Annam walking sticks (Medauroidea extradentata) are 3-4.5” long, nocturnal, herbivorous invertebrates native to Vietnam. They are also known as “thorny sticks”.
Annam walking sticks have a slender body that looks almost identical to a stick, especially when they tuck in their legs. Females can be distinguished by two horns on their head and relatively larger size. Coloring is generally even brown with some bark-like texturing, although juveniles are partly to fully green instead. This species does not have wings.
Annam walking sticks are among the most popular pet stick insects, and are widely known as being very easy to care for. Total lifespan is between 5-7 months.
Minimum terrarium size for Annam walking sticks
The widely-accepted minimum formula for housing stick insects is:
- Length = 2x length
- Width = 2x length
- Height = 3x length
Height is particularly important, as stick insects need vertical space in order to molt (shed their exoskeleton) and grow properly. Using the above formula, the enclosure for an adult-sized Annam walking stick should be at least 8”L x 8”W x 12”H and made of glass, plastic, or mesh.
Annam walking sticks generally get along fine when housed together in groups. However, keep in mind that if you want to keep more of them in the same enclosure, you will need a bigger enclosure — particularly along the horizontal dimensions.
Do Annam walking sticks need special lighting?
If your stick insect’s enclosure is placed in a room that receives ~12 hours/day of bright natural or artificial light, then additional lighting equipment is unnecessary. However, if your pet is being kept in a dark room or you wish to put live plants in the enclosure, then you will need additional lighting equipment such as a small white fluorescent or LED grow light around 6500K color temperature.
Best temperature for Annam walking sticks
Annam walking sticks do best when they are kept between 68-86°F. This includes room temperature, so supplementary heating should not be required for keeping this species. Nighttime temperatures can drop as low as 64°F as long as it gets warmer during the day.
The best way to keep track of the temperatures inside your Annam walking stick’s enclosure is with a digital thermometer placed in the middle of the enclosure.
Best humidity levels for Annam walking sticks
Providing the right amount of humidity is very important for making sure that your stick insect is able to molt properly and stays generally healthy. That being said, Annam walking sticks are quite hardy and are not too sensitive to local humidity levels.
Just make sure to lightly mist your pet’s enclosure every evening with a spray bottle to both increase the humidity and provide drinking water. It’s best to use distilled water rather than tap water, unless it has been treated to remove chlorine.
Best substrate for Annam walking sticks
Your Annam walking stick should have at least 1-2” of substrate on the bottom to help maintain consistent humidity levels. Here are some moisture-friendly materials you can use:
- Zoo Med Creatures Eco Soil
- Zoo Med Creature Soil
- Zoo Med ReptiBark
- Eco Earth Plantation Soil
- Exo Terra Forest Bark
This substrate will need to be replaced weekly and the enclosure thoroughly rinsed out with hot water to maintain good hygiene.
How to decorate an Annam walking stick terrarium
In order to reduce stress, prolong your pet’s lifespan, and encourage natural behaviors, your Annam walking stick needs both objects to climb and hide behind in its enclosure. Here are some ideas of things you can use:
- cork logs/flats
- thin vines
- artificial foliage
Use hot glue to attach climbing objects to the sides and bottom of the enclosure at different angles for variety. However you arrange your enclosure, make sure to leave enough open space at the top for twice your pet’s height to use during molting.
What to feed to an Annam walking stick
Stick insects are herbivores, which means that they eat plants in order to get the nutrition that they need. Make sure a branch of fresh leaves is always available. You can stick this branch in a vase of water to keep the leaves fresh for longer!
Here are some options for leaves that are appropriate to feed to an Annam walking stick:
- Blackberry (older leaves only, no new leaves)
Oak leaves freeze well for use during winter, and blackberry leaves usually stay available through the winter as well. Organic romaine lettuce may be offered if you have nothing better on hand, although this is not the best long-term feeding strategy. Use a variety of different leaves for food if at all possible.
Never source leaves from garden centers or florists, as these are likely to be covered in chemicals that will harm your pet! Also beware of collecting leaves from plants located near roadways, where they may be contaminated with chemicals from vehicle exhaust.
How to handle your Annam walking stick
As a general rule, invertebrates are “look-but-don’t-touch” pets: fun to watch, but not to be handled regularly. However, Annam walking sticks generally tolerate handling better than most.
To pick up your pet, place a hand under its front legs, then use your other hand to coax it forward from behind. Be very gentle as you do this, as it’s easy to injure a stick insect. Let it step onto your hand of its own accord, and don’t force it!
If you surprise your Annam stick insect, it may play dead. Wait a few minutes after this happens, and it will “come back to life” when it feels safe.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!
"Medauroidea extradentata (mother & son)" by gertschi911 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Wow, that was really helpful and true. I found a walking stick outside splayed on the ground and brought him in. Over 3 days slowly livened up and became quite lively. I am thinking to keep him in until Spring. It’s below freezing at night.