The Eurycantha Calcarata is commonly referred to as Giant Spiny or Thorny Devil Stick Insect. It is native to the tropical forests of Papua New Guinea and is a nocturnal species that want to hide beneath substrate during the day. The males can show aggressive behavior and pinch their skin with their back limbs.
The Eurycantha Calcarata is phytophagous, just like all walking stick species. That means, that this insect will only eat plants. It can be fed with several different leaves such as Bramble, Hawthorn, Ivy, Oak, and Rose leaves. Just offer your pet walking stick a few different leaves and find out what it likes best.
Always make sure that no pesticides were used in the area where you collect the leaves and don’t collect close you a high traffic road.
Before you feed the leaves, you should always rinse them. This does not only clean the leaves, it also gives the stick insects the possibility to drink the drops from the leaves.
The enclosure for Eurycantha calcarata should have a minimum height of 15 inches (= 38cm). It should be partially closed with plastic or glass, and one side (can be the ceiling / lid) should be mesh to allow enough air circulation. This species needs high humidity as it originally lived in the tropical rainforest, but also needs some ventilation to avoid mould in the enclosure.
The decoration should include cork or bark walls to allow the insects to climb up and hide.
Males can show aggressive behaviour towards each other, therefore a maximum of two males should be housed together. Females are usually non-aggressive, and you can own several females in one enclosure.
Use substrate on the floor, where the Giant Spiny can hide in. It should be at least 2 inches high (= 5cm). As a substrate you can use humus, soil, vermiculite, or any other floor where the walking sticks can hide in and that can retain and slowly release humidity over time.
Additional lighting is not necessary. This species prefers to hide all day long, anyways. Just keep them in a room with some natural light, but not directly in sunlight. A cage with glass walls can very quickly heat up in direct sunlight and you don’t want to grill your pets.
The best temperature for this species is around 77° F (= 25° C). But the Eurycantha Calcarata is a very sturdy species that can also cope with temperature as low as 68° F (= 20° C) during the night.
The humidity has to be rather high for this species. You should aim for 70% – 80% if you keep this species. Especially for young nymphs or when your stick insects are about to molt, you should mist very regularly. Misting should take place every day. Spray water on the walls, the substrate, and the leaves to allow your pet stick bugs to drink the droplets from their food.
The enclosure should not be totally moist all the time. From time to time, it should also be a little bit dryer, otherwise, you will have to deal with lots of mould.
The females of this species is usually around 5 inches (12,5cm) long and the males are around 4 inches (10cm) big. The females don’t look like typical walking sticks. They have a rather big body, hence the German name “Walking pea”. Both males and females are wingless and have sharp spines.
The colors of the females can be anything between dark-brown and olive green.
The males are usually light or dark brown and rather robust. They have a thorn on the inner side of the back limb which can be used to protect itself from predators and other males. It might also try to sandwich your hand between the limbs. Adults have enough force to punch through the skin, but the injuries from a Eurycantha calcarata are rather negectable. Males are also able to spray a defensive chemical with a strong smell, if it feels threatened.
At night you might hear some knocking from the enclosure. Males sometimes make these noises by drumming the back limbs on the ground or bark. This is part of the competitive behaviour between males.
The nymphs can be anything between brown and green, or a mixture, which makes them almost invisible on moss and bark.
The lifespan of this species is between 10 to 12 months. After 8 months, it will usually reach maturity.
This species reproduces only sexual. That means that both males and females are needed in order to get fertilized ova that can hatch.
Ova, Incubation Period
The females of this species tend to bury their ova in the soil, therefore you should provide them with some substrate where they can lay their ova into.
The ova is grey and looks a bit like dark marble.
The total incubation time is around 9 months and the success rate is at 61% – 80%.
Overall Difficulty Rating
Keeping this species is rather easy. The Eurycantha Calcarata can be a bit challenging due to the high humidity and the defense mechanisms of the males, but it is still a good, and sturdy pet insect that can be kept by beginners.
The males have a bad reputation because of their aggressive behavior towards each other, but just like all animals that live in terrariums, you should not start cuddling them anyways.
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 🙂