Tarantula bits #3

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Aphonopelma anax “Tango” hard at work on the new house.

So in the last few days I’ve had a death in the family. One of my Avicularia tarantulas succumbed. The first one of these I had also died from the same issue. (What that issue is…I don’t really know.) The local reptile shop replaced the failed T with this one, and it lasted longer, but eventually expired the same way. Best guess is that both were infested with some sort of parasite or infection as they were from the same source, and were probably wild caught. It is sad, but when dealing with exotic animals such as these the Keeper needs to understand going in that there will be failures. Sometimes for no apparent reason.

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Tunnel rats and the art of patience

Grammostola pulchripes 10-20-15

Grammostola pulchripes 10-20-15

Further proof that the art of T-Keeping is patience. Behold the Grammostola pulchripes (Chaco Golden Knee). Since July, I have seen this git a grand total of three times. 1. Unpacking. 2. Came up…actually just opened the den hole…for food. 3. Now. This is the first time OUT in the open. Growth is excellent, as this was less than a 1/4″ when it arrived.
100_2912Shown here munching…no hesitation. Of course if I’d spent the last three months (for the most part) buried with no food…I’d be scarfing like a madman as well. heh.

Once done with said food, I’m rehousing it to a deeper enclosure with better “diggability” as this species is a tunnel rat until a bit larger.

So a few more T-pics from casa du casey:

Exotic Pet Updates

The Evolution of a reef tank

The Evolution of a reef tank

Tiphane - G. porteri. Mature female. Six inches. "Havin' a snack".

Tiphane – G. porteri. Mature female. Six inches.
“Havin’ a snack”.

There is nothing like a day where the two applications I have for managing my reef tank and my tarantula feeding schedule sync up. That was almost work. 😀

Lack of blogging…lack of writing…well, just chalk that up to “I’m DOING” instead of talking about it. Things are finally settling down though. The nano-reef has settled in, and all the chemical tests have been optimal for weeks now even after adding various corals and cleaner crew members. Sub 40 gallon tanks are called “nano” when a reef tank is involved. (Fish setups as well, but more it is used more in the ‘reef’ side of things.)

Cleaner crews = hermit crabs, snails and cleaning shrimp. They are a necessary part of the reef tank’s life support. They scavenge junk/detritus/dead stuff, and scarf up algae and such. Some of the snails act like the sandworms of Dune and surf around UNDER the sand, eating stuff and with this motion giving vital oxygen to the bacteria that lives  there.

15 tarantulas. There are times I wonder how folks do it with 3-4 times as many, but usually I only wonder this when the feeding schedule coincides for almost all of em’ on the same day. heh. I’m getting very good at wrangling prey, so it is getting a lot easier, and I have also discovered that I was tensing up every single time I opened an enclosure. Not from fear of the tarantulas, but rather a fear I’d have a runaway. This is part of the ‘noob’ process to veteran tarantula keeper. The T’s LIKE where they are. They would bolt out of fear, but they actually have set their homes up to their liking, and if the Keeper (that’d be moi) gets the environment right, then the whole ESCAPE!!! thing isn’t really an issue.

I’ve got some pictures of the latest goings on in the hobby side of things, and rather than blather on, I’ll post em in a gallery, and stick relevant comments in there.

Work is going well, writing…slow…but that is changing now that I’ve finally gotten all of this zoology stuff in place and running smoothly.

I’ve been asked a few times if that bothers me that I’m not pounding the keyboard every single day lately, and I thought about it…and no, I’m not sussed about it all. I am living my life and doing things that appeal to me. Writing is ONE of those things…not the ONLY thing. (I have never been one of those writers who loses the “mojo” of a story by going away from it for a bit. I always come back refreshed, mental batteries charged, and tend to go like blazes following a break.)

The last couple months have been “setup” for some things I’ve long desired to get involved in or get BACK involved in (aquaria), and now that I have these things in place, I can get back to ‘primary’ which is the writing.

I’m having a blast. 🙂

And with that, here comes ze gallery!

Tarantulas – The Application

The application that I use and has saved me multiple “oh-crap-did-I do-XYZ?” scratching o’ the head moments. Worth the download if you keep 1 or 100 tarantulas!

