Keeping Moisture Dependent Tarantula Species

Keeping Moisture Dependent Tarantula Species (And How to Maintain Moist Substrate)

Author’s Note: Although tarantula husbandry “care sheets” often make a point of stating “ideal humidity” requirements, these numbers are arbitrary and should be ignored. There is no such thing as an ideal humidity level, and serious keepers abhor the “h” word. I’ve been keeping tarantulas for years, and I never monitor humidity inside the cages. Trying to maintain ridiculously high (and bogus) humidity levels in tarantula cages is a great way to end up with dank, stuffy enclosures and dead tarantulas. In the hobby, we don’t say that tarantulas need high humidity; instead, we say that they are “moisture dependent.” And, the key to keeping moisture dependent species healthy is moist substrate. For more on this topic, please read my article “Humidity, Temperatures, and Tarantulas.” 

Keeping moisture dependent species for the first time can be particularly stressful, as there really isn’t much out there explaining how exactly moist substrate works. Many care sheets will mention “misting” or “spraying” as a means to keep the moisture levels in enclosures up. Some will even go so far as to prescribe a certain schedule for misting the enclosure, like every other day or twice a week. Unfortunately, misting is often not the best and most practical way to get your spiders the moisture they will need.

Although misting can provide a burst of moisture in an otherwise dry enclosure, it does little to maintain higher moisture levels for the long term. Spraying or misting only soaks down the surface of the substrate and the decorations in most instances. This is a great way to give your spiders an alternative to the water dish for getting a drink, and many species, like Avicularia, will siphon moisture right off the glass and plants. However, for species that require constant dampness, misting and spraying falls short. The problem is, if an enclosure is properly ventilated, the surface moisture will quickly evaporate, leaving the substrate to dry out within hours. 

This can be even more of an issue during the cold winter months when your home’s heat is drying out the air and leeching moisture from the enclosures. A keeper using misting or spraying to keep the substrate damp will be spraying much more often. Also, keep in mind that spraying and misting can be stressful for the tarantulas, as the sudden burst of air and water vapor can startle your spider.

Forget Misting; Make it Rain!

For moisture dependent species, in most instances, spraying and misting alone is not going to be enough. With tarantulas that require dampness, you want to ensure that the lower layers of substrate, not the surface layer, remain moist. In fact, the surface can dry out a bit which, along with good ventilation, helps prevent mold from forming. 

An old juice bottle modified with some holes to be a watering bottle.

When adding moisture, I like to simulate a ground-soaking rain shower. Instead of spraying, I have a bottle with several small holes in the cap that I use like a garden watering can. I will aim the water at the edges of the substrate, where the dirt meets the side of the enclosure so that the water can seep down between the two and reach the bottom layers. If you’re having trouble getting the water to seep down through, you can always use a pencil to push some channels down between the substrate and side of the enclosure to allow the water to travel down through. Although some of the surface will obviously be damp when I’m done, the lower levels of substrate will also be rehydrated. This means even after the top levels dry up, the lower layers will retain that vital moisture.

How do I tell if my substrate needs more moisture?

This one is actually quite easy. Moist substrate will always have a darker hue to it than dry substrate. Once the surface of moist substrate starts to dry out a bit, it will be paler in comparison to the lower levels of moist substrate. When that darker band shrinks below the halfway point of the total level of substrate, it’s time to remoisten. 

Many folks new to keeping moisture dependent species will panic when they see the surface of the substrate drying out, prompting them to add more moisture too soon. This can lead to overly dank, stuffy conditions. Again, we do not need the surface to remain moist, and a drier top layer is no cause for alarm as long as the lower layers remain damp. One must always keep in mind that a tarantula looking for moisture can burrow down to find the level it needs. In the wild, tarantulas will use their burrows to escape extreme temperatures and conditions, including drought.   Continue reading

Cerotogyrus darlingi “The Rear-horned Baboon” Care and Husbandry

Cerotogyrus darlingi “The Rear-horned Baboon”

FOR THE VIDEO VERSION, CLICK THE LINK ABOVE!

