In my opinion, most bugs make better pets than conventional pets like dogs, cats, birds and rodents. I think stick insects and millipedes can make awesome pets for many of you! And yes, I know, this is my opinion. Bugs are not suitable for every person. But I have many reasons to claim they actually make better pets than dogs & cats.
In this post, I will give you 9 reasons why bugs actually make better pets. And they are not opinions; they are quite factual. Maybe, this article will convince you to explore the world of keeping bugs. Ready? Let’s go!
#1 Bugs require much less space
Do you live in a small apartment, or don’t have much space for a pet? Consider a bug pet! One major benefit of keeping bugs is that they don’t require much space. Actually, almost all bugs don’t require more surface than 45cm x 45cm (18″ x 18″). There is no excuse to have not enough room for keeping a bug pet.
A terrarium can be a great centrepiece in your living room. It will look really nice on your desk, coffee table or shelf. It would be a real eye-catcher!
Bugs don’t need a garden or a local park as cats and dogs do. You don’t have to walk your millipede or tarantula. A quick tip: For some bugs, it can be easy to have a local park, community forest, or something similar nearby. Stick insects, for example, need certain plants as food. And you require leaves and rotten wood for beetle and millipede substrate.
#2 Bugs are much cheaper
All bugs are quite cheap to keep. Although you need some initial investment, most bugs’ yearly costs are almost nothing compared to other regular pets.
If you already look at the purchase costs between dogs and millipedes. Dogs will cost around up to $600, where millipedes will only cost a shy $30. Of course, if you adopt a dog from a shelter, it will only cost administration cover and first vaccination and check-up.
But then comes the startup supplies, veterinary and vaccination costs, chipping, and food costs. According to this article annual costs of dogs are between $380 and $1170. For cats, costs are around $430 and $870. If you compare this to millipedes (around $45 and $100), it is around 10% of the costs you generally make to keep dogs and cats.
#3 Bugs don’t make much mess
Maybe the most important reason many people love to keep bugs as pets is that they don’t make much of a mess. Think of cleaning litter boxes, or all the hair you find everywhere in your house. Or a dog that just ran through mud pools, and we not even talking about the smell it gives.
It is a whole different story with bugs. Bugs are actually quite neat and tidy creatures. Beetles and millipedes even feed on organic decaying matter. Tarantulas poop most of the time at the same spot, and praying mantises don’t make almost any mess at all.
Litter boxes need to be cleaned daily or every other day. Bug enclosures are often cleaned only once a week or even once a month. All the time you save can be used to enjoy your small pet!
#4 Bugs don’t destroy your furniture
Cats are notorious for destroying your furniture or curtains. But also dogs and rabbits can damage your furniture. It is a natural behaviour of these animals that they normally do in nature as well. Scratching, digging, or chewing. And when you don’t provide materials or toys, they will look for alternatives. These behaviours are so strong that it is difficult (maybe impossible) to let them stop doing it.
Bugs don’t destroy furniture. Well, that it is not entirely true, but at least they don’t destroy your furniture. Within their enclosure, you can provide everything they need, with some elements they eventually will destroy.
Some bugs will eat and chew on their furniture or decoration, like plants, branches and pieces. But at least these are objects you can replace very cheaply, or even for free when you make a little walk in the forest or park.
#5 Bugs are less time consuming
Because bugs need smaller living space and don’t make much mess, the care of bugs is less time-consuming. For busy people or people who don’t like to spend too much time on their pet, bugs make great pets.
As we already mentioned, cleaning is done once a week or once a month. Feeding is often quite easy to do, and not all pets need food every day. Tarantulas can be fed once a week. With good substrate, millipedes and beetles don’t have to be fed at all (you only need to refresh the substrate once every couple of months).
Many bugs don’t need more than 2-hour care a week. Yes, you read it correctly: A week. That is around 20 minutes a day on average. That is one walk with a dog, and they need at least 3 walks a day! So, if you don’t have much spare time but like to have a pet, take a bug as a pet!
#6 Bugs have modest food requirements
Bugs have two features why they don’t need much food: Bugs are small, and bugs are cold-blooded. First of all, food intake generally increases with the size of the animals. Logically, horses eat much more than dwarf mice. It is the same with bugs: Because they are small, they don’t need much food.
But bugs are also cold-blooded — which means they don’t need food to heat their body internally. They only need essential food to provide them with nutrients to grow and stay healthy. So bugs have seriously modest food requirements. For example, a praying mantis can be fed with 1 dubia roach or 6 blue bottle flies every day. Beetles feed on their substrate with rotten organic material and have enough from 1 slice of apple for the whole group.
Besides that, food is often cheap for them, and for some animals even freely available. Stick insects feed on plant leaves you can collect from your garden, local park or community forest. Many like bramble, a plant that a lot of people are happy to get rid of.
Millipedes: Awesome bugs for beginners!
