Creepy crawly Christmas gifts on the rise

By Ilias Bakalla

Customers are turning to creepy crawlies for Christmas, with insect sales on the rise at Pets on Parade.

Store manager Jacki Wade said more and more parents were getting pets such as the giant burrowing cockroach and the spiny leaf insect for their children.

“They’re really low-maintenance, and something a bit more interesting than your basic pet,” she said.

There are also more dangerous critters for sale, including the Australian tarantula, centipedes and black rock and desert scorpions.

Pets on Parade's Kate Lohse shows off a giant burrowing cockroach.

Ms Wade said it was mostly adults that bought these ones.

“They only need to be fed once a week and we feed them live crickets,” she said.

“It’s important they (the crickets) are still alive so they can hunt them down and feel like they’re in the wild.”

A bite from any of these creatures is not fatal but could send you to hospital for a day or two.

“Some people will take the tarantulas out of their enclosure and handle them — apparently they have a bit of personality,” Ms Wade said.

“We had a lady come in to buy one as a therapy spider.”

Pets on Parade also sells some more dangerous critters, including the Australian tarantula.

The burrowing cockroach needs to be misted every few days and feeds on mulch, apples and bananas.

This mimics food found in the tropical north Queensland conditions to which it is native.

The cockroach requires a thick blanket of mulch and soil so it can bury itself during the day.

Some adults have even purchased scorpions as pets.

“They’re quite sensitive to light, so if you want to handle them it can only be for a few minutes,” Ms Wade said.

The centipedes and tarantulas are kept in similar conditions — an enclosed space with a mesh roof for them to breathe.

The scorpions are kept in plastic containers filled with desert sand and with holes in the roof.