8 Exotic Insect & Bug Pets (Perfect for Terrariums)

Insects and bugs are a natural fit for terrariums.

Small, inexpensive, and often easy to please – sounds like the perfect pet, right?

Not to mention the variety! Seriously, with stunning creatures like orchid mantis’ and metallic flower beetles, the amount of exotic, bold, and bright bugs to choose from is incredible.

In this guide, we’re going to explore the best bug and insect pets (plus some other small invertebrates) that you can keep in a terrarium, so you can find the perfect critter for you.

Don’t bug out, let’s go!

rainbow stag beetle

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The Best Pet Insects & Bugs

  1. Beetles
  2. Praying Mantis
  3. Isopods
  4. Stick Insects
  5. Leaf Insects
  6. Roaches
  7. Millipedes
  8. Jumping Spiders
  9. Tarantula

1 | Beetles

Beetles are a super underrated pet. 

Online, you can get some magnificent species of beetle. I had no idea such beautiful bugs existed!

If you don’t believe me, go check out the many floral patterns on flower beetles, or the shining chrome armor of the jewel stag beetle.

They’re very easy to care for too, needing little more than a simple terrarium with a high-quality substrate and the occasional fruit or vegetable snack.

Emerald rainbow stag beetle
Phalacrognathus muelleri, the”Emerald” Rainbow Stag Beetle in all its glory.

2 | Praying Mantis

Honestly, they don’t really come cooler than the praying mantis.

These tiny predators pose no threat to humans and can be surprisingly docile and easy to handle. As far as insect pets go, I think a mantis would be my go-to choice.

There’s a variety of beautiful species to choose from, but for me, the ghost mantis and the orchid mantis are tied for the top spot.

Orchid mantis in grass
Just look at this beautiful orchid mantis.

3 | Isopods

Isopods certainly take the crown as the most useful terrarium pet. 

They’re often chosen as part of a bioactive cleanup crew (for good reason), but there’s plenty of fun to be had collecting isopods as pets too!

Seriously, there’s an enormous range of shape and color combinations, and there are always new varieties being developed – so you’ll never run out of new options to discover.

bloodleaf plant and isopod
The Shiro Utsuri Isopods are my current favorite – what’s yours? 

👉 Check out our range of colorful isopods for sale on our store.

Can’t find what you want? Check out the more niche species at Rubber Ducky Isopods.

4 | Stick Insects

Stick insects are such bizarre creatures. 

Masters of camouflage, their long slender bodies really do look like sticks. They’re easy to lose in a terrarium, but they’re very well suited to warm and humid conditions!

As you might expect, stick insects are very delicate, but they’re calm and easy to handle.

Stick insect on a branch
Side note: A stick insect was actually my first-ever pet back in school.

5 | Leaf Bugs / Insects

Leaf bugs are actually from the same broad family as stick insects, but instead, they look like… leaves (I know, who’d have thought?).

Generally, they have broadly the same care requirements, but I think they’re far more interesting visually and much prettier. 

You’ll need a taller terrarium for stick and leaf insects as they both like to climb, but they’re still pretty small so you don’t need a huge container.

Leaf bug on a branch
Seriously, what is this wizardry?

6 | Millipedes

Millipedes are another potential bioactive custodian come terrarium pet.

Naturally, they’re more of a handful than isopods (literally, and practically) but they still bring a lot to the table. Terrarium millipedes need high humidity and a deep substrate, but their care requirements aren’t overly demanding and they’re solid bioactive cleaners. 

(Just note, millipedes can secrete irritating toxins when stressed, so they’re not good pets for handling).

bumblebee millipede
I got this cute Bumblebee Millipede – it’s very shy though.

👉 Check out these crazy Pink Dragon Millipedes!

7 | Roaches

If I’m honest, I can’t say I see the appeal of roaches…

That said, as the famously “nuclear-proof pest” you can be sure they’re easy to look after!

They’re typically kept as feeder insects for reptiles and such, but there’s no reason you can’t keep them as pets too. There are some interesting species to consider, like the Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Madagascar hissing cockroach on a hand
Yes, it hisses! (And thankfully, it doesn’t fly).

8 | Jumping Spiders

Okay, so I know that spiders are neither a bug nor an insect (they are actually their own class, Arachnida), but jumping spider pets definitely fit the brief of this list.

Super tiny, extra cute, and easy to care for – what more could you want?

The Regal Jumping Spider (Phidippus regius) is a popular choice for beginners for their relaxed temperament and needs. Plus, at just a couple of centimeters tall, they’re well suited to small enclosures.

Just keep one at a time though. Though they’re surprisingly curious and social spiders around people, they’re solitary creatures amongst their own kind.

Regal jumping spider on a leaf
So damn cute!

9 | Tarantulas

Last but by no means least, the big daddy spider himself.

Tarantulas are often gentle giants (albeit, quite scary ones), but of course, they can still bite!

So, maybe not for the faint of heart. That said, they’re still solitary, docile creatures that are relatively easy to care for. Plus, despite their size, they don’t need a large terrarium environment to be happy.

Red tarantula
Beautiful and horrifying in equal measure.

What’s Bugging You?

We’ve covered a wide range of fascinating pet insects and bugs here, what’s stood out to you?

Or have I missed your favorite pet from the list?

Let me know in the comments!

4 thoughts on “8 Exotic Insect & Bug Pets (Perfect for Terrariums)”

    1. Hi Gus, each insect will need additional/specific care requirements, so I’d recommend deep-diving on any insect you’re particularly interested in. Provided the container has ventilation, Isopods would be most natural, easy fit for a typical closed terrarium, but even then some species eat plants.

  1. Finding Terrarium Tribe, has been so much fun, and really educational! I am building terrariums with confidence now, and having fun in the process!
    I am learning SO much about sustainability in my bioactive ecosystems, and the diversity in plant and insect species. My science nerd personality is having a blast!
    Thanks for the regular emails/blogs, and the links to follow for information on different subjects. I really look forward to reading them!!

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