#1  
Old 01-03-2019, 07:51 AM
Nansbread1 Nansbread1 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: England
Posts: 313
Taming an insect as a pet

Which insect makes a good pet in that it can be handled, recognises you as the master and has some level of interaction beyond just feeding times.

And does not kill you.
  #2  
Old 01-03-2019, 08:00 AM
Cheesesteak's Avatar
Cheesesteak Cheesesteak is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Lovely Montclair, NJ
Posts: 12,943
Not an insect exactly, but my son has a pet snail. Easy to handle, and you can pretend it recognizes you. It's also a surprisingly tranquil creature to watch go about its business.

If you must have an exoskeleton, hermit crabs are popular pets, and tarantulas are an option, a scary looking option, but they won't kill you.
  #3  
Old 01-03-2019, 08:53 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: the extreme center
Posts: 30,773
You're asking an awful lot of an insect.

Hissing cockroaches are said to be entertaining, but don't generally appreciate belly rubs.
  #4  
Old 01-03-2019, 09:43 AM
snowthx's Avatar
snowthx snowthx is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Sacratomato area
Posts: 3,271
I don't know that insects, and reptiles for that matter, have the capacity to be tamed and recognize you as it's master. They can be kept as pets for sure, but they are not capable of being cuddly and interactive the way birds and mammals can be. I don't think you can train your pet mantis to play fetch, or give you a high-five, for example. I am sure someone here with a background in biology will be along shortly to explain.
  #5  
Old 01-03-2019, 09:55 AM
scr4 scr4 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Alabama
Posts: 15,223
Other than dogs, I'm not sure any animal recognizes a human as the master. Some mammals are smart enough to learn that if they act in a certain way, they get rewarded, but that's about it. Insects have far less learning ability than mammals.

But there are insects that aren't dangerous and big enough to be handled. Japanese rhinoceros beetles are popular in Japan. They only live a couple of months as adults though.
  #6  
Old 01-03-2019, 10:04 AM
Beckdawrek's Avatar
Beckdawrek Beckdawrek is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: So.Ark ?
Posts: 12,223
Get an ant farm. They are very interesting to watch. Not gonna ever do your bidding, though. My middle daughter used to keep lady bugs as pets. She had a lot of fun doing it. She claimed they knew her and knew their names. She was about 8yo at the time. *Belief* is easy at that age.
  #7  
Old 01-03-2019, 10:22 AM
kayaker's Avatar
kayaker kayaker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 30,467
Isopods of the family Armadillidiidae (pill bugs, roly polies, woodlice) are cool to watch. I introduced a few to our tortoises' environment and they've reproduced and done well. They eat Kjell's leftover bits of food and other organic debris. They've "learned" to become more active when humidity rises, which coincides with his feeding time.
  #8  
Old 01-03-2019, 10:59 AM
jasg jasg is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Upper left hand corner
Posts: 5,707
Taming might take some time, so pick an insect with a long lifespan - these have 15-30 year lifespans. A friend just lost one that was hatched in the '90s.
__________________
It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.
~ Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745)
  #9  
Old 01-03-2019, 11:03 AM
Gary T Gary T is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: KCMO
Posts: 11,314
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nansbread1 View Post
Which insect makes a good pet in that it can be handled, recognises you as the master and has some level of interaction beyond just feeding times.
None.
  #10  
Old 01-03-2019, 11:07 AM
ZipperJJ's Avatar
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is offline
Just Lovely and Delicious
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Northeast Ohio
Posts: 24,931
I saw on another site yesterday someone had posted a picture of their "pet walking stick [insect]". When I just googled "stick bug pet" I got a TON of hits. Apparently stick insects of many types are popular "pet" insects.
  #11  
Old 01-03-2019, 11:09 AM
Thudlow Boink's Avatar
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Lincoln, IL
Posts: 26,033
Quote:
Originally Posted by scr4 View Post
Other than dogs, I'm not sure any animal recognizes a human as the master.
It's possible that you're taking "master" too literally. Certainly there are other animals besides dogs that are capable of forming special bonds with specific people, thinking of them as "my human" rather than just "a human." But I have my doubts whether even this applies to any insects.
  #12  
Old 01-03-2019, 11:14 AM
Colibri's Avatar
Colibri Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 40,802
I doubt that any insects can recognize specific individuals, let alone bond with them. While some insects have limited learning capabilities, most behavior is at the level of instinctual responses. Insects could become "tame" in the sense of habituated to being picked up/handled, but that's about it. They are not going to "interact" with you beyond recognizing you as part of their environment.
  #13  
Old 01-03-2019, 11:15 AM
Colibri's Avatar
Colibri Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 40,802
Since this has become largely recommendations on the kind of pet insect to get, let's move this to IMHO.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator
  #14  
Old 01-03-2019, 11:18 AM
Filbert Filbert is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 5,083
I don't think any invertebrate is going to 'recognise you as master'. I'm not even sure what that'd entail.

