Thorny Devil Stick Insect

Thorny Devil Thorny Devil

Animal Profile

Many stick insects fake death to trick predators, and may shed a limb to get away from an enemy.

Scientific Name Eurycantha calcarata
Class Insect
Length Up to 12 inches (30 cm)
Life span 12-18 months
Number of eggs 1 per day
Size at hatching 1.2-1.5 inches (30-40 mm)
Conservation status Least concern

A stick among trees
These stick insects live in the forests and grasslands of the tropics and sub-tropics.

What do they eat?
In the wild, they eat various leaves. At the zoo, we feed them leaves from the Pyracantha (firethorn) shrub.

Stick insects look like, well, sticks
As their name suggests, they’re generally brownish in color and shaped similar to sticks for camouflage. Females are normally larger than males.

How do they behave?
Stick insects are mainly nocturnal (active at night). During the day, they may hide, motionless, under plants, but because of their superior camouflage, they can often sit in the open and remain unseen. Sometimes they sway from side to side as if a breeze is blowing.

Effective weapons
Thorny devils have their name for a reason. Males have a large thorn on each hind leg that can be used for jabbing a predator. Watch out – their hind legs are strong enough to entrap a human’s finger! If that’s not enough, a foul-smelling liquid is sprayed from the thorax to repel predators.

Hiding eggs, but not for Easter
Females lay small hard eggs throughout the year. Sometimes, if a male is not available to mate, the female will lay eggs anyway. These eggs hatch into exact replicas of their mother. This process is called parthenogenesis.