Keeping Spiny Leaf Insects as Pets: Phasmid Facts and How to Care for These Kid-Friendly Bugs.

Spiny Leaf Insects are fascinating to watch.
Spiny Leaf Insects are fascinating to watch.

Keeping Spiny Leaf Insects as Pets

Spiny Leaf Insects are becoming increasingly popular as pets. Not only are they fascinating to watch, they are very easy and inexpensive to care for and do not take up much room. Also, they are prolific breeders and the females can live for 18 months – a tad longer than your average goldfish.

My son, fascinated by bugs, was given some Spiny Leaf Insects for his eighth birthday. We bought them from the local pet shop. However, if you're a bit more savvy than we were, you can probably find someone in your local area willing to sell some to earn extra pocket money, at a fraction of the price they charge at the pet shop.

We now have two Spiny Leaf Insects. One is large – about 13 cm (5 in) long, and the other, who has doubled in size since we got her three months ago, is about 5cm (2 in) It has been fascinating to watch her grow, and she has just shed her first skin, which they eat after shedding! (See the bottom of this hub, to see photos of her eating her second shed skin - updated Sept 10.)

Spiny Leaf Insects are not a true leaf insect but a species of stick insect. The Spiny Leaf Insect is otherwise known as the Giant Prickly Stick Insect and Macleay’s Spectre. It is native to Northern Queensland.

Our two female Spiny Leaf Insects.  Can you see them both?
Our two female Spiny Leaf Insects. Can you see them both?

Phasmid Facts

Phasmids are insects that eat leaves and look like leaves or sticks.

There are around 3,000 different species of phasmids in the world, and 150 different species in Australia.

The female Spiny Leaf Insect can be distinguished from the male by the small spikes on her body, although in very young insects these are hard to see.

Choose female Spiny Leaf Insects as pets if possible for the following reasons:

  • The female lives for 18 months, whereas the male only lives for around 6-8 months.
  • Females grow to 20cm (8 inches) , males to 11cm (4.3 inches).
  • Females do not need a male to reproduce. The interesting thing is that without a male to fertilize the eggs, all the eggs she lays will be female. This is called parthenogenesis. They can lay thousands of eggs during their life span. We have only had our insects for three months and the large insect has laid at least 70 eggs during that time.
  • Male Spiny Leaf Insects can fly. Females can’t, so if you need to take them out of the cage they can’t get too far!

Stick insects aren’t affectionate pets. They will tolerate being handled, but be careful not to hold them by their legs which can easily become detached! Hold from the body. The spikes on the female Spiny Leaf Insect are not dangerous, just a fraction uncomfortable, and the insects do not bite. I recommend teaching your kids to enjoy watching them without touching. When I change the leaves I keep the branch that the stick insects are on in the cage until they have moved on to the fresh leaves. I have never had to handle them at all.

Some other stick insects, such as the American Walking Stick and Pink Wings have a defensive chemical spray which can be painful and cause temporary blindness, so be sure of the kind of stick insect you are buying.

These Spiny Leaf Insects are really interesting creatures to watch. Their heads seem to be around the wrong way, and when they eat it looks as if their head is splitting in two. My son has their cage next to his bed and at night, when it is very quiet, he can actually hear the large one munching! When they are disturbed, they sway from side to side, like leaves in the breeze.



Our cage is about 12 inches high and 13 inches wide, with a mesh top.
Our cage is about 12 inches high and 13 inches wide, with a mesh top.

Getting Started

The pet shop where you buy your stick insects will most likely sell the appropriate equipment for them.

You will need:

  • a terrarium or appropriate enclosure to keep them in. A decent-sized enclosure is recommended as they need to move around and climb to get to leaves. Ours is around 12 inches high, and 13 inches wide, although I have since heard that vertical cages are best.  It needs to be aerated. Ours has a mesh top, although I'm not sure how we're going to stop the nymphs from escaping once they hatch! Our cage also comes with a lock, which is handy if you have small children who may like to take them out without adult supervision.
  • a small vase filled with water to keep the branches in to make them last longer.
  • a couple of study sticks at diagonals across the cage for the stick insects to climb on.
  • some lining for the bottom. Our cage came with some tan bark, but I have also heard of people using shredded paper.
  • a spray bottle for misting the leaves. We have a spray bottle from the gardening section of the supermarket that releases a fine mist.

Our baby Spiny Leaf Insect is now about 5 cm (2 inches) long.  She has already shed her first skin, which she then ate!
Our baby Spiny Leaf Insect is now about 5 cm (2 inches) long. She has already shed her first skin, which she then ate!

