Guest Blog post: Neoholothele incei (gold) Communal by Casey J. Peter

Introduction

As tarantulas are recognized as solitary creatures (mostly due to the fact that they view other spiders as lunch on eight legs) many find the idea of several tarantulas cohabitating peacefully to be a bit of a mind-blower. Perhaps that’s why successful communal setups garner so much curiosity and attention. A year ago, I started my first communal with 9 Monocentropus balfouri slings, and it has been incredibly rewarding and fascinating to watch these spiders interact. And, as I’ve shared my experiences through my blog and YouTube channel, it has also attracted a lot of attention from folks who would very much like to begin their own tarantula communals.

Although M. balfouris seem to present as one of the best species to successfully thrive in this set up, they are not the only species to display these tendencies. In fact, when I was originally giving thought to the idea, I was eyeing Neoholothele incei as a possible candidate. This species has been observed living communally in the wild, and a bit of research would produce several compelling accounts of successful group setups in captivity.

Even better, they were readily available and slings were much less expensive than those of the pricey M. balfouri, making such a venture less cost prohibitive. As communal setups always run the risk of cannibalization, many people would find the smaller investment much more palatable. I’ve received a lot of questions about H. incei communals, and having no first hand experience with them, I’ve had to refer these people to other keepers’ accounts.

With that in mind, I asked my buddy and fellow hobbyist, Casey J. Peter, if he could guest blog on Tom’s Big Spiders and relate his experiences with his H. incei communal. Casey began his setup a few months back, and he’s been keeping me updated as it progressed. Casey’s care and husbandry are top notch, and as a writer, he was no stranger to the written word, so I hoped he’d be game to pass off some of his knowledge.

He (obviously) graciously accepted the invite. A huge thank you to Casey for taking the time to share his valuable experiences. Now, enough from me. On to the article …

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H. incei gold Rehousing

Well, this turned out to be a bit of an adventure!

Last year, I purchased three H. incei gold juveniles from Michael Jacobi’s Spider Shoppe. Since then, one ended up a mature male, hooking out and passing away two months later. Last week, I got a good look at the second one, and he, too, has hooked out. The third? Well, I was never able to get a good look at it.

While doing several rehousings this weekend, I decided that it was time to get this little one a new home. I hoped to also get the opportunity to possibly sex it, as this would be the first time I would be seeing it out of its den in a long time.

Once again, my daughter, Sid, handled the camera duties as I took care of the actual rehousing. As these guys can be very skittish and fast, I anticipated that this might not go as smoothly as I hoped.

I was right!

Still, I try to be prepared and to stay calm during all rehousings, and I don’t panic if the spider doesn’t go exactly where I want it to right away (as often, they don’t). I also do all rehousings inside a larger plastic container to put an extra barrier between a fleeing spider and my dinner table. In this instance, this practice served me quite well.

With four kids and three dogs in my household, things can be quite loud and lively. You’ll notice in this video that my concentration was tested, not only by the potential escape, but by barking dogs and a thirsty four-year-old. 🙂

As for my little spider, it looks to be another male. Oh, well…

H. incei gold Feeding Video

I recently acquired a trio of juvenile/sub-adult H. incei golds, and I immediately discovered what a truly beautiful and interesting species they are. These lively little dwarfs sport gorgeous gold and orange tones that make them wonderful display spiders. They also like to decorate their enclosures with copious amounts of thick webbing, making them one of the more prolific webbers of the species I keep.

One of my H. incei golds after being housed. Not the best picture, as the flash has washed out it's colors.

One of my H. incei golds after being housed. Not the best picture, as the flash has washed out it’s colors.

All three have been excellent eaters, snatching medium crickets from the mouths of their burrows with lightning speed. Although they were furnished with identical enclosures with cork barks and starter burrow holes dug into the substrate, only two of my H. incei golds adopted these as homes. Both of these two dug deep burrows before lining the opening of their dens in a liberal coating of silk.

The third built what I can best describe as a silken teepee over its cork bark hide. This specimen did not dig, but instead sits on the surface, sometimes beneath its hide, waiting for prey. It makes for a wonderful showcase animal, as it is more often than not visible. It is this T that is featured in the feeding video.

A modified Ziploc container. This H. incei dug a deep burrow; the circle marks the lower chamber.

A modified Ziploc container. This H. incei dug a deep burrow; the circle marks the lower chamber.

I keep my H. incei golds in the same temperatures as my other Ts; high 70s during the day with low 70s at night. I also keep the substrate for these guys on the moist side (not wet), by sprinkling water on the surface twice a week. They are currently eating one medium cricket every three or four days.

While feeding my surface-dwelling incei, I decided to get a bit of video with my cell phone. Below is a brief clip of my little guy snatching up a cricket. My apologies for the raucous soundtrack; it is covering up my daughter telling me a story in the background. 🙂

For lovers of dwarf tarantula species, or even just those who want a gorgeous, heavy-webbing T, the H. incei gold makes a wonderful pet.