Spiny Leaf Insects are probably the easiest and one of the most rewarding pets for home or a classroom:
- They are large (up to 15cm! when fully grown) and exotic,
- They are harmless,
- They are quiet,
- They have interesting behaviour,
- They can be easily handled,
- They will forgive you if you forget to give them food or water for a day but not for too long…
- Females live for up to 18 months, if you look after them,
- Females don’t need males to reproduce, but of course, males are fun and they can take short flights, if you ask them nicely.
- You can play with their surroundings and change their colour.
In short, Spiny Leaf Insects are a perfect gateway pet. If they die in your care, don’t go out and get yourself a cat or even a gold fish, they are far more work than Spiny Leafs.
Here we provide you with everything you need to start enjoying your new pets straight away. You add Eucalyptus leaves and water in your mist bottles.
Feeding your ‘spinies’
Eucalyptus leaves is the best and easiest food to find. Use fresh leaves and change them often. Less is more, you don’t need to bring half a tree to your little pets but you do need to change them every 3 days or so or they will dry out and become inedible. If you are not sure if the leaves you are picking are Eucalyptus, be sure to ask someone. A plan B is to substitute Eucalyptus leaves with rose leaves or blackberry leaves. But make sure none of them have been sprayed with insecticides! You can keep the leaves fresh in a bottle of water. A short heavy glass bottle is a good choice to ensure your ‘vase’ is stable.
This species will do best at 22 – 26° C, but will tolerate 10 – 20° C and have a slower growth rate. The eggs will hatch at around 20-25 ° C
Watering your ‘spinies’
Mist the branches with water once a day and let the water evaporate before misting to avoid mould and general mess. Its fun watching your spinies drinking droplets of water by moving their jaws.
Clean you enclosure every few days. This can be done by removing the branches with spinies and then scooping out their dry droppings (they smell of Eucalyptus!) and dry leaves. When your leaf insects grow up and start laying eggs, there will be a fun job of separating their eggs and their frass and starting your own stick insects farm. The eggs will look much more round and shiny and with little effort you will soon recognise them from miles away.
Handling your ‘spinies’
One of the beauties of keeping Spiny Leaf Insects is that they are really easy to handle and they are completely harmless yet interactive. Their legs are equipped with small hooks and suckers so they can handle any surface including the palm of your hand. The easiest way to handle them is to offer your hand as a walking surface, let them crawl on it and when you are done, present a branch as the next crawling option. They will happily walk home.
It is generally recommended to have enclosure around 3 times longer than the adult Leaf Insect and with females reaching generous 13-15cm, you need to have the height of enclosure at least 45cm. Anything smaller could result in your “spinies’ being too close to each other or not having enough room to shed their skin. And that could translate to loosing a leg…. Not yours but your pet’s. Still, not a great outcome.