- Scientific Name: Sphodromantis Viridis
- Native in: West Africa, Central Africa, North Africa, some parts of South Europe
- Average Size as an Adult: Females 3.9 in (approx. 10cm), males 3.2 in (approx. 8 cm)
- Diet: Carnivorous, undemanding. Possible diet includes fruit flies, flies, roaches, grasshoppers, moths, bees, wasps, mealworms, crickets, and even amphibians, reptiles, or small mammals
- Lifespan: 6 – 12 months (females live longer than males)
- Temperature: 77° F (approx. 25° C) and 86° F (approx. 30° C)
- Humidity: 50% – 70%
- Overall difficulty rating: Easy to medium
The Sphodromantis Viridis is commonly referred to as “African Mantis”, “Giant African Mantis”, or “Bush Mantis”. Due to the fact that many other praying mantis species in Africa are called “African Mantis”, it is best to go with the scientific name. The Sphodromantis Viridis can be either green or brown.
It is native to West-, Central-, and North Africa but can also be found in some parts of South Europe.
This species is a rather popular pet in the praying mantis community.
The females can grow up to 3.9 in (approx. 10 cm) while the males are only slightly smaller with up to 3.2 in (approx. 8 cm).
The females that can grow up to 3.9 in (approx. 10cm) will catch any insect, reptile, amphibian, and even mammal that is smaller than their own size, while the males are a little more hesitant and will rather go for smaller prey.
Nymphs can be fed with fruit flies, firebrats, and other tiny insects. After a few molts and depending on the size of your Sphodromantis Viridis, you can start feeding larger insects such as grasshoppers, cockroaches, mealworms, or other insects. If you want to, you can even offer your pet praying mantis small amphibians, reptiles, or even mammals.
Always make sure that the praying mantis is big enough to handle the prey you offer. It wouldn’t be the first time that the prey turned out to be a threat to the praying mantis. And the long legs of bigger grasshoppers do have the potential to hurt a praying mantis.
After the first few molts, especially the females need to be kept alone. Otherwise, they will fight and might kill and cannibalize each other.
The cage should be at least 20x20x30cm in size, but 30x30x40 or even bigger is better after a few molts because this species does grow quite a bit. The height is particularly important to allow the praying mantis to molt while dangling from the ceiling.
The floor should be covered with some soil or bark that can contain the humidity and help you maintain a higher humidity within the cage.
You can offer your pets either real twigs, plants, or plastic plants to climb on.
Depending on your indoor temperature and humidity, you could also keep your Sphodromantis Viridis on a plant in the living room and hand-feed it.
This species originally comes from Northwest Africa. They live there in the steppe and enjoy a temperature of around 79° F (approx. 26° C). Temperatures between 77° F (approx. 25° C) and 86° F (approx. 30° C) are perfect during the day, while the temperature may drop a bit during the night, but should not be lower than 68° F (approx. 20° C).
You could use a heating mat under some parts of the cage to maintain this temperature if the temperature of your home is too low for your praying mantis.
The humidity for this species should be between 50% – 70%. The perfect humidity would be between 50% – 60% at night and a little higher with 60% – 70% humidity during the day.
Regular misting and some plants and a moist cover of the floor are usually good enough to keep the humidity at a good level.
As a comparison: The normal humidity in a house is usually around 30% in winter and around 50% in summer.
Even though the scientific name Sphodromantis Viridis lets us assume, that this species is all green (Viridis = lat. Green) the Sphodromantis Viridis can also be brown.
With females growing up to 3.9 in (approx. 10 cm) and males up to 3.2 in (approx. 8 cm) this is one of the largest praying mantis species that were discovered so far.
With its triangular head, gulping eyes on the sides, long green or brown body, and dominant fangs, it has the typical appearance of a praying mantis. This species can camouflage perfectly in high grass, bushes, and trees, which is exactly where they can be found.
The adult phase is reached after approximately 4 months, and the females will live up to 6 to 8 months after that final molt. Males usually only survive for 2 to 4 months after reaching the adult stage. This makes perfect sense because once a praying mantis has completed its last molt, it is able to reproduce. While the task of the males is to successfully mate with the female, the female has to lay the eggs afterward to ensure the survival of her species. This is why the females need to live longer than the males as they don’t really have anything else left to do.
Two to three weeks after their final molt, the males and females are ready to mate. Once the female praying mantis is ready for mating, she will send out pheromones to attract the male.
The duration of the mating process can vary between an hour or two and can last up to 16 hours in some cases. For this species, the males are usually lucky and will not end up as snacks for the females after the mating process, but it can still happen in some cases.
After a successful mating process, the female will look for a safe space to lay the oothecae. The ootheca is a foam that contains eggs. The foam quickly dries once it is outside of the female’s body, and protects the eggs from wind, weather, and potential predators. A single ootheca can contain between 80 and 300 eggs and she will be able to lay up to 8 individual oothecae within the next months. The female can lay approximately one ootheca per month.
Overall Difficulty Rating
The Sphodromantis Viridis is a popular beginner pet for insect lovers. It is rather easy to care for and is one of the larger praying mantis species which makes them even more interesting as pets. They are non-poisonous, undemanding when it comes to their diet, and will survive even when you make a few little mistakes with the temperature or humidity.
The overall difficulty rating for this species is easy to medium.
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 🙂