Caring for Spiny Leaf Insects

  • Their leaves need to be changed every few days to a week, depending on how dry they get. If you have eggs, it's a good idea to leave a couple of soft young leaves on the ground as well in case the eggs hatch. Otherwise you can cut the edges of a leaf to release its scent and make it more appetizing to nymphs. Apparently the nymphs not eating can be a problem when breeding stick insects.
  • Spiny Leaf Insects, or indeed any of the species of stick insects available as pets eat leaves. The Spiny Leaf Insects eat eucalyptus leaves, but can also eat Rasberry and Rose bush leaves and Hawthorn and Wattle tree leaves. We have only ever given them eucalyptus leaves.
  • There is differing opinion about how often you need to mist your stick insects. The pet shop told us twice a day, but others say once a day and others say several times a day! We have been spraying twice, and they seem to be doing fine. When I say spray, I mean a light mist. It moistens the leaves and adds some humidity to the tank - their native environment is tropical North Queensland, after all.
  • The bottom of our cage is lined with tan bark, and according to the pet shop owner, the droppings do not need to be removed as they just break down over time. Again, I have read different opinions about this on the web, but our insects seem to be doing fine so far. It is recommended to also keep some common woodlice in the cage, as they keep down any fungus caused by excess moisture.



The eggs resemble popping corn in shape, but are smaller.
The eggs resemble popping corn in shape, but are smaller.

Breeding Spiny Leaf Insects

Spiny Leaf Insects just drop their eggs into the ground. You can see the egg present in the adult insect for a couple of days before it finally drops.

The eggs resemble unpopped popping corn kernels in shape but are brown and white and slightly smaller. They have a sticky bit on the end, called a capitulum which is attractive to ants. This is for a reason – in the wild, ants collect the eggs and carry them into the ant nest where they are kept safe from other predators. When the nymphs hatch, they resemble little ants with red heads and are able to safely escape. We found out how attractive the eggs are to ants when we put the stick insect cage outside on a table one day. Within two hours there were about fifty ants scurrying around the cage, even though there had been no ants in sight when we put the cage out there!

I have found varying opinion on how to care for the eggs. The man from the pet shop assured us that it is fine to leave them on the bottom of the cage, whereas other sources on the internet recommend removing the eggs and keeping them in a separate container on a bed of sand or tissue paper. Ours are still on the bottom of the cage. None have hatched so far, but that is not surprising - they can take anywhere from 2 months to 2 years to hatch.

Photos of our Small Spiny Leaf Insect Eating her Second Shed Skin - Sept 2010

After shedding their skin, the Spiny Leaf Insect devours it!
After shedding their skin, the Spiny Leaf Insect devours it!
This is the second time she has shed her skin. She suddenly seems much bigger, as if her too-small skin was completely squashing her!
This is the second time she has shed her skin. She suddenly seems much bigger, as if her too-small skin was completely squashing her!
It's as if she's grown a centimetre over night. It's hard to measure them, because they are curved, but she's about 8cm long now.
It's as if she's grown a centimetre overnight. It's hard to measure them, because they are curved, but she's about 8cm long now.

References

www.australianmuseum.net.au/Leaf-and-Stick-insects-order-phasmotodea

www.ozanimals.com/insect/spiny-leaf-insect/extatosama/tiaratum.html.

P&K Pets Info Sheet #11 www.pkpets.com.au

www.abc.net.au/creaturefeatures/facts/spinyleafinsect.htm

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Comments 113 comments

charlotte 6 years ago

how do i tell if my spiny leaf insect is going to shed, she is only young but has been hanging upside down a lot lately does this mean she is going to shed


MayG profile image

MayG 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Charlotte, Thanks so much for reading my hub. Our small stick insect was only about an inch long when she first shed her skin. Now she's over 2 inches long and my son thinks she's about to shed her skin for the second time because her skin seems to be getting much lighter, but we're not experts, so we'll see. I will update this hub with pictures when she sheds - before she eats the shed skin as they do. I'm not sure if hanging upside down has anything to do with it - ours spend most of their time upside down. Maybe it's easier for them to eat that way and they feel better camouflaged by being underneath a leaf? Not really sure. Best regards, May.


MayG profile image

MayG 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hello again, Charlotte, My son was right - our spiny leaf insect did shed her second skin a couple of days ago. I have added some photos above of her eating the shed skin.


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 6 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Brilliant hub on stick or spiny leaf insects. Great pictures, I use to love watching the praying mantas and similar ones as a kid. They are fascinating to watch.


MayG profile image

MayG 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Eileen, I'm hoping one of the eggs will hatch eventually so I can put up a photo of a nymph! Thanks so much for reading my hub.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia

Wow what an awesome Hub. I love these Stick Insects but never seem to be able to find them on our property.

My 4 year old grandson is right into insects and goes around all day picking up snails and spiders, anything that crawls, from our garden, you have given me a great idea for his next birthday present he would love a Spiny leaf insect I'm sure!


MayG profile image

MayG 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi agvulpes. Thanks so much for reading my hub and commenting on it. Yes, I bet your grandson would love a spiny leaf insect for a pet if he is fascinated by bugs. It seems most pet shops are selling them these days, but you can also buy them from kids who are breeding their own.


Dani A 6 years ago

Hi MayG, Thank you for your Hub. My Son had Spiny leaf insects which died about 4 months ago and we kept the eggs. Well our first one hatched yesterday (9 months later) and we are very excited. I am concerned that it is not eating. Do you know how long after hatching that they will begin to feed, I would hate for it to die. P.S I have taken a photo, but not sure if I can post photo's on your Hub.


