Here is a fantastic pet stick insect that goes by several names that I recommend for beginners. The Giant Prickly stick insect goes by the following names ( Spiny Leaf insect
These stick insects are scary looking and very unusual. The female giant prickly stick insect can grow up to 8 inches in length and have spikes all over their bodies. The females also have wings but they are underdeveloped and can’t fly. The male Australian walking stick is about half the size as the female and have a lot fewer spines or spikes on the body. The males also have wings but they can actually fly and will if threatened.
The life span of a Giant Prickly stick insect is around year. If taken care of properly your pet should lay ova which you can collect and hatch for an ongoing supply stick insect nymphs.
Australian stick insects can be kept in a variety of enclosures. I keep mine in a screen cage that I used to use for chameleons. I like the screened enclosure because the insect can climb on the walls and ceiling. Ventilation is also important so I keep a small fan going in the room. You want the cage to be at least 3 times taller then the length of your insect. The temperature in the cage is kept around 75 F in the day with a slight drop at night when the light goes off. I live in Minnesota so during the winter my house gets a little chilly downstairs in my bug room so I use a 40 watt light bulb on top of the cage to provide extra heat. I also give the cage a light mist everyday to keep the humidity up which helps in molting.
Unlike mantids stick insects can be kept communally with no problems. I keep several species together in one large cage.
The Australian walking sticks natural diet is Eucalyptus. In captivity your Aussie will do great on Oak leaves and blackberry leaves as a staple. They will eat raspberries, rose, and primrose as well. If your collecting wild blackberry leaves make sure the area was not sprayed with pesticides or fertilizer. Also only feed the older mature leaves to your stick insect as the young growth can be toxic to young nymphs. You can also feed your pet Romaine lettuce in a pinch.
Walking sticks are very unique when it comes to breeding. They are known as being parthenogenetic which means they can reproduce from unfertilized eggs. So males are not required, in fact males are rare here in the US. The female will lay her eggs called (ova) all over the cage. The ova look like a small popcorn seeds and vary in color from brown to cream. Incubation takes around 8 months and the ova should be kept at 75 F. Place the eggs on top of Eco-earth or other coconut fiber and keep it moist but watch it carefully for mold.
In the wild there is a unique relationship between ants and Australian walking sticks. When the Aussie lays the ova they are collected by the ants and are brought into their ant hills which are the perfect temperature for hatching. When the nymph hatches it resembles an ant and they just scramble out of the ant hill to freedom.
I have heard stories of people putting their insects cage outside to get some fresh air only to come back to a cage crawling with ants. I guess the eggs(ova) have a sweet taste or smell.
Adult Giant Prickly Insect