also adds to mantis hanging space.
I use the 5.8l Braplast boxes commonly used by beetle and spider keepers. I cut a section of the plastic lid away and trap organza mesh down like in the image above. I use scissors in a circular motion to produce a feeding hole. I use a bit of cut up kitchen sponge and there ya go...perfect nymph enclosure. This size can be used for small-medium species of mantis for their whole lives. But if you can give bigger...why not.
Note: For some reason Orchid mantis females have a knack for getting their tarsus and tibias (lower arms) caught in the gaps where the lids and box meet. For this reason I would opt for faunariums, adapted containers with mesh lids or Exoterra terrariums for these girls.
Easy to clean and cheap as chips. Just be aware of your sizing, make sure your mantis has enough room to moult and if you can go bigger then do.
Note: Also ensure there is that all important space for moults and adequate perches to moult from.
I LOVE EM! They hold humidity well, classy, mesh lid, can put a heating element on the sides or top and easy to get into. You can usually find some second-hand Exo Terras cheap on Facebook market place, Gumtree, eBay or bug/reptile shows.
Strong, stable, lots of surface area for mantis to hang from, well ventilated, can hold heating elements and look pretty nice illuminated and decorated. However like the pop up mesh cages they don’t hold humidity very well.
I have used black bin liners carefully cello-taped to the plastic fringes on the outside to hold in humidity better and prevent spraying on the my walls behind.