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How to keep a pet spiny leaf insect

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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.
Heroic_Toilet5 months ago
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
lewi3426 months ago
Hi, I got 3 spiny leaf insects for Christmas last year. One has died after injuring her leg when she had her shed, I still have 2. One fell from her twig the other day and since then has not been eating for about a day now. We moved her from the proper glass tank and put her into a tupperware container with artificial grass. I put a few twigs of her favourite specimen in the tank and some rose-bush leaves because we heard that they like to eat them too, and they also change colour when eaten. I understand it takes about a whole night to get through a few leaves, but even though, she still hasn't been nibbling at any leaves. I also accidentally damaged her tail when moving an office lamp from above her. I had the lamp above her to create some humidity after I sprayed the leaves and made them moist, as I've been told they like a nice, humid environment. The glass fell from beneath the globe and crushed her tail, however she is fine and still laying eggs. We are afraid she might die if she does not eat soon. I would appreciate some answers on what to do pretty soon, thanks :)
gorg_w10 months ago
Hi,
I have a full grown female spiny leaf stick insect and it's been about 2 months since her last shed, but she still hasnt laid any eggs. Is there anything I can do? I dont have a heat lamp in her enclosure and it is cold in my apartment. Could that be why?
I'm a bit worried. Thanks.
Debmar6912 months ago
I have a female spiny leaf insect who is about the length of my hand,and have been told that I'm not likely to have her for much longer,I got her from pet store start of the year with a male but they both looked the same then.how long do they live for?
kateh11321 year ago
Hey Jugglebug,
The weak nymph ended up dying a few days ago. I didn't do anything because didn't want to kill him because of handling him. Another nymph died aswell im not sure if it was because he had only 5 legs when i got him but im not sure why. I still have 3 healthy nymphs that are going good. Thanks for the help anyway and i will ask you for help if i need it.

Thanks Kate
p.s these are only two of the three but i know the brown ones (i have another one too) are spiny leafs but i just was wondering what the green ones species was?
thanks again
download.jpg
Jugglebug (author)  kateh11321 year ago
Hi Kate, I'm sorry to hear of your loss.
It's difficult to tell from this picture, but if you are in Australia it is most likely a goliath stick insect. Here is a picture of the species I mean:
http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2167/2180833766_90a9f53799.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.flickriver.com/photos/centralaustralia/2180833766/&h=333&w=500&sz=59&tbnid=xKYxJ3Ztl3EVnM:&tbnh=91&tbnw=136&zoom=1&usg=__LmaxA_jHbHUNJy9Nfk5NPs3TLTM=&docid=YJLczYI0iRi2cM&sa=X&ei=eoBwUcP1MqmZiQL_5IC4CQ&ved=0CDsQ9QEwAQ&dur=2576

Long link, sorry
kateh11321 year ago
Hello Jugglebug,
I got 5 nymphs of 3 different species yesterday and one of them seem to be not doing too good. It seems quite weak and it cant grip on the leaves very well. I just wanted to know if i should separate it into a smaller container so it can recover in a smaller space so it wont fall from the high leaves etc. or should i just leave it and just expect that it will die? I have provided my nymphs with the appropriate supplies (correct leaves, humidity, temperature, housing etc.) so i am not sure what i should do.
Thankyou,
Kate
Jugglebug (author)  kateh11321 year ago
Hi Kate, thanks for the message.
It might be a good idea to move the weakened nymph into a smaller container to reduce potential fall damage.

Its a possibility that the weakness is due to malnutrition (insects can become weak enough that they cannot eat). If you think this is the case, you can try syringe feeding him/her a small amount of sugar solution; this can give the insect enough energy to eat and regain some of the things it needs.

