Bugs We Love to Love: 4 Insects That Make Great Pets
Fido...the millipede? Buddy...the cockroach? If you’re up for it, your next pet could be one of these crawling critters. Insects may not be as cuddly as your favorite pup, but there are bug lovers out there who dote on them just the same. This is due in part to the simplicity of having insects as pets. They’re usually affordable (or free if you find them in nature), don’t require much care and can be kept in small spaces.
Then, of course, there are just the people who are fascinated by bugs and love having them around. Whatever the reason, insects make a great option for anyone open to alternative or exotic pets. If you’re ready to say “it’s a match!” to a new crawling friend, read on for a round up of some of the most common insect pets and discover why they’re so loved.
These big fellas aren’t actually insects, they are arthropods — one of the largest, in fact. They can grow up to 15 inches and have 300 to 400 legs. Despite their size, they have a very chill demeanor and are known to just hang out. To make them feel at home, all you need is an aquarium or other glass enclosure that’s longer than it is tall to give them tons of room to crawl around. As herbivores, giant millipedes are easy to feed. Lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and bananas are some of their mealtime faves. As for affection, they’re happy to crawl all over their humans, but require gentle handling.
Cuddly isn’t the first word that comes to mind when thinking of these twiggy insects, but they’re still considered one of the most popular bug pets. Their slender bodies require gentle handling, and since they can be left alone for up to a week, you won’t need to interact with them too much. Set up their cages with fresh cut oak, bramble or ivy branches and mist the leaves with water to make sure they have enough to eat and drink. Under the right conditions, your stick bug can live to be your companion for up to one year.
If you’re looking for an apartment-friendly pet, mantids only require a warmed one-square-foot enclosure filled with a layer of soil and a few twigs to feel right at home. They can’t do any tricks, but keep an eye out for molting — the cool process where they shed their old skin as they grow. There are over 2,000 types of mantids, and their personalities can range from aggressive and hunter-like (mantids hunt and eat other insects) to calm and quiet. That means your perfect praying mantis match is out there just waiting for you!
Cockroaches as pets? It’s not as cringey as it sounds. The Madagascar hissing cockroach might as well be a housecat for all of its charms — they don’t mind being pet, are fine if left alone and they let out the occasional meow — er, hiss. Unlike other roaches, they don’t eat decaying food, so make sure to supply them with fresh fruit and veggies. The ideal home for one of these critters would be a ten-gallon fish tank with a layer of wood shavings and a few hiding places where they can escape bright light. With a five-year lifespan, you and your new pal will have years of bonding time ahead of you.
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