Termites honestly don't have a lot of attributes that ants do that would make them popular pets. The most obvious of them is their ecology and their status as a pest.
-Ants make good candidates for pets because:
-They're generalists, they can eat a variety of things.
-They're incredibly diverse and everywhere. Unless you're in Greenland or somewhere in the Arctic, chances are you've seen an ant.
Termites on the other hand are:
-Not generalists, many species only have a specific food sources they rely on.
-They don't have a widespread range and are much less diverse then ants. ~12,000 ant species vs ~3000 termite species. Not to mention nearly all of them are concentrated in the tropics and subtropics, 1/3rd of all termite diversity is in Africa. North America and Europe have a combined 60 or so species
-Many species are great at not being noticed. On that note a termite is around 100x more quieter then an ant.
-They aren't as resilient as ants.
-They have a much worse reputation. Where as ants are usually portrayed as hard workers, termites are normally known for their ability to screw up wooden structures.
There's a few other factors at play here such as the fact that finding info on termites around the web, especially for certain species let alone genus is pretty hard. The information is there but sparse. Honestly I would consider rearing termites a lot more like growing a culture of some sort, like a springtail culture or a petri-dish. You provide them a medium and they stay there, eat it, expand.
Pretty much this.
There are some nice things about termites. They are pretty easy and generally don't escape. However. I had Formosan subterranean termites that would keep building a mud tunnel up the glass that I'd have to break down once a day. Most termites will just stay in the dirt or wood.
If they do escape, they dry up SUPER fast. So the worry of them making a colony in the walls is pretty minimal, unless you put them near a water leak or/and live in a humid/tropical environment. Even Drywood termites actually dry up super fast (at least for me they do, dunno what is up with that). But, like subterranean termites won't survive long at all if they ended up getting out.
They are kinda boring though. I'd probably say out of the termites I've had, the only interesting ones have been Formosan subterranean termites. Why? Because they were exactly like ants...they explored a ton, very active and they were always doing stuff. They aren't native though, and most of the native termites for North America are pretty boring. We don't get any of the cool marauding termites, or fungus growing termites, or termites that harvest grasses and stuff. None of the native ones even build any cool structures. If you are "lucky" and live near Formosan subterranean termites, they are by far the most active termites you'll find in North America. They even build cool mud structures and carton-like structures they live in if the environment is good for them.
Except...Formosan subterranean termites are not only NOT native, they are very invasive. Go figure the most fun, most ant-like termite species found here isn't native
Though, with that said...I did find a termite species almost as active as the Formosan subterranean termites. They also looked really similar to Formosan subterranean termites, with the soldiers having small rounded, egg-shaped heads. But they are actually (pretty sure they are rare) a native species. I only ever found them in one particular location, but I won't be sharing that. But, those were awesome, most active native species I've personally had.
Dampwood termites are pretty cool too, just because how big they are. I never had them, but from reading journals on them, they look really easy to keep. They seem to multiply quite fast as far as termites go. I was surprised how fast some people's colonies got nymphs. They don't seem to be most active termite though, but in certain setups its easy to watch them.
Edited by Vendayn, February 10 2018 - 12:26 PM.