My mantid enclosure

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sschind

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A friend of mine (dwalls247) gave me a bunch of Chinese mantid nymphs a while back and this is the grow out enclosure I built for them.

Start with a 31qt homz style container (16x13x12) from Wal Mart.

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next I cut a round hole in the top just a bit smaller than the diameter of a 32oz deli cup.

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then I cut the top off one deli cup leaving about 1 inch of the sides down from the lip and glued it into the hole.

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next I cut the bottom out of another deli cup so that it slips into and out of the hole.

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The bottom lip of the inserted deli cup is about 1/2 inch above the "shelf" I created buy cutting a piece of egg crate to fit and gluing window screen to it. I took one deli cup lid and cut a larger hole in the top and glues a piece of plastic knitters canvas to it so I can swap lids if I want (top photo) I did this because I get a lot of fungus gnats in my room and if I want free food I just put the lid with the larger holes in it on the deli cup and leave it on over night. I put a few pieces of rotting fruit into the container, the flies go into the container and then I just swap the lid with the larger holes with the regular lid to keep them in.

If I want to use fruit flies I just pop off the lid, tap in the flies an pop the lid back on. You probably wouldn't need the second deli cup insert but I figured it would help keep the mantids in by creating a tunnel they would have to crawl up. A few still get to the top but not as many as when I didn't use it. I might consider gluing a piece of the knitters canvas to the bottom of this as well which would keep the mantids out completely but still should let the flies drop through.

Using this container I didn't have to worry about tons of nymphs escaping when I took off the top and yet I had a big enough opening to work with (rather than just a small hole plugged with foam) as to not spill flies all over.

I'm not completely happy with the shelf with the screen glued to the egg crate so I may try to tweak that a bit. I set it up with the screen on the bottom and the flies have a tendency to fall through the egg crate and just sit on the screen where the nymphs cant get to them. The fix may be as simple as flipping it over so the screen is on top.

Also, when it is full of nymphs pulling the shelf out and cleaning the bottom is out of the question so I need to come up with a fix for that as well. I thought about cutting the bottom out of this container and nesting it into another one so I just have to lift this one out to clean the bottom but I am not sure how much space there is between the walls and the nymphs might crawl between them.

The downside of using this for the Chinese mantids is that they grew so fast and were so cannibalistic that I only used it for about a month before I had to move them out to individual cups.

It should work great for more communal species and I am going to play around with the inside decorations so I can use it for a batch of tail less whip scorpions I am expecting soon.

Finally, I didn't add any additional ventilation and it seemed to work fine. I just misted it through the deli every 3 days or so but I might need to come up with something else for other species or for adult. I can cut additional holes in the top obviously and add screen to the side pretty easily so that shouldn't be a problem.

I just wish the whole thing was clearer. It works OK for grow outs but I'd do a bunch of these for permanent displays if they were a bit clearer. I see some pretty clear tubs on some of the UK sites but all the totes we have here in the US are pretty opaque. Anybody have any ideas on that.

Feel free to critique and make suggestions.

 

CosbyArt

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Interesting concept of the egg crate shelf as you call it. It's given me a few ideas for my new diy container.

Only thing I can think of that will allow you to easily remove it when it is full of nymphs is to cut the shelf into sections and quick-tie into place to act as hinges. Or simply hinge one side of the shelf with quick ties through the container itself, and lift the entire shelf - but that would mess with your plants and allow escapees.

I'll repost later to show what I am talking about. ;)

I just wish the whole thing was clearer. It works OK for grow outs but I'd do a bunch of these for permanent displays if they were a bit clearer. I see some pretty clear tubs on some of the UK sites but all the totes we have here in the US are pretty opaque. Anybody have any ideas on that.
Same in my area nearly all plastic is opaque. They do that often as they can use cheaper plastic as it doesn't have to be high quality (clear), and they can also mix in some recycled plastic scrap from their manufacturing process to further save money. They even save more money on the necessary molds of the opaque, as the molds don't have to be given a high precision polish to make a mirror smooth finish like the clear plastic requires.

Only options to make it "see thru" is to cut out panels in the plastic container and cover with mesh, plexiglass, pieces of clear plastic, or clear acrylic sheets.

 

LAME

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+1 Plexiglas/acrylic sheets

As this would be the "clearest" material you'll find, and it'll look good if you actually take time on it when gluing.

Of course if its not around the reach of other pets or children, and it wont be getting moved around. You could always take the cheap mans route and use clear plastic wrap/Cling wrap. LOL ( ive never done that... Just popped up.) :D

 

sschind

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Great ideas with the acrylic cut outs I'll look into it. I could even use trim pieces from woodworking/paneling etc. to give it a more finished look. I guess I should have asked Santa for a roto zip or some other cutting tool.

as far as the shelf goes I'm not even sure I would need it. Originally I had thought the nymphs would stay beneath it and it would provide a great surface for them to molt from but the gaps along the edges allowed most of them to get above it anyway and that's where most of them sat although they did seem to go below it to molt so it did work for that purpose.

