Snails are hermaphrodites. This means they are both male and female.

Live Exhibits

Bugs Alive! is the largest exhibition of live bugs in Australia. Behind the scenes, a small group of specialised zoologists care for the animals and undertake further research into them.

Selecting the Exhibits

Since 1999, Museum Victoria’s zoologists have been working on the husbandry of insects and other bugs for display. Over 150 species have been tested for suitability, and 131 species have been deemed to be appropriate for display. The selection of species in Bugs Alive! is made with several criteria in mind. The bugs that are chosen have to support the themes of the exhibition, they have to be able to be kept all year round, and they have to be able to be displayed well. Interesting, but shy bugs that spend their time hiding under rocks are obviously unsuitable!

The livestock is obtained from a variety of sources. Some are donated, some are bought from suppliers in various parts of Australia, others are obtained through links that the museum has with other institutions, and some are obtained on museum field trips.

Keeping Bugs

Many of the animals on display in Bugs Alive! have never been bred in captivity before. The museum’s animal keepers have had to carry out some fundamental research into the food, habitat and climatic preferences of the bugs.

In the back-of-house area of the museum, where the animals are kept, a dry climate room, a humid room and a quarantine room have all been established. These conditions have been replicated in the enclosures in Bugs Alive!

Bug diets are incredibly varied. Once the animal keepers have established the food requirements of their ‘guests’, on-going supplies of live food, various fruits and vegetables, and a range of customised meals need to be sourced.

The live bugs displayed in Bugs Alive! include stick insects, leaf insects, rainforest snails, green tree ants, jumping jack ants, native cockroaches, native crickets, blow flies, mosquitoes, native bees, dermestid beetles, tarantulas, funnel-web spiders, redback spiders, orb-weaving spiders, scorpions, centipedes and a variety of aquatic insects.


The tarantulas kept in quarantine within Bugs Alive! were illegally imported by spider smugglers and destined for private collections. However, they were intercepted in the post or during raids by Australian Customs Service officers and officers of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS). They, together with any mites and other unwanted passengers they host, are a potential threat to Australian spiders and other wildlife.

Australia has been surrounded by the sea for more than 55 million years. It was effectively quarantined from the rest of the world, protecting the unique animals and plants here. Now Australia receives approximately nine million international passengers, 160 million international mail articles and 1.3 million containers arrive by ship each year. All these people, parcels and containers pass through quarantine checks. The tough quarantine laws are to protect our unique flora and fauna, and to keep Australia free of many pests and diseases that plague other countries.

Detailed information about import and export conditions for animals, plants and related products is provided by The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).

Link to Printer Friendly Page

link to larger Versionview large image

Malaise trap, link to large image
Collecting bugs

link to larger Versionview large image
Monitoring the animals, link to large image
Monitoring the animals

link to larger Versionview large image

Mexican Red-kneed Tarantula, link to large image
© Museum Victoria Australia