Considering a stick insect? Here’s how to look after them.
Stick insects are incredible creatures. From their elegant, long-limbed body to their amazing moulting process, they will be a constant source of fascination for kids and adults alike.
How to set up a stick insect’s enclosure
Stick insects need an environment that is similar to the tropical forests and grasslands that would be their natural home. Opt for an enclosure that is around 43cm x 30cm x 30cm, taking into account your stick insect’s ability to hang upside down. They’ll be most happy in a terrarium or mesh enclosure.
On the bottom of your enclosure, you’ll need a good covering of moisture-absorbing substrates, such as dirt, pebbles or newspaper. Your stick insect will need a good supply of fresh leaves and sticks. They’ll eat the leaves and they’ll hang from the sticks, particularly when they moult.
The ideal temperature of a stick insect’s enclosure is between 22C and 26C, but they’ll be able to withstand between 10C and 20C. The should enjoy two hours of afternoon sun, but not in direct sunlight. Your enclosure may require a heater and thermometer – if you’re not sure, feel free to chat to your local Petbarn team member.
What to feed a stick insect
Plenty of eucalyptus leaves should be on the menu for your stick insect, but this can vary species to species. Depending on the variety of insect you have, you’ll need to tailor their menu accordingly. They will only eat fresh leaves, so you may need to keep the branches in water so they’re at their best for your pet. If your stick insect doesn’t have access to fresh leaves, they will starve. You can also mist the leaves with a spray bottle of water to keep things fresh.
How to clean a stick insect’s enclosure
Stay on top the cleanliness of your stick insects by changing the substrate every week. Because their habitat can be quite humid, it’s essential to keep an eye out for mould growth. You should wipe down the internal sides and corners of the enclosure, too. While you do this, place them in a safe space where they can’t escape. Use soapy water to clean everything and wipe dry before returning your pet to their home. Don’t use any chemicals in your cleaning process as these can be harmful to your pet.
How to keep a stick insect healthy
Stick insects generally live around 12 to 18 months. In this time, they’ll moult between 6 and 9 times. This is when they shed their skin. Keep an eye out for the signs – you’ll notice that they hang upside down and may not be interested in eating their food. Their colour may become a little dull and, if they have wings, they’ll become swollen.
Sometimes, after moulting, a stick insect’s skin can get stuck. If this happens, you’ll need to help them by, very gently, prying their skin loose. This is why a stick insect needs a humid environment. Mist their enclosure more frequently or add a thicker layer of substrate at the bottom of the habitat so it absorbs the moisture and releases it slowly.
Amazingly, stick insects can regrow lost limbs if they are young and healthy. With each moult, they’ll slowly regrow their limb.
If you have any further questions about stick insect care, feel free to chat to your local Petbarn team member in-store.