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nematode symptoms??

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by treeweta, Jun 16, 2006.

  1. treeweta

    treeweta Arachnobaron Old Timer

    A juvenile T.blondi around 6 inches accross, fine and eating a few days ago.

    Today i find a live cricket still in tank and then notice something protuding slightly from the mouth. I put into a clear box to observe her underside. she has white material in the mouth area, not like the yellowish fur like i've seen with nematodes but more white and pasty, almost like tarantula excrement, she was trying to clear this from the mouth using her fangs but to no avail. im assuming this animal has some disease and isolated her. Last month i did have a smaller blondi die, and I found mites around the mouth, not sure if that was nematodes or the mites or even someting else. since then ive been keeping all tanks dry with just a water dish, and even then removing that for days just to try and break the mite cycle.

    Of course maybe it is excrement that has accidentally got there but that seems unlikely, its definitely in the central area.

    A few days ago i did see the same animal with a mass of gunk below its head, i just assumed that was a munched cricket but now im beginning to wonder, incidentally the tanks smell is decidedly strong (despite recent fresh peat and also dry) and i know others have mentioned nematodes and a strange smell!!

  2. treeweta

    treeweta Arachnobaron Old Timer

    ive read some other posts and read the 'white stuff' indicates some fatal disease, oh well. i wish i'd checked the large mass in the spiders moth the other day to see if it was actually food or something more sinister (ie nematode mass, i could then correlate that with the white paste). i remember seeing several live caught spiders with this paste years ago amongst several hundered live spiders (recent captives).

    If this proves fatal and moves to other spiders it looks like i'll be giving up on blondi as these animals prove too expensive to keep losing. I'll be looking at keeping the us desert spiders at room temps in their own isolated containers, rather easier than having lots of spiders close in a heated tank.

  3. treeweta

    treeweta Arachnobaron Old Timer

    It has to be said that losing spiders through infections can be very disheartening, if after say two years you lose a blondi, you then get another sling and are back at square one, it sets you back in time quite a bit, thats the problem, its not like you get another full grown but another to care for, feed and hopefully not lose again in the future.

    2001 i finally had some nice big blondi, my wife and i got a chance to move to New zealand, i didnt have time to sell my spiders (they are not allowed in to NZ) so a friend looked after them for a couple of years, unfortunately 90% of the spiders died, his abilities weren't what i thought, anyway, the point is now with some new spiders im finding these problems of infections just as my blondi are getting toward adult sizes, very frustrating, basically im at the point i was 10 years ago! :mad:

  4. Juraki

    Juraki Arachnosquire Old Timer

    I'm very sorry to hear about your problems. I have never owned a T.Blondi, while I'm fascinated witht the species, and am not shy about challenges, this is the one tarantula that I most likey will always avoid. I have seen so many deaths or "what's wrong with my blondi?" post in just the past week alone that I'd be constantly worried about the spider, and I'd probably just stress it out by changing and adjusting things too often in fear of having a problem.

    I also tend to get attached to my animals, no matter how many legs they have, and I'd be afraid of setting myself up for heartbreak.

    As far as the "white paste" you mentioned, could it possibly be the result of the blondi "scratching" at the nemetodes with it's fangs so much that it turned em to goo? (ok bad terminology, haven't had my coffee yet.)

    Also, I have come to the conclusion that crickets are filthy dirty little beasts, and what compounds it is that they are a pain to raise, they take more work, they take longer to grow, and have a MUCH higher mortality rates (even in well cared for colonies) than most roach species. I'm finding it harder to trust local pet stores when it comes to the care of their feeder insects, and the possibilty they are carrying potentially deadly parasites, or diseases.

    I have switched to lobster roaches, I have a decent colony going. More than my current collection would need, I can feed my T's and geckos as often as they'll eat and I'll still produce more than I can feed off. I give frozen roaches to friends for their geckos, and other exotics when I have to many. The nymphs make great feeders for slings, you'll find that you're feeding less often, and the slings are getting better nutrition.

    I'm sure you already know most of this, you've definately been keeping T's longer than me, but just incase you have never tried it, keeping a colony of roaches is a much better alternative to buying crickets. I feel so much better now knowing that I'm in control of what my feeders are fed, and how clean they are. Take alot of the worry out, at least for me.

