Spiders in General
At the moment there seems to be a lot of spider about and everywhere I look I see one which encouraged me to write this review. I don`t actually mind spider s that much but I do find them a little annoying and hate cobwebs everywhere! One thing I don`t understand is why people are so scared of them - I don`t think I have ever ... seen or heard of anyone being harmed by a normal spider in the UK!
I think this might be because they look so ugly and horrible which makes you think they are horrible and the way they hide in dark corners and then come out when you least expect it!
I personally do not really mind spiders as long as they are not massive, harmful and somewhere horrid like on my head! If I just see one around in my house I will just get a bit of paper and a cup and open the door or window and let it go! I am not sure they could be classed under the pets category though but see more reason for them, to be in pets than flies! One good thing is that they eat flies - GO SPIDERS!
Overall I think people overreact when they see a spider and start panicking as they have seen other people scared of them. I don`t really mind them as long as they are not TOO BIG! When you think about it there is no reason to be scared of them!
3/5 Not nice but nothing wrong with them!
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Spiders in General
====Introduction====: My love-hate relationship with spiders really began in my early youth, when I was a paper girl, delivering newspapers at 6.00 o'clock on dark, wintry mornings. Very often I would be one of the first through the gates, getting there before the milkman or postie. In those days, each of us walked ... the same rounds at approximately the same time. Oh those halcyon days - we shall never see them again - a postman before midday! Youngsters delivering the dailies, or hear the soft, muted hum of the electric milk floats and the chink of bottles against their crates.
Ooops, I was off on one of my trips down memory lane then.
As much as I enjoyed the early morning air, I was ever eager to finish the round and return home for breakfast, yet at the same time, would try and slow my pace to allow the postman or milkman break the huge cobwebs strung across the entrances, but there were some places neither would deliver their goods and inevitably, I would be the first to cross the spider's threshold. A sticky web would slam into my face and the resident spider, then hitch a lift upon my shoulder.
When passing through gates with tall hedges or bushes on either side, I would brandish the newspaper in front of me, like a machete. Many a daily was delivered with its free gift of freshly plucked web, clinging to the front page.
On frosty, moonlit mornings, however, it was lovely to see those webs in all their glittering glory along hedgerows and dangling from branches or across gaps. Even I was reluctant to destroy one, and on the odd occasion could slip under a cobweb without disturbing the beautiful silken structure; but then would sometimes forget to duck on the return journey.
There are over 80,000 species of spiders in the world, and fortunately, all the ones natural to the UK are harmless.
Apparently, for the majority, their fangs are not strong enough to penetrate human skin, although I have heard tell of one or two species that can bite, albeit a harmless nip.
There are far too many species of spiders to describe in any detail, so will just generalise and perhaps detail one or three of the more interesting, non-poisonous ones.
Spiders are classified as Arachnids. Their bodies have two segments; head and abdomen. Attached to each segment are two pairs of legs, making eight in total. On the head, there are also two pincers and eight , yes, eight simple (not compound) eyes, each giving them incredible eyesight - akin to that of flies.
All arachnids are carnivorous and consume their victims by injecting poison into their prey. The poison contains digestive enzymes that transform the victim's insides into a soup, which the spider is then able to suck out, leaving a neat, clean, empty shell behind.
When a spider's body is stretched to its limit, in order to grow, it's skeleton, unlike ours, is on the outside. It has to shed its outer shell, and what we often mistake for a dead spider, is in fact a shed exoskeleton.
Unlike many insects, spiders do not have antennae; it is the multitude of sensitive, hairy bristles on their legs, which act like antennae picking up signals. Spiders, it is said, can also taste things with their feet.
Female spiders can live up to 4 years and survive much longer than the males , which die soon after maturing. After death, they are eaten by the females - waste not want not. I believe though, the Black Widow spider, doesn't wait for her mate to die, she kills then eats him, if he doesn't escape quickly enough.
Their eggs are spherical, and in some species are laid in large numbers; then covered in a sac of silk. The little spiderlings hatch in the sac and are blind, virtually hairless, lack poison and the ability to spin. Soon afterwards they moult into nymphs, resembling the adult form, then leave the sac once they are capable of feeding. Cannibalism can occur when any weak spiderling or nymph may be eaten by their stronger siblings.
Arachnids have three pairs of glands which open out into tubes called spinnerets. The spider begins weaving its web by pressing its spinneret against a solid object and pushes out some silky liquid. The spider, as it moves away, draws a long, fine thread which hardens when exposed to the air.
