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Beyond Webs – Swimming, Spitting and Other Spider Hunting Methods – Part 2

Deinopis subrufaHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Please see Part 1 of this article for a look at the unique hunting techniques employed by Fishing, Trap Door and other spiders.

Orb Webs

I’ve been avoiding “traditional spiders”, but wanted to include an observation I made over 20 years ago in Costa Rica.  I was tossing katydids into the huge orb webs that were abundant near my research station.  The web-owners (Nephila spp.) wrapped the insects in silk and then administered a bite.  Then I offered lubber grasshoppers – the same size and shape as the katydids, but equipped with immensely powerful rear legs.  On several trials, the spiders first pulled off the grasshoppers’ rear legs, then wrapped and bit the insects.  I imagine they were attempting to limit damage to the web. Read More »

Preparing Your Amphibian and Reptile Collection for Autumn and Winter

Box TurtleHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Autumn’s arrival in the Northern Hemisphere brings both opportunities for improving your pets’ health and behavioral changes in many animals.

Seasonal Behavioral Changes

Many species, even those from regions considered “tropical”, slow down during the cooler seasons; in captivity they often respond to autumn’s arrival in a similar manner.  Animals that are native to your area will be most strongly affected, especially if exposed to the local light cycle, but even exotic species may gear their behavior to local conditions.  Read More »

Beyond Webs – Swimming, Spitting and Other Spider Hunting Methods – Part 1

Trapdoor SpiderHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Silk webs are amazing innovations, and the “sit and wait” tarantula stategy is remarkably effective…but among the world’s spiders we also find a mind-boggling array of other hunting techniques.  Some of these odd hunters, such as Fishing, Jumping and Trapdoor Spiders, occasionally appear in the trade…all are worth a closer look.

Tarantulas (Mygalomorphs) and Their Relatives

Tarantulas are the best known of the Mygalomorphs (spiders distinguished by, among other things, fangs that strike downward as opposed to side-to-side).  Some relatives stray from the “sit and wait” strategy: Read More »

Kihansi Spray Toads, Extinct in the Wild, Return to Africa

Kihansi Spray Toad
Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  In the year 2000 I had the good fortune to work with the world’s sole surviving group of Kihansi Spray Toads (Nectophrynoides asperginis).  Last seen in the wild in 2004, and declared extinct in nature soon after, the 499 individuals sent to the Bronx and Toledo Zoos represented the species’ last chance.  Recently (August, 2010), I received the pleasant news that a group was sent back to Tanzania for possible reintroduction. Read More »

Earthworm Flakes – a New Food for Tadpoles, Newts and other Aquatic Pets

Earthworm flakeHello, Frank Indiviglio here. I have long been witness to the nutritional value of earthworms, and have even experimentally reared several amphibian and fish species on “earthworm only” diets (please see article below).  In my experience, whole, well-fed earthworms come very close to being a perfect food item for a wide variety of carnivorous herps, fishes and invertebrates.  What’s more, many animals cannot resist them – even those that rarely if ever encounter earthworms in the wild. Indeed, earthworms are often the first choice of zookeepers and experienced hobbyists seeking to induce feeding in “picky”, wild-caught or newborn amphibians, fishes and certain reptiles. Read More »

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