loading
Picture of How to keep a pet spiny leaf insect
How to look after your very own spiny leaf insect (extatosoma tiaratum), a unique species of stick insect from Australia! These are commonly found in pet stores all over the world, and are quite popular as pets.

Step 1: Things you will need

1: An enclosure of some sort- preferably a fly screen cage. If it is rectangular as most cages are, it should be placed vertically due to the insect's instinct to climb. As a general rule, the cage should be at least 3 times as long as the adult insect- Adult females grow to about 110mm long so I would recommend a 40 cm by 30 cm by 30 cm cage.
Stick insects are accomplished escape artists- so you must be careful not to leave any gaps and make sure there are no tears in the fly screen. (I didn't completely close the cage lid once, and all of my young insects escaped into the house- they took hours to locate)

2: A source of eucalyptus leaves- you must be able to access young foliage as well as older leaves. When collecting the leaves, make sure that nobody has sprayed any chemicals on the tree you cut branches from.
The leaves will be the insect's food. If you don't live in Australia, you can feed them on bramble leaves- although these will be hazardous to collect.
If you feed your insect on eucalyptus leaves, they will turn a shade of tan to camouflage against dry, curled eucalyptus leaves, but if you feed it on brambles it will turn green in order to better blend in to their environment.

3: A plant sprayer- an empty windex sprayer will do- as long as you wash it out VERY carefully (nothing kills a pet stick insect faster than cleaning chemicals)

4: A vase of some sort- to hold water and eucalyptus leaves. Doesn't need to be fancy- I use an old milk jug.

5: Newspaper- you will need 1 or two sheets of this every few weeks (the newspaper is to protect the floor of the cage from stains if it is made of wood and/or the need for cleaning)

6: A small tupperware that you are willing to wreck

7: A spiny leaf insect (quite obviously). You can often acquire one from your local pet store- if not, there are websites that will ship eggs or young insects to your house (I purchased mine from www.terrificscientific.com, a business in Sydney, Australia) I would recommend getting a female- the males have fully functional wings and can escape- although they are clumsy fliers that tend to crash into the nearest object when flying.
 
1-40 of 238Next »

Hi. I have a four day old spiny leaf insect. She's eating the tiny little feather type petals on the gum flower. Is that okay? we watched the mum over the christmas holidays for my daughters preschool class, and she started laying before she went back. We only kept five eggs. She's the first to hatch (she as the mum didn't have a partner at all)

Thanks in advance

Jugglebug (author)  sarah.holdcroft.11 month ago
I wouldn't worry about the stick insect eating the petals - they have a very large amount of "experience" so to speak (accumulated through evolution) and so among natural materials like they would find in the forest they probably know pretty well what they should or should not be eating. Congratulations on the birth!

We had another nymph hatch out of her egg on Friday :D So now we have a 9 day young one called Chip, and a 2 day young one called Dash (after their mama)

Chip has started dropping suddenly to the floor... yep, she's playing dead. lol. I had to google that. Didn't realise they fake death!

But they're alive and drinking water from the sides of their habitat. loving them :)

Well, today I got a different type of gum leaf for her and she sat on it and I don't know if she was eating, but she was going through the motion. She still likes the feathery flower parts from the gum tree flower, so I got her more flowers too.

If she was to perish due to starving, when would that happen? she's five to six days old now.

and thanks :) We were so excited to see her running around

DaveS221 month ago

Great post. Spinys make great pets. I love how they sway back and forth. I have a video of mine on a post I did. Have a great day.

http://coolpetbugs.com/giant-prickly-stick-insect-care/

DaveS221 month ago
Hey Jugglebug,
I was Just wondering, are regular tissues ok to use to raise the eggs on, or to they hold to much moisture? (resulting in fungal growth)
I just wanted to know because my female spiny stick insect has just recently laid 3 eggs.
Thanks,
Leon

I used coconut peat in a tupperware container, with holes melted in the lid (as it's plastic, I heated a metal skewer and melted the air holes). The coconut peat is kept moist, and only needs respraying every week, once or twice.

