Stick insects can represent an ideal first pet for children, on account of their ease of care. Just a few benefits of stick insects for kids include:
- Stick insects are short-lived meaning that you won’t be left cleaning and feeding them for decades to come if your children get bored
- Stick insects are generally quite simple to care for in captivity, having very few special requirements
- Stick insects eat plants, and most species will accept a variety of species. This means that gathering food is simplicity itself, and can be done for free.
- Stick insects aren’t overly active pets, so don’t require huge cages in order to thrive
- Many species are quite easily and safely handled by kids
That said, with over 3000 types of stick insect known to science, there is considerable diversity. Even in the pet trade several dozen species may be encountered, with some making far more appropriate pets for kids. Selecting the most suitable species should therefore be central to your decision-making process.
Ideal Stick Insects for Kids
The best stick insects for kids are small, docile species. The reality is that there are a number of popular stick insect species which are covered in large sharp spines. These must be handled with care, because if they become fearful they may nip skin with their spines. This is unlikely to result in a happy child.
In addition, the best stick insects for kids can be kept easily at room temperature. Many of the more “exotic” species hail from the hotter areas of the world, and so require artificial heating like a lizard or a snake. This not only puts up the cost of caring for these individuals, but also makes their care a little more difficult.
Lastly the easiest species should readily accept plants that are accessible around the year. All of the more popular species for kids will feed on bramble or privet, both of which are evergreen and may be found at any time of year even if you have to brush the snow and ice off the leaves before feeding!
Here are some of our top recommendations of the top stick insect types for youngsters…
Indian Stick Insect
Indian stick insects, also known sometimes as “laboratory stick insects” are in many ways the “classic” stick insect that most of us have seen at zoos and in pet shops. They might just be slim and green but there’s a reason they’re so popular; quite simply they’re simplicity itself to care for.
Interestingly, Indian stick insects are all female, and reproduce without mating. That means that in time, and given the right conditions, you could find your stick insects laying eggs. Alternatively these tiny eggs may lie undiscovered at the bottom of the cage, only for you to wake up one morning and discover numerous little baby stick insects in your cage.
This ease of breeding can make keeping Indian stick insects particularly tempting, as it adds another dimension to caring for them. In addition, this element can make these one of the cheapest stick insect species to purchase.
Pink Winged Stick Insect
This species of stick insect broadly resembles the Indian stick insect, except that rather than being green in colour they tend to be more of a “straw” colour. Care and adult dimensions are otherwise identical, and these can even be kept safely in the same cage as Indian sticks.
Specialist Stick Insect Species
For someone looking for something a little more exciting-looking than simply the classic “stick” there are a range of far more exciting and unusual stick insects. As mentioned previously, however, most of these will require supplementary heating, especially in the winter. They are also not suitable for handling by children, unless they are going to wear gardening gloves to protect them against the sharp spines these insects possess.
Possibly the most attractive pet insect currently available, the males and females of this species look very different. The males are brown, while the females are a stunning bright green. They’re also large insects, being not just long but also wide too. Definitely an impressive species to keep in the home, and also one of the longer-lived species.
Macleays Spectre (Giant Prickly Stick Insect)
The Giant Prickly Stick Insect is another species where the adult males and females look very different indeed. The males are considerably smaller and more “stick-like” while the females grow to impressive proportions and develop and enormous curved abdomen. Again, take care when handling the larger individuals.