MayG profile image

MayG 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Dani A. Thanks so much for visiting my hub. I'm so glad that finally an egg hatched!! Apparently the hardest part about breeding new insects (and I say this based on what I have read on other websites, since none of ours have hatched yet), is getting the nymphs to eat. They recommended putting some soft, fresh young leaves on the bottom of the cage, and slightly tearing the edges to release the scent of the leaf to entice them. I hope this helps. No, I don't think you can post pics to my hub. Thanks so much for commenting. I'd be very interested to hear how you go.


luket 6 years ago

hi i have two female SLinsects [spiny leaf insect] and have a lot of eggs do you have any tips or methods to make them hatch thanks.


MayG profile image

MayG 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi luket, Thanks for reading my hub. No, unfortunately I don't have any tips on getting eggs to hatch. I think it just takes time! If you come across any ideas elsewhere, I would love to hear them. None of ours have hatched yet either, so I think we just have to be patient! I hope yours hatch soon.


Cassie 6 years ago

Hi there, Your hub was a very interesting read. My sisters Leaf insect just had its 3rd shed and it grew wings. It was sold to her as a female. It has grown to about 10cms now


MayG profile image

MayG 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Cassie, thanks so much for reading my hub. That is in interesting that your sister's leaf insect grew wings - our young one, which was sold to us as a female, is starting to look very different to our other fully grown female. I will be interested to see if she turns out to be a male instead! Thanks for letting me know.


Anne Mallett 6 years ago

I would like to know what country or state the owners/buyers of the spiny leaf insects above are living in. I live in Maine. We have no spiny leaf insects in this state for sale.


MayG profile image

MayG 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Anne, thanks for reading my hub. I, and I think probably others that have commented here, are from Australia. The spiny leaf insect we have is native to Nth Queensland, but there are many other kinds of stick insects available in other countries.


Dani A 6 years ago

Hi MayG, Just giving you an update on our insects. We now have 14 that have hatched, all butt 3 have had their first shed and 4 have shed twice. In regards to getting them to feed it just took them alittle time (day or two) and they started to feed. As for hatching the eggs, I suggest to remove them from the main enclosure, place into a plastic (throw away)container that has a whole cut out of the lid and fly wire glued on. Place a napkin on the bottom and spray the eggs every couple of days. It is a long wait, can be up to 2 years as I have found out for them to hatch, it took 9 months for ours to start and we still have approx 500 - 600 eggs left. I also dated the containers in one month lots so once it was around 7months I transferred them into a terrarium for hatching.

Hope this is helpful Dani.


MayG profile image

MayG 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Dani, Thanks so much for the update! That is fantastic that 14 have hatched! Thank you, I will take your advice and take the eggs out of the cage.


Dionne 6 years ago

Hi, my name is dionne I have 3 children, 5 years, 3 years and 2 years old. My oldest kept asking for a kitten or puppy, so I came to a comprimise after not having the time for such a pet. Their nan bought them a spiny stick insect each. We have had them now for about 5 months, they have all shed their at sum point or another, what a joy to watch.. we have 2 females and 1 male, our youngest thinks they are fab and as a 2 year old nothing phases him, the other 2 children however on realising the male could fly r now a bit aprehensive,,lol....

they have been living on blackberry leaves all this time, I tried them with privet hedge but they did not seem to like it. It is winter time here in South Wales U.K and all our blackberry bushes now have a sort of black spot on them. I was hoping you could maybe help me as in what else I could try them feeding on. We struggle to get eucalyptus leaves over here and i'm not too sure which sort of rosebush leaves they can eat, i don't want to give them the wrong 1's... thank you so much for your time in reading this. Hope you can help, Reguards Dionne, from a very chilly South Wales U.K...lol..xx


MayG profile image

MayG 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Dionne, Thanks so much for reading my hub. I'm sorry, I really don't know what else you can feed them - I really have no idea what kind of plants in South Wales still have leaves on them! We've never fed them anything other than gum leaves (not in short supply over here!!) Can you find out where they came from and ask the pet shop for suggestions? Sorry I can't help more. I would be interested to know what you find out. Good luck.


john 5 years ago

Where can you buy them or can you sell me any


MayG profile image

MayG 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi John, Well, where you buy them obviously depends on where you live. In Australia (which is where I am), you can buy them from pet stores such as Pets Paradise. They're around $27 each. Otherwise sometimes kids who breed them sell them, but unfortunately we are still waiting for our eggs to hatch. Hope you find some. Thanks for reading my hub.


Ady 5 years ago

I've had my pricklies for 2 month I got them off a friend who breeds them! I have two females and one male I havnt seen them mate and I havnt found any eggs off the female how old are they before the start laying because they are not big. My male is about 2 1/2 inch and my females are 3 inch and 2 ich?


Dani A 5 years ago

Females shed 6-7times and are about 4 months old at there last shed. Will start laying approx one month after last shed. Male will be on females back most of the time once mating starts.


MayG profile image

MayG 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Ady. Our little stick insect started laying as soon as she was fully grown. Because we have 2 females, I haven't seen any mating, but remember, they don't have to mate to be able to lay eggs.


