Scientific Name: Deroplatys Desiccata
Native in: Malaysia and Southeast Asia
Average Size as an Adult: Males 2,7 in (approx. 7cm), females 3.5 in (approx. 9cm)
Diet: Carnivorous, fruit flies, moths, crickets, worms, roaches
Lifespan: Males 6 – 12 months, females 12 – 16 months
Temperature: Daytime 75° F (approx. 24° C) – 82,4 F (approx. 28° C), nighttime 64,4° F (approx. 18° C) – 71,6° F (approx. 22° C)
Humidity: 60% – 80%
Overall difficulty rating: Medium – Hard
The Deroplayts Desiccata is commonly referred to as Giant Dead Leaf Mantis because of its appearance mimicking a dead leaf, or also (but less commonly) Malaysian Dead Leaf Mantis because of its origin in Malaysia.
It is one of the more common praying mantis species held as a pet and also one of the largest species that was discovered so far. It comes with a very impressive camouflaging and will become nearly invisible between twigs and leaves.
Nowadays Deroplatys Desiccata can also be found in many South-East Asian countries such as Borneo, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sumatra, Thailand, and Java. It enjoys the hot and damp climates in the jungle which is why keeping them in other climate zones is a little tricky and higher temperatures and high humidity must always be maintained in the terrarium.
This species is carnivorous, just like all other praying mantis species. Young nymphs can be fed with fruit flies (Drosophila). Once they get bigger, they can be fed with other insects such as other flies, and moths, but also crickets, silkworms, waxworms, or roaches. Offer your praying mantis a variety of different insects throughout its life, but always make sure that the prey is small enough and won’t hurt or injure the praying mantis.
Some sources suggest that the Deroplatys Desiccata prefers flying insects, while others claim that they eat basically anything that is offered to them.
Like most praying mantis species, they eat less in the days before molting and often even on the day after molting. So don’t worry if your praying mantis suddenly stops eating, it might simply be ready to molt. Make sure to remove bigger prey so that the prey does not become the predator while the praying mantis is in this very sensitive molting phase.
Since Deroplatys Desiccata needs high temperatures and high humidity to thrive, a glass terrarium is the best choice for this species.
The ceiling should be covered with mesh to allow good ventilation since high humidity can quickly lead to mold. A mesh ceiling is also a great addition because the Deroplatys Desiccata likes to dangle from the ceiling to molt, just like all other praying mantis species.
When the praying mantis are still very small, they could theoretically be kept in glass jars with damp kitchen paper on the floor and a mesh cover on top, but once they get bigger (after the 3rd molt) they need a bigger cage and also need to be separated to avoid cannibalism. This species is not very aggressive, but the risk of cannibalism can never be completely avoided.
A good size for a cage is 30cmx30cmx30cm for an individual Deroplatys Desiccata and 45cmx45cmx45cm for 2 to 3 adults.
The height is extremely important since praying mantes tend to climb up instead of walking on the ground. They also need to be able to molt, while hanging down from the ceiling or twigs. Therefore the height of the cage needs to be at least 2, but better 3 times the length of the praying mantis. If they hit the ground (or any decoration) during the molting process, they might get stuck in the old skin and die.
Since the Deroplatys Desiccata imitates dead leaves, the best decoration inside of the cage are twigs with dead leaves on them.
The floor can be covered with soil, sand, a mixture of soil and sand, gravel, or damp kitchen paper.
This species is used to the hot and damp climate in the South-East Asian jungle.
The ideal temperature during daytime is between 75° F (approx. 24° C) and 82,4 F (approx. 28° C). The temperature at night may drop to 64,4° F (approx. 18° C) to 71,6° F (approx. 22° C)
Make sure that the temperature does not go below 64,4° F (approx. 18° C), as this might be a problem for the praying mantis.
Since the temperature is higher than in most households, a heat lamp or a heating mat is necessary to provide the temperature they need. The heat mat can be placed under one part of the terrarium or on the side, while a heat lamp is usually positioned on top of the terrarium.
