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My New Desert Death Feigning Beetles Not Doing Well?

Discussion in 'Insects, Other Invertebrates & Arthropods' started by feelahthetigress, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. feelahthetigress

    feelahthetigress Arachnopeon

    I did a lot of research on the care and setup of desert beetles, and I bought some from Bugs in Cyberspace. I ended up with 4 Blue Death Feigning Beetles, 3 Black Death Feigning Beetles, 2 Wooly Beetles, 1 Smooth Death Feigning Beetle, and a small fuzzy round one (Edrotes ventricosus) that he kindly threw in as a bonus. I just got them a day ago, and they seemed alright. I gave them some beetle jelly (purchased at the same time) and a few of them ate some. I felt they were doing well, but now they don't seem so good. I was told they were active beetles, but I never see any of them out. I saw one this morning, and he doesn't seem to be doing well. He was twitching his legs and not moving normally. Now he's just sitting there, not moving at all. I don't know what's wrong. The only thing I can think is maybe it's the temperature? It's pretty cold in here, and I measured the temp in there as only 63 F. Maybe it's too cold? I don't know. I can't figure out what else could possibly be wrong. If anyone has any advice, please offer it.

    Here's some pics, maybe they'll help.
  2. davehuth

    davehuth Arachnosquire

    I've been working on the same question for the past several weeks, since i set up my own first mixed species Darklings enclosure. I'm new at this and no expert, but happy to share my experience.

    63F does sound a tad on the chilly side. I keep mine 69 to 79F.

    At first, I had the same kind of disappointing activity: every now and then they would show themselves, nibble half-heartedly at dog food, wander away and stuff their head under a stick. I believe there likely needs to be some recovery time after shipping, and some patience is needed.

    However, a lot of these desert beetles seem to be more active nocturnally. My previous set-up had a very strong side light (exposed bulb) like yours to keep the temps up, and I wondered whether they were reacting as they might to bright sunlight over everything in the desert: hunker down and wait for dark. Have you observed them at 11 pm or so after being in the dark a few hours?

    When I noticed mine were walking around more in the dark, I changed my light to a more diffused overhead arrangement, and arranged the landscaping to cast a few shadows. Since then, and allowing for a few weeks recovery from shipping, mine have become much more entertaining, scrambling and dragging things around more like you see in videos online. Good luck and hope yours perk up soon!
  3. feelahthetigress

    feelahthetigress Arachnopeon

    I noticed that some of them came out last night, but as soon as they noticed me watching, they stopped moving. *They know I'm watching!* The light I'm using is a 60 watt equiv. CFL, so it doesn't put off much warmth. I'm thinking of switching to an incandescent to help raise the temperature. Or, would you suggest a ceramic heat bulb that doesn't put off actual light? Or maybe a halogen bulb? I've heard they get quite warm. I'm not sure exactly what the best option is...
  4. Smokehound714

    Smokehound714 Arachnoking Active Member

    Put a bit of meat in there, they go nuts for it. beetle jelly is for scarabs and stag beetles, though it's a good source of moisture for Asbolus/cryptoglossa/eleodes

    they prefer fat and protein-rich foods.

    Edrotes are more herbivorous, they like sunflower seeds and bits of lettuce.
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  5. feelahthetigress

    feelahthetigress Arachnopeon

    I did give them a dessicated bug (from a bag of food intended for bearded lizards) - they seem to have nibbled on it some.
  6. davehuth

    davehuth Arachnosquire

    Honestly I often think it’s the brightness of the light itself that sends them for cover. Even when I peek after dark with a flashlight they tolerate it for 10 or 20 seconds, and then turn and bolt.

    As far as getting them warmer, I just use a Fluoresent, but keep half the top of the tank covered with a large sheet of acrylic. This traps some heat while allowing moisture to escape on the other side so it doesn’t get humid. The acrylic is sort of semi transparent white in color which diffuses the light instead of blasting it down on them like the sun. This gets them out and moving in the mid afternoon.

    I also have a lot of them in there (about 40-ish?) and when they bump into each other this seems to rile them up a little.

    Mixing up the food like previously suggested sounds good to me. Mine like their vegetables but also get plenty of protein. Keep us posted
  7. davehuth

    davehuth Arachnosquire

    Sunflower seeds is a great idea, I’ll try it out with my edrotes.
  8. Sarkhan42

    Sarkhan42 Arachnobaron Active Member

    It’s been a little while since I kept mine, but I believe I would use a red light to observe them at night as to not startle them, much like people will do with tarantulas.
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  9. feelahthetigress

    feelahthetigress Arachnopeon

    Well, I just hiked out in the freezing cold to the nearby grocery store and purchased a 60 watt incandescent bulb (soft white color; not the bright daylight spectrum CFL I was using before). I installed it in the lamp, and about 10 minutes later, a Wooly Beetle came out to wander around. I measured the temp and it's up to 74 F. in the tank instead of 63 F. Perhaps the warmth is helping. The only thing I'm worried about is my Smooth Death Feigning Beetle - he's flipped on his back and slightly twitching his legs. Every time I try to put him right on his feet, he flips back over. Is he dying horribly, or is he just tricking me since he is a "death feigning" beetle?

    I also replaced the beetle jelly with a dried cricket and a few dried veggies.
  10. davehuth

    davehuth Arachnosquire

    hahaha. That's how they trick ya! I think some people call them "pop-n-lock" beetles because of those sweet moves...
  11. feelahthetigress

    feelahthetigress Arachnopeon

    Well, I hope he's secretly ok. I should probably stop poking him and just leave him alone and see if he "recovers" later...
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  12. arizonablue

    arizonablue Arachnosquire

    The addition of heat is good, they like it warm. But regardless of how warm it is during the day, they will most often be out at night. The woolies hide a LOT, I rarely see mine. Those little roly-poly Edrotes are one of my favorite beetles, but I've never been able to get them to breed and they don't live long. :( And for a protein source that won't make a mess of your tank, you can use dog kibble. My desert beetles love the stuff, they will swarm all over it and then drag it off under some cork bark to stash away for later.
  13. feelahthetigress

    feelahthetigress Arachnopeon

    Thanks for the advice!
  14. feelahthetigress

    feelahthetigress Arachnopeon

    Hmm...that's interesting. Now that the tank is warm, I'm seeing my woolies and black death feigning beetles out a lot, but I haven't seen my Blue Death Feigning Beetles at all yet. Oh, I'm just wondering...if they can eat sunflower seeds, can they also eat other nuts? I don't have any sunflower seeds right now, but I have walnuts/almonds/pecans on hand...
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