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  • Molly Weinfurter

Pet Bugs: 9 Insects and Other Creepy Crawlies You Can Keep as Pets

Updated: 7 days ago

Pet bugs aren’t for everyone. While some people are fascinated by insects, arachnids, and other creepy crawlies, lots of people are afraid of or grossed out by them. Yet, in many cases, bugs are easy pets that are really cool to observe. So, what is the best bug pet? And what does it take to care for bugs as pets?


Warning: If you're easily grossed out by bugs, you may want to skip this article. There are several close-up images of creepy crawlies.


praying mantis on flower

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Can You Keep Bugs as Pets?

Yes, you can keep certain species of creepy crawlies as pets. However, you can’t just take a bug out of the wild and call it your pet. Like other types of animals, you should never take bugs out of the wild because it could harm the natural food chain. As a kid, I often took bugs out of the wild because I thought they were so cool, but looking back at that, I wish I would've just observed them from a distance and left them alone.


So, if you’re interested in getting a pet bug, buy ones that have been bred and raised in captivity, such as ones from breeders or ones at exotic pet rescues. Before getting any exotic pet, check the laws in your area to make sure it’s legal to own them.


Do Bugs Make Good Pets?

It depends on what your definition of a “good pet” is. If you’re looking for a pet that’s affectionate and playful, bugs aren’t good pets. However, if you just want a pet you can admire, then these small critters might be right for you. While some bugs don’t mind being handled, they’ll likely keep to themselves for the most part.


Best Bugs as Pets (and Other Creepy Crawlies)

Below are some cool bug pets that you may want to consider if you love creepy crawlies. Yet, you should always do thorough research before bringing any new animal home.


1. Ant


group of ants

Ant farms aren’t just for kids to observe in science class. Ants are one of the most fascinating animals you can own. You’ll get to observe the ants doing their daily jobs, such as gathering food and building nests. They’re great at figuring out how to function in their new environment, and it’s always impressive to watch them pick up items bigger than their bodies.


A new ant farm should start with a queen and about 10 to 20 workers. Ant farms come in all sizes, so consider the size of your ant species and how many ants you have. Remember, they can reproduce quickly, so you could have over 100 ants in less than a year. When in doubt, it can’t hurt to make your ant farm bigger than you planned.


Uncle Milton Giant Ant Farm and AntHouse Natural Sand Ant Farm are just two of the many enclosure options for an ant farm.


2. Madagascar Hissing Cockroach


madagascar hissing cockroach on hand

Most people want to avoid having cockroaches in their homes, but Madagascar hissing cockroaches are one of the most popular pet bugs out there. Many people are fascinated by them because they make a distinct hissing sound, which sounds similar to spraying a spray bottle.


These cockroaches grow about 2 to 4 inches long. They’re typically kept in pairs or small groups, but it’s recommended to only keep the same sex together to avoid breeding and fighting. A minimum of five gallons is usually recommended for their enclosure. Here's an enclosure option for pet cockroaches.


3. Tarantula


person holding tarantula

Tarantulas aren’t for the faint of heart. They’re massive, hairy spiders that can have a leg span of about 11 inches. They’re gentle creatures, and while they’re capable of biting, the species that are commonly kept as pets pose little to no threat to humans.


Most tarantulas should be housed alone, but it may depend on the species. Chilean Rose, Mexican Red-Knee, and Pink Toe are just a few species that make good pets. A 5-gallon tank is usually okay for tarantulas, as long as they have plenty of spots to hide and burrow. So, they can use the same types of tanks as cockroaches.


4. Stick Insect


stick bug on leaf

Stick insects, also called stick bugs or walking sticks, are one of the coolest bugs to choose from. They look just like a stick with legs, so they’re great at blending in with tree branches. Due to their impressive camouflage, it may be hard to spot them in their enclosure at times, making it like a fun I Spy game. They’re mostly nocturnal, so you won’t see them moving a ton during the day.


While stick insects can be handled when necessary, they’re delicate creatures, so touching should be kept to a minimum. They typically thrive in a warm, humid environment, but it should still be well-ventilated. A minimum of seven gallons of space is recommended. Here's a great tank to house them in.


