04 November 2017

How to keep a mantis - Weird and Wonderful Pets

Watch all 14 Weird and Wonderful Pets films at www.weirdandwonderfulpets.com This film showcases the amazing adaptations that mantises use to catch prey.

if any creatures fit the description of

weird and wonderful it's these mantises the nearest thing you'll find to an alien without landing on another planet mantises there are over 2,400 species that occur right the way around the world they're masters of disguise and one of nature's best ambush predators every single species has its own different form of camouflage to wait for its prey to come close this one looks like a blade of grass or green twig and every part of its body is adapted to its camouflage others like these down here are deadly flu mix their bodies are perfectly adapted to look just like a dead leaf there's even veins and little blemishes on the wing cases that match a dead leaf with unbelievable detail dead leaves are a popular disguise among mantises and each species creates this vanishing act in its own way win cases shaped like dead leaves elaborate leaf shaped flanges to disguise the body outline [Music] some even have leafy growths on the top of their heads [Music] and flanges that look like broken leaves on their abdomen and legs and this one

is another deadly fluke but it even has the twig its thoraxes elongated so it has a twig going down to the leaf part and all of its legs likewise have little flanges just like leaves and this last kind is green and matches living foliage perfectly [Music] but perhaps the most unusual disguise belongs to the orchid mantis sitting on an orchid step it pretends to be an orchid flower [Music] it's body reflects ultraviolet light in the same way real flowers do attracting insects in search of nectar and each of its legs has evolved to look like the individual petals of an orchid flower they've got many amazing adaptations to hunt successfully not least their incredible eyesight they have stereoscopic vision that means they can focus on their prey and judge the distance it is from they also have very flexible heads that can move in lots of directions to spot prey when it comes close and of course these formidable front limbs each species has its own slightly different front limb

some like this one here of tiny front limbs for snatching little tiny prey but others like this dead leaf mantis have the middle ones that are broad thick and powerful and covered with daggers those sharp spines on their legs stab into prey to hold it firm no matter how much it struggles and because they're so important in capturing prey mantises spend a lot of time in keeping their weapons clean and polished ready for action and the very biggest mantises can catch not just insects but even small mammals such as the very smallest species of mice but most take much smaller prey using those well armed front legs they fire out lightning fast and grab prey in a fraction of a second once trapped in the front legs the prey is simply devoured alive I really wouldn't want to be a small bug around any of these guys at times the hunter can become the hunted so mantises must also be proficient in the art of self-defence if danger threatens this species flashes bright colors on the insides of its front legs to startle predators and if that's not enough it also raises its wings the

overall effect is usually enough to give any predator second thoughts this mantis is also hunting but not for prey it's a male and he's detected a female close by but he must convince her that he's a mate not lunch this is a good time to approach while she's distracted with eating time to give it a go he approaches cautiously but she is still focused on her meal now he extends his abdomen to release a chemical signal that wafts towards the female they should tell her he's a mate [Music] she's finished her meal and so hopefully she's received his signal once he's got himself positioned meeting takes place but it's a tricky business the male's genitalia fit into the females like a key into a lock since each species has its own different lock and key this prevents mistakes mating with the wrong species the female makes a foamy egg case that hardens to protect her eggs until they hatch into miniature hunters already fully equipped with sharp eyes and sharp claws

many species of mantis make wonderful pets you can watch them grow and observe their fascinating ambush behavior all you really need is a tank and the most important thing in selecting a tank is the vertical height it must be 2 or 3 times the length of a mantis hi ideally more if you can so the taller the better and that's because as the Mantis sheds its skin it hangs down and it mustn't touch the ground when it's shedding its skin and mantas are particularly vulnerable to this much more so than stick and leaf insects if they damage their limbs and particularly their front claws it can actually be fatal so you need to be very careful you basically then just need some twigs or leaves the Mantis likes our 3-dimensional habitats so he likes something to hang on to and wait for prey to come by so I quite like twigs you can then put in the Mickey light or Pete's many people use funiculi personally I like bark because it maintains humidity and absorbs a lot of moisture so it's really good in that way then you just need to gently pop in your Mantis so it's a good idea to to let the Mantis walk onto your hand not to grab

it from behind so very gently and slowly here he comes and settle him into his home and then the only other requirement really is live food all mantises need living food they won't eat dead prey so you have to get living insects for them to eat reptile suppliers often sell crickets or cockroaches and those are absolutely fine mantas will take both of those if you do find that some of the insects that you put in as prey die before the mantas eats then it's always a good idea to take them out so the cage stays nice and clean then just pop the lid on and remember most Mantis there's a tropical or subtropical so generally need temperatures between 25 and 28 degrees centigrade or so monsters don't actually drink so you don't need to water them for drinking purposes but it's a good idea to spray them every now and then maybe once or twice a week to make sure that their tanks does a bit of humidity in it and other than that they're very fascinating interesting and easy to keep pets and they'll give you months of enjoyment watching them grow for more information please visit the weird wonderful pets website where you can

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