Jugglebug (author)  Leon The Bug Boy2 years ago
I would say paper towel is probably preferable to tissues; I don't know what the effect of the aloe vera or whatever else might be in them would be. Holding moisture is good, however - they need some moisture to stay alive. If mold becomes a problem, consider introducing some woodlice to the enclosure- they literally polish the mold off of the eggs!

i had an egg hatch when keeping them in a tupperware container with coconut peat, very moist, almost wet. Sprayed every few days. Never went mouldy at all :)

antikrist85 months ago

Hi, I recently acquired 5 spiny leaves and after about two days I noticed one of the younger ones was not eating. The next few days we found him on the bottom of the container and thought he was dead, however when I picked him up he still moves. His skin looks like he was beginning to molt, so I left him on a leave slightly above the ground to see if that would change anything - however it did not. He is still laying in the same position almost lifeless unless I touch him, and slightly responds to stimuli. He has what looks like a bite on his tail and I am wondering if another one of my insects could have attacked him? and if that is the case is he just paralyzed and slowly dying? If so, I would like to put him out of his misery instead of watching him starve via a slow death. Any recommendation as to what I should do? thanks

IMG_3012.JPG

I had to help a female through her final moult. She was stuck.. the preschool teachers really didn't take good care of her. They need plenty of misting so they can come out properly. I ended up holding our loaner up for about half an hour so she could get out properly

spyrobeth1 month ago

Hello! I need help. I have a week old macleays spectre stick insect living in a 30x30x30cm plastic box with 6 circular air vents on the sides. The box is filled with twigs and branches of privet which it loves, and there are plenty of places to hang and moult. However, when it first hatched, it had no problem climbing the plastic walls and lid with no gripping problems, and now it can't hold on to the plastic at all. It tries to, and ends up on the ground, struggling to find a way up again. I often find myself helping it back up onto a leaf. Is this normal? Should I be worried? I'm considering putting more twigs around the outside so it has more places to climb up the sides of the box. Or put netting around all inside walls of the box, however that would stop me seeing into the box at all. Help :(

Jugglebug (author)  spyrobeth1 month ago
Hello, thanks for commenting!

This may not be an ideal situation for your stick insect, as she may be eventually be injured with repeated falls. Both of your suggestions sound good - another option is to put netting with larger gaps around the cage, like
###
###
- that way you might still be able to see through the gaps. Sorry I can't be of more help.
Hello,

I am thinking of breeding some stick insects. How much do they usually cost? and does it always take 9 months to hatch if you have only a female.

I must return to saving the toilet population

Heroic_Toilet out

I had a spiny leaf insect hatch after six months. don't know which you are on about

PerfectM5 months ago

Hi jugglebug, we have over 300 eggs, all female, their mother has passed on now. Some weeks ago they started to hatch. Each one has died despite having very young leaves available. We have probably lost about 8 now, no survivors. We have 2 at the moment which are several days old. I don't want them to keep dying., we're at a loss of what else to try. We have access to all sorts of gum trees on our property. We have tried putting river sand on the bottom of the cage with a bark layer to help minimise injury when they fall. They just don't seem to ever eat the leaves and just want to hang out at the top of the cage. Most die before that hanging stage. Can you help ?

are you spraying the babies with a fine mist? they need the leaves sprayed too. :)

KirstyC13 months ago

hi

can you spray the nymphs like the adults. we have 3 atm and have lost up to 5 in the past few months for reasons unknown.

yes! as long as it's a fine mist. our four day old was on the floor today, after we were told not to spray her or she would drown. Not the case. They need water to drink, moult and if they don't find it anywhere, they will just dehydrate and die. I spray Chip three to four times a day with a fine mist from a distance, more on the leaves and side of her enclosure. I watched her lap that water off the sides today.. Spray for sure

gnapier2 years ago
We've had a baby spiny female for a few months now. Due to unforseen circumstances, she had to live with a friend of ours for 3 months who didn't take fantastic care of her. When we got her back, she was still very small and very hungry. Over the last two weeks, she's almost doubled her size, but the last few days she's been very inactive and has started to become very pale, almost white in some areas. Tonight, she also suddenly became very active, doing several laps around her enclosure. I've scoured the internet and haven't found very much on this issue, can anyone help?
TaeG gnapier1 month ago

heej i know its kinda late (around 2 years too late probably) but the spiny leaf is like most stick insects a night creature but the spiny leaf itself is active at first and becomes rather slow the more they grow this is cos they let ants carry the eggs to the nests in nature then dump the inner egg in the nest disposal centre where they hatch and mimic the ants. then when it grows and starts to act more like a leaf its moving slower there is some really nice youtube video on 1 that moves really really slow forward

Jugglebug (author)  gnapier2 years ago
Hi there - sorry about the long reply time! I've been very busy.

I hate to be unhelpful, but I haven't heard of anything like this! It might be the continued effects of malnutrition, although it sounds like she could be recovering nicely if that's the case. Is she alright now?
SamanthaB93 months ago
Gumballgirl.3 months ago

hi i have a spiny leaf insect and i put her in a goldfish bowl with glad wrap with put holes in the top.But she wont move around much

Jugglebug (author)  Gumballgirl.3 months ago
Hello Gumballgirl,

It would be much better if your leaf insect had a larger enclosure, with something on the ceiling (especially branches with leaves) to hang on - they like to hang upside down from branches. An ideal enclosure has more height than width :)

Wire cages also have the advantage of more ventilation, keeping the air fresh and reducing mold growth.

