Tarantula bits #7

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Avicularia sp. guyana

So in this episode of “bits”, I present the way I house (and rehouse) the gentle fluffball that is the Avicularia genus. These spiders are among the most docile creatures in the tarantula kingdom, as well as stunningly beautiful.

That said, spiders of this genus CAN be skittish and they WILL jump from time to time. So new keepers be aware, as this can be an issue with handling.  For instance, in the main photo above, right after I took the picture, the T jumped from there on my arm right onto the camera….then to the desk, and then back onto my other arm, coming to a stop on the back of my hand. I LOVE it when they do this, but the first time this happens can be…unnerving. Heh.

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Tarantula bits #4

Sometimes there is no rhyme nor reason to a tarantula sling dying. I lost my Tapinauchenius violaceus the other day. It was eating well, kept in a good enclosure and seemed to be thriving. However…it molted. The next day it high dived off of the cork bark onto the floor of its home and this is where I found it:

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I can see nothing wrong with it, other than it is in a death curl. At first I thought it might be getting ready to molt, but it JUST DID that the day before.

In this hobby, raising tarantulas from slings is more economical from the cost standpoint, but you run a much higher risk of mortality. Beginning keepers sometimes lose slings from improper care. Even us “older-hands” will sometimes have losses that can be explained (such as my last Avicularia). The annoying thing is that there are times the little derps will kick the bucket without a good visible reason.

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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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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

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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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Tarantula roundup 9-9-2015

“This is my water dish. There are many like it…but this one is mine.” -Victory Jr.

So this post will show all of my kids at this particular time. I’m also using this to test the gallery feature of wordpress, and what better way than to show off the menagerie?

At this point we have fifteen in the gang. I am most definitely going to add a few more to the zoo, but unlike the bigger collectors in the hobby, I’m very satisfied with the species variation I have here. There are a couple more arboreals I am interested in for color as well as behavior, and 2-3 more terrestrials for similar reasons. I will most likely top this out at 20 in the collection for awhile. One of the nice features about keeping these animals as pets is that space issues are truly not that big a deal, and as most tarantulas take quite awhile (relatively) to get to full size/mature, there is some nice “lag” between rehousing situations.

Clicking on any picture will bring up the gallery feature:

Tarantula Keeper’s Journal Entry 4 – News and updates

Family growth, another petco rescue, and happenings!

So I’ve been “doing” and not “writing” lately.

I’ve added several additional members to the T-family. Here’s the whole gang:

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Ahh, Petco. I will be avoiding this store, as everytime I go in, I end up rescuing yet another T.
Their corporate policy is to wet the substrate daily and throw in a bunch of crickets. This is like coming into your home, spraying the apartment with a firehose and then setting loose ten to twenty cats and a bunch of rats. The spiders tend to freak out, quit feeding, and end up on tip-toes because the ground is a mess.

My kids are in the lap of luxury. 🙂

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Speed needs to be respected.
Had my first chase recently. The chromatus housing went south when the little bugger decided to teleport away.
(They’re that fast at times.)
Spent half an hour trying to cup-capture and prod her out of tight corners to accomplish this.
Finally got that situation settled. No more “free-standing” chores with these dudes. A ten gallon empty tank will minimize the chances of this happening again. 🙂

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Food decisions, or why I hate freakin’ crickets.

After dealing with the hoppy little monsters (feeder crickets) I did some research and discovered that roaches are an excellent alternative. They don’t hop…they don’t smell like rotten food, and they are easy to “keep/raise”.

Some tarantulas are reported to not like em’, but ALL of mine have chowed down heartily. (Good, because I hate freakin’ crickets. 😀 )

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Siesta Senior?

The way is shut.

The way is shut.

As of this entry, I have three T’s that have burrowed and shut their doors. They do this when small so that they can molt. They are extremely vulnerable during this process, and so many of them do the deed in private. Sometimes taking months away from the surface world, many new “keepers” freak out and dig em’ up. This is not a good thing. Patience wins out here. (My Chaco has been “afk” for over two weeks, and I don’t expect to see her for some time. I just mist once in a bit to keep the humidity levels okay, and once a day take a peek.

The Ornata has molted. She’s gorgeous. She’s fast…at everything. She shed the old clothes within hours.
Unlike some T’s that take a loooong time to grow up, the P. ornata grows quickly. After seeing this, I’m going to have to agree with that.


There are two additional T’s that I’m going to be getting soon. The nice thing about this hobby is that purchasing them young, the costs are minimal, housing is cheap and easy to setup, and the food…well, I grow that myself. The regimen settles down quickly and like fish, these dudes are fun to watch.

The Psalmopoeus cambridgei – Trinidad Chevron
is an arboreal (tree climber). I want a good mix, and with several terrestrial species, this is a nice “change”.

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Trinidad chevron

Psalmopoeus irminia -Venezuelan Suntiger
Another arboreal, this one is a bit more dangerous (bite and venom are medically significant), but are stunning to look at.

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Venezuelan Suntiger

As for the whole “bite” thing. Some do and some don’t. I have the petco rescues and the Chaco and Brazillian pink hair for handling urges. The more dangerous species are exquisite to view, and that is where I’ll leave them.
Just like any other exotic pet, you have to learn about them, their habits, and their potential danger, to themselves and to you.

I’m really enjoying this. 🙂

Next post will be the unboxing of a couple tarantulas, showing how things should be done. I’ve learned a bit since the chromatus chase. 🙂

Help … My Tarantula Buried Itself!

I was going to blog about this interesting behavior, but cancerides beat me to it. 🙂

Tom's Big Spiders

Help-topic

It’s probably one of the most common, yet stressful, scenarios for a new tarantula keeper. After months of research and homework, you purchase your first tarantula sling. Your anxiety level is high as you are new to the hobby, and despite all the preparation, you are still worried that you will make a husbandry mistake. You set up what you think is the perfect enclosure, rehouse your new little guy without incident, and take a moment to admire your new pet. Satisfied that you’ve done everything right, you head off to bed.

However, when you awake the next morning and check on your T, you find the enclosure empty … or at least it first appears to be empty. Closer examination reveals that your little guy has been busy, and he has now burrowed deep beneath the substrate. Not finding any hole or passageway, no way for your spider to resurface again, you…

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