Praying Mantis Terrarium

Praying Mantis Terrarium

The terrariums of a mantis can be very diverse; more than terrariums I think the correct term would be to use containers, since the majority of mantises live in different types of containers that we adapt for them and that they are in a terrarium is an option like another. 
It is clear that in a terrarium the mantis has much more space and is much more beautiful in sight, but everything has its drawbacks. These drawbacks tend to be that mantids in this large space take longer to locate the prey we throw at them to eat and that it is more difficult to regulate the temperature and humidity.
Generally, mantids tend to live in captivity in transparent plastic containers, whether plastic boats, adapted tupperwares, plastic cups, glass and a long etcetera; as long as the mantis has a place to hang to move and the right height.


The mantids can be kept together as a general rule from the time they are born until they make the second moult and thus reach the stage of development L3; there are other mantis species that can be kept together throughout life and cannibalism between them is very rare while they are well fed; generally those of the family Empusidae usually tolerate themselves quite well during all or almost all their life, as long as they have space to be able to live without having to be close together and be as I said before, well fed. 
There are more aggressive species of mantids that should be separated even in L2 since the cannibalism among nymphs is high.
As for the maintenance of several species together, the truth is that it is quite inadvisable to keep different species together, cannibalism or aggression increases much more; although they are two species of which they can be together among them when joining them with nymphs of different species the thing changes and they become more unpredictable and if you do not want to have some low I recommend you not to keep different species together.


Mantis, like all arthropods, have a protective layer that covers their entire body; It’s the cuticle. It is an exoskeleton that protects the animal and prevents its drying.

The main component of the cuticle is chitin, which is constituted by a series of repeated units of N-acetyl-C-glucosamine, linked by β-1, 4 bonds and, consequently, its structure is similar to cellulose.

The cuticle in turn has several layers:

  • Epicuticle: very thin layer of protein impregnated with lipids.
  • Procuticle: it is much thicker and is composed of several layers:
    • Exocuticle: just below the epicuticle, contain proteins, calcium salts and chitin.
    • Endocuticle, which in turn is formed by:
      • Main layer with more chitin and less protein and strongly calcified.
      • Membranous layer, not calcified and containing chitin and protein.

For the mantis to grow, MUDA or ECDISIS is necessary, since the exoskeleton is not a living part and does not grow with it. What follows after each moult is called EXUVIA.

praying mantis terrarium

Shortly before the ecdysis (also ecdisis) the epidermal cells increase considerably in size, separate from the membranous layer and secrete a new epicutitule and exocuticle. Enzymes are secreted in the area immediately above the new epicuticle and dissolving the old endocuticle.

After each molt, the cuticle undergoes hardening process called sclerotization; It is a hardening carried out thanks to the protein “sclerotina”, which also contributes to darken the cuticle. It is this component, and not the chitin, that hardens the cuticle. The hardening does not take place continuously, but externally visible plaques are formed which are called sclerites. There are areas where the cuticle is thinner and not sclerotized, allowing the mantis to move; they are the “articulation membranes”.

The mantids are a period of time without eating before each molt, this period is variable according to each species (some are a couple of days and others may be four or five). This period of fasting is directly proportional to the size of the nymph, therefore, in small nymphs it is much shorter and at most they are not eating one or two days.

During molting (or shedding, or ecdysis, or muda) the mantids remain unprotected during a good lapse of time, therefore it must be avoided that during the molt there is inside the container any type of insect (prey) that could disturb it and / or provoke a fall, or other type of prey like crickets, etc. that they can take advantage of that the mantis is changing to damage it with its jaws. The fasting period is also repeated after the molt and can last between 24 and 48h. After this time, it is normal for the mantis to have an appetite again and start feeding.

The mantids need space to make a correct change, so you have to be careful and keep them in tall containers with mesh on the roof that allows them to hold on. Another aspect to keep in mind is humidity. The molt requires a higher relative humidity, so when you suspect that the mantis is going to move you have to raise it so that no problems appear.The pre-molt fasting period is a good indicator of when we should raise the relative humidity of the mantis container.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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