Sarah 5 years ago

Hi Dionne,

i have just been reading your comment and noticed that you asked for feeding suggestions. We feed ours mainly on oak leaves and they seem to love them. They change colour slightly but lighten up when we feed the on eucalyptus again. We moved to Oz it's much warmer ;)


Laura 5 years ago

Hi,Can anyone help? Our much loved female stick insect shed her skin today while we were out.When we came home,we found her lying on the bottom of her house,as if dead.She had torn off her two left back legs (they are still in the shed skin) and her two front legs are deformed. The two other legs seem to be normal.I have 'googled' and am told that losing a leg is ok,but with this much damage Im worried she wont survive. we have put her in a long flat container now so she can eat without climbing.This is (as far as I know) her first shed,but she is quite large(approx 4 inches) Some say a limb will grow back but only on a nymph.Can anyone give me any advice? She is a much loved pet. Thank you.


MayG profile image

MayG 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Laura, I hope someone who reads this can help you. It would be surprising if this is her first shed at 4 inches - ours would have had about three sheds by that stage, but as they often eat the shed skin maybe you never noticed? There are so many types of stick insects I guess they vary a lot. Anyway, I hope she is okay.


Blueberry 5 years ago

In relation to the Spiny Leaf insect above in a comment, had lost legs and not handled the shed very well.

This happens when there is a low humidity level in the enclosure.

It's quite common for Spiny Leaf Insects to die during shedding if the humidity is too low...


Jack 5 years ago

Hi the injured insect mentioned above should be ok as long as she has acess to food, she is still growing so in her next shed she should grew back new legs, and replace the deformed ones. Next time she sheds make sure that ,if you haven't already, the cage is at least three times as high as the insect is long.


MayG profile image

MayG 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Blueberry and Jack, Thanks so much for reading my hub and assisting other readers in the comments section. Greatly appreciate your input!


Ady 5 years ago

Hi I commented on this wall about 4 month ago my experience and knowledge of pricklies has got a lot better but I have a worry! One of my females ( the largest one ) has been laying eggs for a couple of week now and she swelled up quite a lot which I presumed was normal due to the amount of eggs she is laying (20-40) a week. This actually made her abdomen quite soft and vulnerable! I have always fed them bramble and had no problem but she must of slipped, fell or moved into a thorn while I was not there and she had a puncture on her body. When I discovered it it was not bleeding it just looked like a small dry brown hole and she still seems ok! Should I be worried about her dying! Also were could I get rid of the eggs as I do not wish to keep them all? PS sorry for the essay and please return comments as they will be greatly appreciated.


sfioretto 5 years ago

Hi MayG, do you happen to know why the insects change colour so often? we have two young females and one of them changes colour almost every day. Usually from light to a dark burnt orange with almost purple edges. very cool!


Dani A 5 years ago

Ady Re: Eggs that you have.............Contact a fauna park and they should take them for you. Kyabram fauna Park in Victoria will take them, you could always post the eggs to them. Hope Prickles is OK.


MayG profile image

MayG 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Ady and Sfioretto, sorry I haven't responded. I've been away... Ady, I hope your female stick insect was ok. Yes, I'm having the same problems with the eggs - I don't want to throw them away, but we have 20 young stick insects at the moment! I am going to try some local pet shops to see if they would like to take some. Also, my son is asking around at school to see if anyone wants some.

Sfioretto, I have read that they change colour depending on what kind of leaves they are eating, but mine don't change at all because I always feed them gum leaves.


Ady 5 years ago

Yes thank you she is ok now. She has a really soft belly and I keep them on bramble so I've just been blunting them before I put them in the tank. Thanks :)


not telling 5 years ago

thank you very much me and my dad are going to make an enclosure tomorrow our of fly wire and wood then im going to get some hope it works out

:)


MayG profile image

MayG 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi 'not telling'. Fantastic, I hope you enjoy having them as pets. I wish I could give you some of ours! We have too many!!


Serena 5 years ago

My friend has given me her spiny leaf insects due to her going on holiday. And the biggest one is laying eggs, and the eggs are going white is that bad or is it ok??


Graci.girl 5 years ago

Hi I really want a spiny leaf insect but I don't want babys. I was wondering if there was someway to stop them from having them? If not that's ok becase like you said you can always sell them!

Thanks.


MayG profile image

MayG 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Serena, I think the eggs will be ok. They seem to be very resilient! Our adult stick insects, Mini and Gracie died months ago, but their eggs are still hatching!


Charlette 4 years ago

my friend has two spiny leaf insects and one of them is on the ground and she is devastated cos she thinks its dying. what do i do?


Ady 4 years ago

Hi, I posted here last year. Since my insects all died as they were about 13-14 month old. One off the eggs has hatched and I have ripped some bramble leaf up and put sone small sticks in a small tub with tiny holes, but it doesn't seem to be eating. I have seen it drinking the mist but that's it. What can I do to make it eat?


dannilew 4 years ago

how long after they mate is it until they start laying eggs mine mated a couple of days ago and my son keeps looking for the eggs


MayG profile image

MayG 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Sorry, I haven't been on Hubpages for months. Probably too late to respond now, but sometimes they do go on the ground. I suppose as long as she is misting them every day and they have leaves to eat, there's really not a lot more she can do. Thanks for reading my hub. Hope your friend's stick insect is okay.


