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Stick Insects - Do They Make Good Kid's Pets?

If you are stumped at what pet to get the kids and getting a dog or a cat is out of the question, there's a heap of other pets which could be a great choice and which are pretty easy maintenance.  From fish to rabbits and lots in between, you'll find a myriad of creatures of every shape and size which all make terrific first-time kid's pets. However, rabbits and other small pets which are better off when kept indoors like hamsters, gerbils and even guinea pigs, need lots of care and their cages need to be regularly cleaned out to ensure the environment is nice for them to live in which in turn means quite a bit of responsibility.

Caring for hamsters and other furry pets has to be a family thing and not just a job that's left up to the children. Fish and terrapins need their tanks cleaning out on a regular basis as well which can become a chore instead of a pleasure.  One pet that's pretty easy maintenance and which is fun for kids to keep is a stick insect (or two). They may not be as cuddly as a kitten or as devoted as a dog but they are fascinating creatures that don't make lots of noise and they certainly won't damage your much loved furniture or leave a puddle on the kitchen floor.

Stick insects are also referred to as "walking stick insects" are phasmids and they can vary in size with some being a couple of inches long whereas others can measure up to 12 inches from head to tail. Most of them resemble twigs and leaves found in their environments which means they blend in very well wherever they happen to be. This camouflage of sorts is to keep them well out of sight of their predators and it works very well.

3000 Species of Phasmids

There are well over 3000 species of phasmids but the more common species which are kept as pet include the following:

  • Indian Walking Stick/Common Laboratory Stick
  • Annam Walking Stick
  • Giant Prickly Stick
  • Macleave Spectre

The Life Cycle of a Stick Insect

Depending on the species, a female stick insect can lay anything from 1 to 1000 eggs at any one time and the babies only hatch out after one to three seasons have passed by – although again this does depend on the species. Once the babies have hatched, the little stick insects climb up a tree and then proceed to hang upside down during the time it takes for them to moult which they do at least 5 times before they reach maturity.


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Male Stick Insects are Pretty Rare

Only around one in every thousand stick insects are male and they can usually fly. Female stick insects don't actually need a male to lay eggs (much like poultry) but when they do meet up with a male counterpart they mate but only stay together for a few weeks after which they go their separate ways.

The Lifespan of Phasmids

Phasmids have quite short life spans and depending on the species this is anything from 12 to 16 months so if you are thinking of getting some for the kids – it's a good idea to get a few over a period of time so that when one reaches the end of their lifespans, there are still some stick insects in the environment for the children to look after. Baby stick insects, no matter what species tend to be incredibly cute looking!

How to Take Care of Your Stick Insects

  • All stick insects are vegetarian and like nothing better than eating brambles like raspberry or blackberry leaves which when included in their diet makes it a very nutritious. It's really important for them to have plenty of fresh food in their environments so they can munch away and stay healthy.
  • Stick insects like to hang upside down on plants so you need to make sure they have plenty of room in their environments so they can dangle. As a rule of thumb the height of their tank has to be 3 times the length of the stick insects you keep in it.
  • It is better to keep stick insects in a tank because they cannot escape and it's more fun watching them through the glass or plastic – you can keep them in a meshed cage but you need to make sure they can't escape through the holes in the mesh which if too large, they will wriggle through.
  • Stick Insects originate in nice warm tropical or semitropical countries and as such need in captivity they have to be kept nice and toasty – anything between 75 to 80° F is an ideal temperature for them to thrive in. The one thing stick insects like is to be kept in the dark at night which means opting for a red heat bulb during the night and then a white one during the day.
  • It's really important to keep humidity levels quite high which means doing a little research to find out what level your particular species of stick insect needs to stay happy and healthy. You can also mist their cage and the plants at least once a day which will help keep humidity at the right levels. Stick insects must have drinking water in their environments too.
  • These fun creatures do like to be handled but you need to do this very carefully being extra gentle with them when you pick them up. They are more delicate than a lot of other creatures and if they are handled a little too roughly, they may well tell you off by giving you a nip or a bit of a pinch.

Conclusion

Do stick insects make good kids pets? Yes they do because they are fascinating little creatures and they don't need lots of cleaning out – although their environments do need to be kept clean it is not as demanding as say a rabbit or guinea pig hutch. Although, they don't boast very long life spans, having a few of them in an environment is fun and looking after them teaches the kids the importance of responsibility in a pleasant and enjoyable way.


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