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.

Stick insect fact file

Life span – 12-18 months
Size – 15-20cm
Diet – Pellets, insects, meat, fruits and veggies
Home – 43cm x 30cm x 30cm

Care and maintenance

Stick insects thrive living in tropical forests and grasslands, blending in with their environment so well that it becomes a challenge to differentiate between these pets and the sticks and leaf litter around them. With a good supply of fresh leaves, a generously sized enclosure and a comfortable tropical temperature, your new pet will be perfectly content in their new home.

Depending on the species and sex of your stick insect, they should moult 6–9 times before reaching adulthood. When your pet refuses to eat and hangs upside down in their enclosure, these are signs that they are about to shed their skin. In some cases, your pet’s colour may become dull and white and, if they have wings, these will become swollen.

Setting up

Your stick insect will be comfortable in a terrarium or a mesh enclosure. Ask your local Petbarn team member about the size you’ll need depending on how many stick insects you are housing and their breed. Your enclosure should be high enough for them to hang upside down when moulting.

Line your pet’s home with moisture-absorbing substrates for bedding, such as dirt, pebbles or newspaper. Include plants in your stick insect’s habitat, too. Find little twigs, branches and plants in your own backyard.

Your pets will be happiest living in a temperature between 22°C and 26°C, though they will tolerate between 10°C and 20°C. A warmer temperature will quicken your stick insect’s growth rate and a colder temperature will stunt their growth.

Stick insects love one to two hours of afternoon sunlight, but don’t keep them in direct sun. The temperature in your home may be unsuitable. Ask your local Petbarn team member about whether your enclosure will need a heater; most likely it won’t, but it will need a thermometer for monitoring.

Your stick insect will take some time to adjust to their surroundings once you introduce them to their new home, but should start eating within 24 hours. Use a mister to mist the plants and substrate in their habitat daily; this is their source of water.

Feeding

As long as your stick insect has access to fresh, green leaves they’ll be very happy. Eucalyptus leaves are a stick insect’s favourite, though this may vary depending on the species you are parenting. Your stick insect will enjoy eating a variety of rose cuttings and wattle leaves, too. You can also find prepackaged stick insect food at your local Petbarn. Talk to a friendly Petbarn team member to see what your stick insect will be happy to munch on.

Make sure to continually mist the plant food you’re feeding your stick insect. If these are too dry they’ll be harder for your pet to eat and won’t provide a good source of hydration.

Cleaning

You will need to clean your enclosure regularly. As the tank is high in humidity, mould and fungi are more likely to grow, which aren’t healthy for your pet.

Remove and replace your substrate once weekly. Also wipe down the walls and corners of your enclosure to keep your  stick insect’s home squeaky clean. To do so, take your stick insect from the enclosure and put them in a safe place, like an open plastic container. Then remove the dirty substrate, clean the tank and elements with soapy water, dry and return everything to the new and improved enclosure.

Make sure not to use any heavy chemical cleaning products to clean your stick insect’s enclosure, as these substances can be very harmful to your pet.

Breeding

A female stick insect doesn’t need a male to reproduce. Though, if your female does reproduce by herself, be aware that her offspring will all be female.

Female stick insects lay anywhere between 100–1300 eggs, which look like little, round cream-coloured seeds. Mist any eggs every two to three days to keep them hydrated and they should hatch within a few  months.

Health care

A vet may not be able to do anything for a sick stick insect, so it’s up to you to make sure they’re healthy. If you have a terrarium, make sure your habitat has adequate ventilation. Be sure to choose a terrarium with a mesh lid.

If you are sourcing plants or branches from your yard, make sure these are free of pesticides, as these are lethal to your pet. Keep this in mind when cleaning and misting the enclosure. Don’t use an old cleaning product bottle for misting and avoid spraying too much water. Minimal mists will mean less possibility of fungal growth. Refer to your local Greencross Vets for advice on caring for your stick insect.

Pet safety tips

Your stick insect has extremely delicate limbs with small hooks on their legs for climbing. Don’t pull, yank or startle them as this may cause a breakage.

After moulting, your stick insect’s skin can easily get stuck. This is the most common factor leading to limb loss and can even be fatal. If this occurs, try to gently pry it loose. To prevent this, keep the humidity in your enclosure high. Spray their enclosure more often or add a thicker layer of substrate as this will absorb water and release it slowly.

Your stick insect can regenerate lost limbs if they are young and have many moults left. As they get older, they begin to moult less, which leaves no space for the regrowth of the limb. If they are young enough, their limb can grow back to full size after just three moults!

Did you know: A stick insect moults 6-9 times before becoming an adult!

Stick insect checklist

Find all the stick insect supplies you need online or in-store at Petbarn.

Housing
Food
  • Leaves
Cleaning

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