Keeping insects as pets requires some extra research into native versus non-native species, laws about keeping insects in your local area (usually applies to poisonous or invasive species). Also, like exotic animals, insects of some types may not be imported or kept in North America, without permits, licenses or other paperwork.
I would prefer something low maintenance and local. I’m not taking responsibility for an invasive species which might find a way to escape or breed, or anything else we don’t need more bugs doing.
Probably a quiet bug, not prone to escape from a jar with holes in the lid. Nothing poisonous or likely to bite, sting, or otherwise draw blood. Considering the lifespan of most insects, something like a butterfly isn’t a good choice. Although a cockroach could seem a practical choice, it’s not for me.
However, you can get some exotic and colourful creatures. I’d consider a spider. I did keep one in my window pane when I was a kid. Not intentionally, she just ended up there and I let her stay. In spring I discovered she had become a mother over the winter. There were hundreds of tiny spiders in my bedroom for awhile. I had put her and her nest (I’m calling it a nest) in a jar at some point. I waited a few days because it was pretty amazing to watch all those little spiders. But, I didn’t want them to die so I took them to the rooftop of my house and let them all free. They mostly set off on drafts of air rather than walking over the roof. I learned quite a bit about common spiders back then. I’m remembering more as I write this.
Like any pet, there’s a lot to consider with bug ownership—time, money and space being key concerns—and there are trendy pet bugs as much as their are trendy designer dogs. Ramsey’s journey began with books, and a lot of trial and error to figure out what kinds of food and living conditions different bugs required (errors oftentimes resulting in dead insects). Since his first pill bugs and earwigs, Ramsey has raised nine different species of praying mantis and several species of millipedes, spiders, and (really huge) stick insects, to name a few. Four giant silk moths currently flutter around his office space.
You could look for an ant farm. Maybe not as popular these days but certainly one way to start having insects as pets.
Others easily available:
- praying mantis
- centipedes and milipedes
- silk worms