The Deroplatys Desiccata lives in the tropical jungles of South East Asia which means that they need high humidity.
The ideal humidity is between 60% and 80%, which is way higher than the average room humidity (30% – 50%), therefore it is important to spray water in the terrarium on a regular basis.
You can spray the water against the sides and on the plants so that the praying mantis can drink the water droplets from the leaves.
The humidity should be on the higher end during the molting process to soften the old skin and by that make it easier for the praying mantis to crawl out.
High humidity always comes with the risk of mold. The terrarium should always be ventilated and mold needs to be removed immediately to avoid any health risks for the praying mantis.
The Deroplayts Desiccata is one of the largest species that were discovered so far with males growing up to around 2,7 in (approx. 7cm) on average and females growing up to around 3.5 in (approx. 9cm) on average. In some cases, the females will grow even larger with up to 6 in (approx. 15cm) which makes them quite impressive insects.
Just like the name suggests, this species imitates dead leaves and comes in different shades of brown with lighter spots. Even the eyes are brown and have the pattern of a dead, dried leaf. But they do not only look like leaves, they also behave like leaves. When they are startled, they will start to rock gently from one side to another to mimic the movements of a dead leaf in the wind.
After the last molt, both males and females develop wings. The front wings have a large spot, and the hind wings have black and white stripes. The forelegs have a red area with black and white stripes. When the praying mantis is threatened it will suddenly display all these features which are very impressive and will scare predators off.
There are several differences between males and females, but most of them can only be detected after the last molt.
The females are generally larger and have bigger abdomens, while the males have a rather slender body with a smaller shield than the females. The wings of the males are longer than the females.
The time until this species molts for the last time is 5 to 7 months. Males usually molt 7 to 8 times while females molt 8 to 9 times. After the last molt, the females will live another 7 to 9 months while the males will die after 2 to 5 months.
There are usually around 2 to 3 weeks between the molts, but it can take up to four weeks or even longer for the very last molt to start.
After the last molt, both males and females get ready to mate.
Males are ready to mate about 2 weeks after the final molt while females need 3 to 4 weeks after the last molt before they are ready for mating.
It’s very important that the female was properly fed before a mating attempt is made, otherwise, she will eat the male before they even started.
In comparison to other praying mantis species, they seem to be less interested in mating in captivity and it might be tricky to get a pair to mate.
Mating can last for several hours. The males jump on the female’s back and connect his abdomen to hers. After mating, he might stay on her back for a few more hours or in some cases even days.
You can either let them mate in a bigger terrarium, or outside of the terrarium where the male has the chance to flee once they are done mating. You can also stay with the praying mantis and quickly remove the male once he leaves the back of the female. Otherwise, he might end up as a snack for her.
After successfully mating, the female will produce up to 5 oothecae that each contains 30 to 40 eggs. Usually, after the first 5 months, the female will not produce any more usable oothecae that contain eggs.
The incubation period varies. It is best to keep the oothecae in warm and humid conditions around 86° F (approx. 30° C) and 70% to 80% humidity for at least 2 months before giving them up.
Overall Difficuly Rating
The Deroplatys Desiccata shows rather low aggression and is described as docile, but cannibalism cannot be completely excluded.
Some sources state that this species prefers flying insects which makes it a little harder to feed them in captivity since flying prey always comes with the risk of escaping and flying around in the house.
When startled, the Deroplatys Desiccata might either run away or play dead by laying on the floor motionless with the lets folded or stretched out. They won’t even move when you touch them.
This species is rather fragile and can easily get injured. It needs a constantly high temperature and high humidity.
All these factors make this species medium to hard in the overall difficulty rating to keep as pets.
Here is an article on whether praying mantis can be kept as pets: https://animal-knowledge.com/can-you-keep-praying-mantis-as-a-pet/
Here you can find the answer to your question if praying mantis make good pets: https://animal-knowledge.com/are-praying-mantis-good-pets/
Here is a list of the best beginner praying mantis species: https://animal-knowledge.com/what-are-good-beginner-praying-mantis-species/
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 🙂