Ancient Pets To Ant Farms: History of Ant Keeping

Ancient Pets To Ant Farms: History of Ant Keeping

The pioneers of Ant-keeping can be traced back thousands of years, with evidence of ant hills being kept as pets by ancient civilizations such as the Greeks and Romans.

The earliest known record of the ant-keeping hobby can be traced back to 1956. A man named Milton Levine began creating homes for ants and selling these pet ant kits at a circus fair. According to Levine, from the moment they opened, these plastic homes for ants were selling like crazy, and their popularity grew so quickly. The ant home consisted of gravel, sandwiched between two clear panes of plexiglass, as well as the depiction of a farm in the background. The ants would dig through the gravel, making for excellent viewing into the lives of how ants lived and worked.

These ant-keeping kits were called ‘ant farms’, a term which to this day is still trademarked by Uncle Milton Industries, Inc. based in Westlake Village, California.

Uncle Milton Industries remains a respected and trusted name in the world of ant keeping and continues to innovate and provide quality products for ant enthusiasts of all ages.

In the 1980s and 1990s, pet ant keeping took a more serious turn, becoming less of a novelty hobby. It is unclear where serious ant keeping started in Europe or Asia, but it rapidly gained popularity, following the rise of herpetoculture (the captive rearing of exotic reptiles and amphibians) and tarantula keeping in the global pet trade. Ant-keeping supply stores in various Asian and European countries started offering professional equipment and formicarium designed specifically for housing ant colonies. They even started selling entire colonies with a queen, a new concept as previously, Uncle Milton only offered worker ants due to shipping laws.

The design of the original ant farm was revolutionized, with new types of formicarium made of plaster-of-Paris, cork, and automated aerated concrete becoming popular for housing pet ants. By the late 1990s to 2000s, pet ant keeping evolved into a thriving underground hobby in Europe and Asia, and the knowledge base among hobbyists on the captive care and husbandry of ant colonies grew and improved.

Ant-keeping is still an underground hobby in Europe and Asia, but it has a dedicated following and continues to grow in popularity. In these regions, ant keeping is seen as a unique and fascinating way to learn about the biology and behavior of ants and is appreciated for its educational value.

Ant enthusiasts have a strong online community where they share tips and experiences with each other, and there are specialty stores and suppliers offering a wide range of products and accessories to support the hobby.

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