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      13.07.2013 22:45
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      A groovy addition to any family

      My youngest daughter arrived home excited one day from school, her new teacher had been breeding stick insects in the classroom and had said that every child could have some if their parents signed a letter saying they were happy about this. Now I'm not overly keen on insects but after several days I was worn down and agreed. I have seen these for sale at a local fish and reptile shop and also at a farm park in their insect and reptile rooms, for a few quid but I imagine a ask round the school play ground would find some freebies.

      They duly arrived, all 6 on these little stickies, about half a cm long, in a little pot with air holes. Their first home was a large glass sweetie jar with holes in the lid. It was a bit of a game every day counting them, bit like I spy!

      We fed them ivy and privet and they grew. As they got to abut 1cm we started to handle them, all my daughters were holding them (as well as me and husband) and we started to quite enjoy them, "racing" them, as they always seem to want to get the highest point. We also named them, we had a Mr Groovy and a Mrs Groovy, as they do dance or groove. I feel I should point out that I believe they are asexual and so aren't actually a real married couple.

      At about twilight they tend to migrate to the top of the tank and dance, which is fun to watch.

      We soon upgraded to a vivarium tank, which sounds significantly posher than it was. A clear plastic container with a pink holey lid for around £7 from wilkos.

      Stickies are extremely cheap to look after, or more to the point they are absolutely free. The perfect pet for a budget! You simply give them fresh privet or ivy once a week, and every day spray them and the leaves with water.

      Anyway they grew and they grew, and after about a year we had babies.... They lay eggs, which are tiny black/brown coloured hard balls. After quite a few weeks, we had baby stickies. Then we had lots and lots of babies. We have given them away literally every small child who has shown the slightest interest. We upgraded to another wilkos tank.

      During our time as stickie parents, we have had a few "incidents", the cats, they all denied but we know it was them, managed to knock the lid off and we came home one night and had dancing stickies all over the kitchen ceiling as well as several nibbled casualties.

      The seem to live just over a year and I didn't save any more eggs this year as I couldn't bear it, as dear daughter seems absent when its time to clean out the tank and decided she didn't want any more (thank goodness)

      I think these are a great pet, they are free to rear and can be kept in any container with holes. It has allowed our children to handle insects which previously they wouldn't have and have "fun", which I think is brilliant. They have been fascinating at times, watching them grow, lay eggs and groove. therefore I'm awarding a 4 Doo Yoo Stars for a fab pet.

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        19.04.2010 21:54
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        A good pet for all ages, but do your research before buying.

        Stick insects make excellent pets, the wide range of species and appearance, from the thin green sticks most people think of, to the brown thorny bramble like varieties, even to amazing rarer blue species, there is sure to be something that will please you aesthetically.

        -Choosing Your New Pet-

        Its a good idea to go for a hardy, easy to keep species at first, the Indian stick insect Carausius morosus is a popular choice for starters. Carausius morosus is the stereotypical stick insect, long and straight, usually green, but with a red band around the top of the front legs. When choosing your pet you should always research the species first so you are well aquainted with its needs and are you sure you can provide the care required.
        A word of warning though, stick insects are very prone to having lots and lots of babies, and some species don't need males to have them. Check for eggs daily, even with a single stick, and freeze any unwanted eggs. The babies can be hard to rehome, and often end up being given away for feeder food.

        -Care-

        Housing
        A lot of the species are easy to care for, they do need a good sized home, with enough height for them to shed (its a good idea to choose one with a mesh or plastic lid that has lots of ventilation holes for them to grip when shedding, a fall can be fatal), the rule of thumb often given is at least three times the length of the biggest occupant for the height.

        Substrate
        Some people say use a thin layer of coir or coconut bark for substrate, others damp kitchen roll. The latter does make it easier to find eggs, although a more natural substrate does look better. Coir is a sterile substrate that comes as a compressed block, you add water which it absorbs, causing it to expand into a more soil like substrate, although this is more of a reddy brown colour when wet. Personally as I have a lot of insects and things I bulk buy bales of coir from fertile fibre and just break bits off as needed, but if you just have a couple of stick insects you can just buy a small block or two from your local petshop and break little chunks off and do the same. The larger bales do work out much better value, but it takes me quite a while to get through one even with all my tanks and I have the room to store them.