The Ceratogyrus darlingi or “Rear Horned Baboon” is an amazing little spider that gets its common name from a black horn that grows from its carapace. Unlike the fovial horns of other Ceratogyrus species, the C. darlingi’s protuberance slants towards the back of the spider. Although the purpose of this horn is still up for speculation, this unique feature makes for an incredibly cool ornamentation. 

The Ceratogyrus darlingi is unique Old World species that hails from savannah biomes in the countries of Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in southern Africa. Here, this spider experiences a climate that sees both a hot and dry season as well as a rainy season, and temperatures that range from 68° F to 88° F (20° C to 31° C). As a result, the C. darlingi does well at normal room temperatures, which for most of us is upper 60s to mid-80 Fahrenheit (or around 20 – 29 Celsius). My first two specimens were kept between 68 and 76° F during the winter and between 72 and 80° F during the summer with my current two being kept in the 70s. Even when temperatures were on the cooler side, mine continued to eat and grow well.

Some keepers read about the warm and dry seasons with periodic droughts and immediately designate this species as an arid one. Unfortunately, what many fail to take into account are the rainy seasons, in which this spider would be exposed to much more humid and moist conditions. Furthermore, as a burrower, the C. darlingi would construct burrows down into the earth, where it would find more moisture and temperate conditions. 

Slings

Although it’s true that they are adaptable, and adult specimens seems to do well on dry substrate with a water dish, I’ve found that slings and juveniles appreciate moist substrate. Start your spider with moist substrate, and allow the top layers to dry out a bit. This will allow your sling to dig to the moisture level that it needs. When you notice that the darker band that indicates moist substrate starts to shrink, it’s time to add more water. For smaller sling enclosures, I like to use a pipette to direct the water down into the dirt. This makes it easier to avoid flooding the spider’s burrow. In these instances, a syringe will also work.

For tinier slings, a deep dram bottle or 5.5-oz (163 ml) deli cup will work great for an enclosure. Larger, more established slings will do well in a 16 to 32-oz (.47 to .94 10.64 L) deli cup or something around that size. Feel free to experiment with what works for you, but just be sure to keep ventilation holes small enough that they do not permit escape. If the enclosure size permits, I like to add cork bark and a water dish. All of my slings did some burrowing, with two of them moving a lot of substrate around like mini bulldozers as they landscaped their living space to their liking. As a general rule of thumb, it’s always prudent to make sure that slings have access to moist substrate. Continue reading

Harpactira pulchripes “The Golden Blue-legged Baboon” Care and Husbandry

Harpactira pulchripes “Golden Blue-legged Baboon”

FOR THE VIDEO VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE CLICK THE LINK ABOVE!

Over the years, there have been dozens of newly introduced tarantulas species that have caught the eyes of hobbyists with their undeniable beauty and the illusion of being a rarity in the hobby. In the past, the Poecilotheria metallica and Monocentropus balfouri were two spiders that delighted keepers with their gorgeous blues while draining wallets with their steep costs for even the smallest slings. Even today, with both species being readily available in the hobby, they still command high prices.

When photos of the Harpactira pulchripes first circulated on the forums in 2012/2013, many keepers couldn’t wait to get one of these stunners in their collections. However, even tiny slings commanded exorbitant prices, with the first round of captive bred slings imported into the US selling for $500 and higher. When I acquired my first two specimens in the summer of 2015, it was the most I had ever paid for tarantulas. Today, many keepers consider the Harpactira pulchripes, a striking gold bodied and metallic blue legged beauty, to be one of the hobby’s crown jewels, and this species still pops up on many wish lists. Thankfully, as this species is easily bred, it has become readily available with slings now commanding between $50-$100 USD. 

