Bugs Beyond Imagination: Journey into the Realm of Exotic Insects

How to Keep Mantises Fed and Healthy in Captivity




How to Keep Mantises Fed and Healthy in Captivity

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So, you’ve decided to adopt a mantis as your new pet. Congratulations! You’re now part of a small but dedicated group of insect enthusiasts who appreciate these fascinating creatures’ unique beauty and behavior.

But being a responsible mantis owner goes beyond just providing them with a nice cage and some food – it’s important to keep them fed and healthy in captivity too!

Fortunately, that’s where we come in. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about feeding your mantises, from choosing the right types of live or pre-killed prey to maintaining a healthy feeding schedule.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Choose appropriate live prey: Provide a variety of suitable insects for your mantis’s diet to ensure proper nutrition and stimulation.
  2. Consider pre-killed options: Pre-killed insects can be offered as an alternative to live food, ensuring convenience and variety.
  3. Gut-load prey for nutrition: Feed insects a nutrient-rich diet before offering them as prey to maximize the nutritional value for your mantis.

Choosing The Right Food For Your Mantises

Choosing the right food for your mantises is crucial to their health and well-being. As carnivorous insects, praying mantises require live prey for sustenance. However, not all live insects are suitable as food for your mantises.

Some popular choices include crickets, fruit flies, and small insects such as aphids or ants. It’s important to provide a variety of prey items to ensure that your mantis gets the nutrients it needs from different sources.

In addition to live food, you can also offer pre-killed options or gut-loaded prey. Pre-killed options are essentially dead insects that have been frozen and thawed before feeding to your mantis. Gut-loading refers to feeding the insects with nutrient-rich food before offering them as prey.

Overall, the type of insect species you choose will depend on what kind of praying mantis species you’re keeping in captivity. Some larger adult species may even be able to eat mice!

Transition: Now that we know how important it is to choose the right food for our mantises let’s take a look at how often they need to be fed and other considerations regarding diet schedule maintenance.

Live Food

When it comes to feeding your praying mantises in captivity, live food is generally the best option. Mantis species are active hunters and enjoy chasing down their prey, so providing them with live insects will help keep them stimulated and engaged.

Some of the most popular live foods for mantises include small insects such as crickets, flies, and fruit flies. However, larger species may also enjoy eating adult insects such as locusts or beetles.

It’s important to ensure that the live food you provide is healthy and nutritious for your mantis. Avoid feeding them wild-caught insects which may have been exposed to pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Instead, consider purchasing live insect cultures from a reputable supplier that specializes in raising feeder insects specifically for reptiles and other pets.

Overall, offering a variety of live food options can be beneficial for your mantis’ diet as well as keeping them entertained while they hunt down their prey. Just make sure to monitor their eating habits closely to ensure they are getting enough nutrients and adjust accordingly if needed.

Pre-killed Food

Pre-killed food is another option for feeding your mantises. This can be especially helpful if you’re squeamish about live feeding, or if you want to avoid the possibility of the prey insect harming your mantis.

Common pre-killed foods include crickets and fruit flies, which can also be gut-loaded before being fed to your mantis. You can purchase pre-killed insects from pet stores or online retailers, but make sure they are intended for mantises and not other species that may have been treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals.

When offering pre-killed prey, it’s important to ensure that it is fresh and hasn’t gone bad. It’s best to remove any uneaten food within a few hours so it doesn’t attract pests or cause an unsanitary enclosure.

Remember that while pre-killed food can be convenient, variety is still important for your mantis’ overall health. Mixing up their diet with both live and pre-killed offerings will provide them with different nutrients and keep them interested in eating.

Gut-Loaded Food

Gut-loading is the process of feeding insects a nutrient-rich diet before they are fed to your mantis. This ensures that your mantis is receiving all of the necessary nutrients and vitamins from their food.

To gut-load your insects, it’s important to provide them with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Some good options include carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, and squash. You can also use commercially-available gut-loading products to ensure that your feeder insects are getting all of the necessary nutrients.

It’s important to remember that you should always remove any uneaten prey items from your mantis’ enclosure after feeding time has passed. This will help prevent any rot or bacteria from growing in their habitat.

Overall, providing gut-loaded insects is an important part of keeping your mantises healthy in captivity. It may take some extra effort on your part, but it’s definitely worth it in order to keep these fascinating species thriving!

