What Type Of Enclosure Do I Need?
There are numerous options available for praying mantis enclosures. Pop-up mesh cages, glass vivariums, acrylic enclosures, to simple plastic cups, all of these are valid enclosure options with pros and cons.
However, it’s more important to know -why- you’re choosing a certain enclosure, and what to look for when dealing with your particular mantis species.
The golden rule of mantis housing is as follows:
A praying mantis enclosure must be at least 3x as tall as the mantis is long. This allows your mantis to safely molt, as it will have to hang from the top of its enclosure and extend down to remove its exoskeleton.
The Complete Guide To Praying Mantis Molting >
Obviously, this does not account for the space it may want to explore, hide, and hunt. For this, you’ll need a little bit more space, as well as plenty of surface area from plants, sticks, and bark.
Ventilation is key in keeping your mantis healthy. A well ventilated enclosure fends off mould and bacterial growth, which are top killers in captive mantis.
The Complete Guide To Ilness, Infection & Injury In Praying Mantis >
Cross-ventilation is the determining factor in whether an enclosure is sufficiently ventilated. Cross ventilation refers to two separate areas for airflow, both on top and on the side.
There are a number of options of cross-ventilated mantis enclosures, like pop-up mesh cages.
However, all mantis require a certain RH (relative humidity) level, which can be difficult to upkeep in an entirely mesh enclosure. Species marked “beginner friendly” in our shop need lower RH levels, where “advanced” species need higher. It’s important to consider RH levels when shopping for an enclosure, as you may need more or less airflow in your setup.
So, what do should you do if your mantis needs high RH, but you don’t want unwanted mould growth? We’ll get to that in a second.
Accessibility And Decor
Creating a stimulating, navigatable enclosure is just as important as the previous points. But let’s start with why it’s actually -necessary-.
Praying mantis can, quite contently, walk on glass, plastic, and other slippery materials. However, they can’t safely molt on it. It’s an absolute necessity to include a mesh panel on the top of any mantis enclosure as without one, your mantis will very likely fall mid-molt.
Certain species of mantis, like the Alien head mantis, can’t actually walk on glass or plastics at all. In our opinion, the more mesh the better.
There are a couple of rules to follow for decorating as well. Avoid sharp objects like spikey sticks, crystals, sharp rocks, cactus, (I mean, why wouldn’t you?) and any other sharp plants that could cause harm. The only other thing we will say is to avoid overcrowding your enclosure with decorations. Remember point 1? Mantis need space to safely molt.
It’s also important, for your sake, that your enclosure has a front opening door. Mantis hang and molt from the top. If you need to intervene, there is no way for you to do so on a top-opening enclosure without disturbing them.
Finally, you need substrate. We recommend cocoa coir, as sold in our shop. Cocoa coir is natural, affordable and brilliant at keeping in humidity. It greatly compliments a naturalistic setup with plants and natural decor.
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Having a quality, moisture-retaining substrate in your pet’s enclosure is key to their health, especially during molting. Absorbant substrates such as coco-coir fibre and soils are excellent at keeping your mantises enclosure humid.
Mosses such as sphagnum moss not only add aesthetic appeal to your mantids enclosure but also boost the humidity. Paired together, both coco-coir and sphagnum moss will ensure the relative humidity of any terrarium is kept consistently high making it easier for you to care for your pet.
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What Is A Bioactive Enclosure, And Do I need One?
Bioactive enclosures are naturalistic style setups that employ the use of living organisms, like plants, isopods, and decomposing springtails to break down waste products in the soil.
Bioactive setups are only really a necessity when housing animals that need a humid environment and are therefore prone to mould and fungal infections. Previously mentioned microorganisms, like isopods and springtails, eat away at waste products like deceased feeder insects and feces to prevent the growth of harmful mould and bacteria.
It can never hurt to go bioactive, but it’s certainly not necessary for any beginner praying mantis species.
Purchasing An Enclosure
We recommend glass enclosures from leading exotic pet brands like Exo Terra, Habi Stat, and Giganterra. These enclosures often feature front opening doors for unintrusive access to your mantis during premolt, as well as a mesh lid, and cross ventilation from additional vents found in the door openings.
For durability, functionality, and aesthetics, glass terrariums are the most popular enclosure choice among mantis-keepers.
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Still not sure exactly what you’ll need for your mantis enclosure? We stock a variety of carefully curated praying mantis setups. We’ve done all of the thinking, choosing high-quality glass terrariums and faunariums along with heat & humidity monitoring equipment to ensure your mantis thrives. With both affordable and high-end options, you’ll find the perfect setup to suit your budget.
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We stock a wide variety of plastic rearing enclosures that are used to house your mantis while it grows until it is ready to live in its adult-size enclosure. These are often repurposed plastic containers or purpose-made mini habitats for young nymphs.
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