Harpactira pulchripes ​are Old World tarantulas found around the town of Makhanda (previously Grahamstown) on ​the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. This region experiences a temperate climate, with relatively warm weather all year round with high temps that reach 80 F (27 C) in the warmest month with lows of around 59F (15C). In the cooler months, temps rise only to around 68F (20C) in the daytime and drop to 42 F (5.6 C) during the chillier evenings. Rainfall ranges from about 3” (75 mm) in the wettest month and 1.3” (33mm) in the driest month. As a result, species care sheets that indicate this tarantula needs to be kept at higher so-called “ideal” temps should be ignored. Continue reading

Caribena versicolor “The Martinique pinktoe” Husbandry Notes

The Jewel of the Antilles!

For a video version of this article, click the link above!

(Note: The following article is an update on my original C. versicolor husbandry article from October 19, 2014. )

Despite being very common and established in the hobby, there is perhaps no tarantula available right now, save maybe the T. blondi, that causes owners more stress over the husbandry than the C. versicolor. When I first got into the hobby, I was immediately amazed by this gorgeous arboreal, which starts as a stunningly-blue sling and morphs into a fuzzy, multi-colored adult. The C. versicolor has been one of my favorite spiders to grow up, as it is beautiful and colorful in every stage of its life. 

The Caribena versicolor hails from the island of Martinique, one of the Caribbean islands. With a tropical climate all year round, Martinique is generally hot and humid 12 months of the year, with plenty of rain and sunshine during both its dry and wet seasons. This spider lives the lush forests and banana plantations, creating its heavily webbed home in the crooks and hollows of trees. For some amazing video of this spider in the wild, I encourage you to check out the channel World of Spiders. 

Anyone researching this amazing species will likely find information that is frustratingly confusing and contradictory. On one side are the keepers who still say this species is difficult to keep due to strict humidity requirements. However, keepers who have had success with this spider argue that humidity and moisture are not as important as good cross ventilation, and that a stuffy, humid cage will prove to be a death sentence for this animal. Unfortunately, while focusing on the high heat and humidity of their natural habitat, some folks tended to ignore that the island usually enjoys air-circulating winds for most of the year.  

These dank enclosures resulted constant mention of SADS, or “Sudden Avic Death Syndrome”, the name of the phenomena where a seemingly healthy Avicularia (the versicolor’s old genus) suddenly dies for no apparent reason. The message boards and chat groups were rife with stories of these little blue spiders curling and dying suddenly and without an obvious cause. Many now believe that these deaths can be attributed to the misguided husbandry of keepers struggling to maintain bogus high humidity requirements. Continue reading

State Tarantula Vendor List – Your Help Is Needed

The hobby is changing…

With the recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruling on the five Sri Lankan Poecilotheria species coupled with the latest controversy surrounding species from another country, the landscape of tarantula commerce may be changing drastically. For years, hobbyists have enjoyed the ability to order their spiders from online dealers anywhere in the country without worry of breaking any laws. However, with some species now on lists that render interstate sales of these animals illegal, those looking to buy these restricted spiders may only be able to do so from vendors and sellers in their own respective states.

Keeping this in mind, it’s important that tarantula hobbyists are aware of who the breeders and dealers are in their own states. In the past several weeks, I’ve received numerous emails and comments from folks hoping I could tell them where they can legally buy some Sri Lankan Poecilotheria species. Unfortunately, I honestly don’t know who the reputable dealers are state to state. That said, I think that it is important that such a list is assembled and made available for anyone looking.

This is where you all come in…I need your help.

Although I’ve started to compile a list from dealers that I’m familiar with, it is currently woefully incomplete. Therefore, I’m reaching out to readers and hobbyists to find out who the reputable dealers and vendors are in their home states. My goal is to take this information and post it on the Tom’s Big Spiders website so that it’s easy to find for those who need it. Hobbyists looking to legally acquire these five Poecilotheria species would then know where to go.

A couple notes about what I would like to see (and not see).

