Indian stick insects are some of the easiest of all pet invertebrates to keep in captivity and of course have been kept by school children for decades.
Indian (or laboratory) stick insects will feed readily on common food plants such as bramble or privet, which can be kept alive for around a week if inserted into a “vase” of fresh water. If the ends of the plants aren’t placed into water in this way they can die within days in warm weather meaning far more work in finding more foliage and then cleaning out your stick insects.
Stick insects, by their very nature, like to sit off the ground and so you will normally find them climbing around (or clinging to) the food plant you have placed into their cage. Because of this a taller rather than longer cage is recommended where your stick insects will be able to moult successfully by gently slipping out of their old skins.
Old aquariums can be used as caging, or there are a huge range of specialist cages now available such as those made for butterfly breeders to keep and rear various butterflies and moths in.
Size-wise, try to find a cage at least twice as tall as your largest insect is long. A cage of around 60cm high is perfect for adults though lower cages won’t be the end of the world.
So you have your cage and you have placed some food plant in there in a small container of water such as an old jam-jar. Try to plug any “holes” in the top of the jar with cotton wool so that your insects won’t drown if they fall down and you’re almost ready to go. Of course stick insects climb and so a tight-fitting lid is very important to prevent escapees.
Besides this Indian stick insects can be kept at room temperature in a centrally heated home all year and so do not require any additional heat. It is worth spraying the cage a few times a week with a plant spray gun in order to provide moisture so your leaf insects can drink and that’s about all there is to it.
Appreciate that Indian stick insects reproduce asexually – that is that virtually every specimen you find will be a female and will reproduce without you needing any males so many people find that their population of Indian stick insects grows at an astounding rate. Because of this, try to start out with a reasonably small population or you could be spending more time trying to find homes for all your babies than actually enjoying your insects.
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