I have watched a spider spinning its web, an incredibly fascinating procedure.
I had always assumed that spiders started, by making long strands radiating from a central position, outwards and anchoring the ends to branches, then to complete the web would make concentric circles around the elongated anchored strands, working from the centre outwards. However, this was not the way my spider spun its web.
Although I did not witness the start of the build. The incomplete web, already had strands anchored to solid objects and strung out like washing on a line. The spider ran out from the centre, as if climbing the rungs of a ladder (already in place) taking a length of silk to the outer edge. It would then pull a length of silk around the outer perimeter, before returning to the centre. It would then make the same journey at right angles, or thereabouts, to the first journey and repeat the circuit around the outer perimeter. These processes were repeated over and over again. Each time, adding a fine line of silky thread to the web. It was enthralling to watch. Made me feel guilty for ever destroying one.
The spider is able to do this without becoming stuck to its own web, by coating its legs with an oily substance from its mouth - clever little creatures really, considering their heads and brains are not much larger than a pinhead.
I have wondered for years how spiders managed to cross gaps to anchor their webs. Well, I wonder no more. It climbs to the highest point, attaches one end of its web to an object, then lets out a long strand of silk, which the breeze catches and lifts into the air, taking the spider with it. Landing, however, is a bit of a hit and miss affair, but they always seem to land safely.
It is interesting to note that the silk strands are extremely strong and it has been estimated that if each strand were woven into a thread, one inch in diameter, it would be three times stronger than an iron rope and would support many tons in weight.
There are so many different species, around 600 in Britain alone, so I may be forgiven for not listing or describing them all.
I have just reduced the list to four of the more interesting types and their methods of catching prey.
~~~~The Spitting Spider~~~
This spider sprays a gum over its prey and cements it to whatever surface it happens to be on. The spider then slowly approaches and injects poison, before consuming the insides.
~~~~The Raft Spider~~~
This species, found on marsh-lands and in swamps, vibrates the water surface with its feet to attract small fish or flies, which it then kills in the usual manner of injecting poison.
~~~~The Purseweb Spider~~~
These little creatures build a silken tube into the ground, with one end protruding at the surface. Both ends are closed with the spider inside.
It stabs, any prey landing on the tube, through the closed mesh. The prey is then pulled into the tube and consumed once the mesh has been mended.
~~~~The Jumping Spider~~~
These have excellent eyesight and very slowly stalk their prey. When only a few cms away, they pounce and grab the victim with their front legs, before killing and consuming it in the usual spider manner.
I have hardly touched on the subject of spiders, it is impossible to cover all the aspects of these creatures without spreading it over many more pages. I'm not sure there would be anyone with enough time to read all there is to know about them, in one sitting.
I must tell you though, of my one resident spider, living in the wing mirror of my car. I discovered it just over a week ago, when getting ready to drive to town.
The sun was shining (for a change) and as I glanced towards the wing mirror, saw a spider scuttle across a small web it had spun from the door to the mirror. It had emerged from the gap behind the glass, housed in the wing-mirror casing. I suspect my opening the door had vibrated the web and the spider came out to investigate its catch.
I started the engine and drove off, the web flapping in the wind, and the spider, safely tucked away behind the glass again.
I did not expect the web or spider to be in situ by the time I got to the shops, but there it was, in all its sturdy glory, completely undamaged. How could I destroy such a well constructed home?
It is still there, my spider is content to travel with me- I have named him Incy - well, that is the only spider name I know. My car wing mirrors seem to attract spiders and most mornings I find a web across the mirrors.
I leave you with one of my silly ditties about a noisy spider - a take off of a popular nursery rhyme.
Incy Wincy spider climbed up the spout.
He thought he did it quietly, but then he heard a shout.
"For goodness sake, remove your boots, dear Incy-Wincy, mate.
It's bad enough to hear just one, but you are wearing eight."
So with a frown, he clattered down, his hobnails to discard,
And shuffled up the spout once more, with feet well shod with lard.
Now Incy-Wincy spider is happy - that's for sure.
His feet stay dry, are silent too, as he glides across the floor.