  • If you submit a pet store, it should be one specializing in exotics that demonstrates a basic understanding of tarantula care. This would pretty much rule out most box pet stores.
  • I’m honestly not interested in pet stores that just carry a few tarantulas but don’t know anything about them. Many of these places sell misidentified spiders and can’t really be counted on to keep the hobby supplied with purebred stock.
  • For breeders, it would be nice to see folks with solid track records and good experience breeding tarantulas. This would rule out folks who take on a project here and there. For example, I’ve bred a few species, but I definitely wouldn’t count myself as a breeder.
  • I will personally be researching reviews for dealers on the list, but it will take some time. It would be much appreciated if folks that haven’t had personal experience with the individual/establishment they are submitting could take a moment to research reviews. Even a cursory Google search can usually give you an idea about the respectability of the establishment.

The more participation I get with this, the faster I can put it all together. Although I normally never ask folks to share my posts, in this case I would ask that if you know a venue that could garner some response, please feel free to post or share this. My hope is to get a bare bones list done in a couple weeks, and then continue to add to it as we identify holes.

Those looking to contribute, please leave a comment . If you could, please include the following information:

  • State
  • Name of vendor/breeder
  • Website (if applicable)
  • A quick note if you’ve personally used them before

If you have more than one, by all means, please include all that you are aware of.  I’ll be monitoring the comments as I compile the list. I’m hoping that by keeping most of the responses in the public comments, it will enable folks to chime in if they have information on one of the dealers (good or bad).

Once it’s established, I will continue to monitor reviews and feedback to try to ensure that anyone included on it is reputable.

I hoping that with all of your help, we can take away some of the stress that may come from trying to buy these prohibited species. Again, a HUGE thank you to all who participate in this!

 

Map image from: http://www.freeusandworldmaps.com/html/USAandCanada/USAandCanada.html

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ruling on Sri Lankan Poecilotheria Species.

A heads up to “Pokie” lovers…this one is going to sting a bit…

Note: The following information impacts ONLY hobbyists in the United States.

In July of this year, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service released its final report and ruling on Poecilotheria species. Per this ruling, five species of Poecilotheria from Sri Lanka were deemed endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and added to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The five species impacted by this decision are:

  1. Poecilotheria fasciata
  2. Poecilotheria ornata
  3. Poecilotheria smithi
  4. Poecilotheria subfusca
  5. Poecilotheria vittata

This rule becomes effective on August 30, 2018. As a result of this new law, there are some major changes in how these five species can be imported and sold in the United States. Here is how it breaks down and how keepers may be impacted.

Does this mean that it is now illegal to keep these species?

No, it is NOT illegal to keep these species. Those who currently have any of these five species in their collections may continue to keep them without fear of seizure or penalty.

Can I still buy these species after the deadline?

This is where things get a little more tricky. YES, you can still purchase species on this list as long as you are buying from a person, breeder, or dealer in your own state. For example, if I live in North Dakota, then I may legally buy from another person, dealer, or breeder in North Dakota. I may NOT, however, buy from someone in another state through mail order or by personally picking them up and transporting them over the border. Interstate sales and commerce with these five species is now illegal and prohibited. Online vendors will soon be listing these species as only for sale to folks that live in the same state.

Is there any way to legally import or sell these across state lines?

Technically, yes. Folks who wish to legally import or sell across state lines would have to apply for and receive a Captive Bred Wildlife (CBW) permit. HOWEVER, there are some major caveats for those looking to procure one. For starters, the cost to apply for the permit is $200 per incident, and both the seller and buyer need to get one. Unfortunately, those in the know say that it is nearly impossible for a standard hobbyist or breeder to get approved for the CBW. Worse still, your $200 fee is non refundable should you apply and be rejected, and it can take months for the decision. For most folks, obtaining one of these permits is very unrealistic.

The impact on the hobby

The good news is, we are still legally able to keep these species in our collections. Also, many other species of Poecilotheria, like the hobby favorite P. metallica, were NOT included in this ban. For the time being, the Indian species are safe and can still be imported and sold across state lines. Many in the hobby are trying to view this as a “could have been worse” scenario.

