The Tarantula molt process, or how to become a virgin again.

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Brachypelma smithi in her old clothes

This would have been a “tarantula bits” post, except I liked the title, so hey.

Last night my Brachypelma smithi, a purchase from a local Petco, molted, and Tom Moran posted up a Grammostola iheringi update where the molt had just occurred with one of his 8-legged cats.
SYNCRONICITY!   heh heh.

I had photo-documented the process with my B. smithi, so I figured I’d post up about the how, what and whyfores with some most excellent shots to illustrate just how Tarantulas “do”.

One of the interesting facets of the exotic pet hobby (not JUST tarantulas) is the molting process. Reptiles shed, as well as snakes, and almost all inverts as well.

[aside: This includes all of the sea-abiding cousins such as this kid here:]

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The poor man’s Eels

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Just a quick post up of a fish tank migration. I retired the old 29 gallon and replaced it with a 40 gallon breeder setup.  This is the living room “FOWLR” tank.  (Fish Only With Live Rock.) Coral “reef” tanks introduce a level of care that I’m not interested in doing beyond the two smaller tanks I’m managing. FOWLR tanks are far far easier in the maintenance category and much more forgiving of mistakes.

As this tank set up is new, it is still clearing from the motion, new sandbed and rock situating.

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In the Eye of the Beholder, or “I don’t see what you see.”

 

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= in my eyes.

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I’m sitting here slurping coffee, getting ready to feed a bunch of tarantulas in a short bit and I was musing about some reactions on faffbook in response to arachnid galleries and posts…from people who obviously aren’t in the hobby.

These reactions range from just “EWWWWW!” to “I’m scared of spiders” to “kill it with fire”…with a few folks taking the high road complimenting on color or beauty, but quite often appending with “I’m terrified of…” or “but they are creepy”.

cute jumping spider

Arachnophobia is a real thing. I know this, because I have a mild form of Apiphobia, which is the fear of bees and wasps. It is a completely irrational fear for me, and one which I’ve endeavored to get over by forcibly NOT running away at the mere sight of one of these beautiful animals. I still get anxiety around them, but by dealing with the fear, I no longer bolt when one swings by.

wasp

 

 

So I CAN relate to the reaction.

 

 

 

 

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Tarantula Bits #1

 

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“Tiphane” Grammostola porteri mature female 6″ My first and still favorite.

A new take on my old “last bits”.

I ranted like crazy about this on faffbook in a local group. Posting the 2-part rant here for posterity:

Local shops rant #1
Irritated. There are times in this hobby when I get pissed about pricing. Specifically local herp (reptiles and snakes) shops. Been on the hunt for a B. smithi for awhile now, and found two…one at a local reptile store, and the other at…drumroll…Petco. Same size, everything. (juvenile to young adult approx 3-3.5″)

Guess who wanted 150+$ and were offended when I counter offered the price range I KNEW I could get the T for?
Then wild guess who sold me mine for 75$?

People hate on the chain stores, but I have had better luck in general with them then the “locals” in this hobby.
I do not and will not name names. Just “local” ranting.:-/

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Local shops rant #2:

I have yet to see a listing of T’s on ANY local pet store website. No prices, no species, nothing. Unless you call. Then it is, “Oh sure, we have a lot of them, come on down.” And when you do, you generally will see outrageous prices that would drive an online vendor out of business faster than you can shake your head as no one would make that kind of buy.

While I will exclude Naturebox (local vendor here in Denver) from the pricing irritation (they are an excellent source for reasonably priced tarantulas), even that store has a website section for spiders that is empty and has been since I first checked em’ out quite some time ago.
On the other hand, online vendors look like the 2nd picture.  Species, new arrivals, availability/sold out info, origin locale info, pricing, and general information as to species care.

Consider this an “I wish” posting rather than grrr argh.

[Aside, there were some web captures illustrating my points. I’ll leave them out of this post as they are local to the Denver area, and this blog has a wider reach.  Just pretend you saw blank pages where listings should go. heh.]

addendum to the rant:

I just saw an A. versicolor 1/2″ sling selling for 60$ on a shelf at a local shop. Almost choked. Then I looked at the other selections, some of which were absolutely crazy high as well.

Then when I asked why the prices were so high, I received the stock used car salesman answer, “Oh they’re on consignment.” -this is a magic term for “just because we think there are enough suckers who will pay it.”
:-/


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Aphonopelma seemanni

Back to me blabbing on the blog here:

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Tarantula Sling Husbandry – A Comprehensive Guide

Outstanding and in-depth. Great article on care of Tarantula slings.

