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Dyskinetic syndrome (dks)

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by Stan Schultz, Dec 15, 2009.

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    I originally posted this at http://www.arachnoboards.com/ab/showthread.php?t=169511, but upon thinking about it decided to repost it as a new thread so it would get more attention.

    I have been communicating with a lady who managed to breed Chilean rose tarantulas (Grammostola rosea). Of the 250 or so babies originally produced she managed to follow the growth, development, and fates of about a dozen of the babies. Most of the babies were distributed to other enthusiasts while still very young. Therefore, whatever influences that may have effected them were probably quite variable and differed from household to household, tending to cancel out or nullify the majority of environmental influences.

    So far, about 6 (approximately half) of the babies, now several years old and about "juvenile" size, have died with dyskinetic syndrome-like symptoms, although the mother is apparently still in good health. This immediately suggests the possibility that some expressions of the malady may be an inherited character because it seems to "cluster" in this one family in spite of the differences in their care.

    Given this possibility it would be extremely interesting from a scientific point of view, if not from an aesthetic or materialistic, profit and loss standpoint, if other enthusiasts who have bred family lines of tarantulas in which DKS has been noted have also noted a tendency towards the condition cropping up in greater frequency within those family groups.

    Is at least some sort of DSK inheritable? If so, is it dominant, recessive, sex linked, etc? Should we examine what scant breeding records we can unearth for the possibility? Should some of us purposely try to breed tarantulas with the condition in their family history to determine if it really is inheritable?

    Here is an opportunity for some advanced enthusiasts to do some really interesting and important research.
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  2. Moltar

    Moltar ArachnoGod

    Hey thanks for posting this Stan, too bad it got overshadowed by the other thread. I think that the sort of research you mention is the only way we'll get any helpful data on DKS. I wish I could contribute to this more but I just don't do the breeding thing. No time! Yes, I waste lots of time on AB but I do that from work. Now if they'd let me breed spiders at my desk...
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  3. esotericman

    esotericman Arachnobaron Old Timer

    This is a duplicate post from another board, but the points are interesting to discuss, I think.

    This thing "dyskinetic syndrome" is at best a collection of observations an given this 50 cent name which basically means "spastic movements, cause unknown". Your suggestion that it's inheritable gives it even more weight, and should it turn out to be true, what mechanism are you going to point at? Inbreeding? Hybridization?


    Instead, I'd suggest it's some unknown invertebrate disease (mycosis, mycoplasma, virus, prions, anyone?), or a build up of pesticides or toxins. I'd believe a link to polyacrylamide far before some inheritable factor.

    In any case, hopefully some folks with more time than I have will link some relevant posts from other sites. I know we started hearing about a transient situation (probably dehydration) in the early 2000's, but it's been in the last few years that many of these spiders just die. Newly documented observations like that do not support inheritable genes unless you want to point at inbreeding, which will immediatly be shot down by the fact you're looking at G. rosea, which one if not both of the parents were most likely wild caught.

    We need some daring person to put together a species list to look for trends before we leap to inheritance or even toxic exposures.
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  4. codykrr

    codykrr Arachnoking Old Timer

    personally i belive it may be cause my either a type of parasitic fungi, or just a plain old parasite.

    i have said numerous times, that fungi can cause illnesses that are unseen for months, years even. same as some parasitic flies, and other larva.

    the reason i lean towards a parasitic fungi is this.

    you keep Ts in the perfect fungi harboring environment. without a substrate examination you could never be sure what fungi spores are present.

    also there are thousands of unknow parasitic fungi that target certain types of animals, down to even the specific species. also fungi are the most unstudied thing on earth. even more so than the dark abyss of the ocean.

    i know of certain strains and sp. of parasitic fungi affects on crickets, locusts, moths, and flies.

    each has there own characteristics. for example. a fly infected with one type of parasitic fungi will find a wall or surface to land on and will be immobilized and will cling to the surface its on. totally immobalizing fight, walking, grooming but can still have spastic "siezures" once its time for the fruiting body of the fungi to emerge the fly will stay clung to the surface for a single strand 5mm long to emerge and release over 100,000,000 spores. wich are then everywhere. for the cycle to continue. amazingly enough this happens in alot of homes in the states.

