5 awesome creepy crawlies that make great pets

For many, cats and dogs are the pet of choice. But for an ever-growing number of people, the fascination of looking after an insect brings greater satisfaction.


Insects can make excellent pets, but some insects are poor choices for beginners, often due to their dietary or environmental needs. Here are five readily available insects that are easy to keep and inexpensive to look after.


1. Giant African Snail

It ain’t fluffy and you can’t cuddle it, but Giant African Snails make awesome pets. They can grow up to 20cm in length and 10cm in diameter, but start out pretty small. They’ll eat anything that’s leafy and green and also love cucumbers, courgettes, apples and bananas. It can be pretty rewarding watching the snail grow, and you may even find your molluscs cute (really-they are pretty special to look at!) With a life expectancy of 8-10 years with proper care, the Giant African Snail makes a great pet.


2. Ants

Ants may not be the first choice of insect that comes to mind when choosing a pet, but they can be fascinating to keep. They are easy to house, requiring a formicarum that imitates a real anthill. The temperature for a formicarium should be between 20°C and 28°C during the day, falling to a maximum temperature of 15°C by night. Ants will eat almost anything, happily feeding on everyday foods such as cornflakes and apples. 


3. Stick insects 

Stick insects, also known as walking sticks, look similar to the twigs and branches they perch on. As they are long and thin, they require a cage or vivarium of a sufficient height, typically three times as high as the adult length of the stick insects themselves. Most stick insects will only survive at temperatures of around 25°C. However, some will thrive at normal home temperatures of around 17°C. They live on a diet of fresh leaves and other plant material. Most will feed on bramble and privet, but Indian stick insects will eat privet, rose and hawthorn as well. Stick insects are delicate and must be handled with great care. However, handling is easy, as they are not aggressive.


4. Praying mantises

The praying mantis is so called because of its prominent spiky front legs that are bent as if in prayer. It is a carnivore, feeding mainly on other insects. As a pet, the praying mantis is easy to house, requiring a tank that is at least twice as wide and three times as tall as the insect itself. Some species are tolerant of variations in temperature, while others have specific needs. The most commonly kept species of praying mantis, the African mantis, requires a temperature between 21°C and 30°C.


5. Cockroaches

Cockroaches are among the hardiest insects known to man. They can survive without food for a long time, and adapt easily to their surroundings. Despite their reputation as household pests, the vast majority of the 4,000 species of cockroach make entertaining pets. They are mostly omnivores, consuming both animals and plants. They are easy to hold, but can scamper rather quickly. Due to their excellent climbing and scuttling abilities, they require a cage with a tight fitting lid. Being tropical, they do best when kept at a temperature of around 25°C. 


6. Locusts

Locusts are medium to large insects that are almost indistinguishable from crickets. Like crickets, they have long hind legs for jumping. Although all locusts have two pairs of wings, only adult locusts can fly. Keeping locusts as pets is relatively easy. All they require is a small, brightly-lit cage kept at a temperature of between 25°C and 35°C. Locusts will eat almost any leafy vegetation. Water is not a necessity; if given, it may cause more harm than good.

Insects may not be cuddly pets, but they can still bring great entertainment and enjoyment. They may not crave affection, but they do require the same level of commitment as other types of pets.


7. Tarantula

While they might be fluffy but they are by no means cuddly. The idea of keeping a spider as a pet might be terrifying, but to a few they are ideal. Why? Because they are cool! With a 20 year life span, it’s worth considering your commitment before purchasing. They seem to have gotten a bad rep as a dangerous spider, but although a tarantula will bite, on the whole they are docile creatures: remember, soiders would rather retreat than bite. So long as you research and understand its needs there is no reason to fear. These little fella enjoy live bait so they are certainly not a pet for the squeamish.