Tom's Big Spiders

Tarantulas-The-App-Title-fl

Simply the BEST application for tarantula record keeping!

For those of us who get seriously bit by the hobby and find ourselves keeping dozens of these fuzzy little arachnids, a conundrum soon presents itself.

How do we keep track of data?

Many hobbyists find it necessary to track feedings, molts, enclosure cleanings, temperatures and other observations about their pets. This information can prove very useful in recognizing patterns and behaviors and for noticing when something might be amiss. What is the average time between molts for a certain specimen? What was the feeding schedule during that period? Was there any difference in growth rate when the temps dropped for the winter? These are all some questions I’ve actually posed and answered using data.

When my collection first grew from one specimen to 10, I found it easy to record feeding and molts on the family calendar. However, my Norman Rockwell wall calendar was…

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Last Bits 25

The lair at night.

The lair at night.

1. So it has been awhile since I posted up a “last bits”. I’ve been busy. So nyah! Anyway, let’s get to the points.

2. Writing has slacked off.

There is something that I’ve noticed about myself over the last several years. Sometime between late June and mid July until early to mid September…every single year…I slack off pounding the keys, and delve into other things that interest me. The stories are still there, the passion is still there…BUT…other things also interest me. As I write for ME, scratching an itch as it were, and not a deadline or for others, I have come to terms with this. At first, every time this happened I would feel guilty and TRY to continue the pattern that is my norm, and this irritated me every time. This year, when the waning of the key pounding started again, I consciously decided to just give into it and go with the flow…after all it is MY LIFE, and the things I want to do also interest me.

This year, those things have been hobbies. One of them a life long passion since childhood…and the other…hmmm…also a lifelong passion since childhood.

A reef under construction

A reef under construction

A. Salt water aquariums

(Some of you thought I’d say tarantulas first, huh? -heh.)

The actual reasoning behind the tank you see in the picture above actually DID have a lot to with tarantulas (which are a passion that is a subset of arachnids in general). Originally the thought was to have just a basic tank with some scaly dudes in it to increase the humidity in the bedroom-office FOR the tarantulas. (As well as me as I’ve been dealing with a dry skin condition for some time now that humidity seems to knock back down quite well).

The more I thought about it and researched, however, I discovered that the advances in the technology, lighting and things associated with salt water and reef keeping have advanced to a point where maintenance is nearly as easy as that of my 8-legged furry friends. So with that in mind, I started putting together a basic system to build a “nano-reef”, which is mostly live corals and a few fish/shrimp to keep things in balance.

Without going into a lot of detail, the end result is that I have had a lot of fun, not just in the building of the system, but in the research and learning involved. 🙂

The picture NASA doesn't want you to know about...the spiders of Mars! :-)

The picture NASA doesn’t want you to know about…the spiders of Mars! 🙂  This is my pride and joy. Tiphane, posing in red light. Beautiful G. porteri.

B. Tarantulas. Yep. As some of you have seen, I have been heavily involved in this hobby as well. The reason I took so long to get into this? First, I thought that they were truly “exotic” and just assumed would be a royal pain in the ass expense wise and care wise. Turns out once I started to actually do the research, neither are true. Second, I have shied away from “hobbies” for years due to life long patterns brought about by travel and strange houred jobs.

Set up is more time consuming, but if done properly this is mostly mechanical, and in this hobby, a LOT of the enjoyment is actually designing and building the enclosures for my 8-legged friends, as a tarantula (most of em, anyway) are NOT crazy-time-party-animals. They are slow in their day to day lives and other than insane bursts of speed come feeding time, ‘EXCITEMENT’ isn’t on the menu. –and that is okay by me.

3. So back we go to the writing situation. I’m not concerned about it. I have over 80,000 words in the current project down, and already feeling the urge to ramp back up and “get er’ done”. I love the world I’ve created, and the story intrigues me just as much as it always did, so back to the writing chair I go.

4. Driving has been going very well. Crazy busy the last four days with the labor day weekend. Happy that it is over, but also very pleased that I was able to take care of my customers.

5. So that about wraps it up for this last bits post. I hope all of you out there in reader-land have had a great weekend and that life is treating you all well!

