A guide to keeping Phasmids (stick and leaf insects)

There are many different types of stick insect to choose from and care may vary slightly. The most commonly kept species is the Indian Stick Insect. What makes these pets so popular is their ease of care and low maintenance, this also makes them a popular first pet for children.  


We recommend a glass or acrylic arboreal terrarium for stick insects. The size of the enclosure will depend on the species you choose to keep. For the Common, Indian Stick Insect (Carausius morosus) An enclosure of 20x20x30cm is the minimum size for smaller groups of individuals (1-3), but for larger groups, an enclosure of 30x30x45cm or bigger is more suitable. You will find that larger terrariums are easier to maintain and replace the food. When it comes to decorating the enclosure you have full creative freedom! As your enclosure will be taller than it is wide, we recommend using natural decor like sticks, logs, branches and cork bark which you can stand upright to mimic a tree. We also recommend using a substrate like coco fibre to provide a natural floor and help with humidity.


The majority of commonly kept stick insects will eat bramble as their main diet, so fresh bramble leaves will need to be provided at all times. This usually means bramble will need to be replaced once or twice a week when it has either been all eaten or the leaves have dried and died. The bramble will last longer if you place the bottom of the stalk in a small cup of water, the same way you would with a bouquet of flowers. It can be monitored daily to make sure it stays fresh and so you know when to swap it out with fresh bramble. Stick insects can also eat privet, but if you decide to swap their diet over it is recommended to offer both bramble and privet for a while first to get the insects used to both.

Keep an eye on the leaves in your terrarium to make sure the insects are eating them as if they do not eat the leaves you are giving them, you will have to offer a different type of leaf so they do not starve. The insects will also need to be lightly misted once a day to drink from the water droplets on the leaves and side of the enclosure. While misting make sure your substrate is not getting too wet to avoid stagnant water and odour.

While foraging for food for your stick insects, it is important to make sure that the leaves you are collecting are not contaminated by pesticides or car fumes to keep your insects healthy. This is fairly easy to do by collecting from areas not directly next to a busy road or in an area you know has been sprayed with weed killer or insecticides. To be extra safe, you can rinse your leaves and sticks with water before offering them to the bugs.


Of course, as with any animal, you will need to clean out your stick insects. How often you do so will depend on how many individuals you have in your enclosure. You may need to clean out and replace the substrate in your enclosure up to every 2 weeks as well as spot clean daily. Alternatively, stick insects are happy to cohabit with isopods and springtails which will clean your substrate for you, just remember to provide them with leaf litter to eat as well.


Some species of stick insects can reproduce parthenogenetically, meaning they do not need a partner to reproduce. This means that you can quickly end up with a lot of insects if you are not careful! However, it is easy to avoid this and you can do so by replacing your substrate regularly and freezing the old substrate to prevent eggs from hatching before you throw it away. 


When it comes to handling, many species of stick insect can be interactive and will tolerate handling. Species such as the Indian Stick Insect mentioned earlier are docile but if they feel threatened will sway from side to side to mimic a branch in the wind, or even play dead. If they do this you can leave them alone and will eventually start walking around again once they feel safe. Other species like the Jungle Nymph, have small spikes on their back legs which they use as a defense mechanism. But again, this is easy to avoid but if it does happen, the insect will calm down again once it is left alone. 



Lastly, it is a good idea to provide your insect with some extra heating, especially if your house gets cold in the winter months. Species specific specifications are listed, if your species has a warmer temperature range pop into store and we can discuss your options for heating. Heating can be provide by using a basking light, heat projector, ceramic heater or heat mat with a quality thermostat. Which one is best for your species depends on many factors including the species of stick insect, type and size of enclosure and the room temperature. 



LED lighting can be used to illuminate the enclosure and to help provide a day and night cycle.  UVB lighting is not currently considered essential but the research is limited,  I would encourage you to provide UVB lighting.


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If you are interested in learning more, or would like to purchase some stick or leaf insects please get in touch.

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Call us on 01865 372200

Email – Info@evolutionreptiles.co.uk



Animal Information

Indian Stick Insect, Carausius morosus

  • Size: 8-10cm 
  • Temperature: 20-25C  
  • Diet: Bramble 
  • Lifespan: 12 – 18 months
  • Humidity: 70% 


Sunny Stick Insect, Sungaya inexpectata

  • Size: 5-8cm
  • Temperature: 20-25C  
  • Diet: Bramble 
  • Lifespan:12-18 months
  • Humidity: 70% 


Jungle Nymph, Heteropteryx dilatata

  • Size: Female: 14-17cm, Male: 9-13cm
  • Temperature: 25-28C  
  • Diet: Bramble 
  • Lifespan: Up to 2 years 
  • Humidity: 70% 


Macleays Spectre, Extatosoma tiaratum

  • Size: up to 15cm
  • Temperature: 22-28C  
  • Diet: Bramble 
  • Lifespan: 12-18 months 
  • Humidity: 60% 


Leaf Insect, Phyllium philippinicum

  • Size: Up to 3-4 inches, males are smaller
  • Temperature: Day temperature – 25-23C. Night can drop as low as 18C  
  • Diet: Bramble 
  • Lifespan: 12-18 months 
  • Humidity: 70-80% 


Green Bean, Diapherodes gigantea

  • Size: Female: up to 5 inches, males are smaller
  • Temperature: 22-25 degrees C  
  • Diet: Bramble and Eucalyptus
  • Lifespan: 12-18 months 
  • Humidity: 70% 


Black Beauty, Peruphasma Shultei

  • Size: Female up to 2 inches, males are smaller
  • Temperature: 22-25C  
  • Diet: Privet and honeysuckle. Will not eat bramble. 
  • Lifespan: 12-18 months 
  • Humidity: 70%