However, the consequences of this ruling are damaging and could have a far-reaching impact on the hobby. Folks living in states with smaller tarantula markets will likely have a very difficult time finding these species. The prices of these species will also vary widely from state-to-state, with some paying exorbitant costs for these animals. As transport across state lines is illegal without the CBW permit, gene pools in some states will begin to stagnate without the introduction of new blood lines.

Finally, I recently did an article about the practice of “brown boxing”, an illegal activity that involves circumventing costly and complicated legal importing procedures by shipping spiders using the U.S. postal service. Unfortunately, rulings such as this, especially with the interstate ban, will encourage more folks to break the rules in order to get their spiders. The hobby has been very transparent for years, possibly to our detriment, with species openly sold and traded in public forums. Rulings such as this one will unfortunately encourage more folks to “bend” the rules and conduct more commerce “underground.” Although this type of activity should never be condoned, it will be an unfortunate consequence.

What about breeding loans or the gifting of a spider?

Under this ruling, breeding loans are legal as long as no money is changing hands and no one is making a profit. Also, it is legal to gift a spider to another person across state lines in legitimate instances (NOT in an attempt to circumvent the law). In both cases, the shipments should contain the correct documentation explaining the activity).

More information on exclusions can be found HERE.

(A huge thanks to Steve Doud for supplying this information and the link!)

What should we do?

With the deadline looming, many looking to procure some of these species from out-of-state retailers will need to act quickly. Tarantula dealers are already reporting increased Poecilotheria species sales as hobbyists look to “stockpile” some before the ban takes effect. Many folks who have been interested in keeping Poecilotheria are making the move to obtain the Sri Lankan species before their options narrow.

It is vital for hobbyists to start to identify the breeders and dealers in their state who will likely be responsible for keeping these five species from phasing out of the hobby. Those looking for one of these spiders will have severely limited options once this ban goes into effect. It’s important that hobbyist coalesce state-by-state to ensure that a system is in place to ensure the survival of these Poecilotheria species in local collections.

An important step

In an upcoming post, I will be soliciting the names of reputable breeders /dealers/vendors from state to state in order to compile a comprehensive and accurate list for hobbyists looking to legally procure these species. Between this current FWS ruling and the recently surfaced legal issues surrounding the importation and interstate sales of Brazilian species (more on this to come), it is CRUCIAL that hobbyists know who they can buy these species from in their states.  Please, keep a lookout for this post and respond if you have information to offer.

Quick Summary of the new rule.

LEGAL

  • Hobbyists may still legally keep these species
  • Hobbyists may buy and sell these species in their own states
  • Hobbyists may send breeding loans across state lines (no money can be involved)
  • Hobbyists may send a tarantula as a gift.

ILLEGAL

  • Foreign importation or exportation of these species*
  • Inter-state commerce involving these species*
  • Possession of illegally taken spiders
*without a CBW permit

Those interested in reading the full report from the FWS can follow this link:

http://usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/ESA-2018-Sri-Lanka-Tarantulas-final-rule-1.pdf

 

 

“Brown Boxing” The Tarantula Hobby’s Dirty Little Secret

Author’s note: The following topic pertains to the United States tarantula market and doesn’t necessarily reflect the import/export laws of other countries. That said, if you are importing tarantulas into your country, you should be aware of your own national import and export laws.

By now, you’re hopelessly addicted to the hobby and have a wish list so long, it reads like an abbreviated edition of the World Spider Catalog. While shopping online for your next acquisitions, you stumble upon a Facebook post by a vendor you have been following.

NEW IMPORT PREORDER!

Reading the announcement, you feel your excitement build as you learn that said vendor is expecting a huge import from overseas containing a myriad of species. As you feverishly peruse the species list, you notice many of the species that are on your wish list, as well as exotic species you’ve never seen before. Pen in hand, you start jotting down a preliminary list of animals you’ll be pre-ordering and start to formulate a convincing argument for your spouse to justify the several hundred dollars you are about to plop down pre-ordering bugs.

