African Praying Mantis (Sphodromantis lineola)

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African Praying Mantis
Sphodromantis lineola
African Praying Mantis (Sphodromantis lineola)
Name African Praying Mantis
Name Lat. Sphodromantis lineola
Family Mantids
Family lat. Mantidae
Order Praying Mantids
Order lat. Mantodea
Origin Africa
Habitat Savanna
Diet Flying insects
Humidity 50-60 %
Behavior Predatory
Keeping Individual
Care Level Easy
Housing Dry terrarium
Breeding Moderately difficult
Life Span 12-18 months
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 6-8 cm
Temperature Day 25-35 °C
Temperature Night 20-22 °C
Housing Size 20 x 20 x 30 cm
US Units
Size 2.4"-3.1"
Temperature Day 77-95 °F
Temperature Night 68-72 °F
Housing Size 10" x 10" x 10"

Distribution and habitat

The range of the diurnal Ghana praying mantis extends over large parts of West and Central Africa south of the Sahara. They inhabit tree savannahs and sparse dry forests, where they live in the branches of trees and bushes or on grasses.


For a female an insectarium of 20 x 20 x 30 cm (L x W x H), for a group of up to 5 males 30 x 30 x 50 cm, can be recommended as a guideline, which should be placed in a quiet place without direct sunlight. A cover of gauze or fine metal mesh is recommended

You need an insectarium not too densely structured with thin, also horizontal climbing branches (hiding places, visual protection) with a cork back wall, a substrate of sand-earth mixture (terrarium humus) and a small, shallow drinking vessel with water gel or a absorbent cotton drinker.

Artificial or live plants (e.g. Ficus pumila, Scindapsus aureus) and branches with dry foliage are suitable for decoration. The inside of the insectarium should be lightly sprayed with water every 2-3 days. Too much moisture is not tolerated.

Temp. day: 25-35 °C Temp. night: 20-22 °C Humidity: 50-60

The lighting duration should be max. 12 hrs. Light sources that also produce the necessary heat are ideal.


They are predatory and, from an angled lying-in-wait position, seize the prey animal, preferably flying insects, at lightning speed with their tentacles. The food supply should consist of crickets, flies (Drosophila, goldflies and houseflies) as well as grasshoppers, moths and butterflies, etc. It is important to regularly add minerals and vitamins (e.g. by dusting the feeders). The quality of the feeders can be enhanced by feeding overripe fruit and honey water. A few days before, during and after molting, they refuse to eat. During molting, no predatory feeders (e.g. crickets) should remain in the insectarium, as during this time the animals are unprotected and may become prey themselves.

A varied diet promotes health and prevents deficiency symptoms.

Reproduction and breeding

The females are larger and stronger than the slimmer males. The males have 8, the females only 6 abdominal segments.

About 3 weeks after mating, the female lays the first egg package (ootheca). At intervals of 2-4 weeks, 5-6 more follow. After about 4-6 weeks, 100-250 nymphs hatch at a temperature of 25-30 °C. The young are only a few millimeters long, black in color and resemble ants (mimicry). They should be fed immediately with small fruit flies or microheims so that they do not eat each other (cannibalism)

After the imaginal molt, the animals are ready to mate after about 3 weeks. After that the males live for about 12 months, the females up to 18 months


Prior to mating, a large food animal should be offered to the female to reduce the risk of her eating the male. It is recommended to keep females singly.

They have very good camouflage due to their body shape and coloration as well as their often long-lasting immobility and are very similar to a leaf (leaf mimesis).

For molting they hang upside down in the branches or on the lattice cover and slide out of their old cover. Therefore they need at least one body length of free space below them.

Before purchasing, an insectarium should be prepared that meets the species-specific needs. Good ventilation without drafts is necessary, as well as equipment for measuring temperature and humidity. The lighting must correspond to the day-night rhythm appropriate for the species and must be installed in such a way that the animals cannot injure themselves. The insectarium should be locked in such a way that neither unauthorized persons can open it nor the animals can escape. Special attention must be paid to thorough hygiene and contamination must be removed regularly.

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: petdata; Image: Franz Lowak

Source: HENKEL & SCHMIDT (2010): Taschenatlas Wirbellose für das Terrarium, Verlag Ulmer; ENGELMAN & LANGE (2011): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Wirbellose, Verlag Harri Deutsch