Accurate habitat information?

Cirith Ungol

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This isn't directed at anyone. It's just that this discussion comes up every now and again and I thought I'd throw in this wrench in between the cogwheels and see what happens:

How does one know that the gathered environmental information of a natural habitat says something definitive about what conditions a spider needs in its tank?

Example: Avic avic. For a long time the general consensus has been that the live in "the rain forest" and that they need "lots of humidity" and so on. People would get pee in their pants over the issue.

It turns out (after a research trip of two former members) that Avic avic lives on the outskirts of the rainforest where it's a lot dryer and a lot windier. So away with this high humidity...

But it gets worse: How do you know your perception is at all accurate unless there isn't a research paper stating totally clearly that a representable amount of a certain species of spider have been found in such an such an environment?

If you simply go by "This or that spider lives in that part of the world" it tells you nothing... or close to nothing! Really. It could be living in an area that has 90% rainforest, but what the environmental description doesn't say is that the spider lives in the 10% that are relatively dry. Or a spider could live "in the desert" and in fact the spider lives close to streams that never dry up. So how would you know unless it's been established by observing representative amounts of animals?

If it isn't, let's say 50 spiders or 100 (with equal spread between sexes) that have been found and documented, how can you say that you know that a Theraphosa exampli lives on the forest floor in the thickest rainforest (thus needs 90% humidity, this and that sort of diet, this and that sort of substrate, so and so much ventilation) if the specimen observed was a mature male out on it's one way ten mile run? Totally useless information is what I call that. What if the female of a Theraphosa exampli sits in a 5m deep burrow that is relatively dry, has chalk walls, if she eats dead Brazilian soccer players and prefers The Jerry Springer Show over reading The Onion? And you wouldn't know a thing about it?

So unless your study shows definitively that it has managed to establish an environment for a species of spider (through observing quite many of them, and both sexes) I'd be a bit more careful in claiming to know what environment a spider needs.

Just a thought... and I'm not sure if there is much more to add.

Edit:
Something else that can have an influence on "habitat" is human transportation. If a spider is found somewhere, doesn't mean it is from there. In today's age animals can go quite far from where they originated by ways of hitching a ride with us in one way or another. So unless a larger number of animals is found (over a sufficiently large area) we'd have another reason for possible mistakes and misrepresentation of a habitat.
 

zonbonzovi

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I don't think it is even possible to mimic natural conditions 100% in captivity, without tremendous expense and space. Consider some of the creatures that enter one's own home: they certainly didn't evolve in human habitation, fickle and temporary as it is. Others will never set foot inside the home and ma be found only in a very small niche. Some are well adapted to a wide swath of habitats/conditions and certainly have access to a larger variety that we could ever hope to provide in captivity. A. avicularia is widespread & probably more adaptable than we give it credit for(I know, just an example). I suspect that there are also species that have a much more narrow spectrum of suitable habitat(T. blondi fits the bill).

It would be interesting to have a dedicated thread where folks that have the opportunity to see these animals in the wild can add detailed info. on temps/plant life/observed prey items/etc.
 

syndicate

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One thing to note is that lots of tropical spiders experience a wet and dry season in the wild.This is often replicated in captivity to simulate a rainy season when breeding some of these tougher species.
Most tarantulas can adapt very well to captivity in various conditions so it's not always essential to know exactly what the conditions were where they were found/collected ect..
Some spiders who live in drier climates can thrive fine in a more humid enclosure.Some although need to be kept with more specific temperature/humidity needs.
-Chris
 

The Mack

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How does one know that the gathered environmental information of a natural habitat says something definitive about what conditions a spider needs in its tank?
A great and very valid point indeed. I don't think that the current gathered environmental information (which as you point out is often weak and unreliable) tells us anything definitive about the needs of a spider's living conditions.

Example: Avic avic. For a long time the general consensus has been that the live in "the rain forest" and that they need "lots of humidity" and so on. People would get pee in their pants over the issue.
Funny that you use this example. I keep my A. avicularia's tank at about 50% humidity or less sometimes, with a water dish and he does just fine. Already been through a molt with him as well under these conditions with full success. . .


But it gets worse: How do you know your perception is at all accurate unless there isn't a research paper stating totally clearly that a representable amount of a certain species of spider have been found in such an such an environment?

If you simply go by "This or that spider lives in that part of the world" it tells you nothing... or close to nothing! Really. It could be living in an area that has 90% rainforest, but what the environmental description doesn't say is that the spider lives in the 10% that are relatively dry. Or a spider could live "in the desert" and in fact the spider lives close to streams that never dry up. So how would you know unless it's been established by observing representative amounts of animals?
You are right in that it is impossible to even have an educated guess as to the "ideal" living conditions for a given tarantula without proper testing involving thousands of specimens of both sexes.