    I wish you the best of luck with your blondi, I really love the species. I just wish they weren't so fragile.
  5. treeweta

    treeweta Arachnobaron Old Timer

    the blondi is still alive but not feeding, actually the white mass has dissapeared and aside from the lack of feeding she seems fairly normal, however a larger sibling of this animal (around 7 inches) now is showing the same symptoms, she moulted 3 weeks ago, fed ok after a week then started to refuse crickets, she now has white material around the mouth. Seems the nematodes are present in the states now.

    I'll try my best to prevent any further spread but if this eventually kills all the spiders (they were closely housed) I will more than likely give up on the practical side of the hobby or buy lower priced animals that i can house at room temperature separated from each other.

    I'll keep info on the progress of these spiders posted.

    Last edited: Jun 19, 2006
    • Sad Sad x 1
  6. Amanda

    Amanda Arachnolord Old Timer

    How are they currently being housed?
  7. treeweta

    treeweta Arachnobaron Old Timer

    the two blondi are in tanks isolated in a separate room. Substrate dry peat and perlite 30/70 with waterdish and good ventilation. No AC on so temps around 75 with high humidity. prior to my large spiderling blondi dying about a month ago they were on peat with more moisture and lower ventilation. i may change all my tanks to vermiculite/perlite and hope it helps reduces any spread.

  8. Becca

    Becca Arachnoknight Old Timer

    Have you read the article on giantspiders? http://giantspiders.com/article12.html

    The smell has often been described as 'sweet' smelling by other keepers when nematodes are concerned. Are the pedipalps constantly held underneath the t like curled round underneath? This is also often a sign of nematodes as the fangs appear to be paralysed, hence why the t may not eat. If you have any other t's than the blondi's I would move them into different rooms just in case. See how they go... It may be a good idea to completely clean out any other tanks you have and change to vermiculite like you suggested to help..

    Here's a useful paragraph from Guy's site that may help if you haven't had chance to read the whole article:

    " typical symptoms to watch out for are; restlessness, spinning unusual amounts of silk, spending long periods around the water dish, any unusual sweet smell coming from the container, a very wet sternum caused by the spider drooling (not to be confused with normal cleaning behaviour) and, most importantly, a white sticky mass around the mouth and holding the palps permanently under the chelicerae. For some reason the chelicerae become paralysed, making it impossible for the spider to clean itself and making feeding impossible. A quick test is to gently shake the spiders' container. Under normal circumstances, the spider will steady itself with all the legs and this includes placing the palps on the floor also. Infected spiders won't do this. You can also try feeding, as affected spiders cannot attack prey"
  9. treeweta

    treeweta Arachnobaron Old Timer


    i emailed Guy, he actually asked if it could not be some other infection. I have no direct evidence of nematodes. the mouth liquid is chalky and not the yellow fuzz associated with nematodes. The one that showed it earlier this week actually seems to behaving more normally (i havent tried feeding it since it started) the pedipalps are held on the ground. Its larger sibling that moulted 3 weeks ago seems sicker and isnt feeding despite a very small abdomen. I did notice that prior to its moult its abdomen wasnt as big i expect for a blondi prior to a moult although its growth from the moult seemed typical. the 'smell' i'd describe as musty and pungent, like rotting leaf mould and decaying fles, possibly sweet, quite overpowering really.

    if i see any more material in the mouth i will take a swab and shake in water to see if there are any worms.

  10. man that is scary, i would die if my blondi got sick. i have only had her for two years but ive put alot of effort to ensure her comfort in the enviroment she is in.
    sorry 'bout your luck man that really sucks i hope everthing works out for the better!;) :D
  11. cacoseraph

    cacoseraph ArachnoGod Old Timer

    if you can get a swab of the white stuff and drop it in rubbing alcohol you can see nematodes swirl off
    • Optimistic Optimistic x 1
  12. treeweta

    treeweta Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Ok, im gonna take a step back.

    the first blondi with the problem has been acting fairly normal the last few days, this morning she was preening herself with her fangs opening normally, it wasnt that agitated preening that is sometimes seen. This afternoon i threw in a cricket and she took it! I'll see if she actually eats it but. the larger sibling still seems a bit sickly, i threw in a cricket, it went to grab it but then rejected and flicked it away.