        Decorations
        Decorations that they can climb on, such as branches, are good, as stick insects love to climb and it helps make the most of the tank space.
        Branches can be bought from petshops, both online and offline, although they can be quite expensive. Some people like to use branches from local woods, but makin sure they are clean and all nasty bugs and germs have been gotten rid of can be very difficult.
        Fake plants are somethimes used to add colour, depth and more climbing space, although I tend to be leery of any with painted on colours.
        Live plants are often used, but it is important to make sure they are organic. If they have been treated with pesticides or chemicals to make them grow don't use them. Another thing to remember is plants put in the tank may well be eaten, so make sure they are not harmful to the sticks.
        Wash any and all decorations thoroughly before putting them in the tank, and give them a clean every now and then.

        Food
        Food varies from species to species, the more common foodplants are ivy, bramble, privet and eucalyptus. Make sure you know what foods the stick insects you choose will eat, and that you have a large supply handy. Always avoid using foods that have been growing near roads and cars, and ones that may have been contaminated with chemicals, and wash any food very well before giving it to your pets.
        The food can be provided as cuttings with wet tissue wrapped around the end, or placed in jars of water (the top of the jar or pot needs to be blocked so the sticks cannot fall in, otherwise they will drown), so they stay fresh for longer. Actual plants can be used as well if you follow the precautions in the decorations section. When the food begins to dry out or become unpleasant replace with fresh healthy greens.
        Most of my sticks have a couple of ivy sprigs wrapped in the tank constantly, then get other foods given every couple of days. I have found mine prefer the larger more rounded leaves from the top of the plant where the flowers form.

        Water
        I never EVER put water dishes in with my stick insects, and as far as I know none of the other keepers I know do. Even if its very shallow, they could fall in and drown, and its not a risk I want to take. Instead mist the tank regularly (usually once a day), and the insects will drink the water droplets from the various surfaces in the tank.

        Shedding
        Stick insects grow by shedding their exoskeleton. To do this they willl hang from the ceiling or a branch in the tank and the skin will split (that is one reason why its important the tank height is at least three times the length of its largest occupant), they will then climb out of the old skin and usually eat it to claim back the nutrients. If the tank is not humid enough the stick insects may not be able to shed properly. While a stick insect is shedding you must not disturb it, and avoid moving or knocking the tank or the surface the stick is hanging from, a fall at this point is usually fatal. After they have finished shedding do not handle them for a few days, the new skin will still be soft and it is easy to injure them accidentally. Any lost legs will normally begin to grow back when the stick insect sheds.

        Handling
        If you decide to pick up a stick insect be very gentle, otherwise one of their delicate legs may come off. Hold them gently by the body if you do so, never by the legs. It is far better for the stick insect if you hold your hand flat in front of it and nudge it slightly, encouraging it to walk of its own free will onto your hand. This does require patience sometimes, but it is safer.
        Once you have it on your hand the stick insect will probally decide to explore you, and they can move very fast sometimes.
        Make sure that you shut any cats, dogs etc out of the room in case they decide to investigate what it is you are holding. There are some species that can fly so make sure all windows and doors are shut before handling those.


        As I write this I currently have four types of stick insect, three Indian stick insects, a pair of Trachyaretaon brueckneri, a pair of mating Neohirasea Maerens and a few Phaenopharos khaoyaiensis. I'm hoping to get more species, as I really do love having these wonderful creatures.

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          08.10.2009 10:13
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          Mildly interesting (at first) pet for kids

          The thing about to bear in mind about keeping stick insects is that they can reproduce parthogenically - like aphids - and do so very easily in captivity, so the problem is that you are likely to be still left with later generations of your original pet stick insects on your hands, long after your kids have grown up and lost all interest in them.

          Plus points about stick insects are that they are usually free to good homes, if you can find someone who already keeps them. A wanted ad on your local 'Freecycle' or as it is now called in many cases 'Freegle' group page via the Yahoo.com website should get you some offers of pets. They are free or cost next to nothing to house, maintain and feed.

          We kept ours in a large plastic sweet jar that we got free from the local tobacconist / sweet shop. Instead of the original lid, to let air in we covered the top of the jar with a piece of net fabric from the habadasher's that was held on with a big elastic band.

