Malaysian Shield Mantis (Rhombodera basalis)

The Malaysian Shield Mantis is a really interesting type of praying mantis that looks like it evolved to wear body armor.

Like many pet praying mantes, this fascinating creature is relatively easy to care for and makes a beautiful display for your home.

In this Rhombodera basalis guide, you will learn more about the armored mantis, including proper habitat setup, feeding tips, and maintenance guidelines.

Read on to learn more and become the shield mantis-keeping guru!

Common Name Malaysian Shield Mantis
Family Name Mantidae
Scientific Name Rhombodera basalis
Use Pets
Temperament Non-aggressive
Lifespan 12 to 18 Months
Diet Insectivore
Adult Size 4 to 6 in
Breeding Type Egg Layer
Care Level Moderate
Minimum Tank Size 5-10 Gallons
pH 6.5-7.5
Hardness Moderate
Temperature 75-80°F

What Are Malaysian Shield Mantis?

Commonly known as the Malaysian Shield Mantis, Rhombodera basalis is part of the Mantidae family.

This species gets its common name from the fact that it looks like it’s sporting a wide shield behind its back.

Native to Malaysia, these tropical insects are eye-catching and easy to care for.

They are also known to have outstanding camouflage ability due to their posturing and coloring.

With their wide-reaching forelegs and their body shape, they blend into the background easily when threatened.

What Does Malaysian Shield Mantis Look Like?

The Malaysian Shield Mantis is an exotic piece of nature that can make a unique inhabitant of any pet owner’s terrarium.

This large mantis can reach a maximum size of about 6 inches long and comes in a variety of different colors, depending on its surroundings.

Its adaptive camouflage helps keep it safe from predators.

It has two large eyes at the top of its head and two smaller eyes located further down on its face.

It also has two antennae at the front of its face to detect any movement nearby.

Its head is large and triangular and its body is mostly a forest green, although its coloring may vary.

Additionally, it has long, slender legs that allow it to climb and grab food.

Its two arms are held together by a thin membrane to form a “shield”, giving it its name.

Benefits Of Using Malaysian Shield Mantis

Rhombodera basalis makes incredibly interesting and gorgeous pets for any vivarium.

Not only do they provide an interesting focal point for the tank, but they also act as living pest control, helping you to keep nuisance bugs and flies away from your other occupants!

They are quite durable, hardy, and relatively easy to care for, making them an ideal choice for beginner pet owners or those with limited experience.

Furthermore, the Malaysian Shield Mantis comes in an array of different colors and patterns, adding an extra splash of color to your enclosure.

With the right setup and care, you can keep these fascinating insects healthy and content for more than a year!

Rhombodera basalis: A Malaysian Shield Mantis Care Guide!

Malaysian Shield Mantis Facts

Rhombodera basalis is a tropical species found primarily in Malaysia and Singapore, boasting an impressive adult size of several inches.

These intelligent creatures are famous for their aggressive hunting behavior and unique, triangular-shaped ‘shields’ along its back.

They feed primarily on live insects and have a typically long lifespan of almost two years.

Breeding cycles are cued by changes in temperature, and females will produce numerous eggs that can be incubated until hatching.


The Malaysian Shield Mantis is a species of praying mantis native to Southeast Asia, especially the Malaysian peninsula.

Its natural habitat includes tropical rainforests, mangrove swamps, grasslands, and areas near streams and rivers.

This mantis typically inhabits humid environments with ample foliage and moisture.

The Malaysian Shield Mantis is a voracious predator, eating insects such as flies, beetles, and other small arthropods.

They play an important role in controlling pest populations in the wild.


The Malaysian Shield Mantis is a carnivorous species that requires a diet of live (preferably flying) prey items in their natural habitat.

Commonly eaten prey include crickets, flies, smaller mantids, and most other insects they can catch.

They may also occasionally consume some small spiders and other arachnids for a protein boost.

In the wild, adults typically will feed on other larger insects, whereas the nymphs will tend to eat small insects like fruit flies.


The Malaysian Shield Mantis is a solitary creature, so it does not require much interaction with humans.

In fact, due to their passive nature, they are quite content to be left alone in their enclosure on their own.

That said, it is still important to handle Rhombodera basalis with care, as they can become stressed by rough handling.

As with most mantises, this species is not actually aggressive and poses no harm to humans or other animals.

As a general rule, it is not recommended to house multiple Shield Mantises together, as they have the potential to cannibalize each other. 

Although R. basalis is docile and harmless around humans and other animals, it should still be kept out of reach of small children and curious pets as a precaution.


The lifespan of the Malaysian Shield Mantis is typically between 12 to 18 months, with females typically living longer than males.

In their short lives, they will go through all their life stages.

After hatching from an egg, they go through six instar stages, meaning they molt six times throughout their lifespan.

As they molt, they grow larger and become more winged and mature in their appearance.

During their growth from an immature nymph to an adult, they feed on various insects that range in consumable size.

