Stick insects are definitely one of the most unusual looking exotic pets. They may be unusual, but they are actually becoming a very popular choice for exotic pet owners wanting to expand their collection of animals.

At Pawfect Tales Magazine, we are passionate about educating pet owners and offering advice on the best way to look after their animals. One of the main ways of doing this is researching before you even consider bringing your new pet home. Here’s some crucial information about stick insects that we think it’s important you know…

What do stick insects look like?

Of course, these little creatures have a very ‘stick’ like appearance which makes them extremely camouflaged. An adult stick insect can grow to around 7.5cm long. They can vary in colour slightly but they are often olive green or brown shades.

Natural Habitat

Stick insects originate from tropical and semi-tropical habitats around the world. They live in highly vegetated areas, with privet being their favourite. As they are hunted by a lot of animals including birds, stick insects tend to feed at night time when birds are sleeping.

Diet

Stick insects are herbivores, meaning their diet solely consists of plants. They eat the leaves of plants, shrubs and trees – privet and bramble leaves are their absolute favourites. When in captivity, their food must have never been sprayed with any form of pesticides. It must be given to them fresh and the leaves are to be left on the twig. The twig is then to be placed in some fresh water to keep it full of nutrients.

Vulnerability

Stick insects actually have quite short life spans, with the average being only around 12 months. In captivity, stick insects can be fairly vulnerable as they completely depend on their owners to provide the correct habitat and food for them to thrive. Food must be safe and fresh, their home must be high and big enough for them to be able to crawl out of the shedded skin, and they must also be given enough room.

Health issues to be aware of are:

  • Mites
  • Skin shedding
  • Parthenogenesis
  • Twitching (this is very serious as it often occurs from the stick insect digesting pesticides on their food)
  • Losing limbs (this is not serious as they will regrow their limb during their next skin shed)

Handling

Stick insect, due to their skinny appearance, are extremely fragile. They should be handled with extreme care. It is actually best to pick them up using a small paintbrush. They are definitely not the type of pet you would get if you wanted to be handling them often, and be very wary of children handling them.

Housing Environment

Stick insects are not to be housed individually – if you are wanting one, you will need to accept that you will actually need to take on several. They need a large, well-ventilated home indoors, where it is warm but out of direct sunlight. It is best to line the base of their enclosure with paper, and this needs to be changed at least once a week (more often is preferable). This is mainly because of a biological make-up called parthenogenesis, which is the process where female stick insects can produce fertile eggs without needing to mate. Hundreds of eggs will be laid in a clutch so they need to be collected and disposed of regularly and correctly.

Rachel Smith
Rachel Smith is a huge animal lover and has always been passionate about the wellbeing of pets. She currently has a rescue dog, Stewie and a corn snake, Samson, but has experience of looking after various different pets over the years.

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