    ive never really put much thought into DKS being even remotly related to polyacrylamide, but that could be as well. no telling what chemicals may be sprayed on them...the only sure fire way to be sure would be to hire scientists to acually study a specimen with these symptoms. and even then it wouldnt be garunteed.
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  5. mindstorm

    mindstorm Arachnosquire Old Timer

    i had a couple of jumpers which had DKS within 2 weeks of keeping them. They were wild caught and fed only on flies flying around my garden. Eventually they too died after a couple of days.
    My suspect for this disease maybe due to a kinda of virus infection which affects the nervous system, judging that they are so wide spread reported all over the world. This virus maybe spread by mites or comes with the food they eat. Some spiders maybe immune to them while others not. This is not unlike distemper found in dogs or cats.(i once had a dog which died from distemper... it lost orientation and had her head pushed by herself into a drain hole and her legs kept kicking. A really sad incident for me which i never forgotten. A vet was called to put her down)
    http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body_ca ... emper.html

    Distemper affects a lot of types of carnivore animals(including hyenas), and i suspect DKS maybe a type of arachnid distemper.

    just my 2 cents.
  6. scorpistung

    scorpistung Arachnopeon

    DKS is an arachnid distemper from what I have heard. Just thought I would put that out there.
  7. jonnyquong

    jonnyquong Arachnosquire

    DKS is actually a catch-all name for any unknown disease, infection, affliction or whatever that has been given to tarantulas with spastic-like behavior. The jury is still out to as the cause, or even if the causes are all the same. I suggest we start a database here to include as much information as possible... diet, temps, other pets,flea treatments, smokers, etc. Maybe we can help figure this thing out! If we don't , who will?
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  8. Envyizm

    Envyizm Arachnoknight

    One of the larger causes is already very much known. Fipronil is used in a lot of flea and tick medicines. Arachnids exposed to this chemical compound cannot receive chlorine ions through their GABA and GluCl receptors causing the lost of nerve control before their death. There also may be some connection to the anti-mite crap they spray on mice bedding and certain keeper's obsession with feeding vertebrate prey to their tarantula. The syndrome is almost certainly caused by a overdose of pesticides, but some of the real knowledge on the forums gets buried by constant relay of poor information. Signal vs. static, if you will...
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  9. i confirm :)
    In many cases DKS occured in houses where dog was kept :)
    Fipronil is a spot on medicine, so it can be brought to the terrarium on non washed hands. The DKS is a similar reaction that acaries and thicks has when they have contact with fipronil.
    Best medicine?
    Lots of water. I think the best way is to put spiders on wet paper towels.
    You can always use some liquids by injection but it's hard and risky...
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  10. Tarac

    Tarac Arachnolord

    I lost one T to "DKS"- classic uncontrolled twitching and poorly coordinated movement at the slightest stimuli; fumbling movement, falling on back and flailing. Just like the videos all over the net now. Definitely looks neurological, maybe even affecting the ability to orient in space or detect gravity?

    I have a dog, same dog at the time. This was a while back now when people kept telling you that "you just weren't watering enough" so the details are fuzzy now, but I feel it should be mentioned in the data accumulating here because of a few things:

    1. My T's are housed in a no-other animal room, and I don't handle them generally at all except in emergencies (esp. the OBT that died- and yes, it did die, realtively quickly)
    2. Only a single tarantula out of 30 or so was affected, all with the same diet, in a small space, etc. if it were contagious or airborne I'd have expected more problems
    3. My dog is on an oral medication his whole life for heartworm and fleas, no tick component. It is milbemycin oxime and lufenuron, Sentinel, and it is not spot on. Of course just like the others it is also systemic so I wonder about dander and such, but the point is that this type of contamination is remote at best in this case

    The tarantulas were and are all housed on a single shelf in my bathroom, it's quiet, warmer and more humid in there and they're out of sight for those who don't care for them (can you imagine such a thing? lol). I've never had another incident so I am greatful for that, it was really sad. It was a sub-adult male, about 2.5" I would estimate. He started "shuddering" one night when anything changed, lights on or off, bump something, close the door. By the next day he could barely stay oriented with lots of erratic twitching and stumbling around. Within four days of first noticing the symptoms he had died. At the time I didn't know about DKS so I wasn't sure what happened or if it would recover or not, I had not had any health issues with Ts until then. I wish I had euthanized the poor guy in retrospect, it was very upsetting to me so I can only imagine how horrible it was for the T.