MayG profile image

MayG 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Ady, Sorry for this very late response. There's really nothing else I can think of to make your baby stick insect eat. Just make sure the leaves you have in there are soft enough for a young stick insect to chew. Perhaps you could put a couple of different types of leaves in there to see if one of them is tempting? Good luck.


MayG profile image

MayG 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Dannielw, Hard to say, since they actually can lay eggs even without mating! We only have females, so I have to admit complete ignorance of your question! All I know is that once ours are fully grown they start laying a lot of eggs.


Izzy H 4 years ago

where do you guys think is the best place in Mebourne is to buy spiny leaf stick bug. please get back to me i want one really bad

:)


MayG profile image

MayG 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi, You can buy them at Pets Paradise at either Chadstone or Southland, but I have also seen them advertised on Gumtree and Trading Post. I'm sure there are many other pet shops that sell them too.


Twitch 4 years ago

Thanks for all the information you have posted. I have 2 males and a female. The pet shop that sold them confused the sexes. I am wondering whether the males are likely to fight over the female and do the males moult again after they get their wings. They looked almost identical to the female when I bought them but after moulting had the long straight body with long wings. I keep them in a mesh terrarium and have been battling to keep them warm enough during cold SA nights. For several mornings the males have been lying on the bottom looking dead but once the day warms they stert to move again. Any hints on suitable heating would be welcome.


MayG profile image

MayG 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi, Thanks for reading my hub. I have to admit that I don't know if the males will fight over the females. We have only ever had females. I've certainly never read that they do. They are supposed to moult several times as they reach their full size, but as I am not sure how large yours are, I couldn't say if they moult once their wings grow. Feel free to post back and let me know! We live in Melbourne (also a lot of cold nights), and ours are in a 3 sided glass cage with a mesh top. My son has had spiny leaf insects for almost two years and have never had them die of cold. We keep ours in the laundry though. I'm not sure if your terrarium is inside or outside. If you think it is too cold for them, you might consider setting the terrarium inside a plastic tub or something that is only slightly larger than the terrarium for a bit more shelter (keeping the lid off the tub of course!) If you only want to breed females in the future, you might want to think about keeping the males separate to the females. Best of luck with them.


Shaddie profile image

Shaddie 4 years ago from Washington state

These guys ROCK!


Kim83 4 years ago

Hi, we live in NSW just north of Sydney and a few weeks ago discovered a spiny leaf insect living in our crepe Myrtle. I'm pretty sure it's female and is bright green. She seemed to be doing great for almost a month until one morning found her on the ground kind of twitching. We made an enclosure and put her in it with some wattyl but she seems to have lost the use of both her front legs and just hangs upside-down, much like the one in your first photo. She would easily be 15cm long. I thought she might be dying but she's been like this for about 4 days now, ive seen her climbing but she doesn't seem to be eating. Does anyone have any ideas on what is wrong with her and how I might help her?

Cheers


Twitch 4 years ago

Well I'm relieved to say the males have not fought over the female. She moulted about a week ago and looks like the adult females I've seen in photos. A male has been hanging on to her for the last 4 days. I carefully attempted to give them fresh leaves today and am devestated as one of her legs has broken off. I am assuming that because she is fully grown she won't regrow her leg like the young ones tend to do. I hope she will survive the trauma.


Ashlei 4 years ago

How long do spiny leaf insects live for


Erin 4 years ago

The males won't fight over the females. Sometimes a male will try to mount a male that is already on a female (attracted by pheromones), but it usually falls off and tries again another time. Stick insects tend to ignore each other completely. You often see them just walk over another as though they were just another branch or leaf in their enclosure.

If you have a young child that will want to take them out a lot, it is better to have only females for the reasons given in the hub. However, the males are a lot more active than the females, so if you spend much time just watching them in their enclosure, you will have more fun if you have a few males. They tend to run around while the females spend days at a time in the same position. Make sure though that you lock up any cats or dogs before opening the door to an enclosure with males in it, they will want to climb out right away and maybe go for a fly.

For those outside Australia that are wondering what to feed them, feed them bramble. But be careful to pick off all the young, light green leaves as they contain more toxins than the old, dark green leaves. (the plant knows juicy young leaves are more tempting to insects, so fills them with extra poison).


MayG profile image

MayG 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Erin, Thanks so much for your very helpful comments, and for reading my hub. May G


MayG profile image

MayG 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Kim83. I feel terrible that I didn't see this hub to respond to. Did she live? They do need to be kept moist, with a gentle mist from a spray bottle at least once a day. It's probably a bit late now... dare I ask if she' still living?


MayG profile image

MayG 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Twitch, We've had some that have lost legs and they survive. I hope yours has. Thanks for getting back to us to let us know that the males do not fight over the females! I appreciate it. MayG.


Twitch 4 years ago

Hi MayG, the female with a leg missing has certainly survived! She consumes one or sometimes two large Western Australian Flowering Gum leaves most days and over the last fortnight has laid 35 eggs. I found that on a couple of days when the temperature in her terrarium dropped she didn't produce any eggs. On a couple of days there have been 3. Even when one of the males decides to ride piggy back style she has coped well with moving to fresh leaves. I enjoy reading the comments. These are fascinating creatures. Now that I have found a way to keep them warm they move around quite often and I find myself watching them instead of completing many other jobs that are waiting.


