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Proud, first time tarantula owner

Discussion in 'Tarantula Chat' started by goodoldneon, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. goodoldneon

    goodoldneon Arachnoknight

    Hello all - long time lurker, first time poster. On Tuesday, my daughter and I purchased our first (of what I am beginning to suspect will be many) tarantula - a B. Smithi - "certified" female. The certification was supposedly verified by the breeder, but, one never knows. I think we got a relatively good deal $60. I've handed her a few times to make some adjustments to her home, so far, she's been as sweet as pie - the only trouble I've had, is that once in hand, she doesn't want to get down. Based on the supplied photos, and I know this is a really, really long shot - would you agree she's a female, or are the photos simply not sufficient?

    Emily 2.JPG Emily 3.JPG Emily 4.JPG Emily.JPG
  2. Welcome to the forum!

    Sorry, the photos are completely insufficient. There are several ways to determine the sex of a tarantula. One of the surest is to examine the inside of the molted exoskeleton that comes from the abdomen. This requires that the tarantula molts, and that you save the shed skin. Because the parts that we're looking for are quite robust, it really doesn't matter if the skin is in good condition or not. While everything else could be a complete mess, the relevant parts are almost surely intact. There are two big rubs with this system: 1) Your tarantula probably won't molt until next March or April. 2) Somebody has to be able to recognize and identify those parts. For a newbie this last requirement is a tall order. An experienced enthusiast can be 95+% accurate, however, and I suspect that's what your supplier did.

    Another method involves the examination of the exterior of the bottom surface of the tarantula's abdomen. If the live spider isn't available, this generally requires two good photos: One of a face-on aspect of the bottom surface of the abdomen, and one in silhouette and taken from the side. We're looking for a conspicuous little pot belly in the area of the small body plate just behind that point where the abdomen attaches to the prosoma (literally "fore-body"). With a living tarantula an experienced enthusiast can be about 80+% accurate using this method. With good photos, somewhat less. With not-so-good photos, it's a wash (50%).

    From the tone of your posting I would appear that you're a relative newbie. Don't be offended, that's not a criticism. However, if you are (and maybe even if you aren't), you might read Stan's Rant. Pay particular attention to three things:

    1. Read the books. Note that I didn't say "buy them" (although you certainly can if you wish). You can check them out for free from your friendly, neighborhood, public library.

    2. Don't trust anyone's care sheets unless the contents and instructions are verified in these forums, or in those books.

    3. Don't believe anything a pet shop tells you unless what they tell you is verified in these forums, or in those books.

    Hope this helps. Best of luck.

    Enjoy your little 8-legged wonder!
    • Like Like x 1
  3. It seems likely that if the breeder did sex your B. smithi, they would have sexed it from a molt, and if so, their assessment of gender would be correct. A female B. smithi of that size is easily worth more than $60; you definitely got a good price.

    The enclosure you've set up looks great, with one small exception; a tarantula of your smithi's size should have a shallow water dish. If one is already being used but was not in place during the photos, great! But if not, it would be good to purchase one. A small kidney reptile bowl can be purchased at almost any pet store and works great: http://www.amazon.com/Zilla-Kidney-Bowl-Reptiles-Small/dp/B001F95YHY

    Welcome to the hobby, and enjoy your beautiful B. smithi!
  4. goodoldneon

    goodoldneon Arachnoknight

    Yep – you guessed it right – I am a newbie, and no offense taken. Prior to purchasing our new pet, I read The Tarantula Keepers Guide cover to cover several times. In doing so, I’ve notice the care sheet provided by both the pet store, and those found online, are, more often than not, more or less inaccurate. According to some, I should be spraying poor Emily’s cage on a pretty much daily basis. As recommended by (your??) book, I’m relying on the water dish for humidity, with just a tad of overfill to provide a little extra moisture. Our home is typically between 72 and 77 degrees, so, I assume Emily finds it as comfortable as we do. She hasn’t eaten since coming home with us, but I understand that is also to be expected. According the pet store clerk, she (he?) was eating two crickets a day, but to date, I haven’t witnessed such an appetite.

    As mentioned, I have handled her a few times, mostly to rearrange her living quarters – and so far, she’s been extremely docile – so much so that my 5 year old felt perfectly comfortable petting her (though, it should be said, she’ll handle just about anything provided she can be reasonably assured the insect, turtle, snake or whatnot will not bite).