After reaching adulthood, they become sexually mature and ready to mate.


Malaysian Shield Mantis reproduce via sexual reproduction.

The first stage of reproduction starts when the female releases pheromones into the air to attract a mate.

The male will pick up on these scents and fly or climb to the female in order to mate. Once they have mated, the female will lay her eggs in a protective ootheca.

The ootheca can range from sizes of 1 cm to over 10 cm, containing anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred eggs.

Depending on the environmental temperature, the eggs will hatch in anywhere from two to eight weeks.

Once the eggs hatch, the young nymphs will feed on aphids or small fruit fly larvae.

As they continue to eat and molt, they will become larger and eventually reach adulthood.

To ensure the health of the Malaysian Shield Mantis, it is important to provide a habitat that is suitable for reproduction and growth.

Where To Find Malaysian Shield Mantis

Finding Rhombodera basalis for sale can be a tricky task as they are not widely available.

Your local pet store may carry them, but it is good to ask about food and habitat availability prior to purchase.

These mantids require a specific set-up and can be difficult to keep alive if not properly cared for.

In the wild, Malaysian Shield Mantis can be found in the tropical rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia.

If you cannot locate one in the wild, hobby breeders also offer captive-bred specimens online.

While hobby breeder mantids are typically hardier and more readily adapt to captivity, use caution when ordering online as wild-caught specimens may be stressed or carry parasites.

When purchasing, make sure the vendor is reputable and can provide details on care requirements.

Malaysian Shield Mantis Care

Caring for Rhombodera basalis involves creating its ideal habitat, with the right temperature, humidity, and hiding spaces.

You’ll need to prioritize feeding the mantis the right types of food and feeding it regularly, and maintaining the environment with regular cleaning and monitoring for diseases.

Tank Requirements

When setting up the ideal tank for a Malaysian Shield Mantis, there are several key elements to take into consideration.

The tank should be a minimum of 5 to 10 gallons and made of glass with secure feeding/cleaning holes.

The tank should be equipped with ideal terrarium lighting that mimics natural daylight or a 12-hour cycle of light/dark with an additional UV spotlight.

The temperature should range between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The terrarium substrate should be fine terrarium sand and peat moss, as well as hiding places and secured branches for the Mantis.

The pH should be slightly acidic, with a water hardness range of 5-8dGH.

With these ideal requirements, Rhombodera basalis will be content and healthy in its beautiful, comfortable new home.

What Does Malaysian Shield Mantis Eat?

Feeding R. basalis is a key part of keeping these fascinating creatures strong and active.

This mantis primarily feeds on small insects like fruit flies, locusts, and crickets as their main source of nourishment.

They will usually hunt the prey themselves if given the opportunity.

You can also feed them with an occasional waxworm or even a small piece of fruit as an occasional treat. 

Here is a list of the kinds of food you can feed your Malaysian Shield Mantis:

• Fruit flies
• Locusts
• Crickets
• Waxworms
• Small pieces of fruit as treats

Remember that your Malaysian Shield Mantis should be given food no more than what it can consume within 20 minutes.

Additionally, never overfeed them as it can lead to health problems and even death.

If you’re looking for a more detailed approach to feeding these critters, be sure to check out my ultimate DIY Praying Mantis food guide. I give a more in-depth explanation of the best foods and my favorite recipe.

What Do Mantises Eat? | Best Mantis Food & Feeding Guide!

Best Tankmates For Malaysian Shield Mantis

Rhombodera basalis is a solitary species that is usually best kept alone; however, there are a few tankmates that can be kept with it.

These species must be carefully chosen, as certain tankmates can be detrimental to the mantis’ health and well-being.

Violin Moths and springtails are both beneficial tankmates, as their presence promotes the health and safety of Malaysian Shield Mantis.

Violin moths are beneficial predators of pest insects that can invade the cage, while springtails help to keep the cage tidy by consuming debris and decaying matter.

Other small, solitary insect species, such as Ground Beetles, can also be kept with Shield Mantis as long as they are not overly aggressive.

Be sure to properly size the enclosure so that the mantis and its tankmates have plenty of room to move around without feeling crowded.


With proper care and attention, a Malaysian Shield Mantis can make a wonderful inhabitant of your terrarium.

Remember to do your research and take the time to understand the specific needs of your pet mantis.

This guide provides a great starting point, but always consult a knowledgeable exotic pet specialist if you have any additional questions or concerns.

With the right preparation, you can look forward to making special memories with Rhombodera basalis.

Frequently Asked Questions

The adult Malaysian shield mantis (Rhombodera basalis) can reach up to 4 to 6 inches in lenght.

A shield mantis is a type of praying mantis that is identified by its large, shieldlike head. The Malaysian shield mantis (Rhombodera basalis) is one of the largest species in the shield mantis family, reaching up to 6 inches in length. It is native to Malaysia, and often found near streams and rivers. Shield mantises are predominantly green or brown in color and display camouflage behaviors to avoid predators.

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