          Stick insects basically spend much of their time sitting still and trying to look like sticks, so you need to keep them on some leaf twigs. The easiest food plants to supply them with are privet leaves and / or bramble leaves. Put a bunch of fresh twigs with leaves on in a small bottle or jam jar with water in (those small Shippams meat paste bottles used to be quite good for this sort of thing) and plug any spaces at the neck of the jar with cotton wool (if you want). Put the bottle into the stick insect home you've selected, put the stick insects in, cover the top so they can't escape and that's it. The leaves need changed for fresh ones at least once a week. I wouldn't recommend keeping more than about four stick insects in such a set up, especially as they do reproduce.

          Being difficult to spot unless you're looking for them, and as they're all safely contained in their stick insectarium anyway, they make very inoffensive house pets (they need to be kept at about normal room temperature for indoors). Their droppings do produce a slightly weird tannin-chemical type smell after a while so it's best to tip out and clean the stick insect house whenever the food supply is replenished. From time to time they also drop eggs - which look like rounded, brown seeds - up to about 2mm long, if memory serves. To get them to hatch, we left the eggs on the surface of a bed of uncooked long-grain in the lid of the sweetie jar. (I'm not sure what the rice is for, but someone recommended we do this, and we ended up with loads of baby stick insects).

          Things can go wrong with stick insects - when the population density (or something) gets too much for them, they can start cannibalizing each other's legs, so you can end up with a few legless specimens. Limited limb loss doesn't appear to bother them all that much, but that said, it's very difficult to tell, with a stick insect. There's not really a lot of 'fun' involved in keeping them; they're not exactly interactive pets, although small children might find them a novelty at first. It seems a bit callous to say so , but what they're probably best for is as a 'trial run' for pet-keeping proper for kids. Looking after stick insects will teach them (as a low-impact introduction) that there is responsibility involved in caring for a pet animal, etc. and I suppose how quickly they get bored of their stick insects will act as an indicator of how quickly they might bored with a slightly more involving (vertebrate) pet.

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          21.08.2009 11:55
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          Ideal pet for children but have a very short life span.

          Stick insects are very interesting pets to keep. They are amazing to look at and quite easy to care for, but it should be remembered that their lifespan is only around twelve months. So, care needs to be taken when purchasing from pet shops, or breeders. You don't want one that is already old.

          The most important thing for a stick insect is other stick insects. They don't like to be alone. So, you need to get your pet a companion but don't put it in a tank with other kinds of insect.

          The bottom of the tank you keep them in should be lines with paper. Old newspapers will do the job nicely but they do need to be changed on a weekly basis. Care needs to be taken when you clean out the tank because there will be old brown sticks and bits of old plants on the bottom which are left over from feeding, and it has often happened that the stick insect has been thrown away with the rubbish.


          Keep the tank inside away from direct sunlight so that the stick insects don't get too hot and make sure that there is plenty of ventilation by using a screen on top of the tank rather that a solid plastic, or wooden lid. Make sure that the insects have enough room to climb out of their skins which they will do about once a month if they are healthy and not stressed in their environment.


          Stick insects live on a diet of fresh leaves. The Indian variety will eat rose, privet and hawthorn leaves but most other types eat bramble leaves which are fairly easy to find. Make sure that you know what type your pet is and what it has been used to feeding on.

          The best way to serve up the leaves is to take a pot of water and put a cover over it to guard against the danger of drowning. Stick twigs with leaves attached into the water through the cover. Make sure that the leaves you are feeding your pets have not been sprayed with pesticides, or polluted by fumes from traffic. This is very likely if you pick them from the roadside. Always select leaves from a traffic free area and wash them under a cold tap before putting them into the tank. Spray the leaves everyday with cold water and replace them once a week.


          If your stick insect has wings it needs to be allowed to fly. Make sure that the room is safe with all windows closed, and ensure that other pets, especially marauding cats, are kept out.

          Remember that a stick insect is very vulnerable for a few days around the time it sheds its skin, so ensure that it is not disturbed at this time. The whole experience of watching this amazing creature shed its entire skin and literally step out of it is a fascinating one, but don't interfere or you will put the creature under stress and it may even die.

          The main drawback with keeping these is that they multiply very quickly and you can soon be over run with young if you don't have a plan for dealing with them. You can feed the eggs to fish, or simply wash them away with boiling water to kill them off before they harch but it's wise to have a contingency plan and know what you are going to do with all those stick insects.

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            27.04.2008 22:54
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            Do your research and make sure you can handle hundreds first

            I am something of a buglover. At 25 I still keep ant farms, collect insect programs, and chase them with my camera. It goes without saying that I kept stick insects as a kid.