5. Leaf Insect


leaf insect raising legs

Like stick insects, leaf insects are masters of camouflage. As the name implies, they look like leaves with legs. They’re related to stick bugs, so they are just as delicate and should be handled minimally. They should have a similar tank size and setup, which should include plenty of plants for them to rest on.


Leaf insects love to climb, so a tall enclosure is typically better than a long one. They eat leaves and berries, which may need to be chopped up depending on the size of your pet. They’re mostly nocturnal as well, so it’s normal for them to remain in one spot for most of the day. Leaf insects can be kept in the same types of enclosures as stick insects.


6. Millipede


millipede walking on dirt

Some people are creeped out by the number of legs on millipedes, but they’re sweet, docile pets. They look like large centipedes, except their legs are less visible and they have thicker exoskeletons. Despite their name, they don’t have a million legs. They usually have about 40 to 400 legs, depending on the species.


A millipede’s enclosure should be at least two to three times their length. 10 to 15 gallons is usually suitable. Here's a great tank they can be kept in. They like to burrow, so they need plenty of soil in their tank. These bizarre creatures love decaying food, so old fruits and veggies should do the trick.


7. Praying Mantis


praying mantis on human hand

A praying mantis is one of the coolest-looking insects out there. They’re predators to other critters, but they don’t pose a threat to humans. A minimum of 10 gallons is usually enough space for a pet praying mantis, but consider giving them more if you’re able. Praying mantises like to hunt for their food, so you will need to give them access to live insects. The tank recommended for a millipede should be good for praying mantises.


There are lots of praying mantis species, most of which are green or brown. Because of their coloring, these bugs are excellent at camouflaging. Thus, they love to have lots of plants to climb on. The exact temperature and humidity requirements will vary depending on what species you choose.


8. Cricket


cricket resting on leaf

Crickets are commonly served as food for pet reptiles, such as snakes, and amphibians, such as frogs and toads. However, since they’re easy to raise as food, they’re also easy to keep as pets. As long as they have ample room to hop around, good ventilation, and access to food and water, they’ll thrive. They love to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.


The only downside to keeping crickets as pets is that they don’t live long. Most species only live for a few weeks or months. Plus, if you have male crickets, you’ll need to be okay with listening to them chirp at night. Crickets are usually fine in a mini enclosure like this one.


9. Isopod


small isopod on bright green leaf

Isopods, which are a type of crustacean, can be manageable pets. Cubaris and Porcellio are just a few species you can keep. Many people love caring for these creepy crawlies because they’re great at keeping enclosures clean. They eat a variety of materials, such as leaf litter, feces, and decaying wood.


These critters need at least 1.5 gallons of space, so they can use the enclosure recommended for crickets. Six to ten is a good number of isopods to start with, but remember, they will eventually reproduce. So, make sure you’re willing and able to give them more space as the colony grows.


Frequently Asked Questions


Where Can You Find Pet Bugs for Sale?

You can get pet bugs from bug breeders, exotic pet rescues, and exotic pet stores. Since these pets are uncommon, you may need to ask other bug enthusiasts where they got their pets from to help you find your own.


Can I Keep a Stink Bug as a Pet?

No, it isn’t recommended to keep a stink bug as a pet. First of all, no one usually breeds them as pets. Also, they release a foul odor that most people won’t want in their homes.


Can You Have a Stick Bug as a Pet?

Yes, you can keep a stick bug as a pet. They prefer not to be picked up or carried often, but they’re amazing critters to watch.


Can You Keep a Leaf Bug as a Pet?

Yes, you can keep leaf bugs as pets. Yet, like with stick bugs, they need their owners to be gentle and handle them as little as possible.


Can You Keep a Lady Bug as a Pet?

While not common as pets, it’s possible to keep lady bugs as pets. Do thorough research first to make sure you can provide the habitat and diet they need. However, don’t get lady bugs confused with Asian lady beetles, which can bite and release foul-smelling odors.


Pet Bugs Can Be Fun and Unique Companions

Bugs are a unique pet choice. Some people love them while others don’t even want to be in the same room as them. If you’re not afraid of creepy crawlies and you’re okay with a pet you can admire instead of play with, pet bugs may be great companions for you. Just make sure you do plenty of research on the specific species before bringing one home.

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