Best of luck!
sunshiine1 year ago
He is so cute! This is such an interesting instructable. Thanks so much for sharing and do have a splendorous day!
sunshiine
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
Jugglebug (author)  Leon The Bug Boy1 year 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!
mijy1 year ago
Hi There, we've had Spiny Leaf insects for a couple of years. Our female laid eggs, the eggs hatched and grew into adults, well not all of them but there was a consistent group (herd... what is the collective noun?) of 10 to 20 insects. We returned from a few days away to find them all dead or dying after being cared for by friends. A few more hatched but also perished within a day or two.
The only thing I could think of was that it was due to insecticide. So I thoroughly rinsed out the enclosure with clean water. A few weeks have passed without any hatching (the eggs are left on the floor amongst tan bark, leaves, etc) we used to have them hatching daily.
We also have another type of stick insect, not sure which. They're very thin, green as nymphs, brown once older and grow to 20+ cm's. The strange thing is that 3 of these guys are doing well (in the same enclosure).
Do you have any idea why this could be?
Jugglebug (author)  mijy1 year ago
Insecticide or some other chemical would seem likely - depending on the strength of the chemical it may have invalidated the eggs. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful, and I apologize for taking so long to reply.
swifty491 year 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)  swifty491 year 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.
gnapier1 year 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?
Jugglebug (author)  gnapier1 year 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?
Ninerism1 year ago
@gnapier

It doesn't sound like there is an issue. They are generally very white after shedding, which is where they almost double in size. If she has shed, then she is fine.

Spinys are generally inactive and just hang in one spot all day.

I'm not sure what kind of set up you have her in, but make sure it's not too hot.
Get her some fresh leaves you have washed first and mist her tank lightly every day.
Maybe get her a friend too. Spineys do better when they are not alone.
Ninerism1 year ago
Part of keeping Spinys is misting their tank every day. They need the moisture, especially when shedding.

Sun will prevent them from shedding when they need to, as it dries out the skin before they can start to get it off, and this alone can lead to death. They don't lose limbs to shedding, although they can sometimes come out deformed due to drying out before it's shed.

They will regenerate limbs on their next shed, starting out with tiny limbs that get larger on further sheds.

The soap too may have done it. They absorb what's on their skin.

(Spiny breeder)
hannapiza1 year ago
I bought a spiny for my 8 year old son. She lost one leg on shedding her skin. How long does it take to grow back? We began sunning her for 10min a day, because I thought that would help her skin shed better next time (without losing more legs!). Now she has suddenly died. Just wondering whether it could be too much sun, or the other possibility, the soap that my son put her on! He got a soap making kit from a friend, with moulds, so we made a finger out of the soap - he thought it'd be OK to put the insect on the finger soap... I suspect that it had harmed her - but before I tell him, would you be able to advise? Thanks!
Jugglebug (author)  hannapiza1 year ago
Hi there - it's hard to know whether the soap harmed your insect, although it doesn't sound like there was much exposure. I doubt that the soap caused the insect's death. The light should not have been a problem (although personally I haven't heard anything of the benefits of this practice). Other possible causes include disease, and unintended pesticide exposure - maybe on the leaves?
I'm sorry for the death of your pet. It doesn't sound like its your fault or your son's.
mtorry1 year ago
I have four spineys, three females and a male. This evening I opened their cage to spritz them with water and didn't realise that one of the girls had shed her skin earlier in the evening and was hanging partly on to the door. She lost her grib on where she was hang and went in to a bit of a panic and I tried to stop her falling on the ground. When she ended up in my hand she lost both her back legs! Is she likely to be okay? She had fully shed her skin and moved a bit away from it by the time this happened, but I am worried she may not survive. I have read that they will sometimes lose a lef when attacked by predators and can regrow them later, is this correct?
Jugglebug (author)  mtorry1 year ago
I'm sorry to hear that, but it's definitely true that they regrow their legs when molting! Unless this is her last stage of development (is she now an adult?) then she will regrow the legs during the next two instars. If she is an adult, she may be able to survive with four of her legs - They are fine with five certainly, although they move very slowly and hang upside down for most of the day anyway so it may be just fine.
Jugglebug (author) 1 year ago
I'm considering re-writing parts of this instructable.

If anyone has any suggestions for areas that need cleaning up, I would appreciate your input! Comment below or send me a private message if you would like to contribute.

I am amazed at the activity on this page, and I'm proud that people come to me for information on these insects :)

Thank you all.
spannerss1 year ago
help please hi i had 30 nymphs hatch changed the leaves and all but 2 died that was 3 weeks ago hav had two more hatch but keep dieing still hav two and the adult female so i dont think it can b the leaves thank
Jugglebug (author)  spannerss1 year ago
Hi there!
You have my sympathy, I have also had problems with high mortality in young insects. It is extremely difficult to keep them alive, and to keep a large percentage of them alive seems to require near perfect conditions (humidity, availability of leaves, cleanliness, quality of leaves, etc.)