Maintaining A Healthy Diet Schedule

Feeding your mantises is important for their health and well-being. However, it’s equally important to maintain a healthy diet schedule to ensure they’re getting the nutrients they need. Generally, praying mantises are carnivorous insects that feed on small insects like flies and crickets.

However, different species have different dietary needs. Some mantis species prefer a variety of live prey while others can survive on pre-killed food. Moreover, adult mantids require more food than younger ones as they tend to eat often but smaller quantities.

When it comes to feeding frequency, young praying mantises should be fed every day while adults can be fed two or three times a week depending on the insect size. Fruit flies or other small insects can be used as treats between regular meals.

It’s also essential to provide clean water for your pet mantis regularly. You can use a water dish that’s shallow enough so they won’t drown in it; else you can spray mist in the enclosure ensuring that the humidity level should not rise above 50 percent because high humidity levels could lead to bacterial growth.

Mantids will drink by licking drops of water off leaves and enclosure walls around them — make sure you provide enough space with sufficient ventilation allowing the possibility for them to climb up different surfaces where drops of dew may naturally form.

Maintaining proper diet schedules is crucial for keeping your pet praying mantises healthy and happy!

Feeding Frequency

Feeding your praying mantises is an essential part of keeping them healthy and thriving in captivity. However, it’s important to find the right balance when it comes to feeding frequency. Praying mantises are generally considered “sit-and-wait” predators, meaning that they don’t actively hunt for prey but wait for it to come within their reach.

Adult mantises typically need one small insect per day, while younger mantises require more frequent feeding due to their rapid growth and higher metabolism. It’s recommended to feed juvenile mantises every other day or even daily if they’re still nymphs.

That being said, it’s also important not to overfeed your mantis as this can lead to obesity and health issues down the line. Pay attention to how much your individual mantis is eating and adjust accordingly. It may take some trial and error before finding the right feeding schedule for your particular species of praying mantis.

In addition, make sure you’re providing a variety of live food options such as crickets, flies, and other small insects. You can also offer gut-loaded insects which have been fed with nutritious foods prior to being fed to your mantis.

Overall, proper feeding frequency is crucial in maintaining a healthy diet schedule for your praying mantises in captivity. Remember that each individual may have slightly different needs so paying close attention to their eating habits will help you determine what works best for them.

Feeding Time

Feeding time is an important aspect of keeping your mantises healthy and happy in captivity. Generally, adult mantises should be fed every 2-3 days, while younger mantises will need to eat more often. It’s also important to vary the diet of your praying mantis to make sure they are getting all the nutrients they need.

Offering a variety of live food such as crickets, fruit flies or small insects can help keep them interested in eating. Additionally, pre-killed food can be offered if you want to avoid having live insects crawling around their enclosure. Gut-loading your prey items with nutritious food before feeding them to your mantis is also highly recommended.

When it comes time to feed your insect friend, gently offer them the prey item using tweezers or tongs and allow them enough space and time to eat in peace. It’s important not to disturb them during this process as it can cause stress which may lead to aggression towards the feeder or even refusal of food.

By providing proper nutrition and feeding frequency for your praying mantis species, you’ll ensure that they thrive in their habitat while avoiding any potential health concerns related to overfeeding or underfeeding. Keep track of what works well for your individual pet by observing its growth rate and behavior throughout each stage of life.

Quantity of Food

Providing the appropriate amount of food for your praying mantises is important to keep them healthy and happy. Generally, a small insect or two every day or every other day is enough for juvenile mantises. As they grow into adults, they will require larger insects and may need to be fed less frequently.

It’s important not to overfeed your mantises as this can lead to obesity and health problems such as molting difficulties. On the other hand, underfeeding can result in malnourished mantids that are more susceptible to disease.

To ensure that you’re providing the right amount of food for your species of mantis, research their natural diet and feeding habits. Some species prefer a variety of live insects while others may also eat fruit or nectar.

Observing your praying mantis during feeding time can also give you an idea of how much they need to eat. If they finish their meal quickly and still seem hungry, consider adding a few more insects. If there are leftovers after several hours, remove them from the enclosure so they don’t attract unwanted pests.

