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Caught a wild Tarantula

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by TobusRex, Jun 21, 2004.

  1. TobusRex

    TobusRex Arachnopeon

    A friend a couple weeks ago had a close encounter with a Wolf spider and we both researched spiders on the internet for a couple weeks afterward. As a result, I've become interested in Tarantulas. I promised myself that I'd thoroughly clean my apartment (I'm a colossal slob) and reward myself afterward with a Tarantula as a pet. I'm chiefly interested in studying tarantula behavior and trying to build an "ideal" habitat for one.

    Unexpectedly last night at work my friend came up to me and reported a tarantula sighting. We grabbed a large coffee can (empty and clean) and ran to where the tarantula was apparently "basking" in the light of a Halogen lamp. He put the coffee can on the ground and I gently touched the spider on the rump with a credit card. It reared up, and immediately scurried into the can.

    On the way home I stopped at WalMart (open 24/7) and bought a large plastic container (roughly 18"Lx10"Wx10"D) with a cool lid that opened in the middle, a bag of peat moss (all the other "soils" had fertilizer in them), and a small 4" flower pot and base. Total expense=app. $10. Once home I packed the peat moss in about 3" deep, making sure it was firmly packed down. In one corner I turned the clay pot on it's side and half buried it, and in the other corner I placed the 4" flowerpot base and filled it with water.

    I placed the enclosure next to a window so the spider could tell if it was day or night (I understand that is important for the creatures bodyclock), and the position next to the window is actually fairly shady due to the blinds. I took the lid off the coffee can and put the tarantula in the enclosure. It was a few minutes before the spider walked out, and he made a beeline directly to the water. I then removed the coffee can and closed the lid (it's not completely airtight). The spider centered himself directly over the water and didn't move for about a half hour, and when he finally moved away from the 4" (about 1/2" deep) "dish" it was empty! Before he moved away from the water it looked as if he was stretching. Then he walked around the enclosure and climbed up on TOP of the halfburied flowerpot (and not inside as I'd hoped).

    I was concerned by his behavior. I visited the chatroom at this site and discussed the situation with a guy named "wayne". He explained that the spider was apparently dehydrated. I claimed the spider I had captured was a male with the "hooks" on his front legs, at which Wayne told me the spider was a mature male (despite his smallish 3" size) and that he didn't have long to live. With heavy heart I ushered the little critter back into the coffee can and returned him to the desert and set him free in the shadows next to a lot of little crevices , hoping he'd find a female in one of them before he expired. Also I felt guilty about capturing him since I'd known when I captured him that he was a male, but I didn't know the hooks aren't visible except on mature males. Hopefully in my ignorance I didn't ruin his chances of procreation. I had been hoping, due to it's small size, that I'd be able to keep the little guy around until he molted into maturity.

    Now I have some questions. I know the tarantula I caught is terrestrial/burrowing since I captured it in the New Mexico desert (east of Las Cruces). It was about 3" long, 4" if the legs were fulled extended. It was black with a rusty colored thorax, and had a slight hint of green on it's butt. What species was it?

    Was the enclosure size good for a tarantula this size? What about for bigger or smaller spiders?

    Is 3" of peat moss deep enough for terrestrial tarantulas?

    Was the idea of using the small clay flowerpot halfburied a sound one for a "hide"?

    Lastly, the 4" around 1/2" deep flowerpot base. Will it hold enough water for tarantulas, or should I get something deeper? Also, how much water do these things normally require? I had expected since it was a desert tarantula that it would ignore the water.

    Sorry about the length of this, but I wanted readers to know the specifics so I could get the best information possible. Any tips would be greatly appreciated as I'm planning on buying a Chilean Rose taratula this weekend and I want to give her a proper home. Thanks.
  2. RazorRipley

    RazorRipley Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Hi, welcome to the tarantula world.... What you caught was probably a Mexican blond, Aphonopelma calcodes. Sad thing about catching wild ones, is that its only the mature males who are out roaming, lookin for females of course, while she sits and waits in her abode. Its neat to see new people with such interest in arachnids! :)
  3. Congrat's on the catch!
  4. rosehaired1979

    rosehaired1979 Arachnoking Old Timer

    It sounds like a good set up to me for that size :) Different sizes need different containers.
  5. TobusRex

    TobusRex Arachnopeon

    Thanks for the feedback

    Thanks for the feedback you guys. I hated turning the little guy loose though because from the little behavior I observed he was pretty interesting.
  6. Mad Hatter

    Mad Hatter Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Well, I can't wait to read more of your posts! Despite the length, I was intrigued by your experiences and you write very well.