But not so fast.

Although import pre-orders are certainly exciting, and many of us take advantage of these wonderful opportunities, there are some things that keepers really need to be aware of before buying imported stock. Many folks are under the assumption that all publicly announced import is done legally, but this is far from true. Sadly, many folks resort to cheaper and illegal measures to get their livestock into the country, a fact that many hobbyists are unaware of.   

Recently, I covered the topic of shipping tarantulas using the USPS, and how the practice is illegal on a federal level. Many folks are ignorant of this fact and assume that if vendors are advertising the service publicly, it must okay. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Those choosing this method to ship their spiders within the states are breaking the law.

Keeping that in mind, it’s also important to recognize that some of the folks offering “import” are also breaking the law, and on a much larger scale. Anyone buying animals from these disreputable folks are contributing to this issue. Not only does illegal import put customers at legal risk, it undermines legitimate dealers and poses a threat to the import that is currently the lifeblood of the United States hobby.  

What is BROWN BOXING?

Legally importing animals from other countries can be a very time-consuming and costly process. Importing livestock from another country requires permits, expensive shipping and inspection costs, and quite a few logistical preparations. Contrary to popular belief, this holds true for both wild-caught and captive bred specimens. Importing legally can make ordering and receiving animals from other countries a very cost-prohibitive option for those looking to import. I often hear folks complain about paying $40-$50 to ship a package of spiders through FedEx. Well, when shipping air freight (the only legal shipping option for this type of transaction), you can expect to pay several hundred to well over $1000 for your animals.

Unfortunately, some folks find this type of investment unpalatable and decide to cut corners and break the law by “brown boxing” their animals into the country. Continue reading

Caribena versicolor (Antilles pinktoe) Breeding Notes … and Babies!

Spoiler: The Breeding Was a Success!

For those interested in possibly breeding the Caribena versicolor in the future, here is an account of my pairing. All in all, it was a rather simple endeavor from start to finish, and I would encourage others to try it. And for those looking to acquire some of these little blue beauties, be sure to read to the bottom of the article…

The Pairing – November 26, 2017

In November of 2018, I paired my mature female Caribena versicolor with a mature male lent to me by Tanya at Fear Not Tarantulas. I had raised this female from a sling, and she is currently about 5 years old. She was fed very well leading up to the pairing and was quite plump before the breeding attempt. I have never attempted to breed her before this pairing.

Upon opening both enclosures, the male, who was incredibly active, came right out and approached the female within 30 seconds. The female appeared startled at first, and a quick “scuffle” ensued which caused the male to back off for a few moments. However, he quickly regrouped and approached her again, and she was very receptive. After a very brief courtship in which they entangled legs and the male tapped on her a bit, they coupled. I observed two insertions before the two disentangled and the male calmly walked away. I did not try to pair them a second time, as I was pretty sure the first pairing was successful.

The entire event took only about 5 minutes total from beginning to end. The female showed no aggression toward the male and did not try to consume or pursue him when they had finished.

The Female Makes a Sac – December 27, 2017

About two days after the pairing, the female webbed herself up completely in a funnel web down the side of the enclosure. Although she had webbed up a bit of a “chamber” for her last molt, she thickened the sides, especially on the Plexiglas, and closed off the ends. I tried offering her crickets the day after she was bred, but she showed no interest in eating.

Caribena versicolor

On December 28th, I noticed that she had finally created an egg sac. This sac was about 1″ in diameter. During the incubation period, I kept her enclosure on a high shelf that ranged in temperature from about 78° F to 80°F.  I kept her water dish full, and once a week I would open the enclosure and use a large bottle with holes in the top to simulate a rain shower. I would use this technique to moisten part of the substrate so that enclosure wouldn’t become too dry.

