hours on end. But come to find out, Walking Sticks are insects. They have six legs and a chitin exoskeleton. They belong to the Order Orthoptera, which includes not only walking sticks, but also grasshoppers, katydids, crickets, praying mantids, and cockroaches. Walking sticks belong to the Suborder Phasmatodea, Family Phasmatidea which includes both walking sticks (which look like sticks) and leaf insects (which look like leaves). I will not deal with leaf insects here but they, too, are interesting insects.
Size: Depending on the species, stick insects can grow from 1 to 12 inches long, with males usually bigger than the females. The biggest insects in the world are stick insects—one species measures over 20 inches long with its legs outstretched.
Diet: Stick insects are herbivores that eat leaves.
Typical Lifespan: They reach maturity between three months and one year and usually live up to two years.
Habitat: Stick insects live in woodlands and tropical forests.
Range: Found on every continent except Antarctica, mostly in temperate and tropical regions.
Life History and Reproduction: Stick insects are a favorite food of many animals, but perhaps their most effective predators are bats. Most bats hunt by echolocation rather than sight, so they aren’t fooled by the insect’s stick-like appearance.
Stick insects not only look like sticks, they act like them, too.
Stick insects are so named for their effective camouflage among the woody plants where they feed. They're typically brown, black, or green, with stick-shaped bodies that help them blend in as they perch on twigs and branches.
Stick insects don't bite, but they aren't defenseless.
If threatened, a stick insect will use whatever means necessary to thwart its attacker. Some will regurgitate a nasty substance that will put a bad taste in a hungry predator's mouth. Others reflex bleed, oozing a foul-smelling hemolymph from joints in their body. Some of the large, tropical stick insects may use their leg spines, which help them climb, to inflict some pain on an enemy. Stick insects may even direct a chemical spray, much like tear gas, at the offender.
See These 12 Funny Walking Stick Bugs Below:
Advantages of Walking Stick Pets:
They don't smell, which means that you can keep them anywhere in the house without worrying about "stinking-up-the-place" (eg. a child's bedroom).
They eat lettuce, which means that you don't have to grow exotic plants just to feed the insects.
They can't "infest" your house so you don't have to worry about any "escapees".
They teach children to care for life so they can be an ideal first pet for youngsters.
They have a life span of about one school year, which makes them ideal for a year-long school class project.
They have no wings so they can't fly and escape.
They walk relatively slowly and carefully, so they don't scurry like roaches which tend to give "insecta-phobes" the "willies".
They can be handled easily by children without fear of being bitten or squishing them.
They don't need daily care. They can be left for several days (up to a week) without care (they don't need a baby-sitter for a weekend trip).
They can be used to teach children (and adults) the value of life.
Dis-advantages of Walking Stick Pets:
They breed well if cared for properly.
Special Exotic Pet Permits are usually needed in most locations. In North America and probably most countries, these are usually only given for research or special purposes and not for general pet use.
* Warning: There can be devastating ecological results if these insects are released into the wild. See the warning above.
I fed my insects Romaine lettuce (the green part not the white basal stalk) that has been washed under the kitchen tap. I remove any off-colour or damaged portions, too. The lettuce should be changed, along with the bottom paper, every 3-7 days, depending on the amount eaten and the presence of fungus.
They will also eat leaves from raspberries, privet, and many other related plants if given the chance. This is usually only possible during the summer when leaves are plentiful.
The adults can easily be picked up between finger and thumb. The younger instars may be damaged with clumsy handling so it is better to let them climb onto a piece of paper to examine or transfer them. They are nocturnal, meaning that they are most active at night, so you may want to keep their daily light-dark cycles such that they are active when you can observe them. During the day they are usually inactive and still unless they are disturbed.
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