They may make some people squirm, but for many, pet insects are the best pets they could ask for. Think about it. A pet bug is quiet, doesn't eat much and requires minimal care.
Keeping Insects as Pets
Before you go out and catch the first bug you see and bring it in the house, you'll want to do a little research as to which bugs make the best pets. Some insects do bite, so you should probably cross them off the list right away. Others may require live food, so you'll need to decide for yourself if that's an acceptable trait. Insects as pets may seem weird, but they are also great beginner pets for children.
Kids can learn responsibility and learn more about living things without the major time commitment of a dog or cat. Plus, you won't have to constantly remind your child to clean the litter box or go on poop-scooping duty. Insects can also be a good choice if you live in an apartment that doesn't allow traditional pets.
A Few of the Best Pet Insects
If you're convinced a pet insect is for you, here are a few of our favorites for beginners:
Stick bugs got their names because they look like, well, sticks. Some types also look like leaves. In fact, there are 6,000 species of stick insects worldwide, though only a few hundred are kept in captivity. They have great camouflage when they are outside, and if you set up a nice habitat for your pet, your stick bug might fool you into thinking it has escaped. Depending on the type you get, your stick bug can live from 12 to 16 months and can range in size from a few inches to a foot long.
Stick bugs like to eat leaves from the branches of raspberry or blackberry bushes, as well as other leaves, so be sure you can provide plenty of fresh food. Research the type of stick insect you are getting to learn what type of leaves it needs to eat.
A stick bug enclosure should be about three-feet high and have branches and things for your pet to climb on and hang from. If you choose wire instead of a glass enclosure, consider screen as they can get through standard wire enclosures. Be sure its enclosure is kept between 75 and 80 degrees. You’ll want to mist the cage daily and provide a bowl of fresh water. You can handle your stick bug as long as you are gentle.
There are 7,000 kinds of millipedes worldwide, with 1,400 living in the U.S. Millipedes are pretty easy to keep, and you can keep more than one in an enclosure. They also breed easily, which is good or bad depending on how you want to look at it. Also make sure you feed them plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
A millipede doesn't require a tall enclosure, but it does like to have lots of space to move around. Your pet millipede will want leaf litter to burrow into during the day, and it will be most active at night. Millipedes can get up to a foot long, and when properly cared for, they can live up to 10 years. Be sure to handle a millipede carefully, though, because if it feels threatened, it can excrete an irritating chemical from its body.
More specifically, Mediterranean Hissing Cockroaches are the most common as pets. They can live from two to five years and can get up to three inches long. You can easily house several in a 10-gallon aquarium with wood shavings in the bottom. Cockroaches are also easy to handle. They need a warm environment of around 80 degrees, and they eat fruits, vegetables and dry dog food.
If you have an interest in bugs as pets, try one or two of these to see how easy they are to care for and enjoy!