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Due to just finishing reading the other two reviews on this subject i have to put in my two pence and shed a little light on the vague world of the hobbyist tarantula keeper. First and foremostly half of what you read on the internet is a lie, most pet shop owners and amateur keepers will give you duff info about the ... particular species that you are purchasing, your best bet is to find someone who ACTUALLY KEEPS AND BREEDS TARANTULAS IN CAPTIVITY their hands on knowledge is second to none when seeking out advice for your new pet.
Most serious keepers also belong to reckognised associations such as the british tarantula society and know a lot of other hobbyists too who are not only keepers and breeders but also taxonomists and arachnologists to boot.
So now that we have the advice part settled let me talk you through the world of the tarantula keeper.
I CANNOT STATE THIS FACT ENOUGH, BEFORE YOU PURCHASE A TARANTULA DO YOUR RESEARCH!, find out if a tarantula is the right pet for you, and keep in mind before deciding that some of the females can live in excess of 30 years in captivity if well looked after!.
Also take into account the fact that a tarantula is NOT a pet you can play with, stroke or cuddle but is infact a wild animal that although for the most part docile they can and will have moodswings and they are most definately unpredictable.
Although tarantula venom is NOT HARMFUL TO HUMANS and the bite no more painful than a wasp or bee sting, there is a chance that you may suffer from an allergic reaction, it is reccomended that if you do get bitten you seek medical attention the first time it happens just to ensure you are safe and not allergic.
They also have coarse hairs on their abdomens which although look nice and fluffy are actually urticating a bit like glass wool and they do irritate the skin, this when you consider it is a really smart first line of defense for the tarantula as they utilise them in fighting off any predators by flicking them off at any would be attacker.
Another thing to take into consideration is that they are predominantly nocturnal and most species will not be very active during daylight hours, preferring to roam their enclosure at night when they feel safe from the animals that prey on them.
Also you will have to feed them live food, all tarantulas vary and some can be quite fussy so when you get a new specimen it's best to have a little mix and match of various livefoods so that you can figure out what your tarantula likes best!, i find that for the most part though they will eat brown crickets.
ok so now that you have decided that you want to be a part of the hobby and have considered the factors above you'll be wanting to buy your spider now. but wait a second we haven't talked about enclosures!.
Contrary to popular belief your tarantula does not need an elaborate enclosure, preferring instead a nice and plain setup with just enough room to have a little stretch when required, humidity and temperature settings do vary among species however with most desert species obviously preferring the dry and rainforest specimens needing a higher humidity.
To maintain humidity we need to use a substrate in the base of the enclosure this can be a variety of things but most keepers use coconut fibre which is also known as coir, this can be purchased from your local exotics store or online from good retailers, sometimes it goes by the name of eco bark or forest bedding and i reccomend this to the novice keeper as it is easy to use and quite inexpensive.
You'll also be needing a heatmat, bear in mind that tarantulas do not like heat from underneath the enclosure and prefer a side mounted heating system, this can easily be achieved by fixing the heatmat to the outside of the enclosure and using a reflector such as a piece of polystyrene so the heat only travels into the tank and not away from it, heatmats come in various sizes, you'll be wanting one that covers about half the length of the enclosure.
The enclosure itself can be anything with a secure fitting lid, however most folk like to see thier tarantula so you'll want something clear, make sure it is well ventilated to allow airflow, you can use anything from a glass tank to a plastic blanket box, most keepers prefer to go for the blanket box or plastic kritter keeper as these are inexpensive and save money in the longrun as your tarantula collection grows, and it will grow because this hobby swiftly becomes an addiction.
You'll also need a thermometer and a hygrometer again you can find these in exotics stores, digital are best but there are cheaper stick on alternatives that do the job also.
Add to this a hide which can be half of a plastic plant pot or something similar and a shallow waterdish and we are ready to start setting up the enclosure.
Assuming you are new to the hobby you would have picked one of the begginner terrestrail species which we will talk about in a second but this is how you would go about the setup.
Firstly take your brick of coir and soak it in fresh water, remeber the bricks look small but they do expand a lot so assuming you havce an average sized kritter keeper you'll only need around half a brick and 2 litres of water.
When the coir has soaked up the water it becomes like peat, you need to take handfulls of the stuff and squeeze it out until it is only slightly damp before placing it in the enclosure, you'll need to repeat this with handfulls until you have roughly 4 inches of substrate evenly spread around the bottom.
Next stick on your thermometer and hygrometer in what will be the warmest end of the enclosure but slightly away from the heatmat.
