The Robbo Show of course does a great set of "kids' pet" awards. In this particular case it has an award for the "most unusual pet". I confess to failing in my job as amateur reporter, because I was so taken with the Stick Insect that I failed to note which "pet" won the main prize. Instead I rushed over to get a couple of close-up shots. That's right a "Stick Insect" won the second prize for the Most Unusual Pet. What beat it out of first place? Clearly the award was not judged by your humble reporter, for this Pet would have won hands down, if I had been a judge of this competition.
Did the First Prize go to the three-legged cat, the pet tortoise, the flop-eared rabbit (I am pretty sure it won the cutest pet award), the pet rats, the Tree Frog in the aquarium, or the Raccoon skin ("Pet Road Kill" - my favourite, if just for imagination) .
It seems the family of the owner of the Stick Insect had attended an Open Day at CSIRO (in Canberra, I assume) some time ago, and there were a number of "hatchlings" which were available for the public to take home. Unfortunately I forgot to ask the obvious question of when that visit took place, for then I would have known more about the life history of this amazing "pet". This amazing Stick Insect has happily grown since then. Judging by the way it was devouring Eucalypt leaves, flat-out, while I was observing it, it probably does not take a lot of "looking after", other than providing it with a regular supply of Gum leaves. I was fascinated by the way its mouth was positioned so that it can eat vertically along the edge of the leaf. You can clearly see the notches along the edge of the leaf where it had eaten previously. Obviously it eats its way down along the edge of the leaf, then returns to the top, and starts again. It eats down in a straight line, for you can see the leaf underneath the head is approx 3mm higher than the leaf above its head. In other words, it shaves about 3mm off the edge of the leaf in each "pass".
For the record, the insect was at least 10 inches (approx 25 cm) long. The insect is sitting on the up-turned red plastic lid of its cage, which was about 18 inches (approx 45 cm) long.
This variety of Stick Insect might well be an interloper, from Brisbane, where it is reported to be quite common. From information on the Chew Family website, it is obvious that this Stick Insect is a mature female Goliath Stick Insect. These insects are reported to be very weak fliers, just moving as little as possible, eating their way around whatever plants they are located on. The males, which are much smaller, are apparently more mobile, actively seeking a mate.
I have only seen one relatively small, brown Tesselated Phasmid Stick Insect in the local area.
Here is the full insect which I found low down in the bush in Kangaloon, at the base of a large Eucalypt tree.And here is an "head-on" view of the head of the wild specimen I had found (obviously viewed from above, because I did not wish to disturb this insect).My original report on the finding of this insect is found here.
For the record. My little friend, Tas entered Lena in the "Scruffiest Pet" award, and she got second place, which I thought was just great. It takes "judgment" to come second in that competition. If she had won outright, that would have taken some explanation, but second scruffiest, I think is just great.
Here is Lena licking her nose with her pink tongue, while Tas poses with her for this photo. Seriously, I think Lena would have been a serious competitor in the happiest pet award, but there is no such category.
And for a quirky insight into the running of the Robbo Show, how about this? I had no small change to pay for Tas to enter Lena in the Competition (which was about to start). So the Steward agreed to me paying the entry fee in a few minutes (as soon as I could get some change). An honour system. Fine with me. Then Lena won second prize, and suddenly we had $2:00 in prize money, which I promptly paid to the Steward, to retrospectively cover Lena's entry fee! Don't you love it?
All day long, Lena very proudly wore her red sash (2nd scruffiest) and also a white sash for the 4th smallest dog. (The winner of that competition was a Chihuahua puppy which could easily have sat on the palm of my hand.)