A praying mantis (Mantidae) are predatory insects that are actually related to cockroaches and termites.
Mantis are found all over the world in temperate and tropical habitats. They don’t like the cold.
All mantis are carnivorous. This means they need to eat other living things; this is usually other insects including their siblings, offspring and mates. In the wild, bigger species will take small birds, small lizards, baby snakes and small mammals. Mantis will catch and eat anything they can overpower. Some gutsy mantis will take down prey even bigger than they are!
Mantis are characterised mainly by a triangular head sporting large multi-lens eyes, a thorax, an abdomen, 4 hind legs and 2 forelegs or arms. I can go into greater detail another time but we’re gunna stick with basics. Mantis species come in different colours, shapes and behaviours.
Mantids are relatively fast growing insects that will surprise you with every moult. I like to refer to them like Pokémon when they moult. It’s like they “evolve”, their shape and change colour depending on the age, genetics and species. I’ve had brown ghost mantis moult into green adults. Pink and black L1 orchid nymphs moult into white and pink L2s. Spiny flower nymphs moult from black to white and lilac. Idolomantis turn from black to white+lilac to beige to green+white over their lifetime. Amazing right?!
Mantis make fantastic pets! They don’t take up a lot of space, no need for a litter tray, doesn’t make any noise, you can’t be allergic to them, easy to care for and aren’t very hard to please. They don’t sting like scorpions, flick hair like tarantulas, they don’t slime and poo everywhere like snails and they don’t spend forever as a grub... like beetles.
In a nut shell – Mantis are AWESOME! But I might be a bit bias.
Some people are put off keeping mantis due to their short lifespan. Some mantis only live for 5-6 months whereas others can live for up to 18 months. I’ve heard that female Heterochaeta Orientalis aka The Cat Eye mantis can live up to 2 years. Mantis in this respect make them the perfect pet for those not looking for a long term commitment.
The only thing that’s not terribly nice about praying mantis is that instead of killing their prey before eating; they just devour their food whilst it is still alive. For some people this can be uncomfortable to watch and is something to consider before purchasing a praying mantis.