    Upon returning from work yesterday, I noticed she had constructed a short silken web extending from the top of her log to her water dish. Unfortunately, the addition of fresh water necessitated that the web be disturbed – another way of saying it is, it broke – or, I broke it. Do you have a sense of why she may have constructed such a structure – to help alert her to food items, for territorial reasons, etc? In the future, should such webs be left undisturbed – will disturbing them cause stress to the T?

    I thank you in advance for all your help – and I wish you way more than luck –

  5. mickey66

    mickey66 Arachnoknight

    They really look nice don't they! I sold my female about a week ago and had to have another one 3/4" sling....they are fun to raise. As an adult my B.Smithi was a pet rock so I like them as slings they are starting to get pricey as adults $200 unsexed here in Phoenix LPS.....yikes! Out of all my T's B.Smithi always gets the wow factor and that is why you see them in the movies.....good choice and good luck!
  6. goodoldneon

    goodoldneon Arachnoknight

    Thank you - the enclosure does include a water dish - I had taken in out prior to taking the photo. At some point in the not too distant future, I plan on providing a slightly larger, more aesthetically pleasing (at least for us humans) home for her – something slightly roomier, with more space for providing additional “natural” décor, (fake) foliage, another hide or two, etc. Stuff she probably won’t even notice, but, will make owning a spider slightly more agreeable for my wife – who, pretty much suffers from arachnophobia – so, talking her into owning a T was no small feat. However, now that she’s had a chance to get a close look, she’s coming around. A more attractive terrarium might make the transition slightly more tenable.

    I want to thank the entire community for providing such insightful, passionately expressed information – I’m really impressed with this board, and plan on becoming a regular contributor.

    Cheers –

  7. Simple Man

    Simple Man Arachnopeon

    Congrats! Good looking T :) It's a bit addictive. I have 3 more on the way and I just got my first 3 a few weeks ago.


  8. newspidermom

    newspidermom Arachnosquire

    Welcome!! I must say it's sooo nice to see a "newbie" that has done good homework. Your new addition is a beauty!! You said you got it for $60? That's a GREAT deal for a smithi that large...especially if it's female. As you yourself predicted in your post you WILL get more...lol. Have you done any searches for any others you might be interested in? As said by another member, raising babies is pretty cool too. They take a bit more care and attention, but it's awsome to watch them transform and develope their adult coloring as they grow. There are quite a few docile Ts for you to collect...lol. Hope to see you around the forum!!
  9. And, thanks for the plug!

    Guilty as charged.

    Overfill isn't necessary, and if it's overdone or persists for a long time, can actually promote infestations. To hold in the humidity from the water dish you need to restrict ventilation. All kinds of methods have been devised, depending on the details of your cage's construction. Plastic food wrap works best in the majority of cases. Don't worry about the tarantula suffocating. Their oxygen demands are so small that it's almost impossible.

    Temperature, for some completely puzzling reason, is one of the more misunderstood aspects of tarantula care by many enthusiasts. In fact, because tarantulas are poikilothermic (cold blooded) they are capable of not only existing, but thriving in a truly remarkable range of temperatures, far greater than we would be comfortable in. So, the tarantula's first rule of temperature reigns supreme:

    If you don't have to wear a wool sweater because of the cold,
    or run naked because of the heat,
    your tarantula will be happy in just about any temperature you're comfortable in.

    B. smithi, like their cohorts B. emilia, march to a different drummer. They eat only when they're d**n well good and ready to, and never before, regardless of what we think they should be doing. After a month or two, if she still hasn't eaten, you can begin to panic a little, not before. This species is a very long lived one. You're going to have to learn to exercise great patience with it. You might try meditating with it. These do a lot of meditating. Their "Lotus Position" is particularly impressive. :biggrin:

    As long as you follow the instructions in the Guide! Do not risk the life of your pet by merely allowing it to walk onto your hand. There's no control on your part.

    These are also known as "pet rocks" in the hobby, and while a lot of enthusiasts deride them for that, I think their staid, almost catatonic lifestyle is a definite asset.