It's impossible to know for certain, but we have long suspected, however, that Shelob, the tarantula at the zoo I used to work at, could identify the staff who generally handled her. We did handling sessions, where we'd hold the hand still of the person who wanted to hold the spider (because people will just jerk their hand away without warning), but she'd almost always walk fast across a stranger's hand but stop still on the staff members'. Maybe it was purely down to steadiness of the person (I guess unfamiliar people were a lot more likely to tense up), or possibly scent.

When she'd just shed her skin, she didn't like being picked up, and would do a threat display where she raised her front legs as soon as anyone opened her cage if she wasn't OK with being held that day. One time a staff member, when faced with a group of people who had come specially to hold the spider, pushed it and tried to pick her up anyway. She jumped, grabbed his finger with her fangs...

held it for a few seconds just short of breaking the skin...

and let go.

She could certainly have given a proper bite if she wanted. The species is perfectly capable of doing so in general, and she was a large, maybe 10 year old, adult.

Again, it's difficult to say anything regarding insect or spider intelligence, but it was hard to interpret that as anything other than 'I don't want to hurt you, but stop' and conclude that she in some way recognised the person (or maybe situation) as unwelcome, but not a threat.
  #15  
Old 01-03-2019, 11:31 AM
purplehorseshoe purplehorseshoe is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Texas, USA
Posts: 9,634
The O.P. cannot have condition #2 satisfied. While many reptiles eventually become *conditioned* to recognize an individual as a non-threat (usually, whoever feeds 'em as you may expect) they're not going to obey a master in any sense. Best way I've heard it explained is that, to a snake, I'm basically a warm tree. Any snuggly behavior is the response of a cold-blooded animal seeking the heat we pour off our skin.

Insects won't even be capable of that level of conditioning (e.g. "ah yes, this moving tree is not a threat and sometimes has snacks, very good sir") although I have heard tarantulas may achieve this after years of handling by the same owner.

That being said, there are plenty of critters that satisfy the other requirements. Tarantulas get instant nominations because of their longevity and size, which makes them easier to handle than, say, ants. Several beetles get huge, including 2 species of rhino beetle native to the U.S.

http://www.bugsincyberspace.com/site...heet.html#2945

Personally, my favorite is the orchid mantis, which seems to be growing in popularity recently thanks to videos and pictures hitting social media. I've seen them for sale at a local herp store (the DFW Reptarium) although they ain't super cheap:

https://www.keepinginsects.com/prayi...orchid-mantis/

That site also lists care facts for several other species of insects, such as walking sticks.
__________________
I can haz sig line?
  #16  
Old 01-03-2019, 11:38 AM
mixdenny mixdenny is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Cleveland suburbs
Posts: 1,666
Back in the 1960s my grandmother had a pet beetle she brought back from Mexico. It had jewels glued on its back and a tiny chain with a pin. She wore it on her blouse and little Pedro would slowly move around. She kept him in a small terrarium and he dined on a slightly rotten hunk of wood that came with him. He lived several years.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smith...lry-180955081/

Dennis
  #17  
Old 01-03-2019, 12:26 PM
Malleus, Incus, Stapes! Malleus, Incus, Stapes! is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Middle ear
Posts: 6,218
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowthx View Post
I don't know that insects, and reptiles for that matter, have the capacity to be tamed and recognize you as it's master. They can be kept as pets for sure, but they are not capable of being cuddly and interactive the way birds and mammals can be.
I know an iguana who is very cuddly and interactive. I've heard certain other large lizards like tegus can also be friendly and somewhat sociable.
  #18  
Old 01-03-2019, 01:38 PM
Atamasama's Avatar
Atamasama Atamasama is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,695
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
Get an ant farm. They are very interesting to watch. Not gonna ever do your bidding, though.
Hank Pym begs to differ.
  #19  
Old 01-03-2019, 03:31 PM
panache45's Avatar
panache45 panache45 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NE Ohio (the 'burbs)
Posts: 40,837
When I was a kid I raised all kinds of insects, especially praying mantises. I loved watching them devour each other while they were having sex.

Until one day the ootheca (egg mass) hatched, and there were hundreds of tiny praying mantises all over the house. I had to move everything to the garage.

I don't think any of the mantises recognized me. I was probably that huge monster that appeared now and then.
  #20  
Old 01-03-2019, 03:34 PM
Broomstick's Avatar
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 27,475
Quote:
Originally Posted by scr4 View Post
Other than dogs, I'm not sure any animal recognizes a human as the master.
Depends on how you define "master", but it's been proven that at least some birds can recognize individual humans.