In summary, it’s important to provide proper amounts of food for your praying mantises based on their species and needs, avoiding both overfeeding and underfeeding. By observing their eating habits closely, you’ll soon be able to recognize when they need more or less food than usual!

Providing Clean Water

Water is just as important to mantises as food. Keeping them hydrated is crucial for their health. You can provide water to your praying mantises in a few different ways.

One option is providing a small dish of water. Make sure the dish isn’t too deep, or else they may drown. You can also add some rocks or marbles to the bottom of the dish to provide a surface for them to climb on if they accidentally fall in.

Another option is using a mist spray bottle to lightly spray the enclosure with water. This not only provides hydration but also helps maintain proper humidity levels for your mantids’ habitat.

It’s important to make sure that the water you’re providing is clean and fresh daily. Remove any debris that may accumulate, and keep an eye on it throughout the day to ensure it hasn’t become contaminated by leftover food or waste.

Overall, maintaining proper hydration for your praying mantises will help ensure their overall health and well-being in captivity.

Using A Water Dish

Mantises, like many insects, require access to water in order to stay healthy. While some species can get enough moisture from their diets alone, it’s generally a good idea to provide them with a source of clean drinking water as well.

One option for providing water is by using a small dish or container that you fill with fresh water regularly. Plastic bottle caps or shallow dishes work well for this purpose. Just be sure to clean the dish and replace the water frequently so that it doesn’t become stagnant and potentially harmful to your mantids.

Another option is misting your enclosure regularly with a spray bottle filled with clean, room-temperature water. This can also help maintain proper humidity levels in the enclosure, which are important for the molting and overall health of your pet mantis.

It’s worth noting that some species may not readily drink from a dish or misted surfaces but will prefer droplets on plant leaves or directly sprayed into their mouthparts. Additionally, larger adult mantises will often drink more than smaller juvenile ones; therefore it’s always best to ensure they have access to both clean drinking water (by way of dish) and humid air (by misting around the enclosure).

Overall, while every species may have different needs and preferences regarding hydration methods, one thing is universally true: maintaining proper hydration is essential in keeping mantids happy & healthy!

Mist Spray

Mist spraying is also an essential aspect of keeping your mantises healthy. They require humidity to thrive, and misting their enclosure throughout the day can help maintain the proper moisture levels.

To mist your mantis habitat, use a spray bottle filled with clean water. Spray around the enclosure but avoid directly spraying on the insect itself as it may cause unnecessary stress.

It’s important to note that while praying mantises need humidity, excessive moisture can lead to mold growth in their habitat. Keep an eye out for any signs of mold and adjust your misting frequency accordingly.

In addition to maintaining proper humidity levels through misting, providing a shallow water dish can be another option for hydration. The dish should be small enough for your mantis to drink from comfortably and placed in a spot where they can easily access it without having to climb or jump around too much.

Overall, providing adequate hydration through both misting and water dishes will contribute significantly towards keeping your mantises happy and healthy in captivity.

Cages for Praying Mantis

When it comes to keeping praying mantises in captivity, their habitat is crucial to their health and well-being. While some species can be kept in small containers such as plastic cups or jars, larger species will need a more spacious enclosure.

When choosing a cage for your praying mantis, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, size matters. A large adult mantis requires significantly more space than a smaller juvenile. As a general rule of thumb, the cage should be at least three times the length and twice the width of the insect.

Ventilation is also important for maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels within the enclosure. You’ll want to ensure that there are enough air holes or mesh screens on all sides of the container.

Another important factor to consider is substrate. Some species prefer climbing surfaces while others require a soft substrate for molting purposes. Providing substrate helps maintain proper humidity levels within your praying mantis’s habitat.

Finally, when designing your cage setup don’t forget about food sources! Adding live prey such as crickets or flies can help keep your praying mantis entertained while also providing them with necessary nutrients.

Overall, when keeping mantids in captivity you want to provide an environment that mimics their natural habitat as closely as possible. By understanding each individual species’ needs and having patience during trial and error efforts with different habitats you can create optimal conditions where they thrive!

Consideration While Choosing A Cage

Proper housing is vital to keeping your mantises healthy and happy in captivity. When choosing a cage, there are several factors that you need to consider.

Firstly, the size of the cage is crucial. While juveniles can be housed in small enclosures, adult mantises need enough space to move around and climb. As a general rule of thumb, choose a container that’s at least three times as tall as your mantis and twice as wide.

