Fire ants are impressive little creatures. It is not surprising that many people are interested to find out more about the tiny ant. Fire ants have a bad reputation for being aggressive, invasive, and dangerous. But there are reasons for their omnipresence: They are masters of survival. This, amongst other factors, makes them super interesting to watch and observe. But is it even allowed to keep fire ants as pets?
As a whole, it is theoretically possible to keep fire ants as pets. There are pros and cons compared to other ant species and it should be kept in mind that fire ants are definitely not easy pets to own. They should only be kept by experienced ant owners who live in areas where the fire ant is native.
We have a full guide about caring for a fire ant colony and what to watch out for when keeping fire ants that you can read right here. This article will be helpful if you are thinking about getting a fire ant colony.
Should I Have Fire Ants as Pets?
The worldwide phenomenon of ant-keeping made it possible for people to keep their own pet-ant colony at home and observe and learn more about these exciting and interesting little creatures. Some are tiny, some are extra fast, some have super fast-growing colonies and some are actually dangerous.
As a whole, fire ants are amazing insects but they should only be kept as pets if the owner is experienced with ants and dedicated to caring for a fast-growing colony. Even though the fire ant is not the most dangerous ant in the world, it is still one of the top ten most dangerous ants that we know of.
The red fire ant (lat. Solenopsis Invicta) is one of the most popular ants when it comes to fire ants. Fire ants are aggressive, multiply very quickly, and are mostly known as pests to most people who met these little creatures.
Their sting burns like fire, hence the name, and they will attack everything that comes too close to their nests.
All of this sounds very alarming and not like something someone would want to keep as a pet.
But they are also really fascinating creatures, moving around quickly, growing fast and no matter when you observe them, there is always something going on.
Fire ants are not recommended as pets if you have children or other pets. They are hard to contain and if they escape, they are a real threat to everyone nearby and can cause serious pain, injuries, and even death due to allergic reactions.
Even though many ant keepers would see a fast colony growth of their pet ants as something positive, this also comes with more responsibility. They will quickly need more food, bigger housing, and more maintenance.
They are also very willing to move and can be referred to as semi-nomadic. This can be a great feature for pet ants because it makes relocations of your colony fairly easy.
But it also means that they are very willing to escape to bigger and better places, such as your house.
They even chew through silicone and rubber in order to escape. And believe me- you do not want a fire ant colony crawling free in your house. This can quickly become a living (and very painful) nightmare.
Whether you decide that fire ants are your favorite ants or not, you should keep in mind, that it’s not a pet ant for beginners or anyone who is not willing to put a lot of effort into this hobby.
How Can I Start my Fire Ant Colony?
Finding a queen to start a colony highly depends on where you live. If you live in an area, where the fire ants are endemic, you can keep your eyes open and look for a mated queen after her nuptial flight.
We have a full guide on how to find a fire ant queen right here.
This way, you can easily start a fire ant colony from scratch. And if you, for any reason, cannot keep your colony anymore, you can simply set them free to nature, where they came from.
If you live in an area, where the fire ants are not native, you might choose a different ant species for your ant-keeping hobby.
If they escape, they can become a huge problem not only for you, your family, and your pets but also for the entire ecosystem in your region.
Are Fire Ants Easy to Keep?
Out of the many ant species that are out there, fire ants are definitely not among the ones that are easy to keep as pets.
As a whole, fire ants are challenging, but still rewarding pet ants, that need a lot of maintenance, space, and attention. They are not easy to keep, but it is not impossible. There are a lot of ant species, which are way easier to keep than fire ants.
We have a detailed article about how easy fire ants are to keep including the pros and cons of keeping fire ants.
Keeping fire ants is tempting due to the quick colony growth, the bright color of the red fire ants, and their aggressive behavior which makes the observations always entertaining.
Some might even be tempted by the danger that comes with keeping fire ants as pets.
But their ability and motivation to escape any kind of container, if necessary, by chewing through plastic and rubber, and their high willingness to quickly move the entire colony somewhere else, preferably to a place outside of their formicarium, make them not easy to keep.
What do Fire Ants Eat?
Fire ants are not picky when it comes to their diet. They are omnivores, which means that they eat both plants and living or dead creatures. They prefer sugary, moist, or even liquid foods such as syrup, sugar water, or sweet fruits.
You can read a detailed article about what fire ants eat and how to feed them right here.
Their daily diet also includes insects, such as cockroaches, crickets, and even spiders or scorpions which can also be their predators.
Besides plants, fruits, liquids, and insects, they will also happily tear apart reptiles, amphibians, and smaller mammals.
In your home, fire ants are attracted by food crumbs of any kind, spilled juices, anything with sugar, and cooking grease.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