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Stromatopelma Bites

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by Vayu Son, Feb 18, 2003.

  1. Vayu Son

    Vayu Son Avatar of Anansi Old Timer

    This is posted here without permission, taken from Exothermae Magazine no.1 "Poecilotheria". It is out of print and I have not seen it available anywhere. It is posted here for the information regarding Stromatopelmiinae envenomation. It is here because I have no way of contacting the editer Phillip Charpentier to request permission. I feel the reports presented are valuable to those keeping this species. If there is an issue concerning this reproduction, then this post will be removed promptly and willingly by myself or the moderators.

    Copyright Exothermae Publications
    Duinenweg 453, 8430 Middelkerke Belgium

    Stromatopelma Bites

    Man's culture here is responsible for a form of co-habitation that is not as endearing as co-habitation with Avicularia in South America. And if the occasional bites of the well-known "pink-toes" is never more than a pin-prick, the savage bites of Stromatopelma are all the opposite. Portrait of the most fearsome West-African Theraphosid: Stromatopelma calceata griseipes.

    Over its whole range, Stromatopelma's inhabiting commercial palm trees cause a large number of accidents amongst the peoples climbing the palm tree for a daily living.

    In sierra Leone, the Limbe people are notorious for both their production and consumption of the pouyou - palm wine - the national drink of the country. In all the areas where I worked on Stromatopelma, I was involved with Limbe people, because they are the most agile climbers...and they know in which part of the tree the spiders live. In normal life, however, they locate the spiders in order to avoid them. In all these Limbe communities in the bush, all elderly palm-wine cutters had been bitten several times. Thirty year old tree owners had almost all been bitten at least once. Upon the single collecting trip I had, 9 people were bitten - tribute to the irascible temper of the "pigeon spider".

    The first accident involved a freshly recruited (and paid) climber who worked his way up the tree - much to my horror - without belting himself like they would in Guinea or Guinea Bissau. The man was followed attentively by two colleagues who watched him reach the crown of the tree. the "hunter" exclaimed that he'd found the nest he was talking about, slipped his hand underneath the frond and was immediately bitten once in the palm of the hand. Since he hadn't belted himself and he was forty feet high, he couldn't let go of the palm frond and was bitten a second time in the hand.
    The man immediately came down the tree, without the spider, and was tended at once with an Aspivenin extractor. Pain spread very quickly to his elbow, then to his shoulder and chest area. After 3 1/2 hours, , he had heart contractions that were extremely painful and lasted for a full half hour, a thoroughly nerve-racking experience since we were miles away from any civilisation. I visited the man the next day and the day after, and after the second day, his hand had swollen to twice its normal size: seconday infection. I treated it at once with a course of Bactrim.

    The second bite occured in the same circumstances three days later, but the unfortunate helper was savagely bitten on the arm. The consequences were identical to the first accident, if slightly less pronunciated and with a slower venom-spread.

    Two days later, a keen and experienced climber who owned the overpopulated tree of Masuba was bitten on the left foot when he climbed his tree, when he had lodged his foot in a crevice of the bark scales. The man kicked at the spider, flicking it downwards ten inches... and the spider(a nice, large female), charged back up the tree and bit him a second time.

    The most serious accident to occur involved an obtrusive soldier who wanted to show how well he could climb a palm tree and his colleague. The soldier had found a nest a few days before and brought along a relatively dumb-witted colleague for this foray in the bush. The tree was a fairly big one, about fifty feet tall, and, in traditional Sierra Leonean style, the soldier just "walked up" the tree without anything like a belt or a rope for haul-ups.

    Arriving at the crown, he quickly located the nest. Equipped with a glove and a pair of tweezers, he'd forgotten his collecting cup down the tree with his colleague and decided the foolhardiest thing he could possibly devise: he would catch and hold it in a glove. This could have worked for any terrestrial species, but certainly not up a fifty foot palm tree in the middle of nowhere. Micheal (the soldier) opened the palm frond and was met by the female with spread legs and fangs. He coaxed her outwards with the tweezers while holding his hand open to catch her with the glove, but the female dashed forward, lightning-fast, ran across his glove, bit him in the arm above the glove's edge and jumped off.
    To my complete horror, the other soldier was waiting down the tree, right beneath the crown, and was looking upwards when Micheal started yelling after being bitten and we saw the female come floating down, legs entirely spread. Instead of running, the soldier just kept staring and the Stromatopelma landed on the side of his face, darted forward and game him a nasty bite in the middle of the neck. The spider was captured by my niece while the Aspivenin pump was brought out. If Michael ran no risks from an arm bite, as bad as it might have been - the other guy was visibly very scared and it hurt a lot. I am sure that, without the immediate intervention of a primed and ready venom extraction kit, this young fellow might well have died. His throat was swollen and the pain radiated to his face, optical nerves, chest with heart contractions starting less than two hours after the bite, with the pain spreading downwards to his gonads..... a most horrible place to feel that kind of pain.
    The heart contractions ceased after another hour and forty minutes. The aspivenin kit had been used within 40 seconds and was used for forty minutes, no doubt bruising the area around the bite. I tried to reassure the victim as best I could, and was relieved to hear him say that the pain was receding...six hours and a half after the bite had been inflicted.
    In later days, the soldier was off-duty for a week, and when I left he still complained that his neck and throat area sometimes felt slightly painful.


