Why Keep A Stick Insects As A Pet?
Are you looking for a pet that is easy to care for and gets along with people and cage mates. Doesn’t require a big cage or fancy food. Do you want something unique or exotic?
How About A Pet Walking Stick Insect?
Most people have seen stick insects on T.V or at a zoo or possibly in their own backyard. Yet most people don’t realize stick insects can make fantastic pets so let me give you a little background on walking stick insects. Stick insects and leaf insects belong to the order of insects known as “Phasmida” there are nearly 3,000 different species in this order of insects. Stick insects live worldwide but the majority of them live in tropical and sub tropical climates of South America and South East Asia. In Europe collecting insects is a lot more popular then it is in the United States and they keep about 100 different species of walking sticks. I keep four different species myself the Indian, Pink Wing, Australian giant prickly and Lopaphus cuc phuong and if your interested in keeping one as a pet just let me know and I’d be glad to get you your first pet walking stick.
Stick insects are nocturnal and during the day they remain motionless in the bushes and shrubs to avoid being eaten by birds and lizards. At night they come alive and scurry around the cage looking for their dinner of blackberry and raspberry leaves, oak leaves, and Romaine lettuce. In the video below you can see I keep all my walking sticks together. I have small nymphs all the way up to full grown adults who are laying eggs.
“Simple Stick Insect Enclosure”
Housing Stick Insects
Walking sticks do not require anything fancy when it comes to their enclosure. The cage just needs to be at least three times the height of the insect and twice the width. I would highly recommend using a screen enclosure for a couple of reasons. One it provides lots of climbing space because the insect can climb the walls and this enables you to keep more insects in the cage. The second reason I like screen cages is walking sticks need ventilation to remain healthy and prosper and adding a small fan in the room really helps in achieving this.
I keep my cage in a room that gets all day natural sunlight but the cage does not receive direct sunlight. I mist the cage lightly before I go to work with a hand sprayer. I use warm water and spray the cage about 5 pumps of the bottle. I try to avoid spraying the insects themselves. The little water droplets fill the mesh holes and provide mini drinking stations for the insects. I also spray the plants in the cage. I will then mist the cage lightly when I get home from work about 9 hours later.
What to Feed your Walking Stick
Stick Insects can be maintained on a diet of blackberry and raspberry leaves as well as Oak leaves. I also put a piece of Romaine lettuce in the cage and they love that as well. I live in Minnesota and Oak trees are plentiful as well as wild raspberry patches. I have a berry garden that provides food for my stick insects for about 7 months out of the year.
Stick insects do eat quite a bit for there size. As you can see in the video above I have quite a few stick insects in my enclosure and these guys will eat a half a dozen blackberry leaves as well as a Romaine lettuce leaf in three days. You need to replace any leaves that have dried up. If you cut a blackberry branch with several leaves on it and put it in jar with water the plant stays fresh for several days and save you time and food.
Providing stick insects food in the winter requires a little pre planning in the Fall. Buy a Blackberry or Raspberry plant at the nursery or better yet get a free one from a neighbor or dig up a wild one. Make sure you have a pot that is large enough for the plant to grow and you are set for a food supply.
Breeding Walking Sticks
Stick insects are parthenogentic which means they can reproduce without fertilization from the opposite sex. About 90% of the stick insects in the pet trade are female. However they can produce young without a male. The offspring will be all females. Because of this the “Indian Stick Insect” has received another common name the “Laboratory Stick Insect” because they are studied in science laboratories across the world.
I collected eggs from the bottom of my cage and I had them in a small container with nothing in it. You can see the photo below. I planned on setting up a small enclosure to hatch the eggs but for some reason I forgot about these until one day I noticed movement. To my surprise I had about 50 nymphs hatch. Depending upon the temperature and the species some eggs hatch within a month while others may take up to a year.
If your interested in obtaining a pet walking stick please leave a comment below. If you liked this post please share on Facebook and have a wonderful day.