Scientific name: Tenodera sinensis
The Chinese Praying Mantis is a large mantid which is native to China but has been introduced to many other locations worldwide, including North America, to control pest insects. The Chinese Praying Mantis is commonly found in bushes and trees, and prey on other insects, including other mantids.
Appearance / health:
The Chinese mantis looks long and slender with different shades of brown. The adult has a green line down its top set of wings. It is typically larger than most other mantises, growing up to 4 inches in length, and are known as the largest species of mantid in North America.
Behavior / temperament:
The Chinese mantis is a great species for beginners. Not only is it large, but it’s also pretty tame, and will tolerate most handling.
Young nymphs do much better in vials 3 times as tall and 2 times as wide, as the mantis. For adults, anything between a 2 - 10 gallon tank will work for one mantis. Chinese Praying Mantis are highly cannibalistic and should be housed separately.
They will live happily at room temperature (68-75F). High humidity is not needed, but while young, spraying the enclosure 2-3 times a week will help overcome any problems while shedding the old skin. When the wing buds start to swell, or any other signs of shedding approach, it is best to spray the mantis at that point. Leaves and twigs are best inside the tank as it mostly resembles where they would be out in the wild.
great learning experience, carnivorous exotic animal, brilliant green beauty, coolest thing
tight fitting screen, delicate little thing
little biosphere, great eyesight, nymph stage, vertical aquarium, rip apart grasshoppers
Interesting Hunters to Observe
My brothers were prospective entomologists growing up, so we always had mantises around the house. They are very unique-looking creatures with great hunting skills. Their habitats are easy to construct and maintain, and they don't produce much waste at all.
These insects do tend to cannibalize each other, so we only had one at a time. They are typically quite slow until startled, and then can cover a lot of ground (or air, if they so choose) quite quickly. They are fairly hardy and can live a long while, if properly cared for.
While they don't bite, mantises can pinch you startlingly well when they're being handled. They're a great insect to get children used to bugs and bug-collecting..
From rulonsw Jan 29 2016 5:06PM
A great pet for kids
The Chinese Praying Mantis is a great pet for either children or those adults who are looking for a unique pet. I have owned several and each seemed to have their own personality, although that personality was mostly made up of aggressiveness, but I liked them for that. This is not an invertebrate for the faint of heart. The mantis eats only live prey. Unlike a lion or bird of prey, the mantis does not kill it's dinner before eating it. This could be potentially upsetting for younger or sensitive children.
My preference is to own a female mantis, since she is much larger than the smaller male and therefore more interesting to watch.
I keep one adult at a time in a gallon aquarium containing sticks for climbing and a shallow container for water at the bottom of the tank. You MUST have a tight fitting screen at the top of the tank since a mantis is something of an escape artist and can fit through relatively small holes. You clearly can not use an aquarium hood on the tank unless you like to play the game of hide-and-seek.
Crickets seem to be the easiest food to buy for your mantis. Virtually every pet store carries them in, generally, a small and a large size. You would size the cricket to your mantis. If your pet store sells them by the dozen, you can simply put them all into the cage with your mantis. The mantis will eat what it wants, generally only a couple at a sitting. If the pet store only sells them in larger quantities, you may consider a separate holding tank with damp corrugated cardboard for the crickets. The chirping from the caged crickets is very pleasant to hear at night.
It's fascinating to watch a hungry mantis stalking a specific cricket. The strike is lightning fast and very difficult to see.
If you keep the cage clean and remove the debris from the crickets, your mantis will stay active and healthy for almost a year. I have not had any luck keeping an individual alive longer than a year. They will certainly live longer in captivity than in the wild, but that year barrier is hard to break.
They really do make a great pet and I'm sure there are many life-lessons that can be learned by watching their patience and calmness..
From CarlF Aug 13 2015 10:25PM
Dozens of Mantises
Having acquired a Praying Mantis egg sack, I was able to watch dozens of the tiny critters eventually hatch and crawl out. It seems they had some family disagreements almost immediately, which resulted in (due to their hungry appetite) many of them being devoured by their brothers and sisters. Shortly, a good chunk of the original bunch was gone before we could feed the baby mantises.
When young, they mainly eat fruit flies. I have to admit it is somewhat of a pain to keep the fruit flies. You have to make sure they don't get out, which can be hard due to their tiny size. And when you're breeding hundreds of them, well... let's just say you need to be careful.
As they grew older we were able to feed them larger insects, pretty much sticking to small crickets, and slowly getting larger ones as the mantises grew bigger. When they reach adulthood you have more flexibility in what you can give them, since they'll eat pretty much anything.
Over the months they continued to fight and eat each other, despite being properly fed (talk about family issues). The only real way to prevent this would be to get separate habitats for every one, which as you can imagine wouldn't work quite well with dozens of them.
By the time they were full adults only a few remained. We ended up successfully keeping two together to let them mate, and well, after they did their stuff we ended up with just one mantis, seeing as the female ate her partner (I guess they don't believe in divorce). She made an egg sack of her own in the top corner of the tank, before dying herself not long after. Those eggs however, never hatched out.
So to wrap it all up I would say if you want to get a mantis, starting with an egg sack may not be the best idea... a lot of trouble, and if you aren't careful you'll end up with tiny mantises and fruit flies all over your house. Perfect for watching mass cannibalism, though!.
From Jason0 Feb 10 2015 9:16AM