    Although I would consider death as almost impossible, bites in certain areas of the body (like the described neck-bite) or in persons with a faulty heart could be extremely dangerous. Stromatopelma is the link between the relatively harmless mass of Theraphosids, and the few species that can be life-threatening to man. It certainly isn't a species that is to be neglected in case of serious bites, and it has to be considered as venomous since it does cause systemic distress that follows a particular pattern and always involves problems with the heart. Stromatopelma should be reserved for the serious worker.


    Last edited: Feb 18, 2003
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  2. Tarantula Lover

    Tarantula Lover Psalmopoeus Lover Old Timer

    Wow! Thank you very much for sharing, *takes stromatopelma off wanted list* It was long but worth the reading, thank you again for sharing it with us!

    Last edited: Feb 18, 2003
  3. conipto

    conipto ArachnoPrincess Old Timer

    My only question on this is why use an antibiotic like Sulfamethoxazole on a bite? Seems rather pointless..

  4. Kugellager

    Kugellager ArachnoJester Arachnosupporter

    That's a pretty interesting envenomation report. Those guys are lightning fast tarantulas. I was nudging a cricket in the direction of one once and the spider sprang in so fast and grabbed the cricket that by the time I reacted and pulled away it had already hunkered down with its meal. :rolleyes:

    You should put a link to this thread or copy it to the Bite report thread.

    • Like Like x 1
  5. Vayu Son

    Vayu Son Avatar of Anansi Old Timer


    The medicine was for a secondary infection, not the venom.

  6. Henry Kane

    Henry Kane Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Great info Vayu! Thanks! I have recently acquired one of these. I was aware that it is a hot specie but it's good to know the specifics.
    I had read in a book somewhere about the falls and injuries sustained by the natives from falling from the palms the Stromatos live in.
    Man, that Palm-wine must be some good stuff to be worth risking a run-in with a Stromatopelma.

  7. This report inspired me to get mine. :wicked:

    --the nature boy
  8. desertdweller

    desertdweller Arachnoprince

    Totally fabulous article. Thanks so much.

  9. Get what? Your very own collection of T bites? :rolleyes:

    Which species are you gonna let nibble you next? :D
  10. Tuwin

    Tuwin Arachnoknight

    I love that
  11. hardtohandle

    hardtohandle Arachnosquire

    Pardon me for not reading the article, but did it mention there death/s due to that particular tarantula bite?
  12. PhilR

    PhilR Arachnoknight

    No, nor any documented others either as far as I am aware.
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  13. wsimms

    wsimms Arachnodaddy Old Timer

    Great article (other than the specluative last paragraph) demonstrating that even the "worst" of the commonly-kept Theraphosids is not medically significant.
  14. reverendsterlin

    reverendsterlin Arachnoprince Old Timer

    don't you just love a great old worlder with speed and attitude. That's what you get for invading territory you should stay out of lol, long live Stromatopelma :worship:
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  15. Lol. Well, I figured I've done OBT and wasn't impressed (fair amount of pain for one night and chest contractions for a while afterwards--big deal) so it's time to move up to something that might actually bum me out. S. calceatum sounded promising.

    --the nature boy
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 22, 2009
  16. Why not just lie on your back and get the wife to close the garage door on your chest lol.

    As they say round these parts: You my friend are a total, utter, <edit>, nutter.

    Loving your work mate :clap:
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2008
  17. Scott C.

    Scott C. Arachnofloater Arachnosupporter

    Maybe take the mac attack before you go there Nature.... Might find out that you don't want to.

    Oldie, but goodie... and Stromats rock.
  18. Really? Good grief........... :eek:
  19. It's not the chest I'm trying to talk her into slamming it down on. :D

    --the nature boy
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2008
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  20. As much as I'd like to say otherwise, the OBT bite wasn't planned nor will any stromata-bleepin-pelma bite be!!! Not that I don't admire Cacoseraph, it's just not my thing. Yet.

    --the nature boy