Already convinced of keeping bugs as pets? Millipedes are great pets to start with (for example the ivory millipede). They are easy to keep, don’t require much space and don’t cost much to purchase. Besides that, they are beautiful to observe. Their waving feet when they walk is almost hypnotizing to watch. You can read more about keeping them in our millipede basic guide.
#7 Bugs don’t need veterinary care
Bugs don’t need a vaccination or other preventive medicine or veterinary care. Veterinary care can be quite expensive for dogs and cats, and at least there is a basic preventive medicine and vaccination required for them (or highly recommended).
But although this only sounds like a plus side, it also has a negative side. Firstly, it is difficult to see if a bug doesn’t feel well or is sick. And when it does, there is not much to do for them.
When a bug is infected with parasites, bacteria, or viruses, it isn’t easy to heal them. Most of the time, your bug will eventually succumb to this. That can be quite difficult to experience, and therefore you need to take measures to prevent them from getting sick in the first place (i.e. food source, cleaning, environment).
#8 Bugs make a less long commitment
Can you relate to this situation: you buy something, like a piano, and after a few years your situation change? You don’t have room for it anymore, or don’t have to time for it. Or maybe you don’t like to do it anymore? It is often the same with pets. When you adopt a dog or a cat, it is a commitment for at least 10 to 15 years. That’s the number one reason that after a few years, the parents will take care of the dog the kid wanted so much.
With many bugs, this is quite different. Many insects only live for around a year. Some bugs live a bit longer, like 5 to 10 years. It is a less long commitment when you start keeping bugs (but it is a commitment nonetheless!). That’s one reason why bugs also make great pets for kids.
For example, a stick insect lives only for one year or so. So it is much easier to stop keeping it if your life changes or gets other priorities. If you do like to keep them for more than one year, you just start breeding with them. Then you can theoretically enjoy your pets for a lifetime.
#9 Bugs are far more interesting (in my opinion)
Do you think insects are dull and boring? Then you have never seen a stick insect moulting, a praying mantis catching a flight straight out of the air, or the teamwork of ants dragging an insect back to their nest to feast on it.
I think it is the complete opposite! I think bugs are one of the most interesting group of species there is: their unique behaviour, colours, strange shapes, camouflage, adaptations, survival and reproduction. You can observe and enjoy all stages of their lives, see it up close.
If you take more time and adjust your look in their time perspective and scale, you will see how amazing the world is of keeping bugs.
But WAIT, there’s more!
One of the things I think is particularly interesting is to see how insect behave. For example, the camouflage of stick insects, or the cooperation of an ant colony. Millipedes and beetles that help to decompose the decaying organic matter and have a sustainable way of feeding. There is so much to learn from bugs.
One of the things we need to remember is that insects are the most crucial creatures we have on our plant. We often underestimate their importance (even for us). Think about, what would happen if all pollinating insects would disappear? Well, we won’t have much food left to start with. One sentence is significant to me:
“You will only respect and protect on what you understand and value”
If we like to protect and respect nature and our environment, we need to understand and value it. Keeping bugs can help increase a better understanding of the natural world in its beauty and value the little things in it. There is so much to learn of it and from it.
When should you NOT keep bugs as pets?
Now, I give you many reasons why you should keep bugs as a pet instead of a dog, cat, or other conventional animals. On the other side, however, there are also a couple of reasons why you should not keep bugs as pets. I will list them here.
- Scared for crawling animals — if you don’t like animals with more than 4 legs, you probably shouldn’t keep bugs. Please don’t force yourself, because when you have them, you eventually need to pick up one at some point in your bug keeping journey.
- Don’t like to feed live food — although not all, some bugs need to be fed live prey items (feeder insects). If you don’t like touching and feeding them, you should choose a bug pet that only eats plant materials, fruits and vegetables.
- Bugs don’t like to be handled and petted — Bugs are not domesticated and not used to be handled. Many of them are quite fragile too. If you like a pet that you can touch, hold and pet, don’t choose a bug. You can hurt or damage them if you are not careful.
- Some animal can and may defend themselves — Some bugs have quite impressive defence mechanisms. Where cockroaches and (most) stick insects can hurt you, tarantulas and scorpions quite can. A pinch is rather painful. Be aware that some bugs have a good defence and when startled not afraid to use it.
- Not all landlords will be happy with bugs — If you are renting an apartment or house, not all landlords are pleased that you will keep crawling bugs. Make sure that you comply with the rules and agreement of your rented space.
- When they breed, they breed! — With other words, when you have a breeding couple of certain species, be prepared to have a lot of offspring. You are responsible for them as well. So before you decide to keep bugs, decide whether you want to breed with them and what you want to do with them.
Recommended read: Best and coolest pet bugs for kids
Do you have kids? Bugs can be amazing pets for kids as well. You can find here the coolest and most suitable bug pets for kids (and also which one you should not give to your child!). Keeping bugs is an amazing experience for your little one, and may even be a better pet than a rabbit. Check out why I think every child should have a pet bug.
Share this page!