Welcome to the world of stick insects! There are over 3,000 different types of stick insects, the most common type being the Indian or Laboratory stick insect (Caracusius Morosus). The Indian stick insect is normally green or brown in colour, and will grow to about 80mm long — plus they'll tolerate lower temperatures than most other stick insects. The Indian stick insect are also normally female, and don't need males to lay fertile eggs — and when they do lay eggs that eventually hatch (could be around six to nine months later), it could result in an explosion of stick insects!
Like many other stick insects, the Giant Spiny stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) eats bramble which is available throughout the year. It will also eat several other plants. Females grow to about 120mm long whilst males are smaller and slimmer. Females require males to help them lay fertile eggs.
Other types of stick insect can range in appearance and size, but most tend to resemble small twigs and branches which is their camouflage against other animals which may want to eat them.
Stick insects are mostly from tropical and sub tropical regions around the world such as India, South America, Australia, Africa and even similar areas in Europe.
Stick insects make great pets for children as they're odourless and dust free. Some of the stick insects have spines but they won't bite, and they don't cause any of the allergic reactions which can be associated with other pets.
They're very easy to look after, and providing you do look after them properly they should live for up to a year after hatching — however, this does depend on species.
Stick insects can be quite fascinating to watch, especially when they shed their 'exoskeleton' — which is a process that will happen several times throughout their life in order for them to grow.
Stick insects will most definitely lay lots of eggs, which will result in a lot of stick insect babies — and they don't even need males to have them! Make sure you check for eggs on a daily basis, and freeze any unwanted ones. Baby stick insects can be very hard to rehome and do end up being given away as food for other animals.
Baby stick insects can be kept in plastic boxes, however adult stick insects will need to live in a well ventilated cage or vivarium. A cage of about 30cm high or more should be adequate, as all species of stick insect will need vertical space to be able to shed their skin properly — this can be very interesting to watch but you must not disturb the insect while this is happening. Your stick insect's cage will also need to be kept at the right temperature, ideally at least 20 degrees celcius for them to really thrive.
In order to grow, the stick insect will shed its skin. They'll normally hang from food plants or the ceiling of their cage in order to do this. As interesting as this may be to watch, it is extremely important not to disturb your stick insect while it is shedding, as any movement or knocking of the tank could cause it to fall, which could be fatal. Once your stick insect has shredded its skin, you should not handle it for a few days as the new skin can be very soft and any handling could cause damage. So making sure the stick insect can be left alone at this time is most important.
Stick insects are very delicate and must be handled with care. If you decide to pick up your stick insect, hold their body and avoid touching the legs as they can fall off. It is best that any other household pets are kept away from the insect while it is out and being handled.