Praying Mantises are exclusively predatory and their diet usually consists of living insects; larger species have been known to prey on small lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, and even rodents. Most species are known to engage in cannabalism. The majority of mantises are ambush predators, waiting for prey to stray too near. The mantis then lashes out at remarkable speed.
Some ground and bark species, however, pursue their prey rather quickly. Prey items are caught and held securely with grasping, spiked forelegs ("raptorial legs"); the first thoracic segment, the prothorax, is commonly elongated and flexibly articulated, allowing for greater range of movement of the front limbs while the remainder of the body remains more or less immobile. The articulation of the head is also remarkably flexible, permitting nearly 300 degrees of movement in some species, allowing for a great range of vision (their compound eyes have a large binocular field of vision) without having to move the remainder of the body. As their hunting relies heavily on vision, they are primarily diurnal, but many species will fly at night.
Several years ago, we bought one of the mantis cocoons at Home Depot and hung it in the peach tree. Never saw anything hatching out of there. But the next year, we had baby mantis everywhere. We'd be sitting out on the back deck in the evening and there would be one just hanging out on the patio table. He'd be cocking his head first one way, then the other.
After reading this description of them, I'm wondering...how big do these guys have to get to be able to eat a snake? Or a hummingbird?? Or a RODENT???
Oh, and they're into sexual cannabalism! Yikes! And isn't this interesting?