What Insects Can You Keep as a Pet?

There are several long-lived insects that make great pets. Some have been kept as pets for years. With the right care, you can keep a bug as a pet, too.

May 9, 2023bySara Payne
insects you can keep as pets

Some people look at bugs and think they are cringe-worthy. Others admire them. But did you know insects make good pets?

Certain types of mantids, beetles, ants, and silkworms can be kept as pets under the right conditions. You need to check with local laws to make sure there aren’t any restrictions about keeping certain bugs.

These unconventional pets may be the companions you are looking for. This article will let you know about these insects, where to find them, and how to care for them.



Basic information

Mantid is the classification for insects with long, thin bodies, triangular heads, and bulging eyes. The most popular variety is the Praying Mantis, so called because of its prayer-like stance.

These insects are usually grey, green, or tan in color. There are several varieties of mantids, and they can mostly be found in tropical regions around the world.

Where can you find a mantid?

If there are no laws against it, you can adopt a Mantid from your own backyard. Sometimes, you might even be able to find a recently hatched Mantid baby (the nymphs look very similar to adults). There are also some online breeders and pet stores that carry mantises.


A single mantid can be kept in a 10-gallon terrarium at room temperature with ventilation holes. They eat other small insects, so you can feed them 2-3 times a day with mealworms and crickets, alive or dead. Mantids don’t drink water out of a dish. Once daily, spritz the enclosure with a mist bottle.

Place some live plants in the enclosure to simulate the mantid’s natural environment. Captive Mantids can live up to two years if they are well cared for.


rhino beetle

Basic information

There are over 400,000 species of beetle in the world, but the two most common species kept as pets are the rhinoceros beetle and the elephant beetle.

Beetles start as an egg, develop into larvae, go through the pupae stage, and finally, become an adult. You can keep pet beetles during the larval and adult stages. You can also breed beetles.

Where can you find a beetle?

Specialty pet stores and breeders sell beetles.


Most people keep beetles in a terrarium. If you keep larvae, you’ll need to provide a layer of moist soil. You may consider keeping your larvae and adults separate.

Different types of beetles eat different foods. Some eat dead and decaying material, others eat plants. Do research about your particular beetle. When considering larvae, usually, they feed off decaying plant material. You can find leaf litter in a forest or under a patch of trees. If you don’t have access to leaf litter, some specialty pet stores sell larvae food. Larvae eat quite a bit, so make sure to feed them often.

Larvae get water from their environment. So, simply mix water into their soil daily. For adults, add a water dish with rocks inside it. This adds humidity to the terrarium. You can provide a heat lamp to give your beetle an option to warm itself.


ant farm

Basic information

Ants have remarkable strength and abilities. They live in colonies, so if you decide to keep them, having the queen is a must. She is the leader of the group and the mother to all the ants in the colony.

The most common ants to keep as pets are the black garden ant, the harvester ant, or the red ant.

Where can you find ants?

Ants and queens are sold at specialty pet shops. You can find young queens without wings out in nature but be cautious digging up complete colonies because there are laws against digging them up.


Ants can be kept in a formicarium or ant farm. An ant farm has two parts: an inner nest and an “outside world.” These usually have gypsum inside between two sheets of glass where the ants can build tunnels. Most ant farms allow owners to peek while keeping the nest dark.

Depending on the species, ants can eat a variety of foods, including plant materials, insects, sugar water, pollen, or even pieces of meat. Research your particular ant species for more specifics.



Basic information

Silkworms are the larvae of Silk Moths. This insect has been domesticated since 3500BC. Humans farm silkworms for their silk thread, but you can also keep them as pets.

This larva eats a great deal before forming a cocoon from the silk secreted from its mouth. Then, it emerges as a flightless moth. They usually live for about two months.

Where can you find a silkworm?

You can find them in pet shops and science supply catalogs. They are relatively cheap for 10 or more.


You can keep the larvae in a cardboard box. Place the box in an airy, dry place out of direct sunlight. Sit a sheet of paper on the bottom of the box to collect droppings. You will need to remove and replace the paper each day. Silkworms only eat the leaves of mulberry trees, so you should look around your neighborhood for these leaves. The worms can live temporarily off lettuce. Silkworms get their water from the fresh leaves, so it is important that you remove any old leaves each day.

Insects can make for interesting pets. Check out local hobby pet shops for some of the species mentioned in this article. Insects are generally easy to care for and can be rewarding to keep.

Sara Payne
bySara Payne

Sara is a mother of two and a high school English teacher who rediscovered her love of writing during the pandemic. She has 5 rescue cats: Neville and Luna, who are white cats with black and grey spots, and Ginny, Blue, and Fairy, who are calicos. Besides taking care of humans and fur babies, Sara enjoys gardening, crafting, and spending time in nature.