Choose your bug species

Are you considering a pet bug? Many people are convinced that a pet bug is the best pet they could ask for. Just read the page ‘Why keeping bugs?‘. But there are many bugs to choose from, everyone with there pros and cons. And sometimes, cons are not the same for everyone.

Are you convinced already? And do you really want to start keeping a bug as a pet? Keep on reading!

Before you dive into the diverse world of bugs I can highly recommend you to read the ‘Basics about keeping bugs‘. This will show you where you need to think of when keeping a bug as a pet. Keeping a bug is a commitment, just like keeping a dog, cat or horse.

There is a huge amount of bug species to choose from. Some are very good starter bugs. Others need more experience and have higher requirements. On this page I will help you to find a pet bug that suits with your expectations.

“Bugs are the most fascinating creatures you’ve ever stepped on in your life”

Entomologist Sammy Ramsey

How to choose the bug species that is right for you?

There are some basic decisions to make first. And the first is that you’ll need to decide how much time, space, and money you want to spend on your new bug.

Time

How much do you have and do you want to spend?

Space

How much do you have to keep the enclosure?

Money

How much do you want to spend to buy, maintain and care?

Some bugs do not consume much time, such as millipedes, and some bugs cost a lot of time. For example, a leaf-cutter ant colony requires much more time to maintain and take care of.

Also, space is an important consideration. Tarantulas don’t need much space to keep them happy and healthy. Butterflies need much more space to be able to fly around.

Money, of course, may be an essential factor in the decision which pet bug you want to choose. Cockroaches or stick insects don’t cost that much money. Bugs that eat live food have much higher food costs, and some animals need very steady climate condition and much heat, which in turn also cost much more money.

Some other questions you need to ask yourself…

  • Do you want a short-living bug? Some bugs don’t live that long, and when unsuccessful with breeding you’ll need to buy new ones.
  • Do you mind feeding live insects? If you do, don’t take a bug that eats completely or partly live insects.
  • Do you mind the smell some bugs make? Some bugs do smell a bit strange or eat food that doesn’t smell that good.
  • Do you mind the sound that some bugs make? Some bugs make sounds and often do that continuously.
  • Do you like to handle your bug? Give it affection? Many bugs don’t want to be repeatedly handled, moved, or are too fragile to do so.
  • Do you mind that you can be bitten or stung? Some animals do bite or do sting when surprised or frightened.
  • Do you mind the possibility to develop an allergic reaction to the bug or live feeder insects? Some people develop an allergic reaction to the bug they keep or to the live insect food they need. Read about it in ‘Bug allergy risks’.
  • Are their legal limitation in my country? Some countries have legal restrictions to keep some bugs, and they can be listed as an invasive species. You can read more about it in ‘Is it legal to keep or breed bugs?‘. Never keep illegal bug species.
  • Does your landlord accept that you keep exotic pets? Some landlords don’t like or even forbid that you keep exotic pets like bugs. You’ll have to respect that.

A tool to help you choose

Below you can download an excel table with the main characteristics of many bug species. You can use this as a tool to consider which bug species is most suited for you. Just make a list of species that you are considering and afterwards research them if you can give what they require and need.

Note that the table is still under construction. If new information or species are added I will upload it here

Some recommended bugs for a beginner

Cockroaches

A cockroach is an excellent option to start with to experience the world of keeping bug pets!

Pros

Cockroaches are hardy and are a good bug for beginners. They don’t have high requirements for food and care. Also, they’re docile and therefore are great for kids.

Cons

Their faeces, called ‘frass’, can trigger allergic reactions, primarily when handled regularly. Therefore you’ll need personal protection when handling (gloves) and when cleaning (gloves + dust mask).


Phasmids – Stick insects and leaf insects

A stick insect is fascinating and rather easy to keep. There are many different and beautiful species.

Pros

They eat only leaves which can be collected from your garden, or your local park/forest area. They are quite easy to breed, and with a bit effort, you’ll be able to hatch eggs easily, although it can take up a long time depending on the species.

Cons

Many stick insects and leaf insects are pretty sensitive and fragile, and can’t be handled regularly. They also have higher requirements for climate (you’ll need a steady temperature and humidity).


Giant African millipede

A giant African millipede is beautiful to have, but need more attention to food and climate.

Pros

When properly cared for can live up to 10 years. One can keep more than one millipede in one enclosure. Can be handled when you do it very carefully. You can also house them with other species like African giant snails and sun beetles.

Cons

If not handled carefully, this millipede can excrete an irritating chemical from its body. Need to have a stable climate with higher temperature and humidity. Millipedes are sometimes challenging to breed, but when successful and can lay up to 300 eggs.


Mexican red-knee tarantulas

This tarantula is ideal when exploring the world of keeping spiders. And it is a beautiful animal too!

Pros

The Mexican red-knee tarantula is one of the calmest of the tarantulas and can be carefully handled. This species is definitely the ideal tarantula for beginners. Have no high food requirements, but do need be fed live insect food. Females can get up to 30 years old. Also, it doesn’t need a big enclosure and doesn’t take up much space.

Cons

May eject urticating hairs from abdomen and legs when it is frightened or think there is danger. These hairs can cause discomfort and irritation to the skin and possibly to the eyes. Need higher requirements for climate, like temperature and humidity.

Where to go next?

Have you read the basics of keeping bugs yet? No? I can highly recommend you to read this section to have a piece of profound knowledge when you start keeping bugs as a pet.

Furthermore, when you found a species you really like to keep, I’ll suggest you have a look at that species on this website and read the general or specific care guide. These guides will be a good starting point extending your knowledge about the bugs species you want to keep before you obtain them.

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