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Barry, Hiccup and Sticky*

August 5, 2022

When I was growing up in the city the choice of pet was limited to a dog or cat. These days the choices for young folk seem limitless especially if you grow up in a rural area. Take my young friend E.M. as an example. In the past 12 months his range of pets has been quite diverse.

In July of last year EM introduced me to Barry, his pet stick insect, pictured left (a face only a mother could love!). Stick insects are not that uncommon it is just that firstly they are very hard to see given their camouflage and secondly the larger adults are nocturnal due to the sensitivity of their eyes to light. Barry was not caged in anyway but hung around the same area each day and didn’t seem to mind being handled. After a while he (or she) wandered off to do other stick insect things.

Hiccup snug in his home-made pouch

Barry (named after the Tiger in Dr Doolittle?) has soon replaced by Hiccup, a very young Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) joey (pictured right) found abandoned in the bush. Hiccup required 4 hourly feeds of marsupial formula milk. Watching him tumble head first into any pouch-looking bag was worth all the late nights and early mornings. As Hiccup got larger it was positively dangerous to have the pet launch themselves at you so Hiccup went to an establishment that rehabilitated young roos.

Which brings us to the current pets of choice – four Giant Prickly Leaf Insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) pictured left, purchased from a private vendor. Like stick insects they are nocturnal and by day remain camouflaged not by looking like a stick as in stick insects but by resembling leaves. These insects are indigenous to Australia but are found naturally in the warmer climes up north.

I think I still prefer the good ol’ days. For all the exoticness of the aforementioned pets you can’t simply put a lead on them and take them for a walk.

* names still to be decided.

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