How To Breed Extatosoma tiaratum Lichen Morph

Extatosoma tiaratum — commonly known as giant prickly stick insect — is a very popular stick insect species to keep as a pet. It is one of the most commonly kept species there is. And that’s not surprising! They are beautiful, strangely shaped and sturdy animals that become rather large. Above that, they are very easy to keep and don’t have high requirements.

Mostly they have a quite extensive colour range, from (dark) brown to greenish, although most commonly they are light brown. But there is one particular colour that is rather impressive. This stick insect species can mimic lichen, where they become very light green (almost white) with dark/black spots over their body. In this article, we will discuss how to breed Extatosoma tiaratum lichen colour morphs.

You can breed Extatosoma tiaratum lichen colour morphs from brown coloured specimens, by housing them in an environment full with lichens. The colour change is not determined by genetics but instead by environmental influences. Although it is believed that genetics play a part in that some individuals have a greater ability to mimic lichen.

If you keep giant prickly stick insects, you can breed lichen colour morphs too! Not all offspring will turn in this beautiful colour, but you don’t need specific animals, though. With all giant prickly stick insects, you can achieve this. I will tell you precisely how.

More about colour variation in stick insects

Many stick insects have some colour variations, and many of them are masters in mimicking their surroundings. Think of giant leaf insects, that not only mimic the colour and shape of leaves but even mimicking the veins of leaves.

Stick insects often have the ability to slightly adjust there colours to disguise themselves better and blend in with the environment. Camouflage, what it’s called, is a perfect way to avoid being predated.

The lichen-colour morph is a form of camouflage, where giant prickly stick insects mimic lichens to blend in the environment. Let me tell you exactly how you can breed lichen colour morph Extatosoma tiaratum.

How to breed Extatosoma tiaratum lichen colour morph

The colour of its surrounding will determine which colour it will mimic. Of course, giant prickly stick insects can’t adapt to every colour. Why can it take the lichen colour morph then? Well, lichens are very common in the wild habitat giant prickly stick insects lives, and this particular stick insect has the ability to adapt and blend in with this environment.

Breeding lichens coloured Extatosoma tiaratum is actually quite easy to do. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Set up an enclosure that is suitable for giant prickly stick insects (see also the Extatosoma tiaratum practical care guide)
  2. Fill up the enclosure full with lichens. I mean almost completely full of lichens. Place them on branches, on the back wall, hang them up on the top. The more, the better!
  3. Raise your newly hatched giant prickly stick insect nymph in this enclosure from day one.
  4. After the first moult, you should see some lichen morphed nymphs.

That’s it! With a simple change in your enclosure, you can start breeding your own lichen morph Extatosoma tiaratum.

Some additional notes:

  • Be aware; not all nymphs will moult into lichen-morphs. Others will most likely moult into green colour morphs or stay their common colour brown.
  • Weirdly, only female nymphs will show the lichen morph. Males will never take this particular colour.
  • When a nymph does not take this colour after the first moult, it is doubtful that they will do with later moults.
  • When a lichen-coloured nymph reaches adulthood, it will turn into green-coloured adults. Adults don’t take the lichen-colour morph.
  • Although turning your enclosure into a lichens paradise, this will not guarantee that your giant prickly stick insects will adapt to this colour, at least not immediately. Have some patience and wait for several generations, maybe future generation will adapt to this environment.
  • You can also start by buying lichen-morphed stick insects. Many stick insect suppliers sell lichen morph giant prickly stick insects.
Photo by Emerald City Cresties

More about keeping Extatosoma tiaratum

Do they need some other things within their care? No, these lichen-coloured stick insects are exactly the same as their brown brothers and sisters. So they also need the same care as they do.

If you want to know more about best practices in keeping and caring for giant prickly stick insects, I can recommend you to read our care guide. This guide is packed with practical tips & tricks and contains all the information you need to house, raise and care for this beautiful stick insect species.

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