Purely anecdotal, but my current conure has learned the names of some individual humans and uses them appropriately. Whether or not he considers us "master" is another question, from his viewpoint it might be more a co-equal or him being in charge. His English isn't up to explaining that in detail.
  #21  
Old 01-03-2019, 06:47 PM
Sandwood Sandwood is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZipperJJ View Post
I saw on another site yesterday someone had posted a picture of their "pet walking stick [insect]". When I just googled "stick bug pet" I got a TON of hits. Apparently stick insects of many types are popular "pet" insects.
I think they're probably the most common insects kept as pets.

They're "tame" as in, they don't move around much when you pick them up because their whole defense strategy is to pretend that they're vegetation. They're also quite showy because there are some species that can get fairly big, and you can actually handle them without any danger to you at all.

Another plus is that quite a few stick insect species are very easy to feed and take care of, and they will produce more offspring than you'll ever want or need if you decide to keep the eggs and let them hatch.

I doubt that you'll ever have any kind of meaningful interaction with a stick insect though. I don't think they even have meaningful interaction with each other. FWIW, many of their species don't even require a mate to procreate.

Last edited by Sandwood; 01-03-2019 at 06:48 PM. Reason: typo
  #22  
Old 01-03-2019, 08:07 PM
Velocity Velocity is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 13,044
Having had numerous insect and reptile pets, I think they have no concept of relationships whatsoever. It just is not something that registers in their entomological/herpetological brains.

Totally unlike the emotions of dogs.
  #23  
Old 01-03-2019, 09:55 PM
outlierrn outlierrn is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: republic of california
Posts: 5,561
Quote:
Originally Posted by Filbert View Post
I don't think any invertebrate is going to 'recognise you as master'. I'm not even sure what that'd entail.
I know it's totally off track from the OP, but what about an octopus?
__________________
Just another outlying data point on the bell curve of life
  #24  
Old 01-03-2019, 10:36 PM
Lamoral Lamoral is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Fenario
Posts: 2,249
Insects may not be able to be trained at the current time, but at some point in the future, this may change. It would probably require a knowledge of the pheromones they respond to, and an ability to manipulate them, but as our understanding of the natural world grows, a handful of talented individuals will probably figure out a way to do it. This isn't just true of insects either, I think it's likely to be true of virtually any animal.
  #25  
Old 01-04-2019, 02:23 AM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
Elephant Whisperer
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posts: 40,451
I have heard fleas can perform some amazing circus feats.
__________________
Everything happens for a reason. But sometimes the reason is you are stupid and make bad decisions.
  #26  
Old 01-04-2019, 10:27 AM
Dung Beetle's Avatar
Dung Beetle Dung Beetle is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 16,064
Quote:
Originally Posted by mixdenny View Post
Back in the 1960s my grandmother had a pet beetle she brought back from Mexico. It had jewels glued on its back and a tiny chain with a pin. She wore it on her blouse and little Pedro would slowly move around. She kept him in a small terrarium and he dined on a slightly rotten hunk of wood that came with him. He lived several years.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smith...lry-180955081/

Dennis
Wow, that is really fascinating, and so sad.
  #27  
Old 01-04-2019, 10:38 AM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Torrance Ca
Posts: 7,937
Over the past several years a large black and white jumping spider has become very common for some reason. If one happens to move into my kitchen window I will feed it flies and bugs. Not sure if he recognizes me as an individual but I am pretty sure he recognizes me as a creature that feeds him and they will get tame enough to approach me when they think I may have food. When I first start feeding them they run and hide but within a few days will start taking the food right in front of me.
  #28  
Old 01-04-2019, 11:24 AM
txjim txjim is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 279
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasg View Post
Taming might take some time, so pick an insect with a long lifespan - these have 15-30 year lifespans. A friend just lost one that was hatched in the '90s.
My favorite episode of Wait! Wait Don't Tell Me featured Dr Kevin Fitzgerald who told the story of a spider brought into his animal ER. I almost ran off the road laughing.