Hope this helps.

Hi Jugglebug,
Two days ago my spiny leaf insect fell to the ground of her cage. She is approximately one year old and has laid almost 100 eggs or so. I thought she was dead however I went to check on her and noticed she moved slightly. Then, last night she got up and moved to the other side of the cage along the ground and fell down again. I put a leaf with a few droplets of water on it incase she was able to drink but she hasn't touched it. Is there anything I can do for her (e.g. feed her sugar solution?) or is she just deteriorating and about to die as it getting close to the end of her life span? She recently stopped laying as many eggs as she has been significantly, she went from 2-3 eggs per day to one egg per couple of days and now none.
Thanks!
I have been so worried about her :-/

My adult female insect did this several times at about 1 year old., we gently lifted her back up onto a low leaf using another leaf or stick and sprayed her gently a couple of times a day, she made a full recovery each time and went on to live for 18 months. Each time we thought she was dying, her breathing appeared laboured, it was very sad to watch and each time we were so surprised she recovered.

Hi Jugglebug,

Last night my daughter found her spiny leaf insect laying on the table where it had fallen from its branches. It was very lifeless and we didn't expect it to live through the night, but it did. She was so upset. The insect has been showing the same signs as yours...falling off her leaves lately and not being as active as usual. I just wanted to ask you if your is still alive (I hope so) and if so what did you do to help it?

Thanks!

Jugglebug (author)  kcollins237771 year ago
Hi kcollins,

Thank you for your message. It sounds as if your insect may simply be at the end of its natural life, but if the illness is due to a disease, there could be a chance of recovery - make sure the insect has water twice a day, and see if you can make the leaves as low to the ground as possible to allow the insect to easily climb back up and to reduce the chance of injury from falling.

Best wishes,
Jugglebug
bigmammabow7 months ago
I have some black berry leaves in my cage but they don't offer much height for my female to climb or hang. Can I add other types if branches from the wild or would it make her sick? Maybe some sticks? I do bit have access to eucalyptus. What do you suggest? And thanks for the informative guide!
Jugglebug (author)  bigmammabow7 months ago
Hi there,
Sorry for taking so long to respond, and thanks for the question! Adding other types of branches would work (especially if they were bare) - I imagine the insect would still seek out the black berry leaves by scent when it was hungry. What might be ideal is to string up the blackberry branches closer to the roof of the enclosure.

All the best,
-Jugglebug
swifty492 years ago
can it get to hot for leafy stick insect as we have had a few days consecutive of heat into the 40`s and today I lost my adult female aged about 13mths and two babies about 2 moths old had plenty of air and leaves
Jugglebug (author)  swifty492 years ago
Hi Swifty - it's possible that this is the reason for your loss, but remembering that these insects live in very hot parts of Australia it doesn't seem like a dangerous condition. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful.

yeah I'm wondering about this. here in south australia where we live, it gets up to 50oC, with 40oC nights. I'm only looking after the spiny leaf insect for my daughters preschool class during the school holidays. it goes back in January. If it gets this hot, should i keep it in the air conditioned rooms, where the air con is set to 22oC? thanks :)

Hi, thanks for all of the great info! We have 9 females. I was wondering how big/old will they have to be in order to start laying eggs? Thanks in advance for you help... I haven't been able to find an answer for this yet!

Jugglebug (author)  crystal.maillet.59 months ago
Hi there Crystal - thanks for the question! In my experience, it takes maybe 3 months for the females to reach sexual maturity - you can tell when they have reached the final stage of molting when they have wing stubs that are about a centimetre or so long :)

hi Jugglebug,

I am making a leaf insect cage, and am wondering what the measurements are for your insect enclousure.

Thankyou for all your help and info a bout these interesting animals ?

Many thanks Kaitlyn

Jugglebug (author)  kaitlyn.lewis.3539 months ago
Hey, Kaitlyn - thanks for the comment!

I don't have the exact dimensions I'm afraid, but here are some estimates:

50 centimeters (cm) tall, 30 cm wide on each side.

Best of luck with your endeavors :)

Hey Jugglebug

I am not sure if my stick insect egg is dead.Can you please have a look. iF you need a better look just click on the photo

Thanks XxGaming729xX

image.jpg
1-40 of 238Next »