            There are several popular reasons people get kids stick insects. It seems easy, it seems cheap, it's a good quick way to teach your kid the facts of life.

            Let me deal with that last one first. You cannot teach your kid the facts of life from stick insects - at least not if you go with the most easily available ones (usually the Indian). Why is this? They're asexual. Stick insects do not require a male to breed. A stick insect kept alone will quite happily keep laying fertile little eggs, producing hundreds of little clones.

            Which kind've fails them on the first reason too - that they're easy. Yes, one stick insect is easy. A hundred is not, not when they keep hatching more every day, and the babies keep escaping through the airholes, and they need a new bigger tank because they keep getting confused and eating each OTHER rather than the actual plants...

            You can kill the eggs before they hatch - drop them in boiling water or feed them to a goldfish. Can you really contemplate killing poor Sarah's babies though? No, we couldn't either.

            They do at least pass the cheap test. If you know a friend with stick insects they will usually be kneedeep in babies and happy to give them away. If not, it's still only 50p or so each - you can even get them on eBay. Food isn't hard to get either - the Indian will happily eat bramble leaves or privet (check for insecticide!)

            One last thing - if you DO become overrun by stickinsects, please DON'T consider letting them go wild. They're not a native species of the UK, and the weather is kind enough to them that if you do they just might survive. Do the sensible thing, and find them a new home - at a nearby butterfly house if you have to.

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              04.02.2008 18:57
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              nice pets but they give me the creeps.

              Firstly can i say that these are possibly the most horrid things my hubby has ever brought home, maybe except the hissing cockroaches.

              Stick insects have beeen around for millions of years and have become quite popular as pets.

              They have a head, a body, a tail and im not sure how many legs as they have a habit of falling off, some of ours have 6 and some 8.

              They are nocturnal, so obviously are more active at night.

              They eat privet leaves and sticks as well as bramble but do not give them fruit as this gives them diarriah.

              You have to look very closely to see them as they are experts at camouflageing them selves to look like twigs.

              These things can bite but its not too bad and very rarely pierces the skin.

              There eggs look like seeds.

              They have an exoskeleton just like a spider does which they molt when they grow and most of the time they will eat this.

              You only need one stick insect to have babies, a female stick insect can lay eggs on her own but these are always girls if she has mated with a male the eggs have a 50% chance of being male.

              Stick insects are capable of reproducing from 3 months old.
              There are around 3000 different species which can grow up to 12 inches, live for 1 to 2 years and there eggs take between 3 months to 18 months to hatch depending on type.

              Most people keep these in plastic tubs but mine are in a net viv designed for a chamelian as i sold eric the camelian so it wasnt doing anything.

              It is 1 foot square by 4 foot high and made of a plastic frame with net all around, these are available from most reptile shops from £29.99 and you can buy stick insects from £0.50p.

              I dont give mine a water bowl as they can drowned very easily so i spray my viv a few times a day to keep the humidity up which also helps with the egg hatching.

              I started with 5 stick insects about 2 years ago and now have hundreds.

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                27.11.2006 16:16
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                How about a gerbil instead

                Stick insects do not make good pets! Sorry if you like them, but your average stick insect in not east to look after. People think they just need a few branches and a bit of water. Well, in its simplest form this is true, but what happens when your handful of stick insects become hundreds? Yes, thats right, stick insects breed quickly, and they don't even need two of them to do it! Then, when you have tens of tiny stick insects,cleaning them out is nearly impossible. Imagine trying to pick lots of little insects off each twig you want to dispose of. Not easy! They get damaged, their legs fall off, and enevitably one or two escape into the wild. If you don't already know what the fine is for releasing an exotic animal into the UK I suggest you find out before ever considering these guys. They are NOT an easy pet!

