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Alternatives to Cork Bark in Amblypygids Enclosures

Discussion in 'True Spiders & Other Arachnids' started by MrCrackerpants, Feb 16, 2016.

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    I am looking for an alternative to cork bark in my in amblypygidsenclosures. It is very expensive and I would like to find something that works just as well but is not so expensive. I know I could use untreated rough hard wood (cut-to-size) but it will mold. Has anybody tried heavy Styrofoam cut to size? I have used it temporarily with amblypygids and they were able to hang on it and walk on it. My concern is that it will not provide an adequate attachment for when they molt and they will fall during or after molting and then they will die. Has anybody tried heavy Styrofoam cut to size and also had a successful molt? I do not want to try it and then have one of my amblypygids die of a fall during or after a molt. Thanks for all your help!
     
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  2. BobBarley

    BobBarley Arachnoprince Active Member

    I know @wizentrop keeps his amblies on Styrofoam with success. Good luck to you!
     
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  3. Really? Thanks! I am hoping @wizentrop provides more details.
     
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  4. wizentrop

    wizentrop to the rescue! Old Timer

    What I use for most of my enclosures are flat white styrofoam boards. They are about 1-2cm thick, and I cut them to size to fit in my boxes.
    They do not look very natural, but provide a good substrate for the Amblypygi to rest and molt on. They do not catch mold because they are inorganic.
    I get them for free from the closest aquarium shop. These are boards used to insulate aquariums during shipping, and end up being tossed to the trash. I give them a good rinse in hot water, and they are good to go.
     
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  5. Aquarimax

    Aquarimax Arachnobaron Active Member

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    @wizentrop How do you angle the Styrofoam? I am contemplating a remodel for my Damon diadema enclosure. I am curious as to the angles of the molting platforms your Amblypygi use. Can they molt on a completely vertical Styrofoam panel, as long as they can hang upside down from it?

    So far, my 3 D. diadem have completed 3 successful molts each, but in the cases where I have found the molt still attached to the platform, it has always been horizontal.

    Here is another possible alternative to cork bark:

    I have a cork panel in their 12 x 12 x 18" enclosure now, slanted sideways. I am thinking of siliconing it to the back of the enclosure, and for the walls, I may use silicone + great stuff foam + ground coconut fiber (fine + coarse) and peat moss to cover it. It is the 'textured background mix" that NEHERP sells for custom backgrounds in dart frog enclosures. This mix is designed specifically for providing climbing plants with a better surface to grip, and it holds up well long-term in humid enclosures, so I have high hopes for it. I want to make sure I provide plenty of suitable molting platforms, so I am wondering if I should shape some ledges into it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016
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  6. wizentrop

    wizentrop to the rescue! Old Timer

    Excellent question. Up until 6 months ago I angled the styrofoam so that it would lean diagonally against one of the box's walls. This creates a negative slope that is good for molting. Unfortunately, it also minimizes the available space inside the box, as most of the time I noticed the whip spiders using only the area under the board.
    So I recently started to experiment with different angles. Still early to draw solid conclusions, but it seems Amblypygi can also molt on a perfectly vertical substrate, as long as they have enough space for spreading their whips.
     
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  7. Thanks! How do you keep the Styrofoam in place vertically? Do you bury the end in the substrate? Got any pictures? :)
     
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  8. wizentrop

    wizentrop to the rescue! Old Timer

    Not exactly. Because I am still experimenting, the styrofoam board is held vertically in place using two strips of sticky tape. I might glue it with silicone at some point.
     
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  9. So it is taped completely vertical to the side of the enclosure? What type of enclosure are you using? It is wild to think they can molt on what is basically a "Styrofoam wall". Have you seen them molt on this Styrofoam wall? When I observe them molt of a diagonal cork bark slab they are hanging by their legs and their body is not touch anything. I am assuming when they molt on your Styrofoam wall their molted soft body must touch the Styrofoam. Is this correct? Do you notice any damage to their exoskeleton once it hardens? If this consistently works, this is a great thing that you have discovered! Thanks!
     
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  10. wizentrop

    wizentrop to the rescue! Old Timer

    You understood correctly - it is just like having a styrofoam wall. It might not work for ALL species, that is why I am still testing. Works well for Euphrynichus bacillifer, Damon, Heterophrynus batesii and Acanthophrynus. So far no damage to exoskeleton has been recorded, on the contrary, damaged specimens (ones with broken legs and missing whips) were able to molt successfully and regenerate limbs without issues.
    My favorite enclosures so far are this type: http://www.rothoshop.ch/en/tag/loft/Premiumdose-LOFT-3-2l-transp-rot.html
    Excellent material, I customize them. However, they are not suitable for huge specimens like adult Heterophrynus or Acanthoprhynus.
     
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  11. OK. This is awesome! You have done excellent work and thank you for sharing your results with the rest of us. For an adult species of Heterophrynus batesii how long and wide is your piece of Styrofoam?
     
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  12. wizentrop

    wizentrop to the rescue! Old Timer

    About 20cm wide, and no less than 25cm tall. Contrary to what people believe, I found H. batesii to molt successfully even in cramped spaces, so they do not necessarily need 50cm of height as suggested in different sources.
     
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  13. Aquarimax

    Aquarimax Arachnobaron Active Member

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    I agree wholeheartedly! May I ask how much space you provide for Damon diadema? Do they need more than H. batesii?
     
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  14. wizentrop

    wizentrop to the rescue! Old Timer

    Damon are very very compact animals. Because I need to utilize space efficiently, I do not keep them in anything larger than 15cmx15cmx18cm. They are fine with this size, not exactly the wandering type of Amblypygi. Euphrynichus are the same by the way, awesome looking animals but rarely go for walks. Not something I can say about H. batesii or A. coronatus, these guys are travelers compared to Damon.
     
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  15. Do you scrub the Styrofam so it is rougher so they have a better place to grab on? Is it just the white Styrofoam that is about a half inch thick?
     
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  16. wizentrop

    wizentrop to the rescue! Old Timer

    No need to scrub anything, unless you want to make a mess for later cleaning. Give these animals some credit - in the wild they climb slippery vertical walls that sometimes have water dripping from them :rolleyes:

    And half an inch thickness sounds about right.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016
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  17. Thanks! yes, they are amazing... :)
     
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  18. Thank you all. I'm tagging along
     
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  19. Nick H

    Nick H Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    Yeah I'm getting ready to buy my first amblys and i'm pretty sure this thread just saved me about four craploads of money.
     
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  20. So, I have been using the Styrofoam for about a week and all is going well. None of the amblypygids have molted so I am not sure of the results yet.
     
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