Raven 4 years ago

We have no Eucalyptus trees where I live, but I really want one. I have already convinced my mom to get me one, but we don't have a rosebush either and if I just plant a seed, it would take to long. I know I am young, but I am convinced that they will live. Please help me! I live nowhere near Australia so Eucalyptus leaves out of the picture. Please help me, thank you. Your Hub is great. Thanks.


Raven 4 years ago

I mean to say "We have no Eucalyptus trees where I live, but I really want a Spiny Leaf Insect"


MayG profile image

MayG 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Raven, Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my hub. We fed our spiny leaf stick insects oak leaves from the tree in our back yard for a while (until we ran out of leaves we could reach) and they seemed to like those fine. I have no idea where you live, but if you can get hold of spiny leaf insects, I'm guessing they must eat something in your area!


sarah m 4 years ago

Hello, I have recently lost 2 of my shiny leaf insects, they were only about 7 months old but before my girl one died her feet started to go black. This morning I found her lying in the bottom of the cage :( my other one died a couple if weeks ago, he stopped eating after a mini earthquake happened where I live and I think that has something to do with it, I spray them once a day and change there leaves every 3 days, they are also kept in a fly screen cage. I only have one male left and I don't want to lose him, have you got any ideas on what I am doing wrong ? They mean a lot to me :'(


MayG profile image

MayG 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Sarah, It's really hard to know why they're dying. It could just be one of those things. Otherwise, it could be something in the water - if you think that could be it, you could put a drop of Fish and Tap Water Conditioner (the one I have is API brand from the pet shop), into the spray bottle and the water you keep the leaves in. It could be the leaves - is it possible the tree has been sprayed with something? It could be the weather - either too hot or too cold. If it's very hot where you are, you could mist them twice a day. Also, make sure they're not in a spot that gets direct sunlight. I hope you have some eggs that hatch soon! Sorry I can't be more helpful.


DarkRat 4 years ago

I used to have these....I am thinking about getting them again. They were the best pets ever.......I was devastated when my male, Marrön, died four years ago. best pet ever, but those wings freaked my friends out. BONUS!!!!!


Dadadum 4 years ago

I love these things. I hate it when they go... It is strange how much you can bond to these animals, and how upset you feel when you wake up one morning and they are not there.


ally 4 years ago

cool.


Sunny 4 years ago

That's interesting, I read that it would take around 10 days for the eggs to hatch, so perhaps they hatch quicker when in the wet sand or soil in comparison to them being on the bottom of the cage? Or perhaps my source was not as good as yours, who knows? ... I came on here looking for information about shedding, as I just got two about 4 days ago and the girl has already shed her skin, and like you mentioned, she seems like she's grown a centimetre over night! ... They really are fun to watch :) hope you get some little nymphs soon too.


lewis 3 years ago

Hi there, I was just wondering if you knew anything about the lighting in the tank. I previously bought a spiny leaf insect and i placed it in an old fish tank of mine which came with a light. I have placed fake turf on the bottom of the tank, placed a tall glass with a small amount of water in it and covered it over a with a piece of shade cloth and left small holes for the branches, left a mist sprayer with water in it next to the tank and sealed a few open holes with a piece of shade cloth. However, I was just wondering if they like a bright light in the tank at all, if not, I can take it out. Also, my 3 spiny leaf insects are all upside down with their heads bent backwards, and I don't know if they are sleeping or not. Is this normal behaviour or not? I'd appreciate your help very much. Thankyou.


amy 3 years ago

I got two spicky leaf insect about three weeks ago a female and male but two weeks later the female died and a week later the male died I believe I'am doing everything right I give them a light mist of water twice a day everyday and give them fresh leaves every two days and they liked the leaves.Does anyone know what I might be doing wrong?please help someone!


MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi All, thanks for reading my hub and adding a comment. I have been in New York and Washington DC over Christmas and haven't been checking my hubs.

Lewis: Our cage is just in normal daylight. I really don't think they need a light - I have never read that they do. And yes, your insects hanging upside down with their heads bent backwards is perfectly normal!

Amy: so sorry your insects died. One thing - is it possible the tree you were getting your leaves from was sprayed with something? Or could someone have sprayed insect spray close to their cage? Other things I could think of was that they were too cold/ hot. Other than that - is it possible they were old when you got them?


amy 3 years ago

hi thanks for reading my message no the male was about 2 weeks old and the female was about 1 month old I made sure that the leaves I got were not sprayed with any chemicals and I always hosed my leaves to get rid of all the other bugs and poisins on them.I just recently got 2 males an a female but the males died about a week later 1 after the other I did notice that whilst they were dying they couldn't walk on there legs it sterted from the back legs and the other legs went and they just die I really want to keep my female could the infermation I just gave you help you find out why they are dying.Oh and the males were about two weeks old and one of them had sheaded his skin all ready, it has been about 30 dagrees and up to 38 but on some days it has been cooler than 30 dagrees.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

How interesting. Our kids would have loved having these insects as pets. When I was a kid we played with praying mantas. Enjoyed your hub voted up.