Ventilation is another consideration when it comes to cages for praying mantises. Mantids require adequate airflow to prevent moisture buildup and promote healthy molting cycles. A plastic container with holes drilled into it can make an excellent DIY enclosure.

Substrate is also essential for maintaining proper humidity levels in your mantis’s habitat. Most species will do well on plain paper towels or newspaper, but some require more substrate or hides like branches or twigs.

Finally, temperature is important when it comes to choosing the right housing for your mantle. Different species have varying temperature needs, so make sure you do your research before setting up their home.

Size of The Cage

When it comes to keeping your mantis happy and healthy, providing them with a properly sized enclosure is essential. The size of the cage you choose will depend on the species of mantis you have, as some are larger than others.

Generally speaking, praying mantises don’t need a ton of space to thrive in captivity. A small plastic container may be enough for some species, while others may require a larger enclosure with enough room to climb and move around.

Make sure there is enough ventilation in the cage to maintain proper humidity levels. You can also add substrate to the bottom of the cage so your mantis has something to climb on and hide under.

Remember that as your praying mantis grows from a hatchling into an adult, it will likely need more space. Keep an eye on their size and behavior to determine when it’s time for a bigger enclosure.

Overall, providing your praying mantises with an appropriate-sized habitat is crucial for their well-being. By taking into consideration their specific needs based on their species and growth stages, you can ensure they are comfortable and happy in their new home.


Proper ventilation is important for your praying mantis enclosure to maintain adequate air quality and prevent mold growth. Mantises require good airflow, but they also need to be kept at a specific humidity and temperature level.

The size of the enclosure will determine how much ventilation is needed, with larger enclosures requiring more airflow than smaller ones. It’s recommended that you have several small holes on each side of the container, covered with mesh or screen to prevent insects from escaping.

To ensure proper ventilation, it may be necessary to adjust the size or number of holes in your enclosure as well as monitor temperature and humidity levels. You can use a hygrometer and thermometer to check these levels regularly.

In addition to maintaining adequate airflow and monitoring temperature and humidity levels, make sure that the substrate used in your enclosure is not too damp or wet which can cause bacterial growth leading to an unhealthy environment for mantises.

Overall, providing proper ventilation along with other environmental needs such as food, drink, space requirements are all essential aspects when keeping praying mantises healthy in captivity.


The substrate is the material used to line the bottom of your mantis’ enclosure. It serves many purposes, including providing a surface for your mantis to climb on and aiding in maintaining proper humidity levels. Different species may have different preferences when it comes to substrate, but generally speaking, a small insectivorous reptile or spiderling substrate will work well.

Some good options include coconut fiber, sphagnum moss, peat moss, or even just plain soil. The key is to make sure that whatever you choose is free from pesticides or harmful chemicals. Avoid any materials that are too fine and dusty as these can irritate your mantises’ respiratory system.

Also consider adding some natural elements such as sticks or branches for climbing and hiding places, and make sure there is enough space for your mantis to move around comfortably. Proper ventilation is also important when it comes to the enclosure substrate. Too much moisture can lead to mold growth and other issues.

In summary, choosing the right substrate for your praying mantises plays an important role in keeping them healthy in captivity. Make sure it’s safe and pesticide-free with a texture that allows them to climb easily without causing respiratory problems due to dust particles circulating inside their enclosure; add natural elements like branches so they have areas where they can hide; ensure there’s proper ventilation by avoiding excess moisture buildup which could lead up mold problems down the road!

Molting Process

The molting process is an important part of the mantis’s life cycle, as it allows them to shed their old exoskeletons and grow larger. However, this process can also be a vulnerable time for your pet praying mantis.

One sign that your mantis is about to molt is a loss of appetite. They may not eat for several days leading up to the molting process. During this time, it’s important to make sure they have enough water and humidity in their enclosure.

Once you notice your mantis starting to molt (they will typically hang upside down from the top of their enclosure), it’s important not to disturb them. They are very fragile at this stage and any sudden movements could cause them harm.

After the molting process is complete (which can take anywhere from a few hours to a day or more), you’ll want to remove the old exoskeleton from their enclosure. This will prevent bacterial growth and mold formation on the old skin.