Tom's Big Spiders

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I can remember getting my first two slings, a L. parahybana and a C. cyaneopubescens, several years ago. Although I had kept adult tarantulas before, these tiny little gals just seemed so tiny and fragile. I had spent hours researching the care, and had even spoken to a couple of keepers about them. I thought I had the correct setups, and my temperatures seemed okay, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something with my husbandry was amiss and that I would inevitably end up with two dead slings.

Even folks who have kept larger specimens for years tend to experience more than their fair share of anxiety when they keep their first slings. Part of the problem is that much of what you read about sling care can conflict with what you read about their adult counterparts. For example, good husbandry information will tell you that the Brachypelma smithi is…

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Vendor Review: PetcenterUSA

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Just a quick review of an already respected Tarantula vendor who does retail and wholesale work.

Paul Becker has been in the 8-legged cat game for a long time, and with good reason.

I’m not going to go into screaming detail, as these things have been done many times via social media, (A good overview here from Tom’s Big Spider Blog)  but as I am 100% pleased with the selection, service and health of the specimens I just received, here’s the post!

Packaging = perfect.

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Tarantula Controversies – Should You Give Tarantulas Water Dishes?

The pros and cons of water dishes. Great article breaking down both sides of the argument in this hobby.

Tom's Big Spiders

Tarantula-controvesies-3Recently, I sat down to write an article about some of the divisive, hot-button topics that dog the tarantula hobby and often ensnare uninitiated keepers in heated debates. These are subjects that new hobbyists are often interested in learning about, but an internet search or an innocent forum query produces two equally heated and opposing answers. My hope with this feature is to present both sides of these gray-area arguments so that keepers can develop their own informed opinions and make equally informed decisions. For the third installment, I’ve decided to take on the topic of using water dishes with tarantulas.


Background

Just recently, a popular YouTube enthusiast posted a video about a “sick” Poecilotheria that he had found in a semi-death curl. After plucking the poor creature out and putting it into a tarantula ICU with plenty of water, the animal quickly perked up. Whew…his quick thinking saved the day and miraculously cured…

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Observing a tiny little mind do big things

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Observations. Obvious: Tarantulas sit still a lot between motion.

Not as obvious:

Watching them build things, I’m of the opinion that they are working around the small limitations of their brains. As a former IT guy, I understand what caching of data and swapping is, and when a cpu is memory constrained, pauses will occur to swap stuff from active to storage memory and back again depending on the data needing to be operated on.

As I watch my T’s, I cannot shake the idea that this is what is occurring with them.

My arboreals will slowly move through a new enclosure, pausing for minutes, even hours at a time, and then continue the pattern until it appears they have mapped out the living quarters. Then the building of things begins. I’m using an arboreal as an example, but terrestrial and fossorial species exhibit the same pause/work/pause/change up things patterns.

In this case, my P. cambridgei spent the entire evening waltzing about, pausing and moving to the limits of the enclosure.

Then it sat in the den for a bit.

When it came out, it began building a roof, tearing open the den, and moving substrate all over the place, radically changing the layout. Between each section of creation, it will just stop for a period of time before continuing on with the next steps.

Any time someone says “automaton” when speaking about whether or not a tarantula has any intelligence, I just laugh.

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P. cambridgei building a roof for the newly widened jungle room

 

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Enclosures part deux! How to build a house for a spider.

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I’ve been asked a few times to write up how I build my smaller enclosures. I figured sure, why not?

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To start with, the tools and materials needed:
 

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Pre-step A!!!!
SAFETY FIRST.  Any time you are working with plastic/glass/acrylic and cutting, shaving or using high speed rotary tools, ALWAY ALWAYS ALWAYS use safety goggles. Your eyes are more important than a little plastic box!
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A. AMAC plastic boxes. These are available directly from the manufacturer, or several vendors. I get mine from “The Container Store“. I know that in some places these are hard to find overseas, but there are (should be) equivalents locally. They are cheap, easy to futz with and modify, sturdy and best of all, reusable.

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Tarantula Controversies #2 – Handling Tarantulas

Excellent breakdown of the arguments both pro and con regarding one of the big controversies in the tarantula keeping hobby. Also some of the pics are mine. 😀

Tom's Big Spiders

hand

Recently, I sat down to write an article about some of the divisive, hot-button topics that dog the tarantula hobby and often ensnare uninitiated keepers in heated debates. These are subjects that new hobbyists are often interested in learning about, but an internet search or an innocent forum query produces two equally heated and opposing answers. My hope with this feature is to present both sides of these gray-area arguments so that keepers can develop their own informed opinions and make equally informed decisions. For the second installment, I’ve decided to tackle the “explosive” topic of tarantula handling. 

Background

I’ve mentioned many times in various posts and videos that when I bought my first tarantula 20 years ago, it was partially to get over my fear of spiders. I had arachnophobia since I could remember, and I was hoping that by keeping, observing, and eventually handling my new G. porteri, I could overcome…

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