Twitch 3 years ago

Hi I was amazed today when the first two eggs hatched. I wasn't expectingthat for at least a couple more months. The young ones have been climbing around the container where I have put leaves from six different eucalypts that grow nearby. I hope that they decide to eat soon. Do they usually take a while or settle to feeding soon after hatching?


MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Moonlake, thanks so much for taking the time to read my hub, and to comment and vote up. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Hi Twitch, the little ones are so cute aren't they? Yes, at first they may not seem hungry, but don't worry. I read somewhere that soft young leaves might be easier for them to eat, and also tearing the edge of some leaves might help, but we've never had a problem with ours. Thanks so much for commenting.


MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Amy, I feel really bad - I responded to this, but for some reason it didn't post. Maybe because I tried to put a link to an expert at the australian museum. I suggest emailing an expert for advice, I bet they'd be happy to help. There is a contact form for a Dr Dave Britton on australianmuseum.net. Are you sure they're not in direct sunlight? I'm so sorry they're dying. Really can't think why.


Twitch 3 years ago

Have now tried leaves from 9 different eucalypts ... large ,small, hard, soft and rose leaves too. So far no luck with getting nymphs to eat and those that have hatched have died. They have shown no interest in leaves from the same tree that their parents consumed daily.Hope the next few to hatch won't be as fussy. Still about 600 eggs to go!


MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Twitch, That's so strange. At least you have plenty more eggs!! Did you try tearing the edges of the leaves to make it easier for them to get to?


Twitch 3 years ago

Hi May,thanks for your suggestions. About 20 eggs have hatched now and still no success with getting the little ones to eat. They run around madly searching but never seem to actually try to eat. Have tried so many different eucalypts, acacias and rose leaves. Have washed them in rainwater each time before putting them into the container. We have had exceptionally hot weather here so have even tried to cool them down at times but always maintained humidity. So sad to see them searching without success but will keep tempting them. I am wondering if the severe lack of rain in our area may be stressing the trees and altering the leaves so they don't suit.


MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Twitch, that's so disappointing! Really hope you have some success soon. I'm sorry I couldn't be more help. There are some bug experts at museums who you can contact online. I'm sure they'd have some good suggestions.


Liam 3 years ago

Hi May,

I was wondering how many times in it's life can a male spiny leaf insect shed. Mine is 12cm long, I got him 3 months ago and he still hasn't shed.

I was also wondering if it is true that a spiney will not eat any leaves other than the ones it has been fed since it was a nymph.

Thank you.


Liam 3 years ago

One more thing.

Do you know if i can get woodlice. If so, how could i do it.

I was also wondering if females undergo certain changes or need to be in certain conditions to lay eggs. I'm thinking about getting a new and bigger cage to fit a female in with the male.

Thanks again!


Liam 3 years ago

As for the post above.

I can think of three possible reasons for your nymphs not eating.

1. The leaves could be to hard for your nymphs

2. There could be dirt and other nasties in the rainwater

3. Maybe it's too hot and they don't want to eat

That's about all i can think of, but hope this helps.


bee-vee 3 years ago

Hi Twitch,

Just want to confirm that you are placing the foliage in the container as a stem with leaves, ensuring that the stem of leaves is in a small container of water to keep the leaves fresh? The insects wouldn't eat leaves that were individually picked and left on the floor of the cage. Sorry if this is an obvious thing to raise!


Spike54 profile image

Spike54 3 years ago

Hi Twitch

I have three possible answers as to why your nymphs are not eating.

1.The leaves could be too hard for them

2.Since you said you wash them in the rainwater, I'd say dirt could be in the rainwater, which then go on your leaves.

3.Maybe it's simply too hot and they don't want to eat.


Spike54 profile image

Spike54 3 years ago

Hi May,

I was just wondering how to get spiny leaf insects to mate. I've recently got a female spiny to go with my male spiny and female goliath stick insect and was wanting to breed them.

Could you please tell me how?

PS. I am aware that females can lay eggs without a male, but i dont want all the nymphs to turn out female. Thanks:)


MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Liam, No, no idea where to get woodlice. Our spiny leaf insects just lay eggs prolifically once they are fully grown. I am sure yours will too. Thanks for commenting.


MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Liam, Thanks for this comment. All good advice!


MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi bee-vee, thanks for reading my hub and trying to help out Twitch. Good suggestion!


MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Spike54. Sorry, I really don't know. I only have the spiny leaf insects, and we've only had females. I suggest going to a museum website, going to the bug section and finding the contact name of one of the experts there. I know Museum of Victoria (Australia) has a really good department. Good luck.


Twitch 3 years ago

Thankyou Liam, bee-vee and Spike54 for your concern and advice. Yes I do think the heat probably affected the appetite of the nymphs. I had several little branches (of up to 40cm high) from different eucalypts sitting in containers of wet cottonwool to resemble a miniature forest. No more eggs have hatched for a month but I will continue to look after them. Still hopng for some success. We have had a couple of 3C nights so they are in a container with a low temp heat pad under it and being sprayed now and again to keep up humidity.

Spike my insects started to mate a couple of weeks after the female's final moult. They didn't need encouragement.


Spike54 profile image

Spike54 3 years ago

Hi May

I was wondering how many moults a female spiny leaf insect goes through before reaching it's full size.