    Maybe this isnt nematodes but some bacterial infection possibly from crickets?

    so things are looking better. fingers xxx'd.

  13. treeweta

    treeweta Arachnobaron Old Timer

    another quick update.

    the first spider is now eating crickets normally, shes had 5 over the last 20 hours and her abdomen has filled, overall she seems normal again.

    the second larger spider again went to grab a cricket then rejected it.

    The main thoughts/observations from this 'have i got nematodes' experience:

    A white chalky paste from the mouth may indicate some infection but not necessarily nematodes (so dont freeze your spiders if you see it).

    Prior to seeing the paste the spiders were lethargic, the paste wasnt seen the day after it appeared but the spiders still lethargic and the chelicera held slightly apart.

    After being kept on dry substrate in a very well ventilated tank (pet carrier type) the spider seem to 'get better' and resume feeding after around 4-5 days.

    Other contacts have suggested bacteria/fungi. I notice that even though the tanks are dry the ambient humidity here near Chicago is high (70-80%) so maybe extra moisture in the soil creates saturated air which may cause problems, i'm taking the dry sustrate route over summer when the humidity is high. Its possibly true that high humidity causes more problems than it solves, i suspect you are more likely to lose a spider due to pathogens/parasites than to dehydration (assuming they have water dishes).

  14. treeweta

    treeweta Arachnobaron Old Timer


    heres an update/summary on this whole 'nematodes' business.

    I had 4 blondi, 2 large slings and 2 large female juveniles. both slings have now died. the larger ones showed the white mouth past and became inactive stopped feeding, then revived, fed again on crickets, became ill again, this cycle repeated twice. the are now OK again and I think its the crickets carrying some bacteria maybe. Ive just got a colony of orange head roaches, my largest juvenile has taken 3 in the last 24 hours and seems perfectly normal now, the other one hasnt fed but may be due to moult. My feeling is that the infection? from crickets is tolerated by larger spiders but not the spiderlings. interestingly my s'ling king baboons and M.robustum have been eating the same crickets and all been fine.

    The spiders seem to like the roaches more, im sticking with those for now.
  15. treeweta

    treeweta Arachnobaron Old Timer

    the two larger blondis still alive but one is way behind moult wise, it was at the same instar as its sibling that moulted 2 months ago, it has also developed a red colouration on the bald skin of the abdomen that started as a few flecks but over 2 months has become a solid patch, hopefully this isnt one of those nasty ulcers underneath that blondi can develop on abdomens, the skin is intact however, the second larger blondi is starting to develop the same coloration.

    see picture.


    ive seen this type of colour speckled on the abdomens of some older spiders but never this obvious.

  16. mcysgirl

    mcysgirl Arachnosquire

    I thought you weren't supposed to use perlite.... or did I miss something? What I was curious about is could they have been chewing on the perlite and get the white mass and possible get sick from it?
  17. treeweta

    treeweta Arachnobaron Old Timer

    I only started to use perlite after they got sick, i was attempting to provide as well ventilated and dry tank as possible (save the water dish) the humidity has been high all summer (around 80%) so ive had no dessication issues.

    • Funny Funny x 1
  18. treeweta

    treeweta Arachnobaron Old Timer

    good news, the spider in the photo on this thread has finally gone into premoult, i'll keep you posted on its progress, this should have moulted ages ago but nows the time.

  19. syndicate

    syndicate Arachnoemperor Old Timer

    man that sucks best luck with the rest of your blondi.also did u find drying out all your tanks got rid of the mites?
  20. jayer10

    jayer10 Arachnosquire

    i kept my tank kinda dry. i inhereted one from my friend who went to prison, which he inherited from his brother who went to prison, who inherited from another friend. i'd say it was about 8 years old, and only lived on dry wood chips and a water dish. Didn't even feed it that much. i gave it away recently but it was in good shape. i only fed it mice maybe 1 or twice every 2 months, and it was very active. I didn't really care for t. at that time, so i didn't really pay too much attention to it. My friend on the other hand pays too much attention to his and they seem to die fast. When neglected, for some reason, they seem to live a LONG time. lol