But I also think that in general, most people underestimate their adaptability and what hearty survivors tarantulas truly are. We have all heard about how hearty the G. rosea species is. . stories like leaving them unfed for months at a time or in very cold temperatures only to come back and find them still alive. I wonder if it is any coincidence that these stories are so common with the G. roseas, because they are a cheap and relatively expendable species in the hobby and people care much less whether they die or not. When someone buys an expensive tarantula, they are more likely to worry about it and protect their investment in an effort to give it an "ideal" habitat. I have a suspicion that many more (if not all) tarantulas are just as hearty, but the testing to prove so just hasn't been done.

I must admit, when I first purchased my T. blondi, I did all the research I could about the best conditions to keep him in. I worried myself with this, and started out misting it twice a day, constantly worrying if my tarantula would dry out and die on me. Then I started getting mold problems because of way too much moisture! Since then, I don't even mist anymore, and I keep him on bone dry substrate with a water dish. Everything is fine!


On another note. . In theory, we could do some smaller scale tests that would give us some relevant information as to just what conditions they can tolerate. For example, if you wanted to test what temperatures are suitable for keeping these tarantulas, you could take 30 or so (or more) specimens and start them all out at a certain temperature. Keep them at this temperature for a few weeks, then decrease the temperature by 10 degrees. Repeat this process until you observe that a majority of the species perish when a certain low temperature is reached. These kinds of tests would give us a better understanding of their physical limitations/environmental needs. . .
 

Cirith Ungol

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Pretty much all well fed and continually hydrated tarantulas can survive a very long time without food. Not just rosea. An example I often cite is my mature male parahybana who survived without food for one year, ate two medium sized dubia roaches over the span of the three following months, then lived three more months without food before dying. And I'm sure he only died because I had neglected refilling his water dish during a warm week.

I think it's Schulz & Schulz who state that tarantulas can survive one year without food and six months without water (if well fed and watered prior). And it's at least common hobbyist knowledge that shipping under ten degrees C is not advised due to high risk of death.

But those things only a side notes.
 

Fran

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There is NO WAY FOR YOU, THE KEEPER , TO KNOW HOW BADLY IS A TARANTULA AFFECTED AFTER A MUCH DRIER/COLDER/HOTTER LONG PERIOD OF TIME THAN IN ITS NATURAL ENVIROMENT.

I can not stand when people says "Oh its fine", "Shes alive","Shes ok".
Like if she will tell you "Hey,Im dying here", if she wasnt ok.

Go ahead, put a Theraphosa at 40% humidity on a 65F wheater.
When it doesnt reproduce,or eats often, or when it has trouble molting, or suddenly dies...Go chalk it up to " Oh well, thats life."
 

The Mack

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There is NO WAY FOR YOU, THE KEEPER , TO KNOW HOW BADLY IS A TARANTULA AFFECTED AFTER A MUCH DRIER/COLDER/HOTTER LONG PERIOD OF TIME THAN IN ITS NATURAL ENVIROMENT.
True, extensive tests would need to be done in order for anyone to know for sure. That is part of what the Original post was saying. But there is no way for YOU to know either, what is good or bad for your tarantula in terms of wet/dry substrate especially from all of the inconsistent reported experiences from hobbyists.

.
Go ahead, put a Theraphosa at 40% humidity on a 65F wheater.
When it doesnt reproduce,or eats often, or when it has trouble molting, or suddenly dies...Go chalk it up to " Oh well, thats life."

And what about when it doesn't reproduce, eats often or has trouble molting even under what you think are "ideal" conditions? Then you must chalk it up to "oh well that's life" also. Or consider those who keep Theraphosas at 40% humidity and they never have a single problem, reproduce fine, etc. How do you explain this? This suggests that their "ideal" conditions actually cover a relatively wide range. . .

The bottom line is we don't know. But from my own experience (and other close friends/hobbyists not just from this website) keeping Theraphosas at 40% humidity is absolutely fine.
 

xhexdx

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The bottom line is we don't know. But from my own experience (and other close friends/hobbyists not just from this website) keeping Theraphosas at 40% humidity is absolutely fine.
Maybe 'keeping' them like that is...what about breeding?

To me, if you are able to successfully breed the species, you're keeping them in conditions that are acceptable to them.
 

The Mack

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Maybe 'keeping' them like that is...what about breeding?

