a close up of an ant walking on a plant

Ants are an incredibly popular pet choice for first time pet owners, and with good reason. Not only are they relatively low maintenance, but they can also provide hours of entertainment. Ants are members of the family Formicidae and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

When it comes to caring for ants as pets, there are a few things to consider. First, you’ll need to decide what type of ant you’d like to keep. There are many species of ants available, from the common black garden ant to the more exotic fire ant. You’ll also need to consider the size of your enclosure and the type of food you’ll be providing for your ants.

Ants are a very popular pet choice for families that are looking to have a small pet that doesn’t take up much of their time. While ants may seem like a strange pet choice, they are actually very intelligent and social creatures that make great pets for those looking for something small and easy to take care of.

They’re easy to take care of, their needs are few, in most cases they only need a little bit of food and a few drops of water every few days. They’re relatively cheap to take care of, they don’t make a mess in your home, and they’ll never be noisy. 

Kids love them because it’s something they can watch for hours at a time, and each day they’ll see new additions to their Ants’ homes as tunnels are dug. They’re very forgiving pets because even if they’re not given food every day, they’ll still survive as long as they’re otherwise well taken care of.

Because Ants are found just about anywhere, the start-up costs are low for keeping Ants as a pet. You’ll be able to catch as many as you need by catching them outside of an Ant hill. Because they eat just about anything including cooking scraps, feeding them will cost next to nothing as well.

It can be incredibly rewarding to watch your ants interact with each other and observe their behavior. With a little patience and dedication, you can learn a lot about these amazing creatures.

Caring for ants as pets can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Not only will you get to observe their fascinating behaviors, but you’ll also get to provide them with the care and attention they need to thrive. So why not give it a try?

Ants Information

  • Average Length: Less than 1cm
  • Average Weight: 60 mg
  • Skin Appearance: Hard, waterproof exoskeleton
  • Skin Colors: Black, brown, yellow and red
  • Grooming Needs: Low
  • Shedding: Briefly until papua stage ends
  • Sensitive to Touch: Yes
  • Biting Tendency: Yes
  • Tolerance to Heat and Cold: No
  • Good Pet: Fun to watch
  • Safe with Children: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: No
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes
  • Good for Less Experienced Pet Owners: Yes
  • Weight Gain: Normal
  • Average Life Span: Up to 4 years

Physical Appearance of Ants

a look inside an ant colony and what everyone is doing

Ants are small insects that are less than 1 centimeter long. They have three segments in their body – head, thorax and abdomen with the thorax section narrower than the head and abdomen. Their bodies are covered with a thick exoskeleton that protects them. Ants look small but are very strong, they can lift 10 times their own weight.

They have two elbow-shaped antennas on their head and three rows of legs.

Ants always live in colonies and there are three types in every colony – queen ants, worker ants and drones. Any female ant that is not the queen is a worker ant, and only male ants are the drones. They look different but are of the same species. Queen ants are the largest in the colony and have wings. Female ants are smaller than the queen ants and male ants are the smallest ants. Most ants are females so that the work can get done. Male ants’ only job is to mate with their queen so she can keep laying eggs. Male ants usually die days after they mate.

There are over 10,000 species of ants and they can be many different colors. The most common colors are black, red, brown, and yellow.

Temperament of Ants

Ants are social insects that live in colonies. Depending on the species they can be active during different parts of the day.

Worker ants cannot lay eggs, but they look after the eggs and make sure the conditions are best for them to hatch. Worker ants dig the egg chambers so that its warm enough for the eggs without being too warm. The female ants will repair the nest and protect it from predators.

Male ants almost never leave the nest . Their only job is to mate with the queens. Most male ants will die within a week of being

Their Compatibility with Children

an ant in a gel ant colony

Watching the ants grow and caring for them can be fun for children. Children older than 6 can help care for ants. Children can add food or even a few drops of water into their tank for them.

Always have an adult supervise children when they are around the ant farm. Let children know that the only time they should open the ant farm is to feed them. It’s also not a good idea to move it around. If the farm breaks open it can lead to the ants escaping and making a mess in your home.

Living Space for Ants

There are two ways to set up an enclosure for ants. Ready-made ant farms are available at your local pet store or you can make one yourself. Buying one from the store is easier, but with minimal carpentry skills you can build an ant farm as big as you’d like.

Ready-Made Ant Farm

A ready-made ant farm can be purchased from your local pet store or online. They should have a sand-filled or gel ant colony that has glass or acrylic sides. Ant farms are normally 12 inches tall and you can see everything that the ants are doing inside. Sometimes the ant farms may not be filled with sand but you can ask the pet store to fill it with sand. There is another variety that is filled with a gel. Both sand or gel can be added easily at home.