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                  17.08.2001 23:10
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                  Look first off I do not give a crap what kind of pet you keep in your house as long as it stays in your yard and doesn't snap at me. (for the record dogs, bees, and cops smell fear, that is why they don't mess with you when you have a weapon and feel confident) But I hate people that do not control their dogs and cats, letting them roam the neighborhood or play on the train tracks. But this op isn't about such a earthly universal subject. No it is these stick bugs. Do any of you people keeping thses things have any working knowledge of mechanical engineering? Of robotics? Do you watch any sci-fi stuff on TV? Did you have one of those so-called erector sets as a kid? Here is my point. If we were to send probes to another world or another parallel dimension or universe, what would they look like? Its a simple question. What would they be constructed of? With technology being limitless how big would they be? You get my point. And you are bringing these right into your home. If we are lucky the only purpose of these probes will be to be voyeurcams. Perhaps they come from a planet where all the good looking women became Lesbians instead of the ugly pug ones. Or maybe they are all gay? Who knows. But we are lucky if all they are doing is being peeping toms. Personally I am afraid something far more nefarious is afoot. My proof? It is illegal to kill a stick bug or a preying Mantis in America. Why would the government protect such a nasty looking useless creature ....hmmmm maybe because they are in on the conspiracy?. Now the law is against killing them, it doesn't say that I can't pimp slap that little green lobster want to be and poke at him and get him all wound up, antannae spinning and them silly ass claws jabbing at me. The Preying mantises like to hang out on train tracks for some reason. At this one particular spot they are always there and they come off with this attitude like they ain't playin
                  wishchu. They get uppity thinking they are all bad and that. I am not going to admit to harming nor killing them but I will say this, I believe the freedom of our planet is far more important that my personal liberty. Insects that may be alien probes: Stick bugs, Preying Mantis, Big Ants, Red Ants, brown ants, locusts,Cicadas, Termites. Insects that are surely not Alien probes: Lady bugs, june bugs, japanese beetles, Chickens, hornets, fire ants, cockroaches. Thank you. Do what you can. Vive l'resistance Now if you are concerned about the safety of the world I would think you will be heading to the Dooyoo reviews of bug killer spray.

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                    14.08.2001 03:48
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                    evil and wobbly

                    I got the inspiration to write this opinion after reading Peakly's op about Fish.

                    I highly recommend reading that op by the way!

                    However, It wasn't actually the opinion which made the idea dwarves scramble into action and smack me full in the face with the lighted bulb. (they desperately need a bit of target practice)

                    In actual fact, it was when I was on the comments page, reading through what other people had put (Quentin, leave Argos and go work for a newspaper - effortless Puns like that are priceless) to make sure I wasn't repeating anyone, when I read something innocent left by jillmurphy.

                    At that moment, I forgot where I was.
                    Then I had horrific flashbacks about my experiences with Stick Insects as an unassuming teenager.

                    Below is the inspiration.

                    Under that is my story.

                    Be prepared, and don't blame me if you get insomnia!.

                    by Muffin_the_Mule on 13.08.2001 at 19:03
                    i got stick insects when i was 13. i now have a highly rational fear of them because they bread. alot. they also escape. they escape and they bread. alot.
                    oh, and they do this awful and spooky "wobble" thing. like a rocking madman. you might just have ruined 9 years of therapy. not what i was expecting when coming to a comments page about fish. although, you may well have inspired my next op. Evil Wobbly Twigs.

                    by Peakly on 02.08.2001 at 23:04
                    Without a doubt.

                    by jillmurphy on 02.08.2001 at 22:08
                    Conor wants a stick insect. I think we're going to get one. Opinion? Or no?

                    Now, as some of the inspiration came as a result of that comment, you may well note a bit of repetition. Hey ho.
                    Let me set the scene.
                    I was 13. I wanted a pet. I didn't have a great deal of money.
                    The only money I had, was earned from delivering the local free paper. I would be paid in the region £5 for a round consisting of close to 300 houses.
                    N
                    early definable as slave labour, but it kept me in Batman cards and copies of Roy of the Rovers, so I was happy.
                    It was on this biodegradable information meduim delivery marathon that I saw the petshop advertising that they now stocked "exotic" animals.
                    I was intrigued, so I went in.

                    Mr Petshopman had decided that a freakishly proportioned snail and tiny, baby Stick Insects warranted the sign in the window. I was a bit disappointed, but then I saw the price tag of the Stick Insects. They were 30p each.
                    Well within the range of even my pittance wages.

                    I bought 5. £1.50. Bargain.

                    Including the plastic tank (about the size of a shoe box) that sign in the window cost me about £7. I now owned "exotic pets" how cool did I feel?!

                    I arrived home halfway through my round
                    (if any of you live in Gee Cross and were harbouring ill feelings because once, in 1992, you didn't get your free Advertiser, this op doesn't include an apology - Pah!)
                    And showed my mum my latest purchase.