    It seems that the consensus is some kind of toxicity but the reports are all so contradictory as to any potential causes I would hesitate to make any comment myself, one way or the other. Hard to say without actual documentation, no? I can say for certain that Fipronil is at least not the only cause of DKS, though it could obviously be one of the causes. Whether it is something else chemical I am not sure. I think with it being only the one T in the middle of the collection suggests it might be something with at least some individual-specific component that makes certain Ts more prone to express or be susceptible to damage? Anyone else have this isolated type of experience? I wish we would know soon, it's terrible wondering if there was anything I could've done to prevent it.
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  11. Hornets inverts

    Hornets inverts Arachnobaron

    I have lost a number of t's and scorpions that showed these DKS like symptoms. It has came in waves and the only thing that i can think of that may have been at fault was feeding. Every time i had these waves of deaths i was feeding darkling beetle larvae as a staple. I think i can rule out parasites or disease coming from the feeders as they came from different suppliers at different times. Not sure if that had anything to do with it but thats the only thing that corresponds to the die offs.
  12. AgeAye

    AgeAye Arachnosquire

    hey I've been reading up on dks lately and all the answers seem so vague. food vs pesticides vs genetic vs virus etc.... I read some posts about cultures and that bacterial infections can be ruled out (am I correct?) ... the one thing that I found striking that I could not find any information on was if anyone suspected a prion was the causative agent? I read that feeder cannibalism could be a possible source and if that's the case, it could be a possibility of one bad cricket in the batch... if we look at other prions that cause kuru, bse (mad cow) they all affect the CNS causing similar symptoms. Just a thought but really, I could not find any other thoughts on this. Am I crazy or was this simple explanation extremely overlooked?

    ---------- Post added 12-27-2011 at 05:37 PM ----------

    im no entomologist but apparently histological slides of the two ganglia in a T would only result in a 31% chance of proper dx if its anything like BSE or kuru. It's worth a try though..
  13. Poxicator

    Poxicator Arachnobaron

    My personal experience of DKS has always led to death of the tarantula, after some prolonged extremely erratic behaviour. Some has been attributed to Frontline, the flea treatment. Within this forum I believe the makers of such product suggested that contact with Frontline is likely to result in death. It has been suggested that using drops and avoiding indirect contact with the animals using the treatment and all inverts for 3 days should reduce the issue greatly.

    The other issue that seemed to regularly occur was that of feeding locusts to tarantula. To keep locusts you need to feed them almost their body weight in food per day. That creates quite a dirty environment, but reducing the food load to them encourages bad bacteria within the gut to multiply and some of these bacteria are directly linked to the likes of e-coli and salmonella. A report was made on this by Rod Dillon of the University of Liverpool, UK. Could using poorly fed locusts to tarantula result in DKS? Since ive dissisted Ive not had another instance.

    I recently had quite an interesting read recently of Reptilia, the European Herp magazine. There was an article from Lautensack, R & Hübers, R on the Feeding Terrarium and Live-Food Invertebrates. They suggested that vitamin B deficiency can cause quite diverse symptoms, and often has neurological consequences. It may be a cause of DKS observed in tarantula. We believe that the cramps, trembling, disorientation, and related symptoms of this syndrome are usually the resulf of nutritional deficiencies. They went on to say that Omega 3 and Omega 6 are essential in the diet of invertebrates and that deficiencies create similar symptoms in different species. A deficiency of alpha-linolenic acid could be another risk factor for DKS in tarantula.

