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Important Supplies for Pet Tarantulas – a Zoo Keeper’s Notes

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Among the world’s 900+ tarantula species (Family Theraphosidae) we find spiders of every conceivable size, description and lifestyle, some of which make interesting, long-lived pets.  I had the chance to work with many during my zoo career, and most of the supplies that I relied upon are now readily available to hobbyists.  Whether you are just starting out or looking to add additional species to your collection, the following information will assist in your decision.  Please be sure to post any questions or observations about pet tarantulas below. 

Housing

Setting up the Terrarium

Tarantulas are best kept in screen-covered aquariums, reptile cages or plastic terrariums.  “Extra high” styles are best for Pink-Toed Tarantulas and other arboreal species.  Be sure to use cage clips on the cover, as tarantulas can climb glass and are incredibly strong.  A 10-15 gallon aquarium is adequate for all but the largest individuals.

Goliath Bird eating Spider

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Snakecollector

All tarantulas require a dark hiding spot.  Burrowing species such as the Goliath Bird-Eating Spider will dig their own caves if provided deep substrate. Sri Lankan Ornamental Tarantulas and other arboreal species will utilize the underside of an upright piece of cork bark.  Most also accept inverted flower pots and plastic reptile caves. Read More »

2012’s New Species – Spiders, Roaches, Millipedes, Wasps – Which is your Favorite?

Trogloraptor marchingtoniHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Invertebrate enthusiasts have learned to expect the discovery of fantastic new species on a regular basis.  But even old timers such as I were shocked by some that came to light this past year. Large, claw-bearing Cave Robber Spiders, giant bio-luminescent roaches, brilliant arboreal tarantulas, neon-colored freshwater crabs, dive-bombing wasps…the list boggles the mind.  Today I’ll highlight a few that have entranced me; please post your own favorites (whether covered here or not) below.

Cave Robber Spider, Trogloraptor marchingtoni

The Cave Robber Spider, arguably 2012’s most “otherworldly” discovery, turned up in a place not known for hiding unseen species – southwestern Oregon.  In fact, not a single new spider has been described in the USA in the past 130 years.  Read More »

Jumping Spiders – Captive Care, New Species and a Surprise (They Watch Videos!)

Phidippus audaxHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  As a bug-hunting child, I was once startled to come upon a housefly that appeared to be walking on its hind legs.  Closer inspection revealed that the unfortunate insect was being carried in a head-up position by a Jumping Spider.  I was aware that a variety of these brilliantly-colored little beasts inhabited my Bronx neighborhood, and became interested in how they managed to capture such elusive prey without a web. I began reading and collecting, and was soon fascinated by their keen eyesight and cat-like stalking techniques.  They would follow my finger, leap on a feathers pulled by a string, and even display to a mirrors. 

I’ve recently learned that biologists are showing videos to Jumping Spiders in an attempt to learn more about their remarkable eyes (which allow for forward, backward, an sideways vision simultaneously), and that a new ant-mimicking Jumping Spider with enormous fangs has turned up in Borneo.  I’ll highlight this new information below, and review their natural history and captive care. 

A 360 Degree Field of Vision

Animals that are on the menus of other creatures generally have eyes set well back and to the sides of their heads.  This arrangement gives mice, deer and others a wide field of vision, with the only bind spots being well to their rear.  Predators, such as foxes and hawks, usually have forward-facing eyes, to allow for accurate focusing on prey. Read More »

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 »

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 »

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