Phasmids have become more and more popular among insect lovers who appreciate the magnificent shapes of the masters of disguise. The bizarre appearance makes walking sticks and walking leaves great pets that are fascinating to watch.
As a whole, walking sticks can be pets. There are many species that come in different sizes, shapes, and colors, that make great pets. They come with low costs and low maintenance, they are easy to handle and easy to care for.
Even though it seems a little odd on the first thought to keep a walking stick as a pet, it is actually a great thing to do. Walking sticks can be great pets for you!
Walking Sticks as Pets
Before you start preparing a home for a walking stick pet, you should check out the local regulations in your area.
There are some areas, in which catching and keeping endangered or invasive insect species is prohibited by law. If you are planning to buy stick bugs online, keep in mind that most insect stores only ship in the country they are located in, and some even only in the state they are located in, to make sure that no local laws are broken.
Once you have checked the local regulations, you can go ahead and plan the next steps.
A stick bug is a very undemanding pet that only requires little space, low maintenance, comes with low costs, and is in general really easy to care for.
You need some kind of enclosure. Depending on the size of the stick bug you are planning to have, it could be a normal jar with a mesh lid or a terrarium. You don’t need much equipment.
Some kind of substrate on the floor, some artificial plants or sticks for the stick bug to walk on, and a mesh lid that allows air circulation is enough.
Walking sticks don’t produce much waste, they don’t make any noises, they are really easy to handle and if you have native ones, you can even release them outdoor, if you can’t look after them anymore.
If your pet walking stick is not native, you should never release them.
Are Stick Bugs Dangerous?
Stick insects come with an impressive appearance. They are the masters of disguise. Some have thorns, some are just really big, and some mimic scorpions when threatened and look dangerous. But they are all completely harmless to humans.
As a whole, stick insects can appear dangerous, but they are absolutely harmless to humans. Some species can spray a chemical towards predators when they feel threatened, but they will never attack without a reason. And this chemical might cause a rash, but nothing worse.
Stick bugs are very calm, patient, and harmless creatures. They can make great pets for children and can teach them how to take responsibility for a living creature.
Keep in mind that most stick insects live only around one year. Very young children tend to bond deeply with pets and might be very sad if the pet dies so soon. Take the age of your child into consideration when choosing your pet bug.
A huge advantage of stick insects (compared to praying mantises) is their herbivorous diet. Stick bugs only eat leaves and do not cannibalize on each other. That means that you can keep several stick insects together.
Stick bugs might bite when they feel threatened, but that won’t harm a human. And some species can spray a venom-like chemical that can cause a rash. But most species are really calm, non-aggressive, and not dangerous at all.
How to Take Care of a Stick Bug?
Walking stick species are calm and low-maintenance pets that do not need a lot of attention.
Stick bugs can be kept in an enclosure with plastic or glass walls and a mesh lid. Depending on the size of the stick insect, this enclosure could even be a kitchen jar. You can also acquire mesh lids that fit normal kitchen jars, like this one.
With some substrate on the floor and some sticks as decor, they are more than happy.
Stick insects need high humidity in their habitat. Therefore regular misting is necessary. You can use bottled spring water for misting.
You can also use normal tap water, but make sure to treat it in advance with a special conditioner from the pet store to get rid of chlorine, chloramine, and any other substances that do not harm humans, but can dry out or even poison insects.
Walking sticks are herbivores. They eat fresh leaves all year long. Offer your pet stick bug a variety of different leaves and find out, what your insects like.
Many stick bugs like oak leaves, bramble leaves which can be found all year long, hazel leaves and some even eat ivy, rose leaves, and eucalyptus. Just try out different leaves and don’t worry about poisoning your pet.
Stick bugs will only eat what’s good for them. Always make sure to collect leaves from a place where no pesticides were used. Pesticides are insect killers and can harm and kill your stick bug.
What are the Best Stick Insects for Beginners?
It’s time to choose your pet insect! Out of more than 3,000 different species of stick insects, there are about 300 species that are kept as pets.
The majority of walking sticks live in tropical and subtropical regions. There are species that require higher temperatures than our usual room temperature, higher humidity, or a special diet. The best beginner species are the ones that are sturdy, undemanding, and easy to handle. Here are some good beginner species.
The most popular pet stick insect is the Indian Stick Insect (Carausius Morosus).
Other really popular ones are the Vietnamese Stick Insect (Ramulus artemis), the Annam Stick Insect (Medauroidea extradentata), the Thorny Stick Insect (Aretaon asperrimus), and the Jungle Nymph (Heteropteryx Dilatata), as well as the Pink Winged Stick Insect (Sipyloidea sipylus)
Not all species can be held everywhere in the world. Some countries, states, and regions have strict regulations on keeping pets that are not native in the area.
Check out your local regulations before you acquire your pet walking stick.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