Thank you.


Spike54 profile image

Spike54 3 years ago

Hi Twitch

Thanks for the advice. Sadly, my male died while we were on holiday,

so i guess i'll have to trust the females pathernogenesis.

Thanks anyway.


bee-vee 3 years ago

Twitch,

Just thought I'd let you know what I do with my stick insects (we have spiny leaf, hurricane larry and margin-winged). I use a small glass jar, fill it with water, then double cling-wrap the top. I poke the small branches of foliage through the cling wrap till it reaches the bottom of the glass jar. This way the foliage remains fresh (I only change my foliage once a week). The cling wrap provides two purposes: prevents the baby stick insects from falling in the water and drowning, and also reduces evaporation of the water that's keeping the foliage fresh. You might try this and see if it helps, especially in hot weather where your foliage would be likely to draw up a lot of moisture.


Twitch 3 years ago

Thanks bee-vee, I will remember your method and try it if any more of my eggs hatch. I was putting in fresh foliage every 2-3 days.


bug lover 2 years ago

great hub i love bugs any kind I've read on them I've got a tip don't feed the adult to much baby euclpts leaves they have a lot of oils and makes them harder to digest ;-)


MayG profile image

MayG 2 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Thanks so much for reading my hub and commenting - sorry for the late response, I've been away from Hubpages for a while. Thanks for the tip re. baby eucalyptus leaves - I didn't know that.


Julie Davidson 2 years ago

Hey, I was wondering if any1 could help??? Iv found a tiny stick insect in my kitchen and don't no wot to do with it??. Can any1 help??.. Thanks


MayG profile image

MayG 2 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hi Julie, So sorry that I just saw this. How bizarre that you found a stick insect in your kitchen! I would love to know what happened with it.


Sarah 2 years ago

I have 5, 3 males and 2 females. My two biggest males have shredded once in the 4 months I've had them and have their wings, they're fairly big now. My middle sized is female, She hasn't moulted yet, I've had her a few weeks, and my two smallest which the male has moulted once (I think he's on his 2nd moult since nymph) and the female who is just slightly smaller (I think she's on her 1st/2nd moult since nymph). But I've noticed since I've moved none have moulted, I'm pretty sure it's because they are all in a big mesh enclosure and it's fairly cold in my unit, so I've set up a night heat lamp above their enclosure and put a towel and big scarf over 3 sides of the enclosure, really hoping the heat lamp and misting of the leaves twice a day helps them moult


Sarah 2 years ago

Also, if people are still having problems with nymphs not eating, I've heard hey prefer the feather leaves, while the adults will eat both


Tianna Lynch 2 years ago

Can ants hurt younger spiny leaf insects


Afia the bugs momma 2 years ago

I am so glad to have come across this page!! I received my stick bug 8 months ago, she was only a week old.

On the contrary to what was stated, I handle my stick bug on a daily basis and she comes alive when she sees me. Her front legs go up and Afia reaches for my hand. I don't contain her, she roams free on blackberry branches which I keep in a vase atop a table for her. She changes colour daily and turns to a peachy pink when handled. I wish I could upload a video of Afia. She is not just an insect, but a beloved pet alongside my two dogs.


Afias bug momma 2 years ago

Also, she would not eat eucalyptus at all. I have been giving her blackberry, raspberry and rose bush leaves. I've noticed she prefers them dried, as I hear her crunching at night.


Afias bug momma 2 years ago

Also, she would not eat eucalyptus at all. I have been giving her blackberry, raspberry and rose bush leaves. I've noticed she prefers them dried, as I hear her crunching at night.


connor 23 months ago

Thanks for the help


Rosalie 23 months ago

Having troubles finding the right leaves for my fussy leaf eaters. Does anyone know the exact name of eucalyptus they eat?


maddi 17 months ago

Rosalie mine readily eat a mix of eucalypt and paperbark leaves, if that helps. Paperbark are generally easier to reach than eucalypt leaves, and very common in the suburbs.


Sarah 16 months ago

just wondering if they eat the gum nuts/flowers too? we have a four day old, and she's currently on the floor eating the long leaves of the flower.

thanks :)


shirts101 profile image

shirts101 16 months ago from Brooklyn Park, MN

I'm not familiar with gum nuts but I have had success feeding the young nymphs romaine lettuce and I bought a seed packet with 5 different types of lettuce and grow it in a pot. I just tear off a leaf when needed. Mine love it.


Sandra 10 months ago

I have two females the same age about 10 months who have been really healthy but have started to eat the newspaper in their enclosure. Has anyone experienced this before? Is it a problem?


MayG profile image

MayG 4 months ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

I'm so sorry Sandra, I've had a break from Hubpages and only just seen your comment. Did you find out why they were eating the newspaper? We never had that problem but I think we just had a bed of leaves, not newspaper.


Rosa 3 months ago

One of my stick insect nymph ate the toilet paper lining that i used to line the container it came in. It died later - i can only guess its the toilet paper or it failed to shed successfully?

The other one has successfully become an adult now. I think its a Vietnamese Walking Stick. Its not fussy. sort of... it eats confederate rose leaves plucked and left on the floor of its container. even if its several days old... it prefers this leaf over all else

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