As far as beginner species go, you’ll not find anything more unique than the cat-eye mantis. Heterochaeta orientalis, as it’s scientifically known, is a species of stunning stick-mantis hailing from central Africa. These little critters grow -large-, up to 10-12cm. The origin of its colloquial name originates in the angular, feline eyes that appear almost as little ears atop its head. Cat-eye mantis have an extremely impressive deimatic threat display, in which they reveal their gorgeous amber & red wings to deter predators. These mantis do not have particularly demanding environmental needs, making them a wonderful species for inexperienced keepers.
Cat eye mantis prefer small, flying prey such as wax moths & green/blue bottle flies. Nymphs should be fed D.hydeii fruit flies until they need something larger, in which case aerial prey around 1/3rd the size of the mantis should be readily accepted. Mantids should be fed until the abdomen becomes plump.
These mantids can be kept at a lower humidity level than most species, at about 30% relative humidity. Cat eye mantis can thrive at room temperature, however a supplementary heat mat can be attached to one side of the enclosure if necessary. Cat eye mantis require an enclosure around 3x as tall as their total body length to ensure they can safely molt out of their exoskeleton. A substrate such as moist coco coir or tissue can help to raise & maintain humidity levels if needed.
Heterochaeta orientalis are a difficult species to sex with relatively low sexually dimorphic traits. As with most mantis, females are larger and bulkier than males, with long, thin antennae whereas males have thin bodies and long, thick antennae.