If you are a lover of weird and wonderful creatures but have little space, time or budget to spare, then we may have found a pet to suite you! The Giant Prickly Stick Insect is an unusual pet that is easy to care for, low-maintenance, passive and very interesting to observe.
With a lifespan of 12 – 18 months, they are fitting for busy pet owners who don’t want a long-term commitment, and their light weight and small size makes them perfect for small homes. They eat fresh eucalyptus leaves and are therefore inexpensive to feed, but owners will need access to a constant supply. Fresh leaves should always be available for them and water misted onto the leaves will be drunk. All standing water should be covered as the insects could fall in and drown, especially when they are young.
They should be kept indoors in glass terrariums at room temperature. The enclosure should be tall with a height at least double the insect's length. It will need to be cleaned out once per week. Humidity of around 70% should be maintained to ensure clean moults.
Company of their own kind is not critical, and they can be kept alone or in groups. If kept in groups, the terrarium should be an adequate size to provide each insect with enough personal space. Females can reproduce without a male! They can lay at least 250 eggs in their short lifespan. If the owner does not intend to hatch all the eggs and home all the youngsters, then eggs should be humanely disposed of by freezing. Eggs should not be thrown away as they may hatch resulting in a feral population.
They don’t need human interaction, do not require any supervised exercise, and are not trainable. While this makes them extremely easy to keep happy and healthy, it makes them unsuitable for animal lovers looking for an affectionate pet to bond with or a co-operative pet to train. They are fragile so should be handled very gently. They should never be handled by their legs or pulled from their resting location as this may cause them to lose a leg.
While they are completely safe for children, their fragility makes them inappropriate pets for young children, and if children are permitted to interact with the insects it should be under careful supervision of a knowledgeable adult. Read more about these weird, funny, cool, easy, strange creatures here: www.phasmidstudygroup.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extatosoma_tiaratum https://www.keepinginsects.com/stick-insect/species/giant-prickly-stick-insect/ Article and photos by Shannon McKay