When looking after Stick Insects, it is always essential to remember the following “three Hs”:
Although they are normally quite clean animals, their livers secrete a substance known as Phasmid Exusions that may be
harmful to certain fabrics. Wash your hands after each session!
Everyone who has handled stick insects for long will know how painful their bites can be. Wear thick gloves!
Stick Insects like to keep regular hours. Don’t wake them up in the middle of the night, or they’ll be tetchy and
uncooperative. Watch the clock!
Prepare well. You will enjoy your time with your Phasmids all the more if you follow these tips.
Getting ready to handle
If you have a cat in the house, beware. Cats are curious by nature, and always want to investigate anything new.
However, Stick Insects resent their intrusion, and are likely to be angered quickly and lash out without warning. Before removing a Phasmid from its cage, make sure that any cats are safely locked out of the room.
Draw the curtains.
If your Stick Insect sees the sky through a window, he may well decide to make a dash for freedom, with the obvious consequences!
Unplug the telephone. Stick Insects are nervous are easily startled, and the sudden ring of a phone is enough to make
them panic, with potentially disastrous results.
Picking up a Stick Insect
With your thumb and forefinger,. reach into the cage and, grasping the insect by its tail, pull sharply but not too quickly
upwards in a G shape, being careful not to swing back too much on the upward part of the motion. Quickly invert your hand towards your body and make a cup with your fingers. Flip the insect into the palm of your hand, only releasing the tail when you are sure that it has all six legs at rest.
It may be worth buying a model Phasmid, and practising this move a few times until you are happy.
Models are available from most good pet shops, and the £2 or so you spend will soon repay itself in saved time, bandages, ambulance fees, etc.
Returning it to the cage
When it is time for the insect to return, distract its attention by humming loudly, open the door of the cage, and drop it upside-down into the cage. Natural aerodynamics will ensure that it lands on its feet.
Stick Insects are famously fastidious, and must be washed carefully at least once a week. Use a gentle detergent, rinse
with warm water, and use a cotton bud to dry the insect. Many breeders use a domestic dishwasher on a “plates” setting, but this can be uneconomical for less then a million or so insects at a time.
Bathtime is a favourite part of the week for your Stick Insects, and, most importantly, gives you a good chance to inspect
them for cuts and bruises they may have incurred during the previous seven days.
After bathing, polish any Show insects as normal, taking care with their tender undersides.
Above all, have fun!