View from the Zoo: Stick insects are the masters of camouflage

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This week at Flamingo Land zoo, some of the smaller and well disguised creatures have been increasing their numbers and a in a big way.

The giant thorny stick insects which are in the Education Centre have had many of their eggs hatch into nymphs with numbers already at 30 which could double by next week.

Giant thorny stick insects originate from the Philippines in the Babayun Islands.

They are the masters of camouflage as they are quite literally a walking stick and blend in amongst the branches of treesthat they live on and even move like them.

They can occasionally sway side to side acting like a leaf shaking in the wind.

The reason they mimic branches is so they can hide from predators such as birds and monkeys. Another huge benefit is that their entire diet consists of the leaves they can find on the branches.

They use their long antennae to feel what’s in front of them and their six legs with hooks on the end allow to climb with ease.

Stick insect eggs take around six months to hatch and they are nymphs for around four months and at nine months old they are fully grown adults.

Females are much larger and are around 125mm in length whereas males are generally 75mm.

As stick insects grow they are able to moult and shed their exoskeleton.

This remarkably allows them to replace any legs they have lost in the past.

Males will fight over the females and tend to hitch a ride on their backs as well.

Flamingo Land’s stick insects are kept inside a large vivarium and find bramble and ivy around the park to provide food and climbing enrichment for them.

The vivarioum is kept humid and warm for them as well as providing a water dish and a sand dish for their eggs to be laid into.

If you wish to hold our stick insects a Meet a Creature session is run every day in the Education Centre at Flamingo Land, at 3pm.

l Are there any animals at Flamingo Land that you would like to know more about? Email zooeducation@flamingoland.co.uk with your suggestions.