    There conclusions seemed to suggest that we should feed our feeders better, that they should receive a balanced and varied diet of a standard good enough to provide them with the nutrients, proteins and cholesterol that they require. Its certainly worthy of thought and I shall be considering my feeders to inverts as well as my feeders to reptiles.
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  14. This an old thread, but just in case anyone else runs across it the way I have:
    We have an A. seemanni suffering the symptoms described by DKS. I do know that she was dehydrated, but I also know that we treat our cats with a spot on flea treatment. The cats were treated recently, the spider was rehoused recently too.
    This has been slow to progress starting a few weeks ago with the spider "tap dancing" at prey instead of trying catch it or moving away. This has kept her from eating for at least a month. 3 days ago she could not seem to stop twitching and stamping and even had her bedding clutched up in her fangs. It reminded me of a mammal having a seizure.
    She was put in arachnid ICU (a deli cup with some air holes and lined on the bottom with wet paper towels) and placed on a warm, dark shelf for 2 and 1/2 days. There was some improvement.
    The seizure-like behavior now only comes when the animal is in some way directly stimulated.
    She is still alive and is presently in her enclosure which has been damped (for lack of a better word) and put on the same warm, dark shelf.
    If she is no better this evening, she will be returned to the ICU.
    If she either recovers or dies, I will post the result.
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  15. mconnachan

    mconnachan Arachnoprince Active Member

    It seems from reading the posts on this thread, that their is no unequivocal evidence pointing to any or all of the reasons tarantulas show signs of DKS. To date we're no further forward in knowing the details of how they become infected, unfortunately their are still DKS deaths with no explanation pertaining to spot treatment, or vertebrate feeding. Just my tuppence worth, I've not got enough scientific knowledge to understand some of the posts, so I wouldn't even begin to try to understand. Hope something is done sooner rather than later in terms of keeping logs of specific sp. and their environment.
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  16. Richard Stewart

    Richard Stewart the_tarantula_collective Arachnosupporter

    Sorry to hear about this. I am interested in the outcome as I too have a cat that received spot on flea treatment and occasionally I find him sitting right in front or on top of an enclosure. I have taken steps to make the enclosures inaccessible to him, but he is a cat and theyre stubborn, crafty and persistent. As of yet I have had no experience with DKS, but have 72 T's in my collection and fear that a run in with DKS is eventually inevitable at some point. Thanks for sharing.
  17. Andrea82

    Andrea82 Arachnoking Active Member

    A cat with spot on treatment actually next to the enclosure??
    That is indeed an accident waiting to happen. I would keep the cat out of the ROOM if it was mine. (I keep mine out of the room as a given, actually but I know that that is an option not all keepers have).
    Seriously..keep that cat out of there for at least a week after it's been treated. It could harm or kill your collection. All of them.
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  18. I am sorry to say that she did eventually succumb to her "illness" and passed. None of the other inverts we keep have shown similar symptoms even though they are fed from the source, have their homes cleaned as often, etc.
    The only difference between care for the A. seemani and any of the others was that she was rehoused recently after the cats got their spot on treatment. Just to be as safe as possible, I would keep kitty away from he tanks for about a week after treatment is applied. I have also started wearing gloves when I apply flea treatment. Who knows how much that will help, but it couldn't possibly hurt.
  19. user 666

    user 666 Arachnobaron

    I subscribe to the same theory.

    I just lost my first T to DKS. It is an N incei, and I m currently losing a second T from the same communal enclosure.

    N incei prefer to hide in their web tubes, but DKS is making my Ts run around in circles and kick their legs at random. As I look down at the T, I notice how the spastic movements are almost intended to draw attention to the T so it gets eaten by a predator.

    There are parasite species that can change an insect's behavior so that it gets eaten. I think we have a similar issue with DKS and tarantulas.

    I don't know how my N incei got the parasites; it could be a feeder insect or they brought it with them (I only had them for a few months).

    But I am not seeing this in my other Ts, so the parasite theory is the most likely.
  20. Debbie Mcclure

    Debbie Mcclure Arachnosquire

    I recently heard that it's a possibility that it could be caused by air fresheners, perfume and cologne. Could that be possible??
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