While reviled by most, keeping insects as pets have become a popular trend for kids and adults alike. Although stick insects make unusual pets, they are one of the best pets you can think of. You can keep many types of stick insects at home (however, in some countries it is prohibited to keep exotic stick insects; always check with your authorities if it is legal to keep stick insects at home).
Do stick insects make good pets? In this post, I will explain 12 reasons why stick insects make such great pets (in my opinion even better pets than dogs and cats), and also why they are good (beginner) pets for kids. Maybe it convinces you to keep these beautiful and unusual pets yourself.
#1 Stick insects are rather cheap to keep
One of the first things that make stick insects good pets is that they are rather cheap to keep. Although you need to make some investment at the start, it is really cheap to keep them. In this article, I break down the cost of keeping stick insects. It turns out that you can keep stick insects already for as low as $10/year, with an initial investment of around $150. This makes them around 500% cheaper than dogs and cats.
It is one of the cheapest bugs you can keep as pets. If you don’t want to spend too much money, for example as a first pet for your kid, stick insects make a good choice.
#2 Stick insects don’t require much space
Stick insects don’t need much space. Although, there are some stick insects like the Jungle Nymph and Pharnacia ponderosa that need much more space because of their large body size. But the smaller stick insects can already be kept in enclosures from 30cmx30cmx60cm (12″x12″x24″).
As for floor space, stick insects don’t need really much, but they do need some height in the enclosure to moult. When they need to moult, they will hang upside down and use gravity to remove themselves from their old exoskeleton.
#3 Stick insects don’t require much care time
These strange-looking exotic animals don’t take much time to keep them healthy and happy. Cleaning is easy and quick, and you only have to feed them a couple of times a week. So when keeping stick insects it would only take around 1 hour of care a week.
However, with their interesting behaviour, you probably observe them for many hours when they are quietly munching on their fresh leaves.
Want to know more about stick insects? Check out our introduction guide on keeping and caring for stick insects . Here you find the basics and many tips and tricks on keeping these fascinating animals.
#4 Stick insects can be fed for free
Stick insects live totally on fresh leaves. They don’t need anything else. No supplements. No treats. And best of all, you can find their food outside for free. Yes, you heard it correctly. Most stick insects eat bramble leaves, oak leaves or ivy leaves. Especially bramble is eaten very well with most of them. And many people are glad if you cut away some bramble to feed to your stick insects.
Bramble can be almost seen as a weed, spreading quickly through your garden, local park or forest. With their thorny stems, there won’t be anyone missing them when you cut off some stems with leaves. Check out in this guide what stick insects like to eat.
#5 Stick insects don’t need veterinairy care
There are no medications, vaccination or treatments for stick insects. However, stick insects only live for one to one and a half years, and normally don’t have any trouble reaching this age. And without any need for veterinary care, you don’t make any veterinary costs.
They can breed in the many so quickly you have a new generation of stick insects.
#6 Stick insects are really safe to keep
Stick insects are safe animals to keep, also for your kid. They don’t carry any diseases that can have a negative impact on you. They can’t bite you, won’t sting you, won’t scratch you or be a danger in any way. That makes them such great pets for kids. They are really safe to keep.
Stick insects also can’t live outside of their enclosure and without human care in your house: so when one escape, they won’t infest your house and become a pest. Don’t worry your house will turn into a stick insect infestation.
One thing I should mention is that on rare occasions people are allergic to stick insects. Well not immediately to the stick insects themselves, but the frass (meaning stick insect poop) or the shilfers of their moulting skin. If you have an allergic reaction to these bugs, always contact your doctor for advice and treatment.
#7 Stick insect enclosure can be a beautiful centerpiece
There are many examples of stunning stick insect enclosures that could make a beautiful centrepiece in your living room. You could replicate a natural biotope that looks beautiful and brings some nature into your home. You could also combine stick insects with other bug species to create a beautiful eco display.
Google for stick insect enclosure to get some inspiration, or check out many examples on Pinterest.
Check out this guide on how to set up a stick insect enclosure.
#8 Stick insects don’t have to be a long-term commitment
When you have kids you probably experienced already. They want a pet but after a while, they will lose interest in them. The need for daily walks with dogs or cleaning the litterbox of cats. Although it is important to learn the commitment that comes with pets, with the more common pets it is quite a long commitment. Parrots and turtles can even become very old where 50 years is not uncommon.
Not only take stick insects much less time for their care, but they also don’t live very long (as said before, most don’t reach an age older than one and a half years). That means that without breeding your stick insect will die a natural death quite soon. So if you like to test if this is the pet for your kid or yourself, it is not immediately a long-term commitment.
#9 Stick insects don’t make much mess
I don’t like to clean. You probably won’t either. But pets can often make a real mess. But stick insects won’t. Not only is the mess limited to their captive environment, but the amount of mess is also not as much as many other more common pets (rabbits, birds, rodents). They don’t have hair (and so, they don’t lose them around your house), and their droppings are small and odourless.
This is one of the reasons they don’t take much time to care for and why they are becoming more and more popular pets. So if you don’t want a time-consuming pet with a lot of cleaning, take a stick insect.
#10 You can let stick insects walk on your hand
Okay, fair enough! You can’t pet them like you can with dogs and cats. And they won’t come and sit with you when you watch a Netflix series. But stick insects are quite docile and you can carefully let them walk on your hand (or face, or hair, or arm, whatever you like). Just remember that stick insects are delicate and fragile, and that you need to be careful when handling them.
Always try to let them walk onto you instead of grabbing them of a branch. They grip themselves firmly on branches with little hooks on their legs, and when pulling too hard can break off a leg. This is part of their defence mechanism so they can escape a predator when caught on their leg. If it is a young stick insect, the leg can grow back (partly).
#11 Stick insects are quiet. I mean real quiet
Have you have heard a stick insect make a sound? Probably not. That’s because they are really quiet. As part of their defence, they can sit still for many hours without making a noise. When keeping them you can’t hear them, except when you have one that tries to fly.
Yes. Some stick insects can fly or use their wings when you startle them. When they flap their (oftentimes large) wings you can hear them. They make the same noise as a beetle or large fly that flap their wings. Another sound that you could hear is the eggs falling on the hard floor of your enclosure (especially when you don’t use any substrate). It is like they drop tiny stones. It won’t damage the eggs (that look like little seeds), but it can make an annoying sound.
#12 Stick insects are really stunning (in my opinion)
But I think the most important reason you should keep stick insects is because of their beautiful colours and unique shapes that make them stunning in their own way. Some stick insects have colourful bodies or wings, other have quite strange and unique body shapes. Leaf insects, for example, imitates the shape of leaves as part of their survival mechanism.
Not only the colours and shapes make them amazing, but they also have interesting behaviour. Watch them how they munch complete leaves in one go, or when they hang upside down slowly crawl out of their old skin. It is quite bewildering to observe these behaviours up close.
# More reasons to keep stick insects?
Well, maybe there are more reasons to think of why you should keep stick insects, but the reasons above are for me the most important ones why I like stick insects so much. They make one of the best pets you can think of and are really fascinating to keep. So, if you look for a great pet that is different from the pets many people have, maybe consider keeping stick insects!
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