 

sschind

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+1 Plexiglas/acrylic sheets

As this would be the "clearest" material you'll find, and it'll look good if you actually take time on it when gluing.

Of course if its not around the reach of other pets or children, and it wont be getting moved around. You could always take the cheap mans route and use clear plastic wrap/Cling wrap. LOL ( ive never done that... Just popped up.) :D
I had a very bad experience with plastic wrap once. click here for a link to the story http://mantidforum.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=32312&page=2 its the second post on the page. Its a long story but kinda funny.
 
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CosbyArt

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Here is a quick diagram of the movable plastic egg crate shelf ideas I had. You can move the entire shelf (Whole), or simply a small square in the middle big enough to fit your needs (Section) - or both to ensure you can open it up enough no matter what.

A quick and cheap method would be to use three quick-ties on one edge of the shelf, on the ends and one in the middle, to act as a hinge. On the other shelf edge use a twist-tie or reusable tie to attach as a hatch. See the diagram I made below for a example.

Of course alternative materials could be used to make it work more smoothly, and give it a more professional look. The only problem with the shelf would be danger to mantis nymphs when closing the shelf. Nymphs could become trapped/crushed around the hinge area especially, and the latch area too. A quick thorough check before closing the shelf should prevent such problems though.

diy-habitat-shelf.jpg


 

sschind

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Thanks Cos. Neat diagrams. Once the holiday fracas settles down I'll look into it. I don't have any mantids in it right now and if I use it for baby TL whips I won't need it but it might come in handy for the next one.

Quick question what program did you use to do the diagram? I've been looking for something to design a shelving unit but I can't seem to find one that I really like.

 
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CosbyArt

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Thanks Cos. Neat diagrams. Once the holiday fracas settles down I'll look into it. I don't have any mantids in it right now and if I use it for baby TL whips I won't need it but it might come in handy for the next one.

Quick question what program did you use to do the diagram? I've been looking for something to design a shelving unit but I can't seem to find one that I really like.
Thanks, I used Photoshop, but Illustrator would have likely been faster :D Thankfully I bought the Adobe CS4 Design Standard set when I was a university student - huge discount, and had student loans to buy it.

You can however achieve the same results in about any image editing program, as it just a simple technical/diagram style drawing. Here are some freeware/open source ones that I have installed too - FireAlphca, Gimp, Krita, Inkscape, AzDrawing2/AzPainting2, etc (tons of others)

Although I have tried about 20+ image editing/drawing programs, and have most still installed just in case, my favorite has to be the new Clip Studio Paint program for true drawing with my graphics tablet. If you can get it on sale you can buy the Pro version for around $30.

 

dmina

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Wow... great job bouncing idea's off each other...and what a great concept... not so crafty myself... still stuck on plastic containers... but I make a mean plastic cup home!

 

CosbyArt

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Wow... great job bouncing idea's off each other...and what a great concept... not so crafty myself... still stuck on plastic containers... but I make a mean plastic cup home!
Same here, just plastic houses. From the photos you post I'd agree that you do make one heck of a cup home. :D I might see about getting off into the glass, plexiglass, or acrylics sometime.

Reptibreeze cages ...bush died so I added fake leaf garland
Not sure what this has to do with Sschind's enclosure, or any of the topics covered. I assume you posted twice to the wrong message, right? What's up with the 1" image - can't see anything.

 

dmina

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No need to apologize... We all get confused or "mess up"..at least I know I do... I just made a whole comment on a species I don't even have...lol

Great ideas guys! The cups are all I can handle at this time...LOL too many mantis... not enough time or money to be making the larger containers.. I am going to have to get into larger homes...I really like the idea of the plants and all... the living containers... someday!

 

CosbyArt

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Yes I messed up sorry ; (
Indeed no worries, I was just curious if I missed something or what was going on. ;)

No need to apologize... We all get confused or "mess up"..at least I know I do... I just made a whole comment on a species I don't even have...lol

Great ideas guys! The cups are all I can handle at this time...LOL too many mantis... not enough time or money to be making the larger containers.. I am going to have to get into larger homes...I really like the idea of the plants and all... the living containers... someday!
The whole D and H species thing? I haven't a clue what the D or H is without looking (and wouldn't have ever noticed anyway myself). :D

I know of a alternative container with similar size - empty 5 gallon oil containers used at restaurants in their friers. I've started a small collection of 'em and with a few dollars in materials they work great once cleaned. I'll post photos when I get one 100% completed.

 

LAME

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I'm interested in that there grease fryer oil container, since...well.. I see them daily and have access to any thrown out containers.

same for the mayo/relish containers... Like the one I modified and sent mantidbro.

 

dmina

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I have been collecting the nonna cookie container thingys...LOL







Here is my pretzel container:



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And trying to empty this mushroom container:

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