Ant keeping is probably one of the most challenging pet related hobbies, I have kept many different species of creatures, reptiles and animals, none have ever felt as intensely challenging and rewarding as keeping Ants.
However this is from my perspective as a collector, I keep various different native and exotic ant species that all require different environments and have their own unique struggles to contend with, some colonies grow into vast empires! Others are able to deliver painful stings, some are calm and mellow with great joy and ease to keep, I experience a wide spectrum of the hobby through my choices to push myself, my understanding and knowledge of Ants and how to successfully keep them, I don't always get it right, I'm far from perfect, but I am determined.
Ants like Messor species mentioned in the linked video, are so enjoyable to keep, these seed collectors are so docile, some species have small colonies other grow to a pretty fair size just ask my friend Ant Holleufer! their behaviour as a species never ceases to be enjoyable to watch, their greatest challenge is in successful founding, often once matured, they are pretty hardy, their long term food solutions make their feeding regime quite generous compared to other species, harvester ants can stores months worth of food resources at any given time, this makes them great if you are looking for a lower maintenance species to keep.
If you have just started Ant keeping and all these things feel totally alien to you, don't panic, you have plenty of time to learn and the ant keeping community, the vast amount of youtube content and of-course my blog, are all here to help you on your journey of discovery.
The everyday life of an ant keeper, can be as complicated or as simple as you would like it to be, often people catch "Antkeepernitis" an incurable infection that causes the patient to buy multiple colonies of ants and bask in their glory! its sadly quite contagious it speculatively infects around 99.9% of the ant keeping community.
For those beginning this road into the Hobby, start small, start simple, its a journey, its more like the hobby of bonsai tree's than go karting, it takes patience, it takes time, but as with any hobby, the more time you put into it, if you have passion, dedication, you both grow together, you feel the amazing feat of taking a colony from a Queen to an empire, seeing your first workers emerge, or the first time they forage, its a hobby filled with curiosity, just in the early days you have to be careful that you don't get too curious and overly stress a founding colony, i think this lesson only ever really comes with time, experience and a sort of maturity into the hobby, there is probably not a soul alive who has made the initiation into this critical error, failure is not losing a colony, it will happen, this hobby presents unusual challenges, with an incredible amount of learning, not just about Ants and their various genus and species, but about the environment, how to master and control an environment to successfully keep your ants, its about nutrition, lets face it you often end up down a scientific rabbit hole to progress, the famous line of a pokemon master, "Got to catch them all" to do this you have to know the pokemon, what it needs, how to care for it, this is where "Antkeepernitis" kicks in, so be careful!
In the beginning you have a Queen and months of little to no changes, She has to lay brood, the brood has to develop, at this stage if the Queen has a few workers, they have a limited capacity as to the workload they can undertake, between the various tasks they must complete, Ants spend an incredible amount of time, cleaning their environment, cleaning and caring for the brood, foraging for food and the labour intensive task of harvesting that resource and bringing it back to the colony, its a lot of work for a small colony to complete, as the colony grows you will experience more and more of the workers, foraging, they use the youngest, weaker workers, as nursery nurses, they have the numbers to keep a sustained work force within the queens chamber nursing the brood, the queen and doing all of the cleaning, the older more mature workers which will most likely number in the majority, will undertake the foraging and resource management roles, you colony is now developing the logistics it needs to really start to grow and become interesting, depending on the species you care for will ultimately dictate the work load, the size of the colony, the size of their out world/foraging area and nest capacity, whether your using additional live cleaner insects, such as springtails, isopods, beetles, etc.
If you have any Questions regarding Ant keeping or would like me to create any content to help explain or for tutorial and learning purposes, let me know in the comments below!
Ants & The Colonialist