This fabulous looking creature is an adult male stick insect of a species known as Haaniella grayii. This species originates from the rainforests of Sarawak on the island of Borneo.
As in many species of stick insect the male (above) looks very different to the female (below):
Whilst children enjoy meeting both genders of these beautiful stick insects it is undoubtedly the males which are consistently the most popular, simply because they are so incredibly spiky and up close they look quite amazing!
This species is certainly one of the spikiest stick insect species I have ever kept and these spines are undoubtedly used to protect them from predators. Whilst I was on my trip of a lifetime to Costa Rica in December 2013 I encountered many more animals which use similar types of spines to protect themselves from predators, these two species of spider being my favourites of them:
In the summer of 2013 I had my first ever breeding success with Haaniella grayii and I have to say that the babies (nymphs) are among the cutest I have ever seen. They have what appears to be a 'crown' of little green horns on their head!
As with many species of stick insect the nymphs change colouration considerably during their development. Here are groups of male (top) and female (bottom) nymphs at just under half their adult size, looking quite similar to each other despite the differences they will have as adults:
A very similar species to H. grayii is Haaniella saussurei. Here are a couple of males, looking quite similar to the H. grayii males above:
The female H. saussurei is an especially attractive creature as you can see here, with beautiful contrasting markings of pale brown and cream:
As well as success breeding Haaniella grayii I have also had excellent success breeding yet another closely related species, known as Haaniella dehaani, also from the rainforests of Sarawak. This is an adult female of that species:
The male is certainly very spiky like the male of Haaniella grayii but he isn't quite as strikingly beautiful!
Their newly-hatched babies or nymphs are also very cute indeed as you can see here!