I share my home with Sputnik the cat and Stick Insect the stick insect. Sputnik arrived in a box from Liverpool nine years ago, a little meowing bundle of black and white fur. Stick Insect came via Streatham…
A friend phoned me up a couple of years ago asking if I could find a home for 10 stick insects as her daughter, who had nagged for months for some, lost interest in them. So she offered them to me. I only meant to keep them until I found another willing keeper, but that never happened so for the next 18 months I stocked up on privet, their food of choice, and religiously squashed the hundreds of eggs they laid which littered the bottom of their tank. Admittedly stick insects aren’t the most charismatic of pets, spending their days staying still looking like sticks. But being nocturnal, at night they get more active and fun can be had watching them. Last July they all started to die, one by one. Though sad I was rather relieved to reclaim my table in the kitchen – glass tanks do tend to take up a bit of space. But as I was emptying it into the bin I spotted the tiniest of stick insects clinging on to a leaf, the lone survivor of the egg genocide. Of course I couldn’t kill it so I put it in a jam jar with some obligatory privet. As it grew bigger the jar got bigger and one day I left the lid off by accident and it escaped. I found it walking across the kitchen ceiling. Not really liking keeping things in jars I kept ‘accidentally’ leaving the lid off until Stick Insect moved full-time into the philodendron plant on the window sill and I could dispense with the jar. It has been happily living there since, coming out to munch on the bunch of privet I leave in a vase on the side. And at night when I come home I usually find it galavanting around the window. Now my morning ritual is to look for where it is sleeping – disguised in the philodendron, artfully posed across my metal flowers or hanging stick-like from the basil plant. Once it nearly got chopped in half as it decided to hide in a bunch of parsley I was using for stew.
As for Sputnik and Stick Insect living together? For a cat who is a stealth killer of all things with six legs and wings Sputnik has yet to notice Stick Insect. The disguise is that good. We have a happy home.
What a great story. All the best pets arrive accidentally, I find!