Who does not know the appearance of these fascinating ambulance hunters: The tentacles of a praying mantis are angled for hours (as in prayer, hence the name) and in a fraction of a second they shoot forward and prey on an unsuspecting small animal. The sexual cannibalism that can be observed is also known to many: the male is often consumed by the female during copulation. It is good for the conservation of the species that the male animal can still copulate without a head …
For many terrarium keepers, the praying mantis is an ideal creature to keep, but not all mantids, as the technical term is, are equally suitable for keeping. Therefore, in the following, I will describe the Indian giant mantis, which is very popular with amateur entomologists. The mantis religiosa that is native to us (roughly translated as “religious seer”) is strictly protected. Trading and keeping are therefore fundamentally prohibited.
The Indian giant mantis (Hierodula membranacea) is not only native to India, as the name might suggest, but also to other parts of South and Southeast Asia. These include countries such as:
- Sri Lanka
The habitat can be characterized as tropical.
Lifestyle and Diet
The Indian giant mantis hunts during the day while lurking in the branches of trees and bushes. It relies on its good camouflage and thus on protection from predators such as birds and mammals. It captures everything that it can grasp and that is too large for it to overwhelm. These are preferably insects. She feeds on a strictly carnivorous diet, so to speak. Since the front feet are converted into real tentacles, the Indian giant mantis is a very successful hunter.
Indian giant mantises tend to be loners in nature and therefore only meet each other to mate.
Not always, but mostly the hunter eats the protein-containing male during copulation or afterward.
For a short time, the female builds an ootheca (approx. 3 cm in size) on it, where the eggs mature and the larvae hatch.
Male and female animals can be clearly distinguished from one another:
- The adult females have a size between 8-10 cm. Male adults only 7 – 7.5 cm.
- The male’s wings protrude above the abdomen, and the body is somewhat slimmer.
- The strongly built females have wings that reach exactly to the end of the abdomen.
- Females have six abdomen segments, while males have eight.
Attitude and Care
It is necessary to keep adults individually, otherwise, the males run the risk of ending up as food. Nevertheless, the attitude is relatively undemanding and comparable to that of various walking sheets.
The use of a terrarium is essential for keeping and caring for an Indian giant mantis:
- For this, caterpillar boxes, glass terrariums, and temporary also plastic terrariums are suitable.
In any case, make sure there is good ventilation.
- The soil can be covered with peat or with a dry, inorganic substrate (e.g. vermiculite, pebbles).
- When kept alone, the recommended minimum size of a terrarium is 20 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm (WxHxD). The container can be bigger. Care must be taken that enough feed animals are available. The larger the container, the more feed animals will be in it
- Plants and branches can be placed in the terrarium for decoration and to imitate a natural habitat.
- Make sure that the temperature in the terrarium is always at least 22 ° C and does not exceed 28 ° C. For this, you can connect a heat lamp or use a heating cable or a heating mat.
- Make sure that the relative humidity is around 50-70%. Occasional spraying ensures balanced humidity. Do not spray the animals directly !.
- Put a thermometer and hygrometer in the terrarium to check the humidity.
- As a location, bright, but not full sun locations have proven themselves.
You can use fruit, gold, or blowflies for nutrition. You may have to “feed” your praying mantis with tweezers.
The Indian giant mantis is a fascinating stalker and relatively easy to keep. Dealing with this insect is worth it!