Been remiss on blogging lately. Lot’s of stuff going on over at Casa du Casey.
This is one post where I admit that I’m fallible…human…and prone to screwing up just like anyone else. Fortunately this has a happy ending.
So a couple weeks ago I’m doing my normal enclosure maintenance stuff when I noticed that my little Avicularia metallica juvenile had molted. This is one I’ve been interested in sexing, and so I pulled the enclosure off the shelf and prepared to snag the molt which was laying on the very top of the webbing. (A LOT of webbing.)
I look around and down into the enclosure, a tall AMAC plastic box, and I don’t see the tarantula anywhere in sight, so I think, “cool beans, time for my forceps and the usb microscope!”
Yeah, oops. As I lift the exuvia (molt/shed/old skin) it seems to be resisting a bit more than just being hooked in the webbing. Pulling it up further I see these greyish translucent pieces attached to the carapace. By the time I recognize what is going on, I have a partially molted tarantula dangling from the old exoskeleton.
Yep, there were curse words coming out of my mouth. Some at the little derp who had camouflaged itself at the top of the enclosure UNDER the molt, and some at me for missing what was going on.
Rather than trying to stuff the works back into the enclosure (lotsa webbing making that a potential mess), I continue to gently move the whole thing into the catch basin I use when dealing with open containers.
Then I hoped for the best, all the while grinding my teeth that I probably just killed one of my kids. In this hobby, in every book, on every care site, EVERY-FREAKIN’-WHERE! disturbing a tarantula during molt is “A BAD THING, mmmmmkay?”
I gently laid the T down in the basin and saw that it was still moving and exiting the exuvia, so I grabbed my camera and started to document the process, figuring I might have a blog post to write about what NOT to do as well as crossing my fingers that things would turn out.
AND….drumroll!!!….things turned out just fine. The little Avicularia metallica completed the molt process, flipped over and started to stretch and do the ‘dry-out’ routine. A couple of hours later, it was already up and about on the side wall of the basin doing stretching and spider-aerobics.
After observing its new size, I built it a new home (bigger AMAC setup) and a couple days later (after making sure that the fangs had darkened up), I rehoused the tough little bugger.
I don’t recommend futzing about with a tarantula mid-molt, but if something like this happens to you, don’t give up all hope, because these animals are pretty durable.
Oh, and after all of that, the exuvia didn’t tell me anything about its sex. The area around the furrow was ripped. I’m thinking the little derp did that as revenge for me disturbing it. heh.
The other news in the tarantula hobby for me is that I’m about to try to become an actual breeder again. After my Psalmopoeus cambridgei molted after sex (she apparently didn’t like her fella…who was subsequently munched by another girl after our try), I’m back at it again.
When a tarantula female molts post breeding attempt, they shed all the stuff involved, sex organs, sperm, all of it. They essentially become virgins again.
My male Psalmopoeus irminia hooked out recently and I know a breeder in the area who has girls. So, currently my male P. irminia is out on loan (stud service, heh).
I’m going to be doing a breeding project myself this week with a couple of Avicularia avicularia. Dimi (my girl) is a mature adult that molted ten days ago. One of my male avics just hooked out two weeks ago. ‘Hooking out’ is a term in the hobby indicating “ultimate molt”, wherein the male achieves sexual maturity. In most species this means it has developed tibial hooks on the front pair of legs, and the pedipalps [the two short “legs” closest to the front by the chelicerae (fangs) ] have developed the mature emboli for impregnating a girl. The emboli change from normal foot pads to an interesting boxing glove shape with protruding bits that deliver sperm to the girl’s furrow.
So hopefully there will be spider sex going on at Casa du Casey here soon. (And hopefully the boy survives the encounter. Avics girls sometimes get hungry after sex.)