What is Ant Keeping? – Ant Keeping Guide For Beginners

Hi guys! I hope you’re doing well!

Today we’re going to learn what ant keeping is, and why so many people are starting to keep ants as little pets!

Let’s get into it!


So you wanna know what ant keeping is? In a nutshell, ant keeping is nothing more than a term to indicate the hobby of keeping ants as pets.

Yeah, you heard right! Ants as pets! Around the world, more and more people are starting to join this amazing and underrated hobby!

This unusual hobby started to go mainstream in the mid-1950s, thanks to the famous entrepreneur Milton Levine. As a kid, he liked to watch the ants work relentlessly all day long, digging tunnels in his backyard and going up and down the driveway in search of food.

As an adult, he created one of the best-selling toys of all time: the Uncle Milton’s ant farm.

Vintage ant farm ad

The ant farm was built using the so-called sandwich ant nest setup, which consists of two acrylic plates placed together, separated by a small space filled with dirt.

With this type of setup, the ant keeper can watch the ants dig tunnels in the dirt, and can clearly see everything that happens inside the formicarium.

The toy was so successful, that during the next two decades Levine sold over twelve million of them! Since then, the hobby of ant keeping has grown at a steady pace, evolving from a simple kid pastime, to an actual hobby enjoyed by thousands of people around the world!

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In the last decade, the hobby has grown at an extremely fast pace. Now there are actual companies that are specialized in building and selling products dedicated to ant keeping! Nests, ant food, accessories, and even the ants themself!

Every year there are new products and new companies that dedicate their entire time to facilitating the job of the ant keepers, attracting more and more people to the hobby.

Antstore antcube arena combi

For example, you can check out this other article, in which I make a detailed review of the super cool glass nest in the picture above! This is the perfect nest for beginners, and its unique design makes it one of the best-looking products currently available on the market!

Why Keep Ants as Pets?

But why keep ants as pets? you wonder. Well, there are a lot of reasons to choose to keep ants instead of other animals.

The first reason is that, contrary to what you may think, ants are extremely cool creatures. There are hundreds of different species of ants around the world, and each one is different from the other and has its own peculiar characteristics.

A Formica cinerea colony inside a ytong nest

Some have giant heads, which they use to break seeds and eat the tasty part inside!

Some have the ability to spray a particular type of acid to defend themself, and some are actual farmers, creating tiny farms of aphids, which they milk to get their extremely sweet honeydew!

It’s super fascinating to watch the ants’ behaviors! How they organize inside the colony, how they find food, how they build their nest from scratch, and how they care for the queen, the mother of all the ants in the colony.

You can learn a lot of things just by watching the ants!

Another reason to keep ants as pets is that they are extremely satisfying! Starting a colony from a single queen is an amazing achievement!

Messor barbarus colony inside a Anthouse Acrylic NaturColor 20x10

Watching the colony grow from a couple of workers to more than a thousand ants gives you an awesome feeling! The ants grow with you and, considering that some queen ants live more than 15 years, they can be a big part of your life!

If you wanna find out more about the reasons why you should keep ants as little pets, you should definitely check out this other guide! In this one, I list lots of great reasons to start getting into this amazing hobby called ant keeping!

How Do I Get Started With Ant Keeping?

Getting started with this hobby is extremely easy and doesn’t require a lot of money. Actually, you can become an ant keeper without spending any money at all! All you need is a newly mated queen ant, and a place to keep her safe.

Usually, to create the perfect environment for the queen, the ant keepers use the so-called test tube setup. Basically, it consists of a normal test tube, half-filled with water.

A cotton ball blocks the water from entering the queen chamber, and creates a humid surface from which the ants can drink with no problem.

Pheidole pallidula colony inside a test tube

If you wanna find out more about how to build a test tube setup, I would suggest you check out this detailed tutorial! It covers all the steps you need to create the best possible environment for your queen!

This is all you need to start your own ant colony! Once the colony has grown to a certain size, and it becomes difficult to feed the ants without having some escapees, you can move them to an ant nest.

Online you can find a ton of videos on how to build an ant nest without spending any money, using things you can easily find in your house. For example, you can build a dirt-based ant nest using just an old jar, some dirt, and some plants!

Jar terrarium

In this other article, I make a detailed tutorial on how to make the extremely cool glass jar in the picture above! It’s a fun and relaxing little project you can make on the weekend, and it doesn’t require any particular skill!

So this is it! The amazing world of ant keeping!

I hope to have convinced you to give this really awesome and underrated hobby a try! I promise you will not regret it!

I hope you have found this guide helpful!

WaKooshi venus nest

If you’re planning to buy some ant nests and start your adventure into the world of ant keeping, I would suggest you check out this product review! It’s a really cool ant nest made by WaKooshi, a great ant keeping company based in the U.K.!

Thank you!

A massive thank you to all the BRUMA Ants Plus subscribers who make it possible for us to continue creating amazing ant keeping content for you all!

Real-world impact!

Thanks to the BRUMA Ants Plus subscribers and our partner Ecologi we are planting lots of trees all around the world! Click on the Ecologi logo to see the real-world impact of this amazing community!

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