If your landlord won’t let you have a dog or cat, a stick insect might be the perfect pet for you. Although they aren’t cuddly like cats or goofy like dogs, stick insects can make good pets because they’re quiet, they won’t scratch up the furniture, and they’ll never pee on the carpet.
Also known as walking stick insects, these little fellows are collectively known as phasmids.
Stick insects range in length from a few inches long to more than 1 foot from head to tail. Most look like twigs or leaves, allowing them to blend in with their environments and avoid predators.
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Although there are more than 3,000 species of phasmids, common pet species include the Indian Walking Stick or Common Laboratory Stick, the Annam Walking Stick and the Giant Prickly Stick or Macleays Spectre.
Female stick insects lay between 1 and 1,000 eggs at a time, which hatch after remaining dormant for 1 to 3 seasons, depending upon the type. After they’ve hatched, stick insect babies climb a tree and hang upside down while they grow and molt, which they’ll do at least 5 times before they grow up.
Male stick insects are quite rare: only 1 out of 1,000 are males, and often they can fly. The female doesn’t need a male for laying eggs, but if they are together, they will mate. Their relationships are short, up to a few weeks long.
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The typical lifespan of plasmids is between 12 and 16 months, depending on the species.
Caring for Your Stick Insect
- Feed him a nutritious diet: Stick insects are vegetarians and prefer a diet of brambles, such as blackberry or raspberry plants. Make sure he always has plenty of fresh food.
- Get him a nice house: Stick insects like mansions because their natural behavior is to hang upside down from their food plants, and they need room for dangling. If you opt for a glass enclosure (affiliate link), make sure the sides are 3 times as high as your stick insect’s adult length. If you install a wire cage, the holes in the wire should be small enough that your little buddy can’t wiggle out.
Watch this amazing stick insect steal the show in this video:
- Keep him toasty: Originally from tropical or semitropical environments, most stick insects like warm temperatures from between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you can’t keep his room warm, make sure to keep a heating light bulb near his house. They like it dark at night, so use a red bulb when it’s dark out.
- Keep him moist: Most stick insects like high humidity; do a little research to find out what your pet likes best. It’s a good idea to mist his cage and plants with water once a day, and also make sure he has a bowl of drinking water.
- Handle with care: Stick insects enjoy being handled, provided you are gentle. More fragile than most pets, some will even bite or pinch if you handle them too roughly.
Do stick insects make good pets? Sure, if that’s what you’re into. Although I think they are really interesting, I’m personally going to stick with cats and dogs — I’d much rather rub furry bellies!