    They're spiders. That's what they do. Sometimes there's a purpose. Other times they're just doing something, anything to fend off the boredom. As an experiment, I would like you to put one ping pong ball in the cage with it. Nobody seems to believe me, but many tarantulas like to play with the ball in the middle of the night. If you hear a strange noise at 3:00 AM, just smile and go back to sleep. Or, grab your camera for a really unique photo!

    It really doesn't matter. The tarantula will often bundle up an old web and throw it into the corner of its cage, then spin a completely new one.

    And, don't worry about stressing it out too much. These creatures come from a family line that has ridden entire continents as they split, wheeled around, and collided. They've survived comet strikes, volcanic Armageddons, and at least two or three mass extinctions. They know exactly how to handle stress. They ignore it! {D

    Take some advice from your newfound little buddy. Relax. Meditate. Take life with a sense of humor. You only get one kick at it, so you might as well enjoy it.

    Enjoy your little 8-legged ping pong champion!
    • Like Like x 3
  10. Amoeba

    Amoeba Arachnolord

    :p I find this amusing enough and am intrigued enough to sig. quote this and I'm going to look for some pingpong balls ASAP...
  11. xhexdx

    xhexdx ArachnoGod Old Timer

    I've never done it but I've heard of it happening.
  12. Amoeba

    Amoeba Arachnolord

    Oh I'm gonna do it and write up a report on it then I'm gonna train them to play beer pong since they are at college too.
    • Like Like x 2
  13. Nichole

    Nichole Arachnopeon

    Lol. 8legged Beer pong champion. This i would pay loads of cash to see!
  14. jim777

    jim777 Arachnosquire

    Lovely B. smithi! :) When I've got a few more books under my belt it will be my first T. Good Luck that beautiful girl!

    (why does the OP have 3 posts in this thread and a 'post count' of 1? Seems odd to me...)
  15. Amoeba

    Amoeba Arachnolord

    On: Topic it is a nice B smithi if I liked them more I'd get one. Can't really see but maybe increase the substrate so there is less fall room.

    Off Topic: Posts in Tarantula Chat or the Watering Hole don't count towards post counts other wise we'd all have 7,549.
  16. goodoldneon

    goodoldneon Arachnoknight

    Update - well, it's been nearly ten weeks since purchasing my B. smithi, and she still hasn't shown any interest in eating. She looks much like she did in the original photos, her abdomen may be slightly smaller, though it's hard to say. She appears healthy, and I see no outward signs of malnutrition or dehydration, but I still cannot help but feel concerned. The bald spot on her abdomen hasn't increased in size, and I see no signs of an impending molt. The LPS I purchased her from claimed her last molt was in April - and, as previously noted - also stated that she was eating two to three crickets a day - she was in their care for eight months. I've tried crickets and superworms, both live and, er, deceased - she has shown no interest in either.

    So, to make a not so long story slightly shorter, at what point should I become (legitimately?) concerned?
  17. catfishrod69

    catfishrod69 Arachnoemperor

    well this species can go a long time without eating...the bald spot is not a sign of near molt, thats just the urticating hairs missing..if the skin under the missing hairs is getting darker, then she is in premolt...if the skin gets really black colored then she is close....and she might just be too stressed and still getting used to her new home..i wouldnt suggest handling her at all until you can verify she is in premolt, and let her molt, then get her to eating good....when her abdomen starts getting pretty small, then start panicking....
  18. ImDeadly

    ImDeadly Arachnosquire

    Pet stores are so unreliable and have an incentive to sell so they cannot be trusted in most cases. It is hard to tell what your T has been through prior to you purchasing her. Good luck, and lets hope you got her before anything got to her such as disease, or an infestation not visible to the eye. In other words, take everything they told you and discard it including last molt, eating habits, care instructions and even her sex. Treat it like a t you've just found in the wild.
  19. goodoldneon

    goodoldneon Arachnoknight

    Perhaps I’m just deluded, but I’m not quite that jaded. I’ve been to my share of horror shows attempting to pass for a Pet Store – fortunately, the one I purchased her from cares about their animals. They do a lot for the community, provide animal related education to local schools and are heavily involved with the local SPCA. The store is clean, as are all the cages, tanks, etc. Which, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean the person I spoke with knows the first thing about tarantulas. With that said, as you’ve noted, hopefully, she is not suffering from an internal parasite or some other, unseen malady. Time will tell I suppose.