Overall, proper care during the molting process is essential for maintaining your pet praying mantis’s health and well-being. Keep an eye out for pre-molt signs, provide adequate water and humidity during this time, and avoid disturbing them while they’re shedding their exoskeleton.

Pre-molt Signs

It’s important to keep an eye out for pre-molt signs in your mantis in order to provide proper care during this process. Most praying mantises molt at least 6 times before reaching adulthood, so it’s a common occurrence that you should be prepared for.

One of the most obvious signs that a mantis is preparing to molt is reduced eating habits. They may become less active and not show as much interest in food as they did before.

Another sign is the skin around their eyes darkening or becoming cloudy. This means that the old exoskeleton is starting to separate from the body and new growth is happening underneath.

The actual molting process itself can take several hours, during which time your praying mantis may look inactive or seem unresponsive. It’s important not to disturb them during this time and wait until they have completely shed their old skin before attempting to handle them again.

Overall, keeping an eye out for these pre-molt signs will help you identify when your mantis needs extra care and attention. By being aware of their needs during this crucial time, you can ensure that they have a healthy molting process and continue thriving in captivity.

Post-molt Care

Once your mantis has completed the molting process, it’s important to take care of them in their vulnerable state. During this time, they are more susceptible to injury or illness.

One key aspect of post-molt care is ensuring that your mantis has enough water. They may be dehydrated after molting, so it’s important to provide a source of clean water for them to drink from. You can use a shallow dish filled with water or mist spray the enclosure.

Another important factor is feeding. While you don’t want to feed them too soon after molting, you’ll need to ensure that they have enough food and nutrients for their new exoskeleton. Small insects such as fruit flies or small crickets are generally good options.

It’s also essential to maintain proper temperature and humidity levels in the enclosure during post-molt care. This will help your mantis adjust and properly harden their new exoskeleton without risk of damage or stress.

Overall, providing attentive post-molt care will ensure that your mantises stay healthy and strong throughout their lifespan. Keep an eye on any changes in behavior or appearance during this time period and make adjustments accordingly.


Q: What should I feed my pet mantis?

A: Pet mantises typically feed on live insects. Suitable prey options include fruit flies, crickets, small moths, and other small insects. It’s important to provide a varied diet to ensure proper nutrition for your mantis.

Q: How often should I feed my mantis?

A: The feeding frequency depends on the age and species of your mantis. Generally, adult mantises can be fed every 2-3 days, while nymphs (young mantises) may require daily feeding. Observe your mantis closely to ensure it is not overfed or underfed.

Q: How should I provide water for my mantis?

A: Mantises usually get their required hydration from their prey. However, it’s beneficial to provide a water source for them. Mist the enclosure lightly with water daily to create a humid environment. You can also offer a shallow dish with water-soaked cotton or sponge for the mantis to drink from.

Q: How should I maintain the temperature and humidity for my mantis?

A: Different mantis species have varying temperature and humidity requirements. In general, a temperature range of 70-85°F (21-29°C) and humidity level of 50-70% should be maintained. You can achieve this by using a heat source like a heat pad or lamp and a hygrometer to monitor humidity.

Q: Is it necessary to provide a specific type of enclosure for my mantis?

A: Yes, a suitable enclosure is crucial for the well-being of your mantis. Opt for a secure and well-ventilated enclosure with ample space for your mantis to move around. A glass or plastic terrarium with mesh lids works well. Also, add branches or twigs for climbing and molting purposes.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, keeping your mantises fed and healthy in captivity requires proper attention to their needs. Providing a variety of live or pre-killed insects, gut-loaded with fruits and vegetables is important for their diet schedule, as well as ensuring they have access to clean water through either a dish or misting spray.

When it comes to cages and enclosures, there are various factors to consider such as size, ventilation, substrate, temperature, and enough space for climbing. It’s important to choose the right type of cage that will provide an ideal habitat for your mantids.

Lastly, understanding the molting process is crucial in maintaining their health. As they go through pre-molt signs and post-molt care routines that require special attention to humidity levels and removing any large pieces of exoskeletons from their container.

Overall, keeping mantises fed and healthy in captivity is not difficult if you pay close attention to their dietary needs while also providing them with proper housing conditions based on species requirements. With these tips in mind you’ll be equipped with everything needed for a happy mantis life!

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