Home-Made Ant Farm

With a home-made ant farm you get some flexibility that you don’t get from a store bought one. You can fill it with sand or gel, and you can make it as large or as small as you’d like. If you plan to fill the ant farm with gel you can make your ant farm thicker. The gel will not block your view the same way sand does. It’s possible to make the ant farm about an inch thick if you’d like but typically they’re about 1 centimeter thick.

One of the easiest ways to make an ant farm is to cut pieces of acrylic to the size that you want. Once you have all the pieces cut to the correct size you then need to use a silicone sealant to keep everything bonded together. Once the silicone sealant has cured (after 24 hours) you can then fill your new ant farm with sand or gel. Remember that the top should be at least partially removable so that you can remove any dead ants or add food or water if you need to.

a lot of ants in a plastic ant colony


Place the ant farm on a flat and stable area to make sure the ant farm doesn’t fall. The farm shouldn’t be placed in an area that receives direct sunlight or under any form of intense lighting. Direct sun light can cause their ant farm to overheat.


Most ant species need the temperature kept between 68 and 82°F. This moderate temperature range helps them stay healthy and not overheat. If your house is not normally in this temperature range, a heat mat should be placed below the ant farm.

It’s a good idea to keep a thermometer inside the tank so you can regularly check the temperature.

The Attention Needs of Ants

You only have to feed them and look after their temperature needs.

Avoid handling the ants because they can be accidentally killed. Ants are very small and delicate. The only time they should be handled is when they are being transported or moved from one tank to another.

Health Issues

Ants don’t live long enough for them to have any noticeable health issues

Feeding Ants

ants love eating crickets

Ants are omnivores and can be given a variety of food like bread, cake crumbs, tiny pieces of fruit, insects or meat. If your ant farm has gel rather than sand you don’t need to feed your ants anything. The ants can eat the gel and it will not only feed them but keep them hydrated as well.

For insects the best ones for them are soft-body insects like flies, crickets, mealworms, or wax worms. Insects are important because they are a good protein source. Around 4 to 6 insects should be given to them at once. The insects should be dead before putting them in the ant farm.

Ants should be fed regularly because it is important to keep them healthy. After you feed them, you don’t need to add any more until you see that they’ve eaten most of what you fed them last time. Every time you feed your ants check how much food your ants are eating. If they are leaving behind food, you can wait a bit longer between feedings.

Ants like to eat sugary foods. Bread can be soaked in sugar water and will give them water with their food. Sugar water can be made by mixing seven parts water with one part sugar.

If your ants are in a sand filled enclosure you’ll want to add a few drops of water to the farm. The water can be added to a small container at the top of the farm or an eye dropper can be used.

Related Questions:

How do I Get Ants for My Ant Farm?

Most people will find an ant hill near their home and collect ants from it. Most if not all the ants you collect will be female worker ants. This is fine because you don’t need a queen ant. As long as all the ants are from the same colony they should all work together to build a home in your ant farm.

You’ll want to get enough ants at the start of your farm so that you don’t need to get more later. If you get more later, it’s possible that a new colony is there and the new ants you’ll introduce will fight with the existing ants in your farm.

Another option is to order ants from a store online. They’ll send you a vial of ants from the same colony and you just need to add them to your ant farm.

How do Ants Communicate with Each Other?

Ants don’t have ears and have poor eyesight. They mostly communicate through chemicals. Ants will use their antennae to detect the pheromones left by other ants. The pheromones can tell other ants about food or danger or that everything is normal.

Do Ants Poop?

The short answer is yes they poop. And just like humans they are specific about where they poop. They poop only at a particular area inside their nest, and unless you know where this spot is it will be difficult for you to spot. Because they’re particular about where they poop, you know that their nest will stay clean.

Ant larvae don’t poop. They hold their poop and that keeps their nursery clean. Once they grow into a pupa, they excrete their poop.

Author Profile
A woman with curly hair holding a cat.
Contributing Author & Social Media Expert

Maryna is an animal expert that has had dozens of animals in her life over the years. She has never found an animal that she didn't love immediately. It seems like every year she finds kittens that have been abandoned by their mom and she nurses them to health and finds homes for them. She contributes her vast knowledge about animals and family pets to our website and we're forever grateful to have her working with us. She's also an amazing graphics designer and has designed all of the social media images that we use across all platforms.