Ey fam I’m wondering if you could help m…

Ey fam I’m wondering if you could help me convince my family to let me have a pet mantis??

Hi there! I don’t know what (if any) reasons your family currently has against a pet mantis, so I can’t directly address any of those concerns, BUT, let me tell you a quick little story about my childhood and what it looked like (and my pet mantis, because YES I did have one!)

Do you know how kids will get pets on a whim, as a gift, and they get bored, and the parents get tired of it, and they have to do something with it, but you can’t just … take guinea pigs and parrots to the shelter? But there’s like, this weird family in the area who just, has all these animals already? So let’s just… give our unwanted pets to them??? That was my house. I mean, if it wasn’t for my mom’s phobia of reptiles, we would have had a 6 ft iguana in the bathtub.

And it wasn’t just people “donating” gently used pets, either. My dad and I brought a bunch of tadpoles home and put them in the kiddie pool in the backyard, eagerly awaiting their transformation into frogs, until… uh… yeah, those are… fish … So we had to bring them back to the river several weeks (months?) later to release them. 

The whole thing I do with raising caterpillars? I didn’t start that recently. I was doing that stuff when I was 6. The only difference now is instead of writing my notes in my “diary” and supplementing with crappy Polaroid photos, I do it on a blog and I get to add photos that are IN FOCUS?! It’s awesome.

My dad was super excited about how into science and bugs I was, so when he found a praying mantis in a gas station parking lot in eastern Washington, he HAD to bring her home to us. I think I was in middle school (so this would have been around 1996 or so). We named her Fuzzball. I took photos of her (Guess: Polaroids!). We fed her crickets. We watched her hunt them. It was so awesome on man. I’d read about mantids, and I’d seen photos of them, but I had never seen them in real life, and even though I spent so much time digging around my back yard, I never seemed to find anything particularly noteworthy (my mom probably poisoned all her plants). 

At one point, Fuzzball made an ootheca. WHAT?! I had no idea they did that, so we looked it on this brand new thing called the internet. One website recommended putting them in the fridge to simulate the natural environment, so we took the ootheca away from her, even though we weren’t sure if it was fertilized (we didn’t know how far out they needed to mate… In retrospect, I’m pretty sure it was sterile). She got … depressed? She made a second, weird shaped ootheca and guarded it. She stopped eating. The crickets started coming after her. They ate one of her front arms, before they started eating her ootheca. We took the crickets out of the enclosure at this point, and Fuzzball died soon after. 

I was already interested in animals, science, bugs, the environment and how everything fits into it, but this experience of being able to observe the natural behaviors of this animal which had been totally exotic to me up until that point was phenomenal. Insects are so different from the animals that we are more familiar with, and it’s absolutely fascinating to have such an intimate glimpse into their lives by having the opportunity to keep one. Also… they don’t live very long, so it’s not a huge commitment, and when you’re done, you can pin your mantid and have a nice piece of art!

Hope this helps!

December 10, 2018