Owning a pet is a great responsibility. Beyond the time and money commitment, there are other considerations such as activity levels, food, and space requirements. Fortunately, owning an insect pet such as a tarantula or scorpion is simpler than caring for traditional pets.
Some pet insects need only be fed every few months and take up very little space. The best part? You can enjoy the company of these low-cost, low-maintenance pets while watching them at a level of detail that displays the magnificent creatures they truly are.
Let’s check out twelve insects that can be great pets. Number 11 surprised me, how about you?
What Should I Consider Before Getting A Pet Insect?
If your pet insect is going to be a native, available in your backyard type of insect, then there are only a few things to consider. How long they live, what type of container they will need, what they eat, and what environmental conditions are best for them.
Be sure to check your state and local laws regarding exotic species. You may be required to have a permit to obtain, posess or breed exotic insect species.
Finally, regardless of the law, you should never release an exotic insect into the natural environment around you. Many exotics are invasive and can harm the local ecology. Be a good human being and take care of your local environment by practicing responsible pet insect ownership.
Ideal Temperature: 77F
Lifespan: 5-12 months
Phasmids are insects belonging to the order Phasmida, family Phasmatidae. They are commonly called walking sticks after their long thin limbs resemble a stick insect’s. Camouflage is the main form of protection for stick insects. If you happen to find one, they must be handled with care due to their fragility.
As a rule, these insects are fairly easy to care for, reproduce well in captivity, and are very interesting to look at. However, in some parts of the world, they can be considered agricultural pests, so it’s important to do your research before importing any foreign species.
African Giant Millipedes
Ideal Temperature: 75F – 80F
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Millipedes are a type of invertebrate that live in damp environments. You caught me, millipedes are arthropods, not insects, just like scorpions. They have a cylindrical shape and 400 legs, which they move in a wave-like motion which is amazing to watch. They are either dark brown or black in color
Millipedes are easy to take care of and can be kept in groups. They secrete a mild toxin when unhappy, so you need to wash your hands after handling them and some people may react a bit more than others.
There are many people who experience health risks due to exposure to this substance. It is important to weigh whether or not the “payoff” of exposure – such as a good night’s sleep – is worth the risk.
Millipedes are crazy fun to watch as the move and create tunnels in their substrate. Plus, they can live up to 10 years in the ideal environment.
Just remember that while their enclosure does not need to be super tall, it does need a lot of floor space. The do a lot of “walking” and need plenty of room to do it.
Ideal Temperature: 70F – 98F
Lifespan: 2-6 years
Scorpions! Yes, scorpions.
As with tarantulas, there are many types of scorpions available and the strength of the venom varies a lot among species. Some species have highly potent venom while others are no more potent than a bee sting and are widely found as pets. Because of this, the emperor scorpion is a popular pet species.
Emperor scorpions are blackish in color and on average reach a length of six inches. When it comes to their venom, they’re related to bees or wasps – only more deadly due to the anaphylactic response that can happen.
Scorpions are not the most pleasant of animals to handle, but they are relatively easy to care for.
Ideal Temperature: 80F – 85F
Lifespan: larvae: 2-3 months / adults: 3 weeks
Not only are crickets considered lucky in cultures around the world, but they can make for great pets too. As you can imagine, the adult males can be calming to listen to due to their chirping and are easy enough to take care of, minus their short life expectancy (usually a few weeks).
Raising crickets can be very beneficial for keeping reptiles & larger predatory insects. These are a good food source for several different species of animals. However, they’re great to have at home, too. Some people say that that can make you happier and less stressed. You can just sit back and watch them.
Ideal Temperature: 74F – 92F
Lifespan: 1-2 years
Despite the bad reputation cockroaches have, hissing cockroaches are popular pets. They can hiss just like regular cockroaches! These insects are approximately 2 inches long and tend to be fairly sturdy.
Unlike many other invertebrates that live on land, they can be handled relatively easily. They are also very easy to care for and are one of the most low-maintenance pets available.
Ideal Temperature: 80F – 85F
Lifespan: 2-3 years
Did you know that there are over 1000 species of Tarantula? With that many species, it makes sense some species are more aggressive than others.
Tarantulas are venomous, but many species produce less of a reaction than a bee sting. How humans react to the bite of a tarantula depends on three factors: the species of tarantula, the amount of venom injected, and a persons allergy to the bite. For some people, there is a real risk of anaphylactic shock, so be careful.
For beginners, it’s important to buy a pet of a docile breed from a reliable breeder. The breeder will help you find the perfect animal for you and teach you about how to care for it before taking it home, or receiving the delivery.