After this take your hide and place it into what will be the cooler end, i'm assuming as i recommended you are using a half plant pot so push this down into the substrate and start a bit of a burrow at the entrance, this will help your tarantula to find it and make it easier for it to start digging out it's new home.
After this you'll need to mount the heatmat, take your piece of polystyrene and using some sellotape stick the mat down onto it, after this you need to secure it to the side of the enclosure with the heatmat touching the enclosure and the polystyrene facing away from it.
take your shallow waterdish and fill it with water, NEVER use spidergel or place a sponge in the waterdish, your tarantula can drink fresh water perfectly well and it will NOT drown, this is a myth and is only true with spiderlings which as a begginer you do not need to worry about at this point in time.
You may however want to place a small piece of slate or a few pebbles into the dish to help any live food climb out, crickets are extremely stupid and have a habit of drowning in the water, the pebbles will save you from having to fish them out.
And there your setup is ready, what you have to do now is leave it for around 24 hours and make sure the humidity and temperature is fine, most starter species need around 60% - 70% humidity and between 26 and 28 degrees centigrade heatwise.
Assuming this is all fine and dandy, your ready for your tarantula.
Tarantula's are not "true spiders" like the common house spider or the black widow, they are infact Mygalomophae, and as i have previously stated they are WILD ANIMALS and cannot be tamed. they can however, make fascinating pets that you will spend hours observing and never tire of watching and learning about.
Tarantulas fall into two main categories OLD WORLD and NEW WORLD, the best starter species are new world tarantulas which come from the americas as opposed to the old world asian, african etc specimens that tend to need a little different care and are faster and more aggressive making them extremely unsuitable for the begginer.
The next two categories are TERRESTRIAL (meaning they spend thier life living in, under or on the ground, don't be fooled though they can still climb) and ARBOREAL (which live up in trees etc and are much faster and agile climbers).
We as i mentioned during the setup part are concentrating on NEW WORLD TERRESTRIAL spiders as these make the best starter species, mostly they are very docile and easy to handle if required, though you should try not to handle your spider for reasons we will discuss in a bit.
A good starter species for anyone is Brachypelma Smithi (the mexican redknee tarantula), this was the first tarantula ever introduced into the hobby and due to the numbers starting to dwindle can only be purchased now through captive breeders and they are protected by CITES and it is illegal to export them from mexico if they are wild captured.
There are a few other species that you may also want to consider, Grammostola Rosea (chile rose) and Aphonopelma Bicoloratum (mexican bloodleg) are very beautiful specimens and generally quite docile, there are more but i'm not going to list them as it will take too long and this review is nowhere near complete yet, the above are all hardy specimens and do well in captivity, they are favoured as starter species but are still held in high regard by experienced collectors.
Remember when purchasing your tarantula to ask for it's moult history, any good breeder should be able to tell you when the last time the spider moulted was, also a feeding record is a good addition as if the spider is off it's food it may be a sign of an upcoming moult asking to see it feed is a better idea, however this is not always possible as some tarantulas are a little shy about eating whilst being watched.
Also MOST IMPORTANTLY make sure your spider has all of it's limbs, no mites and is CAPTIVE BRED, wild caught specimens are not only more likely to be aggressive but can also be diseased or carrying parasites which will ultimately lead to it's death.
As a starter you'll be wanting to buy either an adult or a sub adult as raising younger spiders takes a little more work and knowledge.
You'll want to ask the keeper what sex it is also, if you are purchasing a captive bred sub adult or adult from a reputable source then there is no reason that a spider that size should not be sexed, sex can only be 100% determined by examining the inside of the exuvium (moulted exoskeleton). any good breeder knows this and will happily tell you what sex it is.
If you plan on keeping your pet for any length of time you'll be wanting a female as male tarantulas only live until they mature and then die off either naturally or during mating when the female gets hungry, females on the other hand can live for years after they mature, the actual lifespan varying dependant on species.
Thats about all you need to know about picking a healthy starter specimen, just pop her in the enclosure now and she'll make herself at home.
Do not feed your tarantula for a few days after first rehousing her, she will need to settle in and will dig out her burrow and lay down a groundweb so she can feel what is going on in her new enviroment, make sure that your spider has fresh water daily though as they can get really thirsty sometimes.
Feeding your spider is simple, simply drop a cricket, locust, mealworm, waxworm or cockroach etc in there and leave her to it, tarantulas like all spiders are excellent ambush predators and she'll know it's there and devour it when she feels like it.
