Praying mantis are still quite an unusual pet, so you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that you local pet store is unlikely to sell specialist praying mantis cages.
Instead, the praying mantis keeper must be willing to think creatively, and to reuse other containers to create a suitable cage for their mantids.
In this article, therefore, we’re going to look at some of the better cages for praying mantis that can be ordered online or found in your local pet store.
Whatever option you choose, arguably the most important element of all will be the dimensions of the cage you select. Mantis experts recommend a cage at least three times as tall as your mantis is long, and at least twice as long as their body length. So think 3x mantis tall, and 2x mantis wide and deep.
Lastly, before we talk about the best cages for praying mantis, it can be wise to consider how large your mantis will grow in time.
Buying an adult or subadult should present very few problems. However, if you’re buying a youngster that is set to grow considerably larger then you may want to plan ahead.
Doing so means you can select a cage that will fit your mantis comfortably for months to come, rather than continually having to upgrade as your mantis moults.
The Best Mantis Cages for Adult Praying Mantids
Let’s start with a discussion on the best cages for large mantids as these are typically the easiest to accommodate and can also make the most attractive displays.
Exo Terras have revolutionized the housing of many exotic pet species. These cages may not be the cheapest option, but they do manage to combine both seriously good looks with a large dose of practicality.
Exo Terras are available in a wide range of different sizes, including tall cages like this one which are perfect for an adult mantis. The front-opening glass doors make feeding and cleaning much easier, while these can be securely locked shut the rest of the time.
Lighting hoods can even be bought for Exo Terras, which can help to create a truly mesmerizing display and/or to heat the cage in the coldest of weather.
For my money, these are the best option, especially when I want to create an eye-catching display of my mantis.
A range of similar cages are sold under a range of different names. In brief, they are clear plastic containers, with a removable grilled lid. This lid allows plenty of air flow; some mantids may even use the lid as a perch to hang from.
While these cages are typically cheaper than Exo Terras, you do need to be careful to ensure that you select a model tall enough for your pet. Sadly, the majority of models seen for sale are the “low and long” variety rather than a more practical “tall and slim” shape.
Also, with so much air movement these cages can be more challenging to heat effectively in cooler months, and tend not to lend themselves to attractive displays as the Exo Terra does.
In warmer weather, however, these can provide a low-cost alternative to the Exo Terra.
Small Fish Tanks
Glass fish tanks can be purchased in a range of different sizes. The smaller models may sometimes be used successfully to house praying mantis, though once again carefully consider the height of the cage.
Another consideration is the security of such a cage; you’ll want to be sure to select a tank with a tight-fitting escape-proof lid, though these aren’t always the easiest to find.
As fish tanks tend to be “sealed units” ventilation in such cages can also be poor, so it may be necessary to bore some holes into the lid of the tank, or to cut out a section and replace this with metal gauze.
A growing number of mesh cages are available to entomologists and reptile-keepers. Traditionally these are used by those keeping and breeding butterflies, and are also excellent housing for chameleons. They can, however, also make good housing for praying mantis.
The fact that many taller mesh cages can be found also helps to make them an appealing option.
If there is a downside to such a cage it is of course all the ventilation. Such cages can be quite difficult to heat using a traditional heat mat, and instead generally require the use of a heat lamp. Such lamps can be far more expensive to buy, especially as you’ll need all the mounting for the lamp, as well as a thermostat to prevent it overheating.
As a result, while mesh cages can make excellent cages for mantis, in colder weather they are rarely the best solution, requiring some considerable thought (and often investment) to heat suitably.
In the summer months, however, they can serve as an excellent “back up” if you suddenly find yourself in need of a few spare cages, and can be bought very cheaply indeed.
Upcycled Household Containers
For the creatively-minded a range of glass or plastic household items can make suitable cages for praying mantis. Anything from tall tupperware boxes intended for pasta, to sweet jars, through to glass vases may all potentially be used.
Assuming they can be securely sealed to prevent escape, can be heated without too much difficulty and are of the right dimensions as discussed above then almost anything may be used.
Sometimes it can be quite fun to surf Amazon or visit your local cookery or hardware store to look at all the various tubs, containers and jars on offer, and find some that can make perfect;y-acceptable mantis cages.
The Best Mantis Cages for Hatchlings & Youngsters
Smaller praying mantis require extra care. The younger a mantis is, the more fragile it tends to be.
Additionally, of course, extra care must be taken to ensure that a tiny mantis cannot escape through any tiny holes or gaps. Equally, placing a tiny mantis into a giant cages can make keeping an eye on him or her more challenging, and can make life harder for your pet when it comes to locating their food.
Small Exo Terras
For smaller mantis, there are also smaller Exo Terras. The much-loved Exo Terra Nano, for example, is perfect for many species of mantids as they are growing. With great visibility, the mesh grill on top for ventilation and being easily heated these can be one of the best praying mantis cages for young mantis.
Upcycled Household Containers
As with adult mantis, a range of household items may be used to house smaller mantids. Many people use plastic deli cups and suchlike for the tiniest hatchlings. A piece of muslin, or net curtain material, may be cut to size and secured over the top with an elastic band.
Another technique that I have had great success with is to use old cricket tubs. The floor of the tub is lined with kitchen paper, before the tub itself is placed on its end. The kitchen towelling then becomes more of a “wall” than a “floor”, allowing the mantis to grip successfully to the vertical plastic sides of the tub.
Such a container costs nothing (thanks to all the crickets I get through) and provides a suitable home for many species of mantis.
As with adults, the key is to think creatively. Ensure heating, ventilation and dimensions are met, then select the best-looking or most cost-effective solution you can find. With imagination, all sorts of containers can make great praying mantis cages.
What do you like to use to house your mantids? Why not leave your experiences in the comments section below to help other people…?