Owners need to be aware that owning a dangerous pet is never without risks. This is especially true for tarantulas, as they are venomous. Despite that danger, tarantulas are also quite fragile and you need to protect it from being hurt. Even a short fall can be fatal to tarantulas. This means that when frightened, they will try to flee and the same problems can arise.
So, be careful with that tarantula and yet enjoy the beauty of the wonderful creature.
Ideal Temperature: 72F – 80F (Room temperatures)
Lifespan: 5-12 months
The antics of a jumping spider make for a great spectacle. They’ve been studied and there are many debates over their intelligence. Mainly, they’re super sneaky and can take out prey that looks much larger than them.
They seem to be thinking about their next move and observing their surroundings at the same time with their big eyes.
There are many species of jumping spiders, however, the Regal Jumping Spider, Phidippus regius, is one of the most popular.
Jumping spiders don’t need much room and a small Exo-terra faunarium will house this spider with ease. Just add a few inches of substrate and small branches or twigs.
Ideal Temperature: 74F – 94F
Lifespan: Colony: 1-3 years
Ant Farms are an interesting way to watch insects. The best option is to get them already housed in an Ant Farm.
Ants are fairly easy to maintain, so they’re ideal pets for people with busy schedules. Plus, setting up your Ant Farm takes just a few steps and you can purchase one in many stores.
Ideal Temperature: 70F – 80F
Lifespan: 6-12 months
These insects are very pretty to look at and can be found in the Northeastern and Western United States. They don’t require a lot from their habitats but do need warmth and humidity.
Mantises need to be fed live feeder insects in order to survive. Smaller insects like fruit flies when they are small nymphs and larger insects as they grow into adults.
They will be fun to watch them for a while! However, they only live for about 6 months so don’t get too attached.
Interested in a praying mantis pet? We’ve got lots of details to help. Start with our Ultimate Beginners Guide to Praying Mantis insect pets.
Caterpillars / Butterflies
Ideal Temperature: 70F – 80F (Room temperature)
Lifespan: 2-10 weeks
A caterpillar is a great pet for children. Caterpillars not only look soft and cuddly but their colors and patterns can also bring joy and wonder to children. Caterpillars are also very low-maintenance pets. They don’t require a lot of care and they will live a full life-cycle given the right conditions.
Students benefit from understanding the concept of metamorphosis when caterpillars turn into butterflies or moths. It is a wonderful process to watch and is an excellent classroom pet project and it is a fairly quick process compared to other long-living classroom pets.
Ideal Temperature: 80F – 85F
Lifespan: 3-6 months
For something memorable, nothing grabs people’s attention quite like a rhinoceros beetle. This creature is easily identifiable, thanks to their large head horn and the noise they make when they get unusually excited.
However, one of the most difficult parts about breeding them is getting them to reproduce. They rarely reproduce in captivity.
They also spend much of their time under the soil, waiting for the right time to come out, more at night than during the day. So, just prepare for this and leverage a clear enclosure to observe them under the substrate as well as above.
Other beetles can be equally cool, even if they are smaller and without the horn on their head. Take for instance a more common beetle, the ladybug.
Ideal Temperature: 60F – 85F
Lifespan: 2-3 years
These little bugs are more commonly known as rollie pollies or pill bugs. They come in many different sizes, but the smaller ones are often found outside. They aren’t at all harmful and can’t bite either!
They’re not only great for adults, but children as well. If a child starts to play too rough with them, they’ll roll themselves up into a ball and their little “armor” will help protect them from grabbing hands.
These little balls are the perfect way to teach children about empathy and caring for others. When scared, they’ll roll themselves into a ball using their appendages to avoid being grabbed. It’s important that children understand that this is how people without any limbs can protect themselves.
What is the friendliest insect as a pet? The answer is arguable but from our list, we vote for stick bugs as being the friendliest. They won’t bite you and they actually enjoy walking on your fingers, hands, arms, and even your head. Insect brains are not capable of loving you, but you may interpret them not running away as liking you.
Can insects recognize humans? According to this 2017 Scientific American article, it is possible in some insects, like paper-wasps, but don’t get too sold on the idea of your walking stick running to the sight of your face.
Why are snails not on your list of best pet insects? Well, snails are not insects and therefore are not on the list. However, snails can be amazing pets. Finding the right snail-friendly plants to keep with them is also important.
If you think your pet is ill, call a vet immediately. All health-related questions should be referred to your veterinarian. They can examine your pet, understand its health history, and make well informed recommendations for your pet.903pets.com Staff