Exotic Pets Walking Stick Insects

Mark Gordon BrownStarred Page By Mark Gordon Brown, 22nd Sep 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/24ko3ja9/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Spiders & Insects

Pet insects work well when people have allergies to furry animals. Walking Stick Insects are one such Insect pet and are often inexpensive and easy to care for. Learn more about Pet Walking Stick Insects

Northern Walking Sticks

Northern Walking Stick Insects or Diapheromera femorata are a species of Phasmids coming from the order of insects called Phasmatodea. The Northern Walking Stick is one of the few non-tropical Phasmids (there are roughly 3000 species) and are native to North America. Northern Walking Stick Insects are legal as pets in the United States and most of Canada.

Northern Walking Stick Insects grow to about three or four inches long and are vegetarians (as are all Stick Insects). They range in color from green to brown. This species lives just under a year long.

This is the species I am most familiar with having bought some at an auction for exotic pets and livestock at Innisfail, Alberta. These pictures are my own.

Legal Concerns

Be aware of laws in your area. In most areas it is illegal to catch and keep any wild animals, including insects (for more than 24 hours). Of particular concern is breeding to the point where there are an excess amount of animals (yes insects are animals) and then having them released into the wild where they could reproduce further and cause more problems.

Not all species of Walking Stick Insect are legal as pets everywhere so be sure to buy from ethical sources.

If for some reason you cannot care for your pets you must either re-home them with someone else who wants them or find some way to dispose of them, (they can be fed to lizards) but you cannot simply turn them loose. In many cities there are herpetological or entomological clubs with members who would be thrilled to take them off from your hands. You might contact your local University or Zoo.


Your Walking Stick's habitat may range from the simple to the elaborate. You can have a no cost jar or a well designed vivarium. Either way , the most important part of any Walking Stick set up is to provide them with Sticks, Twigs, or Branches. These are essential to their molting process. I can not stress this more. Not providing Phasmids with these tools for molting is cruel.

The second most important requirement is a good lid. If you are using a large jar (only for babies), having small holes in the lid will be enough, but for a larger set up you will want a tightly woven screen. You can purchase these from pet supply shops or make your own, its important the screen is fine, as nymphs are very tiny and can escape otherwise. It should be noted as well that they prefer taller enclosures to short long ones.

Although some people have kept a single or couple Walking Sticks in a small insect or reptile habitat or even a large jar I prefer to keep them in a larger Vivarium. Vivariums are Terrariums that not only include plants, but animals as well (in this case Insects). The simplest is an aquarium with newspaper on the bottom and a few potted plants, however you may prefer to use plastic plants. You can use any type of Aquarium to make a Vivarium. It's a good way to recycle that leaky aquarium you have in the basement.

I suggest a 7.5 gallon aquarium for 3-5 insects. Be aware that if you have soil, or peat, they will lay eggs in these floorings, so if you do not want babies (there can be several) use only newspaper or nothing for the bottom.

A drinking bowl is not needed and may drown the younger insects, rather a damp sponge, regular misting, or damp soil, is important.

Humidity is more important for some species than others, as such some keepers have misting systems, or drip systems.

Feeding and Care of Pet Walking Stick Insects

Feeding Walking Stick Insects is relatively simple in the summer time provided you have fruit trees or bushes in your yard. We feed our Walking Sticks apple leaves, raspberry leaves, cherry leaves, plum leaves, and current leaves. Sassafras is another food they like. During the winter months we feed them Romaine Lettuce. It really needs to be Romaine Lettuce, other types of lettuce just don't seem to meet all of their needs. Also Romaine Lettuce is easier to keep and it keeps longer than other types. A tip for keeping Romaine Lettuce longer is to keep it in a bag with a damp towel wrapped around it in the refrigerator.

Always wash the lettuce before feeding, and never use insecticides or pesticides on your own plants that you intend to feed to your pet insects.

Other Pet Links

Facts about Betta Fish

Buying or Selling at Exotic Livestock Auctions

General Information Every Pet Owner Should Know

Green Anoles as Pets


Bug, Bugs, Buying, Care, Exotic, Exotic Pets, Feed, Feeding, Food, Housing, Insect, Insects, Nature, Northern, Pet, Vivarium, Walking Stick

Meet the author

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
Raised in Michigan, I have a son who recently joined the Military. I am living in Canada with my wife where we have a hobby farm.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
22nd Sep 2010 (#)

A very informative article, Mark. I would never had thought that the law extended to insects. Good to know.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
22nd Sep 2010 (#)

The law mostly applies to insects because there are fears that people could catch insects - breed them.. then become overhwelmed and release a massive amount of offspring into the wild (our 9 original walking sticks became over 350 within 2 years - but we sold them within the pet trade).

In the wild there are controls on population growth such as predation..

I do know the law forgives kids keeping ants, but not most other insects.

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author avatar Rebecca
23rd Sep 2010 (#)

"FOR SOME REASON" its cruel to keep ANY animal if you cannot propperly look after them and u can be prosicuted for animal cruelty if found that they are beeing treated unfaily.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
23rd Sep 2010 (#)

That's the way it should be Rebecca. I have seven cats and two dogs and they are like members of my family and are cared for as such. If a person cannot care properly for their companion animal(s) they should surrender them to a "No-Kill" shelter. Anyone who deliberately abuses any animal needs to be prosecuted. Let me catch someone deliberately abusing any animal and I will treat them to the worse beating they have ever received if they are a man. If they are a female, I know this little gal who will be happy to do it for me.

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author avatar Retired
23rd Sep 2010 (#)

Hi Mark,
I am really surprised though animals come in this category but insect, I am really surprised.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
23rd Sep 2010 (#)

Insects are an ideal pet for people in apartments, or who dont want a 20 year commitment to their pet.

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author avatar Denise O
26th Sep 2010 (#)

Mark, great article.
I never even thought of insects, well other than the usual ant farms and such.
I will have to let my sister know about this article, as her grandson (my great nephew) is allergic to just about every thing.
Thanks for sharing.
Also mark, thank you for all the help you gave me with my last article.
I will never be able to thank you enough. :)

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author avatar krrymarie
22nd Oct 2010 (#)

cool article.
I was going to get some of these, but I didn't like their legs!
So ended up with fire bellied toads, and of course the crickets to feed them on.

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author avatar Dustin
1st Apr 2011 (#)

I did a report with my son..my family is Cherokee..after this report..I want to change my 20gal wall fish tank..to hold a walking stick..my grandpa's last name was Walkingsick and we would like to name the insect Clint after my grandfather...so I ask..where can I bye the Walking Stick?

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author avatar Jacob Walston
30th Dec 2011 (#)

I would like to buy a walking stick for a pet but am having a problem finding a website that has them for sale. Could you point me in the right position.

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author avatar Rosemarie Walston
7th Jan 2012 (#)

Live in NC and looking for a place where I can purchase a northern america walking stick for a house pet. It seems all I can find on line is how to keep them but no purchase info. THanks

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