Stick insect care

Does a stick insect shed it's skin?

Stick insects do shed their skin (or exoskeleton). This will happen several times throughout their lifetime, which is a process that helps them to grow. Stick insects can be very vulnerable during this time, so they are best to be left alone and not disturbed.

If you would like to watch this process happening, then make sure you are quiet, and do not cause any sudden movement of their cage. If their cage is knocked, you may cause the stick insect to fall from the top of a plant or ceiling of the cage, which can be fatal. 

After they have shed their skin, you must also be very careful and try not to handle the stick insect for a few days. The skin can still be very delicate, so don't pick them up — encourage them to walk onto your fingers if you want to handle them.

How often should you clean out a stick insect's vivarium?

Stick insects aren't dirty pets — but do produce some 'droppings' which should ideally be cleaned away every week. Replace all substrate when you clean — this can be anything from damp kitchen roll, newspaper, a mixture of soil and peat or sand. Wash your hands thoroughly after you have cleaned your stick insects cage. 

Can stick insects be handled?

Stick insects are very delicate and must be handled with care. Always lift them from their body, never the legs, as these will probably fall off. Or encourage them to walk onto your fingers so they can sit in the palm of your hand, or transfer them onto a new leaf or branch.

Always be gentle when placing them back into their cage, and try not to catch any of their legs. They can move quite fast when they want to, so avoid startling them and let them explore your hand or new plant in their own time. 

Do stick insects bite?

The Indian stick insects are harmless and will not bite. They are herbivores and can only nibble on leaves. Other (bigger) types of stick insects have been known to pinch with their limbs and sometimes bite, however this is normally when they've been aggravated or aren't used to being handled.

Can stick insects live together? 

Stick insects are happy on their own but can also be kept together — or put together if you want them to mate (don't forget the female Indian stick insect does not need a male to lay fertile eggs). Nymphs can be kept in groups, but there's a chance that it could quickly become overcrowded, which may result in them eating each other's legs. If the stick insect is young, the legs may grow back but will most definitely be smaller than they were before. If your stick insect has legs on both sides of its body it'll live quite happily with only three legs. 

Pet care advice