Mantis update

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Look at these beasts! The brown behemoth in the first picture, that’s li’l ol’ Ceiling, now about three and a half inches long and chomping down hungrily on his first adult cricket.

The 3-inch green monster in picture 2 is Snacks, and this photo has caught him in a rare aggressive pose. Moments before taking this picture, I had put his first adult cricket into his house. Snacks immediately went ballistic — he curled his tail up like a scorpion and “put up his dukes” as you see in the picture. He took several rage-filled swipes at the cricket but could not land a blow — the cricket kept hiding behind sticks and leaves. This made Snacks absolutely apoplectic — he stood in this position for several minutes, hunt-and-kill chemicals flooding through his brain, claws in a rictus of preparation, even after the cricket had moved on to less dangerous areas of the 4×2″ container Snacks lives in. Snacks was so predatory that when I put my hand in his container to try to move the cricket back into his line of vision he attacked me! I’ve never actually been attacked by a mantis before, normally the most aggressive they get is that they climb up on my hand to try to get out of their container. But Snacks lashed out at me as though I were a soft, juicy cricket smaller than himself and I felt what Jackson Publick would no-doubt call The Grip Of The Mantis! Now, Snacks is, as I say, only three inches long and a stick-like insect, so I was never really in any danger, but for a split second I knew how it felt to be a cricket. (We have since made up.)

The pint-sized 1.5-inch pipsqueak in picture 3 is our old pal Booie, still the runt and still bringing up the rear. Booie just recently made the jump from fruit-flies to baby crickets, and is something of a picky eater. The other two will go pouncing after whatever I put inside their containers, but Booie will let a baby cricket hop happily around his container for days before deciding to go ahead and eat it. I’m thinking that perhaps he’s secretly a vegetarian.

More mantisy goodness below the fold.

I’ve noticed that their eyes change color from moment to moment, depending, I think, on the light and their mood. Sometimes their eyes will be solid black, sometime they will be solid green (or brown), and sometimes they will have little dots of black in their otherwise solid-green (or brown) eyes. Here we see Ceiling, who has developed into a fine brown mantis, in the middle of enjoying a bite of cricket. If you have the nerve to click on the picture, you’ll be able to see that he is sucking out a big bubble of cricket-blood and, in fact, his mouth is full of it at the moment, his mandible wide and his head swelled with the intake, as his eyes turn green with blood-lust.

This moody nightscape shows Snacks after he’s finally nabbed his cricket and is in the process of instructing it in the ways of the food chain. You can’t see it that clearly here, but Snacks’s eyes have gone from almost-entirely minty-green to a bulging black.

Here, Snacks pauses in his dinner to give the camera his very best cute-puppy-dog look.

“You lookin’ at me?” His dinner completed, Ceiling addresses his provider and asks “You want a piece a me? I just ate a cricket bigger than my head, you want a piece a me?” (Please note that Ceiling, and Snacks before him, are shown hanging from the ceilings of their enclosures. The pictures have been rotatedto reduce feelings of vertigo.


6 Responses to “Mantis update”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Crickets have no soul, message recieved.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Your Mantis Chronicles are so cool that I am finally discarding my lifelong terror (sparked by watching The Deadly Mantis at too young an age).

  3. planettom says:

    You should stage a live-action version of that 1970s Fundimensions plastic model diorama.

    As seen here.

  4. teamwak says:

    When David Attenborough finally retires, I think you should move into animal documentaries. You have a knack for it 🙂

    ” You see, ladies and gentleman, that was a tasty, tasty gazelle” 😉

  5. cassiacat says:

    Hey! As previously described in my last comment, Mortimer is as tiny and finicky as your Booie was at the time of this journalizing. Maybe it’s an adolescent thing. Doesn’t every adolescent go through their finicky, pseudo-vegetarian phase?