                    "Very nice. Wash your hands, tea's ready"

                    Much much better reaction than I was expecting.
                    Great I thought. First hurdle surpassed.

                    Next I had to actually learn how to care for my newly acquired family.

                    not too dissimilar to the Kilshaws, i'd bought these babies without actually thinking I'd not the first clue about parenthood.
                    Through books, and there are not many, I learned that their main source of food is Privet hedge. (Not the two-coloured privet, the normal mono-tinted leaf variety - didn't want to leave myself open to hate mail from lamenting Stick Insect Orphans. Parents killed by the Great Bi-coloured leaf invasion of 2001)

                    Seemed odd to me, because correct me if i'm wrong, there aren't too many Privet bushes in Borneo (i'm guessing thats where they're from. probably wrong.)

                    I did however, accept the informa
                    tion as true, I was confident the publishers of the 'Big book of bugs' wouldn't be lying.
                    Off I set, into my village, scissors furiously hacking at Mrs Purcells bush. ( I can hear the innuendo police at my door)

                    I was like Edward Scissorhands. Except without the artistic talent.

                    And so it continued for around a month.

                    A month is all the time these babies need to develop enough to get frisky.

                    Big book of bugs had not included this in their advice.

                    Within about one month and 2 days I had 5 evil, loathsome and abhorrent twigs. All 3 inches of them.

                    It is around now where the repetition sets in, so i'll quote me.

                    "i now have a highly rational fear of them (stick Insects - ed) because they bread. alot. they also escape. they escape and they bread. alot.
                    oh, and they do this awful and spooky "wobble" thing. like a rocking madman."

                    Oh my god. They bread. Oh my god they've bread.

                    (now I know why the english language is so awkward. For Bread 1 read BrEEd, Bread 2 read BrEd. Cleared that one up then.)

                    All of a sudden, I didn't have 5 insects. I had closer to 45. They were like the 5 evil leaders, producing an army capable of taking over any teenagers bedroom.

                    Then the invasion began.

                    The army mobilised.

                    The first fugitive I found, was only a few inches from the tank. The second, was on the floor, third was in my bed. At night.

                    I found them everywhere. I was beginning to get a bit panicky.

                    Basically, I had so many, I didn't know exactly how many there should be. Therefore, I didn't know how many had gone.

                    Every night was like a battle of wills.

                    Field Marshal Stick Vs Me. Stick won. Easily.

                    Then, when trying to count them one morning, I noticed that they do this incredibly spooky thing when you watch them. They wobble/rock/dance.
                    Sounds cute? Ima
                    gine Hannibal Lecter doing The Charleston.

                    Soon, they expanded 'operation kill all humans' to the whole house.
                    The undetected escapees, stick insect worlds equivalent of the SAS (Noticed that they're masters of disguise? that's no accident you know, i'm sure that if i'd left them, they would have evolved into "Slipper Insects - Wobbling Slippers etc...."), had found the time to breed outside of the confines of the tank.

                    They were in the hall. They were in the lounge. They were on the cat.

                    Enough was enough, and I had to get rid of them.

                    I placed an advert in Loot.

                    "Exotic pets. Free to a good home. In fact, free to a reasonable home. Free to a home."

                    The man who smugly collected them the following week was familiar. It was evil petshopman. my £1.50 had given him a good return.

                    I have recovered from my war experiences.

                    But I still think it's no coincidence that the container for these privet-chomping soldiers of fortune is called a
                    "tank".

                    ** Update to let you know that i still hate them with more passion than a channel 5 movie, but it has been brought to my attention that they have a covert Paratroop division, codename "Daddy Long Legs".

                    Terrifyingly intimidating name.

                    The "Daddies" have been infiltrating my home for a few days now, and these aren't cannon fodder sized Winged monsters, these things look like they could refuel on the run and have had DragonFly DNA mixed with their own.

                    The Sticks have gone airborn, they've mutated, they want me dead.

