Spiny Leaf Insects

Spiny leaf stick insects (Extatasoma tiaratum)
Care sheet

These insects are great pets! They are low maintenance, don’t
smell or make any noise and they don’t take up much space. It
is perfectly safe to handle them but do so gently as their legs
are delicate. These “stickies” make a great display and are
fascinating to watch grow.

The first step to successfully keeping these insects is to find a
food source. The very first time you feed your insects it is
important that you offer them a variety of leaves in one go (as
many as 10 types would be ideal). Use small branches to make
a bunch. Check the leaves to see which variety is being eaten.
If they do not appear to be eating then try a different bunch of
plant species.
In general these insects like the middle-aged leaves – not the
small young leaves and not the really old tough leaves. Avoid
trees or shrubs that have a milky sap when cut and don’t give
your insects leaves which have been sprayed with poison. They
certainly will eat eucalypt species but not all species are
suitable so be sure to try as many different species as possible.
Once you find a food source they like, stick with that plant!

Your stick insects need an enclosure. They can be housed in a
plastic container with a vented lid (available at pet stores) or
something like an old fish tank with a fly screen lid is suitable.
Place your bunch of leaves in a container of water with a lid.
Punch holes in the lid of the container to insert the stems. The
bunch of leaves should touch the top of the enclosure. Change
the bunch of leaves when they wilt or dry out.

The insects must be lightly misted with a hand sprayer about
once every day (this is how they drink).
You might like to place some dry leaves or mulch in the bottom
of the container to make it more attractive.

Female Spiny leaf stick insects live for about a year and take about 6
months where male tend to only live for around 8months.These insects are some of the heaviest in Australia and can grow to
15cm long. The juveniles all look the same but will change their
appearance as they mature. Females look kind of like scorpions
and the males look like sticks. When mature only the males are
able to fly.
Stick insects will periodically shed their exoskeleton and will
appear bigger after each shed. They may be seen to be eating
their old shell.
Your stick insect may play dead if it feels threatened. They may
also throw droppings or eggs as a form of defense when they
are mature. They also may change their colour over time to
adapt to their environment.