    It's good to keep a journal recounting your experiences with your pet Tarantula. It helps to look through entries when something goes amiss, you get a pretty good idea of the normal behavior patterns of your spider and it can serve as a sentimental keepsake when your T is gone.
  7. cricket54

    cricket54 Arachnoangel Old Timer

    Sounds like you had a good time and may want to buy a tarantula to keep for yourself. Less of a chance of getting a mature male. I've always wanted to go looking for tarantulas myself. Kinda envy you for this experience that you had. You probably helped the spider out by giving him the big drink of water rather then hindered him any.

  8. spidergoddess

    spidergoddess spidergoddess Old Timer

    If you are saying your water dish is a clay flowerpot dish, most likely the reason it was empty when the spider got off was because the dish is porous and the water will seep out into the substrate. A better water dish is one of glazed ceramic or plastic that will contain water. Nice ones are sold as dishes for rodents.
  9. TobusRex

    TobusRex Arachnopeon


    Thanks for the encouragement tymeshadow. I'll try to keep the forum informed of my future tarantula experiences.

    Cricket, tarantulas run around all over the place down in New Mexico at this time of year. I guess there aren't any wild ones up in NJ. They are kind of neat to catch though.

    Spidergoddess, thanks for the waterdish feedback. I'll rectify that before I get another spider.

    This forum seems to be very friendly and helpful, which I appreciate. One member has even offered some spiderlings to help me get into the hobby! Thanks everybody.
  10. Immortal_sin

    Immortal_sin Arachnotemptress Old Timer

    welcome to the forum! hope you like it here. and, you are close to the ATS conference headquarters (carlsbad)...you'll have to come to the convention next year!
    sounds like you did your research, that is great.
    i wanted to answer your post last night but i have a fractured finger making long posts (or any post actually) difficult and painful!
  11. TobusRex

    TobusRex Arachnopeon

    Immortal Sin

    Forgive me if I get this wrong, but last night I surfed extensively on this site, and aren't you the person that compound fractured a finger in a boating accident? Seems like it would hurt like having 100 car doors slammed on the same finger. You have my sympathy, and you must be tough as nails to still post at all with a finger like that.

    Thanks for welcoming me. As MY luck would have it, I discovered a serious interest in Tarantulas 1 day after the end of the ATSHQ.ORG meeting in Las Cruces. Dammit, it would've been a 2 mile ride for me to the convention. <sigh>

    You know what is REALLY weird? Is that I've always loved the hell out of spiders (every since I was a young boy, and ALL young boys love spiders), and I have always refused to kill spiders, but I never knew there were hobbyists that liked spiders until last week! And I'm 39 years old! I sure do envy the young people who found this forum.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2004
  12. TobusRex

    TobusRex Arachnopeon


    Arachnopeon? LOL. Guess I'm starting at the bottom. Consider me a "post-ling". Everybody has been so friendly to me, I hope I haven't gotten too gabby. I just feel welcome and at home here.
  13. harwin

    harwin Arachnosquire Old Timer

    Are Post-lings cannibalistic?
  14. TobusRex

    TobusRex Arachnopeon

  15. jesses

    jesses Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Many Aphonopelma males look alike but it is probably one of these-

    Aphonopelma Anax

    Aphonopelma Chalcodes

    Aphonopelma Hentzi

    This may not help because they all look alike and they probably all look like the one you found... If possible you should try to find a female as they are much easier to identify.
  16. TobusRex

    TobusRex Arachnopeon

    I wonder why "texas tans" and their ilk aren't often shown on websites? Are these "mean" tarantulas or something? The spider I had last week was probably a texas tan, and it was as tame as a dog.

    Do people dislike the "common" Southwest USA tarantulas for some reason? Should I avoid them?
  17. jesses

    jesses Arachnobaron Old Timer

    I don't know what a Texas tan is. Tarantulas are not mean.
  18. TobusRex

    TobusRex Arachnopeon

    I thought Aphonopelma Anax was a "Texas Tan".
  19. jesses

    jesses Arachnobaron Old Timer

    I think Texas Tan is a catchall for every tarantula found in texas since they're all different shades of brown
  20. TobusRex

    TobusRex Arachnopeon

    Oh. To tell the truth, all the tarantulas I've ever seen, and I've seen them in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona, and California looked the same. They all ranged a dark brown/blown with a tan carapace.