Macleays Spectre Stick Insect, Extatosoma tiaratum
Longevity: approx. 1.5-2 years for a female, approx. 1 year for a male (males mature faster than females)
Temperature Gradient: 75-82f (24-28c)
Diet: Bramble, Eucalyptus, Hypericum, Rose, Oak, Blackberry, Raspberry and Hazel
Adult size: Approx 15cm, 6 inches
Cleaning: Full clean every week (unless you have a bioactive set up)
The Macleays Spectre Stick Insect originates from Australia where it mainly inhabits the eucalyptus forests of Queensland and New South Wales. It is a beautiful insect, which has leaf like legs and is thick bodied in comparison to other commonly kept stick insect species. It has evolved to camouflage amongst the foliage of the forests and is a great pet for both adults and children alike. They can be conditioned from hatching by experienced breeders to display the stunning and highly sought after ‘lichen form’. They are usually docile by nature and this placid disposition paired with their impressive looks, is what makes them one of the most popular stick insect species.
Females are parthenogenetic, meaning that they do not need to mate with a male to reproduce. An unmated female will still lay viable eggs, which will hatch out only female offspring which are a clone of the mother. Eggs from mated females will hatch out a mixture of both male and female offspring, sharing the DNA of both parents. HOUSING A tall enclosure will be required as stick insects are arboreal, meaning they naturally inhabit trees, therefore will readily climb in their enclosure. The recommended size for a pair or trio is 30x30x45cm minimum, whilst a small group will require a 45x45x60cm enclosure as a minimum. Keep the enclosure away from direct sunlight and draughty areas. SUBSTRATE Coir is a popular substrate for stick insects and can be purchased in dry bricks which is then soaked in water to achieve a soil type consistency. Once soaked, aim for the coir to be damp enough to hold its shape when squeezed in your hand, but not for it be soggy enough for water to drip from it. It is a cost effect substrate, that when purchased in brick form will make enough to last for many full cleans. If stored in a airtight container it will retain its moisture. It also holds the moisture within the enclosure, which in turn creates humidity and this aids your stick insect when it comes to moult its exoskeleton. HUMIDITY This is an important aspect which is one of the common causes of a stick insect mis-moulting and dying. Simply spray the entire enclosure with a misting bottle and let it dry out enough between sprayings so that it does not become mouldy. Insects will drink the water droplets from the leaves and the walls of their enclosure. MOULTING When a stick insect is due to moult it will usually climb up to the top of the enclosure or find a leaf to hang upside down from. It will then push its way out from its old skin and proceed to eat it. It is important to make sure that the enclosure is humid and that you do not touch or disturb your insect during this vulnerable time. Low temperatures can also cause a mis-moult so ensure that your enclosure is kept at around 25c. This can be achieved by placing a heat mat on one of the outside walls and by putting a thermometer inside the enclosure. If struggling to reach the ideal temperatures using a heat mat, a low wattage bulb (25-40w) in a small dome would usually solve the issue. This of course is only a solution when using a glass enclosure with a mesh lid. On a plastic or fabric mesh enclosure, a larger heat mat will usually work. Occasionally a stick insect may lose a leg whilst moulting, this usually doesn’t cause the stick insect any harm and they will carry on fine without it. If the leg is lost whilst the insect is young, it can fully regenerate a new limb with successful subsequent moults, FEEDING Eucalyptus is a natural food source for Macleays spectre stick insects as they naturally inhabit eucalyptus forests. It fills them up as it is a tougher leaf than the likes of bramble etc. They can have quite an insatiable appetite as adults, especially once they begin laying eggs. However not everyone has eucalyptus readily available in their garden so Bramble, Hypericum, Rose, Oak, Blackberry, Raspberry and Hazel will all make perfect substitutes. It is always a good idea to place the stems of their food source in an old herb jar or similar, filled with water as this will keep the leaves fresh for as long as possible. If you have hatchlings or very small insects, you may wish to bung the neck of the herb jar with cotton wool to prevent accidental drowning. HYDRATION Spraying the enclosure once a day will allow your insect to drink water droplets from the leaves and sides of the enclosure. Ensuring the stems of their food source are in water will keep the leaves from drying out and provide your insect with some moisture when it eats. HYGIENE Regular cleaning of your stick insects enclosure is an important aspect which will ensure your pets health. Full cleaning of the enclosure where the substrate is removed, and the inside is thoroughly cleaned should ideally take place once a week, Use a suitable disinfectant such as F10, which contains no dyes or perfumes. SUPPLEMENTS Stick insects don’t need supplements and providing your leaves are as fresh as possible, they will get everything they need from there. Providing a good variety of suitable edible leaves certainly won’t go amiss. HANDLING This species is docile therefore will tolerate handling. Gently usher your insect onto your hand from its branch, being careful not to pull it and damage any of its legs. If any sign of illness are noticed, contact us here at Riverview Reptiles for further advise.