https://youtu.be/2kkNc6mugDM?t=280
  #29  
Old 01-04-2019, 11:31 AM
Colibri's Avatar
Colibri Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 40,802
Quote:
Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
I have heard fleas can perform some amazing circus feats.
The fleas in a flea circus are not actually trained. They are just attached by a harness to various props and their efforts to escape gives the impression they are performing.
  #30  
Old 01-04-2019, 11:40 AM
kayaker's Avatar
kayaker kayaker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 30,467
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
The fleas in a flea circus are not actually trained. They are just attached by a harness to various props and their efforts to escape gives the impression they are performing.
And yet I'm sure I heard a report on NPR about a flea going to college?!
  #31  
Old 01-04-2019, 03:32 PM
eschereal's Avatar
eschereal eschereal is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Frogstar World B
Posts: 15,297
I once had a girlfriend who worked in a convenience store for a while and used her farm-life skills to catch flying insects. She would put flies into the microwave to watch them puff up like popcorn, but when that got boring, she put them in for just long enough to make them stupid. Then she would work the register with her pet fly on her shoulder. Once, she caught a yellow jacket, lobotomized it in the microwave and spent her shift with it on her shoulder.
  #32  
Old 01-04-2019, 03:51 PM
california jobcase california jobcase is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: S. GA
Posts: 3,157
Quote:
Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC View Post
Over the past several years a large black and white jumping spider has become very common for some reason. If one happens to move into my kitchen window I will feed it flies and bugs. Not sure if he recognizes me as an individual but I am pretty sure he recognizes me as a creature that feeds him and they will get tame enough to approach me when they think I may have food. When I first start feeding them they run and hide but within a few days will start taking the food right in front of me.
I kept one of those one summer. She lived around my kitchen window. I'd dangle bits of raw ground beef in front of her on a thread, and she'd attack and devour them.
  #33  
Old 01-04-2019, 04:08 PM
CookingWithGas's Avatar
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tysons Corner, VA, USA
Posts: 12,766
Insects are not tiny little dogs.

OTOH you might enjoy a tarantula, which is not an insect but might be interesting.
__________________
Making the world a better place one fret at a time.
| | |會 |會 |會 |會 | |:| | |會 |會
  #34  
Old 01-04-2019, 04:54 PM
outlierrn outlierrn is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: republic of california
Posts: 5,561
I would much rather share my kitchen with a spider than the things they eat.
__________________
Just another outlying data point on the bell curve of life
  #35  
Old 01-04-2019, 05:30 PM
Dunkelheit's Avatar
Dunkelheit Dunkelheit is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Scotland
Posts: 895
Pet Jumping Spiders
__________________
"Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the universe." - Kurt Vonnegut
  #36  
Old 01-04-2019, 08:27 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
Elephant Whisperer
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posts: 40,451
How about those worms inside Mexican jumping beans? Of course, they're just one-trick ponies.
__________________
Everything happens for a reason. But sometimes the reason is you are stupid and make bad decisions.
  #37  
Old 01-06-2019, 06:31 PM
bb49 bb49 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 380
Back in university I found a fairly large spider living in my basement suite. It kept appearing at the base of the wall in the kitchen, so one day I attached a piece of raw meat to the end of a thread and hung it from the table, so it was about a quarter inch off the floor. BJ, as I called it, would latch on to the meat and start sucking on it. After a couple of days I would exchange the old meat for a new piece. This went on for a month or two, with BJ often joining me at dinner time.
Until one day I discovered little BJs running all over the suite. BJ was quickly evicted from my place.

The only real benefit from BJ going was that the g/fs that came over were no longer concerned about spiders crawling over them.
  #38  
Old 01-07-2019, 07:29 AM
Anaglyph Anaglyph is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: 4723'44.9"N,832'54.6"E
Posts: 716
You'd be amazed at what lowly animals can actually be trained. However, you have to find the right stimuli - fruit flies can be trained to seek out specific smells (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2814444/) , bees to specific colors, smells and pattern https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hymenoptera_training), flatworms can be trained to mazes (https://link.springer.com/chapter/10...4899-6565-3_16)
  #39  
Old 01-07-2019, 07:31 PM
snowthx's Avatar
snowthx snowthx is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Sacratomato area
Posts: 3,271
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaglyph View Post
You'd be amazed at what lowly animals can actually be trained. However, you have to find the right stimuli - fruit flies can be trained to seek out specific smells (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2814444/) , bees to specific colors, smells and pattern https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hymenoptera_training), flatworms can be trained to mazes (https://link.springer.com/chapter/10...4899-6565-3_16)
Cool stuff! So, what you are saying is that it's possible to train a nest of giant Asian hornets to seek out and attack a specific person!?!? <twists mustache> Bwahahaha!
  #40  
Old 01-08-2019, 03:43 AM
Dereknocue67 Dereknocue67 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Norfolk, VA
Posts: 1,125
I once had a short term apartment rental that had roaches so big I was forced to leash train them in order to lead them outside and set them free.

Well . . . maybe.
  #41  
Old 01-10-2019, 04:15 PM
pohjonen's Avatar
pohjonen pohjonen is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Almost Idaho
Posts: 1,599
I don't know about pets, but some are pretty good dancers.
  #42  
Old 01-11-2019, 11:36 PM
california jobcase california jobcase is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: S. GA
Posts: 3,157
I know they aren't insects, but you can't beat peacock spiders for dancing in the arthropod world.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYIUFEQeh3g
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:34 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017