New Guinea Walking Stick

Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo

Location

In the Zoo
Size
Male
Female
Height:
Length:
4- 5 inches
6-7 inches
Weight
1-2 pounds
Maturity:
7 years

Geographic Range

New Guinea, New Caledonia, and the Solomon Islands.

Scientific Information

Scientific Name:
Eurycantha calcarata
Class:
Insecta
Order:
Phasmatoptera
Family:
Phasmatidae
Genus:
Eurycantha

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Diet:
Herbivorous
Activity Time Frame:
Nocturnal
Interactivity:
Social
Sexual Dimorphism:
Yes
Gestation:
4-6 months
Lifespan in the Wild:
12 - 18 months
Lifespan in Captivity:
12 - 18 months

Conservation

Status:
Threats:

Characteristics

The thorny devil resembles bark or rotten wood. The long slender body ranges from pale green to brown. It is robust and well-armoured with numerous spines on both body and legs. The male has enlarged femurs on the hind legs with one large, curved spine or thorn on the underside of each leg. Females have a larger abdomen ending in an ovipositor, or egg-laying organ. Both sexes are wingless.

Species Specifics

This is a large semi-terrestrial (as an adult) wingless rainforest species belonging to a family of insects commonly referred to as “phasmids”. This family name means “ghost” or “apparition” and is comprised of stick and leaf insects. They resemble sticks, twigs, bark, or leaves.

Physical Characteristics

This well armored walking stick is heavy bodied and is adorned with spines on its body and legs.

Ecology

Habitat

Forested areas where it is found in foliage and ground litter. They prefer the warmth and high humidity provided by tropical rainforests.

Distribution

Habitats: Found mostly in the Eastern United States, Box Turtles occur as far north as Michigan and Maine, South to Florida, and as far West as Texas and Kansas. Found rarely above 1,000 feet in elevation, preferring low land habitats where water collects. Commonly associated with deciduous forests having high leaf litter and moisture these turtles are often located near rivers, streams, ponds, lakes and other bodies of fresh water, however, they are not good swimmers.

Diet

Leaves of the forest including ficus, bramble, raspberry, rose, and guava. All stick insects are vegetarian.

Ecological Web

This type of insect provides food for many animals. Many of the phasmids have a specific niche or limited variety of vegetation.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

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.

Behavior

The gecko will lick its eye to clean it from dust and other particles.

Social Behavior

They have a very interesting behaviour for a phasmid; they migrate from foraging areas to form groups of individuals when resting during the day. They congregate in clusters to hide under bark and in hollows of logs and trees. This provides protection from predators. Like other types of stick insects they use crypsis (camouflage) and catalepsy (feigning death).

Reproductive Behavior

Males actively compete for females. The female uses her ovipositor to lay eggs in soft soil. They resemble plant seeds covered by a hard shell. Incomplete metamorphosis takes place with nymphs hatching in about four months. They are about 30 - 40 mm long and brown in colour. The vulnerable nymphs crawl up food plants to congregate at the top. After about five to six sheddings over four to six months, they attain their full size.

Offspring

Females can lay anywhere from one egg a day to every other day.

Conservation

Status

Three-Toed Box Turtles are not considered endangered at the national level in the United States, Canada or Mexico, although several U.S. states, including Michigan, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut, list T. carolina as a species of special concern. It is considered endangered in Maine. IUCN: VulnerableCITES: Appendix II

Historical

Due to a widespread, consistent and persistent decline of the species, the ICUN considers the Box Turtle to be a Vulnerable Species. The decline is associated with anthropogenic causes, or manmade causes centering on urbanization. Agricultural use of pesticides within a shared water shed has negatively impacted young turtle survivability due to malformed eggs. Introduction of synanthopic predator species, (species who live near and benefit mutually from human settlement and urban habitats) such as ravens, coyotes and raccoons, are increasing in numbers as humans continue to urbanize.

Current Threats

Introduced Non-Native, Domestic, and Invasive Species

Our Role

Exhibit and Educate

No items found.

How You Can Help

Please be aware of the pets you choose to buy. Never get a pet that has been taken from the wild and never return a pet to the wild. Be aware of pesticide applications so as to not poison native animals that benefit your ecosystem. Finally, be conscious of your trash and waste so as to not attract unwanted animals such as ravens.

Fascinating Facts

The male has enlarged hind leg femurs, with a curved spine or thorn on the underneath side, large enough to be used as a fish hook in New Guinea.

The Iriquois and other Native Americans used them for food, medical, ceremonial, burial and hunting purposes.

Of all the Gerrhosaururidae lizards (Plated lizards) they are the most armored.

References

Animal Diversity Web: Eurycantha calcarata: http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Eurycantha_calcarata/classification/

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo: http://kidszoo.org/our-animals/thorny-devil-stick-insect/#tab-id-2