                    **Update**
                    just updated to add this line.

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                      01.08.2001 03:56
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                      • "Have to seek food"

                      Fellow dooyoo-er, Muffin, and I settled our differences some time ago [well, I think we did...] - but, should your children be asking for "stickies", the following may assist: Back in the 19-mumbles, when I was a child, I too kept stick insects, and they were surprisingly satisfying pets, not least because they were MINE ALONE, unlike the dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, tortoises, budgerigars, and goldfish, – all of which, nominal ownership notwithstanding, merged into communal family pets with the passing of the seasons… Back in those ‘golden days of childhood’, (“Lynn, why is there a stick insect on the ceiling?” “GET IN HERE AND GET IT DOWN”), my Stick Insects were fascinating to watch and handle, and down through the years I have remained vaguely puzzled that I should have no recollection whatsoever of their demise… UNTIL NOW, when, with the benefit of dooyoo and hindsight, I realise that my long-suffering mother may have been a kindred spirit of “karenuk” [see previous opinion], allowing my poor Stickies to starve to death while my back was turned… Fast forward to the 1980’s… Due to an unfortunate state of arrested development, I remain fascinated by Stick Insects, with their wibbly-wobbly legs, swaying twig-bodies and dear little antennae… From time to time I read aloud to my children from cards in newsagents’ windows: “Homes wanted for stick insects…”. The children show no interest, being perfectly content with the dog, cat, goldfish, gerbils and tortoises… (This list differs slightly from my own childhood. We have deleted the chickens, rabbits and budgies but added gerbils. Lots and lots of gerbils, actually, due to an early hiccup in our “gerbil-sexing technique”.) Forward again to the 1990’s… The younger child is now at seni
                      or school AND WANTS SOME STICK INSECTS… Thinks to self: “Hooray, hooray…” Say to child: “Well, if we must… But they will be YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.” Thinks to self again: “… These will be LOVED AND WANTED Stickies…” And they were, in their way, for the next year or two… Naturally, after the first fortnight the Stickies became the responsibility of Lynn (Muggins) Bex and Him Indoors… Astonishingly, Him Indoors came to share my fascination with the swaying stick insects and we spent many a merry evening, mucking out their container and harvesting the eggs… We became quite expert on stick insects and their behaviour… How we laughed at their propensity to “play dead” when poked. How we “ooh’d and aah’d when they appeared to go into free fall (when poked too far), only to save themselves by unexpectedly clinging onto something with their clever little front-leg “hooks”, swinging pendulum-like until it was safe to wibble-wobble away… Cleaning a stick insect container is a two man/woman(seldom child because they’ll be bored by now) job: one to clean and the other to babysit the stickies, which will otherwise wibble-wobble away up the walls and across the ceiling while your back is turned. …And it can be quite disconcerting to spot a couple of stick insects strolling across the dining room ceiling as you carve the Sunday joint. Look! We’ve made it to 2001… The Stickies are long gone… I’m still fascinated by other peoples’ wibbly-wobbly stick insects but have finally worked them out of my system. Never again will I keep them. Never again will I creep up the road in search of a privet hedge to plunder. Never again will I feel the need to dress as if for an Arctic Ex
                      pedition in preparation for a winter privet-seeking mission… Privet is an evergreen… Sort of… but take it from me, come winter you don’t want too many Stickie mouths to feed, privet leaves not being overly abundant in January and February… (Some stick insects can also be persuaded to eat ivy, but ours never seemed to thrive on it.) Having researched the subject (slightly), I’ll pass on my basic “How to…” and “Stick Insect Notes” for the benefit of any Stickie novices out there in dooyooland:- By the mid-1900’s the Common Stick Insect (which may or may not be “Carausius Morosus”) had learnt to tolerate our northern European climate and had become something of a favourite with Biology Teachers. – Hopefully sparing many tadpoles, frogs and small cuddly mammals from the laboratory life. Right… Properly cared-for, Stick Insects live for about 18 months and they are surprisingly easy to keep and rear, provided you abide by some simple rules: 1. They must have a suitable cage or container, with sufficient height for the Stickies to "dangle" as they shed their skins (a regular process until they are full grown). This in effect means that the container should be a little more than twice the Stickies' current length - so a four-inch stick insect will need a container at least, say ten-inches high. 2. They must have adequate food and water. - We used to give ours fresh privet every few days and would use a fine spray to create a "dew like" mist each evening. (Though don’t make the container too wet or you will introduce mould, which may well make the Stickies themselves mouldy – not a pretty sight and horribly yukky) 3. Don't attempt to keep too many Stickies. If they are overcrowded they will accidentally eat each other's legs - mistaking them for succulent m
                      orsels of leaf! (-On the other hand, they may deliberately chew each other’s legs for moisture if you allow the foodplants to dry out – see point 2, above.) <br> 4. Adult females are likely to lay half-a-dozen or more eggs every night and these will probably begin to hatch after a month or two, though they can take much longer. DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO KEEP ALL OF THE EGGS or the situation very quickly gets out of hand! I have been told that the eggs make a welcome addition to the diet of goldfish but our fish, Willie and Waylon, were totally unimpressed. 5. Do try to be ruthless (we never managed this) when stick insects begin to lose their legs. Sooner or later ALL mature and elderly stick insects will begin to lose a leg or two. They start out with six legs and can manage perfectly well with four… They can even manage with three (unless they’re all on the same side of the body – tee hee) but really and truly, they should be put to death once they are badly crippled… I could never quite do this… Preferring to creep into the garden after dark where I would poke the poor little cripples through the fence into next-door’s ivy… So, there we have it… The joy of Stick Insects… Everyone should do it once (or perhaps not!!! Lynn

