The Scientific name for the African Mantis is Sphodromantis lineola and they are very popular amongst Mantis keepers due to their size and aggression. They are fairly easy to care for and make interesting pets. They are generally green in color but there are brown and tan variations within the species. You can tell a male apart from a female due to their size and wing variations. A female African Mantis will reach between 3 and 4 inches, where a male will reach in the 2 inch range. The males wings are longer than their body, and the females extend to the end of their abdomen. They live between a 1-1 ½ years long.
Housing, Substrate, Decoration, and Lighting
The enclosure that you choose for your Mantis should be 3 times the length of your Mantis in the length and 2 times the width of your mantis in the width. A larger enclosure is okay, but remember not to make it too large as they will not be able to catch their find or catch their food. A standard 5-10 gallon aquarium is a good environment. The enclosure needs to have air flow, so a screen lid is suggested, or even enclosures that are screen on all sides (except the bottom). You should never place more than one African Mantis in the same enclosure as they will fight and eat one another.
The substrate you use should be completely organic (meaning it's all natural and contains absolutely no chemicals). Substrate such as peat moss, peat humus, ground coco fiber, bed-a-beast, and orchid bark can all be used. These substrates are good options because they retain moisture well which is very important for proper Mantis care. Make the substrate at least 1 inch deeper.
When it comes to decorating your Mantis tank natural options are the best choice, since you know they aren't going to contain any harmful paint or chemicals. You can add things such as rocks, sticks, leaves, bark, live plants and so on. When adding these things ensure you only collect them from a place where absolutely no chemicals are used. Wash off any rocks you collect in water before adding it to the enclosure. Make sure all your decorations are firmly placed in the enclosure before adding your mantis that way they do not have a risk of falling and crushing your mantis. Ensure your Mantis has enough cover for hunting, but also enough room to roam freely.
There are no specific lighting requirements for your mantis other than to make sure during the day the the enclosure is lit up, and make sure it's dark at night. Do not set your Mantis enclosure in direct sunlight to bake. The lighting of the room the enclosure is in is generally enough to keep a proper day/night schedule.
Temperature and Humidity
The best temperature for your African Mantis enclosure is 77F, and this can drop by a few degrees at night to create a more natural environment (do not let it drop below 65F). The use of an thermometer is suggested to measure temperature, at all times. If your mantis enclosure is not staying warm enough you can use an under the tank heater. These heaters are actually better stuck to one of the sides of the enclosure so you do not accidentally cook your Mantis. (PLEASE ALWAYS USE EXTRA CAUTION WITH THESE AND MAKE SURE YOU SHUT THE HEATER OFF WHEN THE ENCLOSURE IS WARM ENOUGH SO YOU DO NOT COOK YOUR MANTIS.)
The humidity level for the African Mantis is less demanding than some of the other species but it should be kept between 50-60%. The use of a water dish with cotton placed in it will help to keep the tank humid (Always use chlorine-free water). Also, spray the tank with chlorine-free water about 2 times a week, depending on how dry it is, of course. This not only helps humidity levels but gives the Mantis something to drink. The use of a hygrometer is suggested to always measure the humidity level. Humidity is very important for a Mantis because of their molting.
It is important to make sure your mantis's home stays clean and free of molds and parasites. Change the substrate every three months, and if you notice any mold growth, fowl odors, or bugs, change it sooner. When cleaning out your Mantis's home, move your pet to a different enclosure.
The African Mantis is a carnivore and it will eat many bugs without hesitation. When your Mantis is small and young feed it smaller bugs such as fruit flies or aphids. Once your Mantis is larger you can feed it things like cockroaches, crickets, grasshoppers, flies, moths, butterflies, etc. When feeding your Mantis you should ensure it is not a bug that will eat your Mantis.
You should always gut-load your Mantis's food when you're able to. Gut- load the food 48 hours prior to feeding. Gut-loading is where you feed the crickets (or whatever you're feeding at the time) food. This can be achieved through things such as commercial cricket foods, crushed cat or dog food, and small bits of fruits and vegetables.
Some mantis species can be tamed and can be held. The African Mantis generally makes for better watching than holding though as they are very active. Remember, Mantids do have pinchers and can use them on you, too.
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