As a few pointers, I would recommend:
- Offering a mixture of young and mature leaves
- Washing all leaves to remove any pesticide
- Keeping the enclosure well ventilated - I would recommend a flyscreen cage
- Misting LIGHTLY every day with water (too much can contribute to fungal growth)
- Avoiding the use of cleaning chemicals and fly spray near the insects.
Briods1 year ago
Hi, I had five stick insects, 3 males and two females. This week my first male died and now both my other males are dieing. They have wings. I was wondering whether it's just old age or if there is another reason. Also, if both my males do die, will my females be lonely and if so, should I get more???
Thank you!
Jugglebug (author)  Briods1 year ago
Hello :)
Males naturally have a shorter life span than females, so it may just be old age. If they appear to be dying for another reason, it could be a disease - in this case you may wish to quarantine any insects that are behaving strangely.

There is no evidence of 'loneliness' or any emotion we can identify with in the insect order - in fact, in this species, the females can produce eggs without a male present at all! The females also store sperm in their bodies for some time after the mating ritual, so they can continue laying fertilized eggs for several weeks or months (unsure on the time exactly)
Hi
Your blog has been a great help! I have two adult females and an adult male, the male seems to be mating with both of the females and I have found eggs at the bottom of the enclosure, they are about a week old. The problem is that I don't partially want any more stick insects, I like just having three. Is there any way I can dispose of the eggs without being cruel?
Thank you so much!!
Jugglebug (author)  leafyspiny1011 year ago
Hi there :)

This is a common dilemma - these things breed like... insects.

If you wish to dispose of your eggs, I recommend putting them in a fire, or cooking them in the oven - this will kill the undeveloped embyro, preventing it from hatching only to die from starvation in the garbage dump.

Bear in mind that fertilized eggs can be valuable, and you may be able to sell/give them to other spiny leaf insect keepers in your area.
Spinyleaf1 year ago
do large reddish marks onthe bottom of her tail harm her in anyway?
Jugglebug (author)  Spinyleaf1 year ago
If the marks appear unatural, you may wish to quarantine the insect (seperate her from the others) to prevent spread of a possible disease. Unfortunately there is little to be done in the way of treating illnesses in insects.
ella.b1 year ago
Hello,
my sister was recently given two adult female insects and we put them in the cage with our male. The lady that gave us the females said that sometimes the male doesn't survive long after mating? is this true? Thanks :)
Jugglebug (author)  ella.b1 year ago
It's true that the females typically live longer than the males, but the male mating will not impact his lifetime. On the other hand, it's possible that if a male does not mate he will live slightly longer, increasing the chances he will find a female within that time.

In my experience, the male can mate many, many times - with no risk of early death :)
Spinyleaf1 year ago
My adult femail sometimes han little reddish droplets on her tail, could you shed some light on the subject?
Thanks So much ;)
Jugglebug (author)  Spinyleaf1 year ago
I have observed this before, and it appears to be a fairly normal occurrence - I wouldn't worry. Does it have an odour? It may be the insects response if it feels threatened for some reason - for instance, I have noticed they are very uncomfortable with people breathing very near them.
Spinyleaf1 year ago
hey, i have a 8 month old femalespiny leaf and she has layed about 70 eggs, 5 of them hatched recently, but i was on a trip. when i came back, i found out that oneof them had a broken leg. and it often falls from the leafs. will this affect it in any way?

on another note, your blog has been very helpfull, thanks so much!

Jugglebug (author)  Spinyleaf1 year ago
Thanks :) I'm glad it's been useful to you.

The leg will probably heal/grow back during the next few molts, I had a baby with this problem but the leg regrew completely before the insect reached adulthood. Additionally, the insects are usually more than capable of climbing with only five legs.
verbourr1 year ago
Hi there Jugglebug
I have had a pair of prickly leafy stick insects for a few months now and the male died about 3 weeks ago, before the female reached maturity (molted and got her tiny wings) she just seem very lethargic of late and it worries me she still consumes water however she fails on diet. I am afraid she has stopped eating altogether. Could you advise as to why this is prevalent. We are in the midst of winter and I have added a heatpad to see if it helps but to no resolve. Is this a sign of her lifecycle nearing the end?
I will look out for your reply in future.
thanks!
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