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                        15.07.2001 00:10
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                        • "don't do much"

                        Our brief foray into stick insect ownership began a few months ago. One of my friends had gone away on holiday and another friend (Yes, I have more than one!) was looking after her pets, including a huge tank of stick insects! Well, we popped round to have a look and of course, the kids were intrigued and my kind friend offered us some babies. (Gee, thanks!) So we took three home in a tupperware container, then looked around for something to keep them in more permanently. We decided the best thing to keep them in was the old hamster cage, as it was quite big. We put cling film over the top (so they didn’t escape) with air holes made in it. Stick insects are quite low-maintenance, as they only need a load of privet (shiny green leaves from a certain type of hedge) which they eat and live off. When the privet becomes dry and crinkly, you need to change it for a fresh bunch. This is fine if you have a privet hedge in your garden, but we don’t, so the kids had to nip out with a pair of scissors and raid hedges at the top of the road! Not ideal really. Stick insects are a light brown colour, to camouflage themselves. They look like sticks (surprise surprise) and we all know how attractive and cuddly sticks are – yes, exactly! I really can’t see the attraction in these at all. You can’t teach them tricks, they don’t talk, they aren’t huggable… yawn yawn. So what do they do? Well, they move a bit, but very slowly. They occasionally stand still with a leg up or twitch their antennae. Hardly ground-breaking stuff, not exciting to watch. You can pick them up and they’ll sit on your hand or walk up your arm. Yuck, not for me, thanks! The kids found them interesting for a while, then got bored. They kept forgetting to go out on privet finding hunts and the stick insects died. No tears were shed, these are not pets you can easily get attached to. If
                        you are still interested in getting them (though I really wouldn’t understand why), you shouldn’t need to pay for them, just ask around to see who already has some and cadge some eggs off them. It’s apparently illegal to throw the eggs away, so I’m sure any owners would be only too pleased to chuck some your way. So, they aren’t pretty to look at, they don’t do much and I really can’t recommend them. Good points? Hmm, well, they’re small (usually only growing to a few inches) and don’t need much looking after except for the constant privet feeding. Can’t think of any other advantages though. Do yourself a favour, get a rat instead :-)

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                          05.12.2000 18:55
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                          I owned some of these when I was a kid. One day someone in school brought some in to show the class during a sort of 'show and tell' session and everyone wanted some so he brought in some eggs... I ended up with about 20 of the things in a small aquarium on my window ledge. Apparently they like things like ivy and as we never actually had any ivy it basically meant me going out and 'borrowing' ivy from the local church wall. Basically, what you get with stick insects are insects which resembles sticks and are about as exciting as well. They are however easy to look after as long as you have the right foodstuffs lying around the garden otherwise you might reort to wandering further afield to find them. Can't say I would recommend them but for low maintenance pets they are probably the best you will find.

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                            23.06.2000 09:35
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                            I don't approve of pets but I had some of these when I was younger and they are very easy to look after so they're great for a kid. All you need is a tank of some description and cover it with something which is breathable but will stop them getting out, we all used to use our mams old tights. They eat privit, thats the stuff which most people make there hedges out of, those little green shiny leaves, so they're cheep to feed cos you just take kids to the park and aquire some, alternativley, if the park is way away then you can just send the kids out to hack some twigs of Mr Jones's hedge. They both climb on and eat these an aslong as you change the twigs every few days they'll be fine. They also multiply well and are asexual so you don't need males and females to get baby stick insects. They're fun for the kids to watch and walk along your hand happily.

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