Keeping stick insects together is a controversial subject among stick insect owners and breeders. Some prefer to keep different species separate while others like to mix them. The thing is that not every species will get along with another.
The general rule of thumb is that the more closely related geographically the species are in their natural habitat, the better the chance of them coexisting in harmony. This is due to two factors: local conditions and familiarity with the other species.
So what stick insects can be kept together? In this article I am going to discuss some of the factors that influence this and a few examples of stick insects that might co-exist well together.
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The More Common the Species the Better
Certain species are more closely related than others. But if you take a stick insect from North America and try to house it with a stick insect from India, for example, you might end up having problems. So the general rule of thumb is that the more closely related geographically the species are the better.
This is due to two factors: the conditions and how the species get along with each other.
But how do you know when two stick insects are closely related enough to be kept together?
First of all, check out the ideal conditions for the stick insect species in question. If they require similar conditions, then the chances are they are a good fit for each other.
However, probably the best and most simplest way to find out is to just look online and see whether anyone else has tried to keep the species together. Other stick insect owners will be able to tell you a lot about the combinations of specific stick insects that can be kept together.
Why Temperature Matters When It Comes to Stick Insects
Stick insects require certain temperatures and levels of humidity to function. Indeed, stick insects can grow faster or slower depending on the temperatures they are kept in.
Not being kept at an ideal temperature increases the chance that the insect will fail to moult. As well as this, lack of humidity stops their skin from being supple enough.
Remember that a stick insect is literally pulling itself out of its old skin when it moults. So if the old skin is not supple enough, it can lose limbs and even become deformed.
The exact reverse can happen for a stick insect kept at too warm temperatures. A stick insect’s developmental time decreases when kept at higher temperatures. This may seem like a good idea, but this actually means they live for a shorter period of time.
Stick insects go through an average of between 6 and 9 moults throughout their lives. When a stick insect reaches adulthood, it may live an additional six months to a year, no more.
This is the reason you should only keep species that prefer similar conditions. Combining exotic insects can cause a lot of problems with development.
Do Stick Insects Fight?
The worry a stick insect owner might have is that their stick insects are going to fight if from a different species. The truth is, stick insects may fight even if they are part of the same species. It’s a natural part of the colony and one that you’re going to have to live with.
There has been no research conducted into whether certain species are more likely to fight with each other, so you do not need to particularly worry about certain species fighting more with each other.
Nevertheless, you should be aware of the different defensive mechanisms certain species have. This could mean other stick insect species come off worse than others during conflicts.
For example, the giant spiny stick insect from New Guinea has spikes on its back legs, which it uses to fight off predators. During conflicts between stick insects it can also engage these spikes, possibly leading to more damage than expected. You may not want to combine species like this for this reason.
So How Should You Keep Stick Insects of a Different Species?
It all depends on the enclosure you choose to keep them in. We have established that similar conditions will be needed so your chosen stick insects can function together. But you need a tank that is going to contribute to keeping the stick insects in good condition. The answer is to have a tank that is as spacious as possible.
Stick insects are more likely to fight when they get in each other’s way, so if they are constantly bothering each other then the outcome is more than likely going to be conflict.
You should also know that the spread of fungal disease is more common when your stick insect loses a leg or receives another type of wound. These diseases can destroy the whole colony. So give them lots of space, including vertical space, and provide plenty of dark places for them to retreat to when necessary.
What Stick Insects Can Be Kept Together – The Best Pairings
The truth is that there are so many stick insect species it would be impossible to list exactly what the best pairing is. But as a general rule of thumb I recommend choosing the common Indian stick insect as a partner. These are some of the least particular stick insects around, so you shouldn’t have too many problems pairing them with a variety of species.
However, I believe that experimentation is the spice of life for many things, so combining different stick insect species together can make for some interesting results. You might be surprised at some of the colonies that can live together without any problems.
Last Word – Combining Different Species Together
I do not recommend that you start housing different species together at the start of your stick insect-keeping journey. It is best to get to grips with managing stick insects by keeping only one or two in the beginning.
Despite being easy creatures to care for, there are some nuances you need to be aware of. Fail to manage these nuances and you could find yourself making some big mistakes, which could even wipe out your whole colony. We discuss these in other articles across our website.