For this breeding, I chose not to pull the sac and instead left it with the mother. She continued to care for it perfectly during the incubation period, constantly rolling and moving it to keep the eggs from sticking or getting crushed. She was an excellent mother throughout the entire process.

2nd Instar Spiderlings Emerge – February 18, 2018

Finally, I came down on the morning of February 18th to find that several little blue 2nd instar slings had emerged. Over the next three days, the rest of the brood freed itself of the sac, and little blue spiderlings lined the entire inside of their mother’s web den.  Instead of immediately spreading out and leaving the web, the slings huddled together while the mother stood over them.

As the mother’s enclosure offered several means of escape for the tiny slings, including gaps and vent holes, I had to sling-proof it before any of the little ones could get away. I used some cheesecloth and clear cellophane tape to cover up the vents and gaps. The cheesecloth kept the slings inside without restricting ventilation.

Despite my best efforts, I apparently missed a corner, and I woke up one morning to find a sling’s toe poking from the breach. With the slings now starting to spread out and wander a bit, it was time to separate and house them.

Separated and Rehoused the Slings – February 21, 2018

We started by carefully opening the cage and removing the mother. Using a paintbrush, I coaxed her away from the slings and into a deli cup. Although she was reluctant to move, she did not become defensive or nasty. With mom out of the way,  Billie and I spent the next hour getting the slings out of the web and into their enclosures (dram bottles and small deli cups). Fortunately, the slings didn’t attempt to scatter, but instead congregated in groups as they tried to hide. This made things MUCH easier. We had placed the mother’s enclosure inside a large Sterilite container in case the babies tried to bolt, but it never became an issue.

When all was said and done, we had 148 lively slings! Being 2nd instar, the slings were very active and ready to eat. I gave the ones I kept a couple days to settle in and to start webbing before offering the first meal. For the first feeding, I used pinhead red runner roaches, which I prekilled and dropped in each sling’s webbing. So far, all have eaten twice.

Versi Babies for Sale!

Unfortunately, with all I have going on with the blog, YouTube channel, and now my podcast, I don’t have the extra time I would need to raise and sell my own slings. Although several folks have inquired about buying directly from me, that’s just not practical for me at this time. However, for those who want to get their hands on a couple of these gorgeous blue slings, you’re not out of luck.

A few days after the slings were rehoused, we got a visit from Tanya Stewart and Rachael Pan from Fear Not Tarantulas. They picked up all but a few of the baby C. versicolors (I held onto five for myself), and they will selling them online from their store and at expos. Tanya is a very well-respected and trusted dealer in the hobby, and folks will have the option of getting more for their shipping money by possibly ordering other species from her diverse selection.  Even better, Fear Not is offering 15% off the price of a C. versicolor sling if you use the code “tom” at checkout. C. versicolor are always in demand, and the slings are going fast, so be sure not to wait too long if you want to grab one.

Moving ahead, I will continue to pursue breeding projects that interest me and with species there is a demand for.  At the moment, I’m hoping to have my M. balfouri and H. pulchripes both bred after what appeared to be successful pairings. I will obviously keep folks updated if and when anything develops!

‘T’ Time Adoption/Rescue Facebook Group- And Interview with Samantha Miller

A brand new group hoping to fill a much needed hole in the hobby. 

Several years back, I got an email from a frantic hobbyist who was preparing to start his freshman year in college. With only a few weeks to go before he was to move into his dorm, he made an unfortunate discovery; this particular school didn’t allow any pets in the freshman dorm rooms. This young man had amassed a modest collection of a half-dozen or so tarantulas, and his mother, an arachnophobe, had already made it quite clear that the animals couldn’t be left behind. Instead of enjoying his last remaining days before starting school, this poor guy was desperately trying to find a new home for his beloved pets. He was even willing to part with them for free if they went to a good home, and he was hoping I might know of some place that would be willing to take his collection and ensure his animals got the proper care.