The Best (and Most Ridiculous!) Tarantula Myths

Excellent post dispelling a bunch of hooey. Fun read. 🙂

Tom's Big Spiders

tarantula-myths

There is something just so fascinating about a giant, hairy spider.

Whether you love them or hate them, tarantulas have the uncanny ability to capture our imaginations, pique our curiosity, and illicit powerful emotions. For those who love and keep them, these furry bugs conjure feelings of wonderment and awe. Unfortunately, to those who suffer from arachnophobia, they can be the stuff of nightmares, creatures seemingly too frightening to exist. One way or another, these animals get a reaction.

Of course, it doesn’t help that these animals have traditionally been utilized in horror movies and television as cheap scares. In the 50s alone, the advent of the drive-in theater ushered in several tarantula and spider-centric horror flicks like Tarantula (1954), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), and Earth vs. the Spider (1958). Over the years, they have been featured in dozens of other movies and TV shows, including a memorable turn by an A. seemani in Home Alone (1990).  Media…

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Tarantula Keeper’s Journal Entry 3 – Deep thoughts

Tiphane G. proteri

“Tiphane”
G. proteri

Noob-keeper post:

So after a ton of reading and researching, the general conclusion I’m seeing about arachnid intelligence is…all over the place.

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Iskierka G. rosea

Recently my G. rosea sling “Iskierka” managed to squeak out of an air-hole that was just a tiny bit big and go on “walk-about” in my office bedroom. I found her on the floor merrily tromping along toward a book case a good 10 feet from her starting point. (And In no hurry, she was just walking along.)

As an experiment, I placed her cage in a larger wide container, and placed a glass lid on her cage. (not exactly lightweight, but unanchored.)

She escaped the cage.

How? She isn’t more than 1/2″ in complete diameter and the lid is 1/8″ thick glass. She SLID the lid back enough to squeeze out. She then wandered slowly and in no hurry about the large container, checking here and there for who knows what. I re-caged her easily with a light tap on her rear leg and she waltzed into a small pill bottle. I put her back in her original home and she went back to her normal spot as if nothing had happened.

Now WHY should she want to? Or care? We keep these wee ones in tiny little cages no bigger than a large vial or deli cup at this point as it is supposed to be “big enough”. If these creatures ARE comfortable in this kind of an environment, WHY BOTHER with the Houdini act? -rhetorical.

Without anthropomorphizing, this tells me that even as a tiny sling, these animals can problem solve.

Tiphane on the left and "Ms. Fumblebutt" - temp name-- on the right.

Tiphane on the left and “Ms. Fumblebutt” – temp name– on the right.

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Tiphane checking things out.

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Ms. Fumblebutt sucking down some water. She can’t make up her mind as to whether this is a drinking hole…or her toilet. 😀

I have two larger T’s who are within 1/4″ in growth of each other, the same species…and couldn’t be more different personalities. In fact I keep falling back on my “cat” analogy. If you put eight legs on cats, I don’t see a whole hell of a lot of difference in behavior. (Granted cats are larger, and do some different things, but way too much is the same for me to just blow it off as imagination.)

These animals have moods.

They can determine that their owner isn’t a threat and allow itself to be picked up and handled as opposed to lunging/running or what one would assume to be an automatic flight/fight response.

OBT on the attack!

OBT on the attack!

Or they can be like OBT’s (Orange Bitey Things or their name:Pterinochilus murinus) and make the attack the primary modus operandi no matter what. (UNTIL the exception…there are always exceptions with T’s.)

Not saying “brain surgeons” here, but there is a whole hell of lot more going on in those prosomas (the front body part that contains the brain), and it doesn’t take a biologist/entomologist  to figure THAT out.

They can barely “see” as vertebrates do…until you realize/discover that they have an overall sensory apparatus that would make Daredevil feel like a 2nd rate charlatan. (Their entire body is a sense organ in essence.)

I’m betting that these creatures can “SEE” better than we can, but in an alien way that combines all of this stuff into a coherent picture that we human types can’t really visualize…much the same way that multiple dimensions beyond the 4th one buggers up our poor ape brains.

And then I read over and over how little they have actually been studied, and the first thought that pops up in MY prosoma is…WHY THE HELL NOT?  -heh.

Also Tarantula wikipedia entries need fixing…badly. (egads.)  🙂