Remember that all food you offer your tarantula must be bought from a supplier of feeder insects and should never be wild caught, wild caught insects have been outside and subject to pesticides, disease etc, all of which can result in the death of your new prized pet.
I like to drop my feed in at night before i go to bed, this is when the spider is most active and it gives her a couple of hours to catch and eat her prey while you sleep, in the morning there will be a small ball of discarded cricket that she has left over, simply remove this with a pair of tweezers and dispose of it, leaving in unfinished food can cause mite problems in the enclosure and they are a bugger so you won't be wanting them.
Your tarantula will only need two to three crickets a week, it is not a good idea to feed more than this, this will result in your tarantula dying prematurely, a good idea to make sure your tarantula is healthy and getting nutrients is to use a technique called "GUTLOADING" which is basically feeding the crickets or other food some fruit or vegetables before offering the nicely fattened up insect to your tarantula.
YOUR TARANTULA WILL NEED WATER DAILY HOWEVER I CANNOT STIPULATE THIS ENOUGH !!.
Occasionally your tarantula will refuse food, if like me you feed at night and come down in the morning and the crickets have not been touched, remove them from the enclosure and wait a week or so before offering them again, do not worry if your tarantula does not eat, tarantulas are notorious for going months without eating and can do so with no threat to their lives, again just make sure your spider has water.
apart from the above you do not need to maintain the enclosure all that much, tarantula droppings are not that big so you'll rarely notice them (apart from the odd white stain on the inside of the tank which can be wiped off with a moist cloth).
Cleaning can be done 3-4 times a year as required, just pop your tarantula somewhere safe for 5 minutes while you give the enclosure a rinse out and replace the old coir with new in the same way you did it when you setup the tank, then pop her back in.
Apart from this maintanance is as simple as making sure that the humidity never drops below 50% as this is too dry and could cause problems for the spider during it's moult, easily solved by a quick misting of water across the enclosure, using a spray bottle the likes of which you'll find in a hairdressing supply shop.
So there you have it contrary to what you may have read elsewhere after the initial setup tarantulas are generally low maintanance, they do not need taken out for exercise and are quiet so don't disturb your everyday activities.
AND THEY MOST CERTAINLY DO NOT SMELL.
Which brings me to my next point you do need to know that as spiders grow they moult, this basically involves the shedding of the external skeleton, (spiders are inverts and have no bones). this is by far the most vulnerable time in a spiders life and it is imperative that you do not disturb your tarantula while this process is happening as if she is spooked and trys to run she may very well die, most of all do not touch your tarantula at this time and make sure that there is no live food in the enclosure.
During a moult your tarantula will lay a thicker groundweb (known as a hammock) and flip over onto it's back. it may lie there for hours or even days before the process starts but do not be alarmed your spider is NOT DEAD (although there have been folk that have made this mistake). eventually your tarantula will start to pump it's legs and push off it's old skin which will come off in one piece, after which your spider will be very soft and require a few days to harden before you go near it or attempt to feed it again, larger spiders can take over a week to get back to normal after a moult as this is a very strenuous experience for them.
I am not going to give you a guide on how to handle your tarantula as you shouldn't do it unless it is necessary, the spider will not enjoy or benefit from being held and terrestrial species can die if dropped.
I reccoment that for transporting your tarantula you use a deli cup with a lid and use a ruler to gently nudge your spider into it when you need to maintain the tank.
This is pretty much all you need to know about keeping tarantulas to get you started on the right track, there are many good community forums online with helpful advice that will help you to better understand the keeping of individual species and techniques for handling etc.
I recommend you look up The British Tarantula Society at www.thebts.co.uk if you would like further info on tarantula keeping or looking after other specimens, they are definately the pioneers of the hobby.
Hopefully you have taken the time to read this review, i have been keeping tarantulas for a while now and i have 19 specimens currently in my collection old world and new, my display pic is one of my beautiful girls a CYRIOPAGOPUS SP "blue" (the singapore blue tarantula) she's an old world arboreal and i currently have her in a breeding tank with a male, so fingers crossed for a succesful breeding.
And remember if you do enter the hobby, not only are you going to learn about, observe and be captivated by some amazing and beautiful species from all around the globe, you are also helping in the conservation of a magnificent species.
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Spiders Pet / Animal
Pet / Animal / Animal Species: Spiders
Pet / Animal / Animal Species: Spiders
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