Over the years, I’ve received several similar emails from hobbyists looking for someone to adopt their pets, and I’ve usually directed them to the classifieds section of Arachnoboards or FaunaClassifieds. The truth is, although there are obviously a plethora of options for folks keeping warm-blooded vertebrates like cats, dogs, ferrets, etcetera, the options for invertebrate keepers are quite limited. Although a few shelters will take in the oddball invert, most know little about their care or are particularly interested in dealing with the “creepy crawlies.” I’ve heard of cases of people with one or two spiders donating them to a school science teacher or a friend or family member, but what does one do when she has several spiders? Or, perhaps someone has outgrown the hobby and recognizes that he no longer has the passion to keep these animals. Where should he go to get them new homes? Sure, Craigslist and the classifieds can work, but selling off larger collections can take time…and emergency situations can lead to strict deadlines.

Then there are hoarding cases or instances in which a keeper dies leaving behind dozens of pets that no one wants or knows how to care for. What happens to these animals after being confiscated by the authorities?

Well, now there may be a new option.

While chatting with hobbyist Samantha Miller, I learned about her idea to create an adoption and rescue service specifically for inverts. Within weeks, she had set up the ‘T’ Time Adoption/Rescue group on Facebook in an effort to see her idea come to fruition. With the membership numbers swelling and the group off to quite the auspicious beginning, I caught up with Samantha to learn more about this fantastic and much-needed new group.

Thanks for taking the time to chat, Samantha! Continue reading

Tom’s Big Spiders – The Podcast

After much debate, I’ve decided to start a weekly podcast about tarantulas and other arachnids. I had been asked about starting a podcast a few times over the years, and as I really didn’t know too much about them, I scoffed at the idea. I just couldn’t imagine I would have enough to say to make one interesting, or that folks would be even remotely interested in hearing it. I know it may sound in my videos like I love hearing myself talk, but I can’t stand the sound of my own voice (really, who does?).

But after a recent discussion with my brother, an admitted podcast junkie, and another chat with a keeper, I decided to do a bit of research to see if it was a realistic outlet for me. For the past several months, I’ve been making a list of possible topics as well as folks I would like to either work with or interview. As luck would have it, I’ve been doing much more voiceover work in my YouTube videos as of late, so I have also gotten some good experience with talking and staying on subject.

Last month, I asked some of my friends on Facebook if this was something I should pursue, and the reaction was very positive. It seems that there are a lot of hobbyists out there that like podcasts, and not a whole lot of people doing them. Excited by the possibility of branching out into new media, I signed up for a plan, downloaded some programs, and sat down to test it out.

So far, I’m loving it.

Many times when putting the videos together, I have to shorten my explanations because I don’t have enough footage to accommodate for all of the dialog. I’ve found that recording the podcasts allows me to go into much more detail with the discussion. There are also topics that might not make for the most interesting videos or articles that might be better delivered in a more conversational format. Even better, this format would make interviews much more natural and easier for the interviewees.

It won’t replace my articles or videos, but I do believe the format will allow for another excellent outlet for tarantula information.

To start, I will be releasing one 30-minute episode every week on Sunday. As I know folks that follow podcasts like them to be released consistently, I’m recording several ahead of time to start so that I will always have one ready to go even if life intervenes. As I get more comfortable with the format and schedule, I’ll look to start mixing in interviews and even live episodes. If all goes well, they will be available on both iTunes and Google Play as well.

Below is my first “pilot” episode in which I field a question about feeding dead prey to tarantulas and discuss shipping in the winter, as well as a bonus episode featuring a Q & A. I’m also including a link to my podcast page. Hopefully you all find it enjoyable and continue to check out future installments. I’ve got some cool ideas going forward, and I think that I’ll continue to improve with each outing.

EPISODE 1: Tom’s Big Spiders … The Podcast! (Pilot)

BONUS EPISODE … Q & A

 

Follow the podcast here: http://tomsbigspiders.buzzsprout.com/