To me, if you are able to successfully breed the species, you're keeping them in conditions that are acceptable to them.
A close friend of mine who breeds many tarantulas (not just Theraphosas) told me this actually a long time ago, before I even got my T. blondi and was doing some preliminary research. I'm not one to draw definitive scientific conclusions from word of mouth / other people's experiences, but surely he has successfully bred them in bone dry conditions. He specifically told me this. . .
 

Crows Arachnids

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Maybe 'keeping' them like that is...what about breeding?

To me, if you are able to successfully breed the species, you're keeping them in conditions that are acceptable to them.
Out of personal experience, I have had sacs created in moderate humidity levels (75%), none were fertile. I have also had sacs created in dry conditions, also yielded no offspring. Now, that was with Theraphosa Sp. Burgundy. Out of the Theraphosa blondi that I have owned, they cannot even be kept in dry conditions. I leave for an expo and come back 4 days later and all 6 of them are in a death curl, that's enough of a wake-up call for me to establish them as a humid species. As far as the Theraphosa Burgundy, they seem to put up with dry conditions very well, coupled with a water dish. I don't have any breedable Theraphosa blondi, so I cannot speak for this matter. I know of two breeders who have produced tru-blondi, I shall inquire, so that I may contribute more.
 

The Mack

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Out of personal experience, I have had sacs created in moderate humidity levels (75%), none were fertile. I have also had sacs created in dry conditions, also yielded no offspring. Now, that was with Theraphosa Sp. Burgundy. Out of the Theraphosa blondi that I have owned, they cannot even be kept in dry conditions. I leave for an expo and come back 4 days later and all 6 of them are in a death curl, that's enough of a wake-up call for me to establish them as a humid species. As far as the Theraphosa Burgundy, they seem to put up with dry conditions very well, coupled with a water dish. I don't have any breedable Theraphosa blondi, so I cannot speak for this matter. I know of two breeders who have produced tru-blondi, I shall inquire, so that I may contribute more.
I have heard/had experiences quite contrary to yours, so this is a good example of the point of the original post: personal experience/gathered knowledge about their environmental needs are insufficient in giving us any real, true, definitive information about their actual needs/limitations.
 

Crows Arachnids

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I have heard/had experiences quite contrary to yours, so this is a good example of the point of the original post: personal experience/gathered knowledge about their environmental needs are insufficient in giving us any real, true, definitive information about their actual needs/limitations.
This is true. I always find it quite interesting when someone says it needs to be misted every two days to keep it alive, and other similar notions. I mean, after all, we should keep a sponge in our tarantula's dish so it won't drown, that applied even to the Hystereocrates gigas! :embarrassed:
 

Fran

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.



And what about when it doesn't reproduce, eats often or has trouble molting even under what you think are "ideal" conditions? Then you must chalk it up to "oh well that's life" also. Or consider those who keep Theraphosas at 40% humidity and they never have a single problem, reproduce fine, etc. How do you explain this? This suggests that their "ideal" conditions actually cover a relatively wide range. . .
.
Incorrect. They are in captivity, so thats a totally diff story when we are "putting" them to pair and have viable eggsacks with us.
It wont happen if you dont keep a reasonable similar enviroment.
Having the best friend of your neighbour telling you "Oh yeah, I have bred them many times with 5% of humidity and at 0 Kelvin doesnt mean ANYTHING.

Theraphosa wont live long at dry conditions and lower temps.


The bottom line is we don't know. But from my own experience (and other close friends/hobbyists not just from this website) keeping Theraphosas at 40% humidity is absolutely fine.
Sure, is absolutely fine. You ask them and they say "Yes, im fine".

What an stupid argument.

Ill say the same I have said before, open up any reliable book of Biology, or more specifically Zoology, and it will tell you basically on page 1 that in order to succeD at keeping wild animals in captivity is emulating as much as possible their nature conditions.
 

Cirith Ungol

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I'm not saying anything about the ongoing discussion (please go ahead), but just to make sure everybody understands the true issue here: It's not so much about what conditions T's can be kept in, but about whether species information in regard to their environment is actually accurate.



But to add something to the discussion: I only keep the spiders on bone dry substrate with water dish. So far I've had mature and die of old age blondi, parahybana, versicolor, lividum (5), GBB (still alive). And those are only the males, not counting females of different species, of which are alive: GBB, crawshayi, geniculata, vagans, parahybana, rosea, lividum and a couple more. Time period 6+ years, no difference in behaviour over those years. No curls, no sluggishness. But neither have I tried breeding, as it's very hard for me to come over spiders as it is, let alone to find breeders.

I've kept in a moist environment: A. metallica (3), versicolor (7), purpurea, and a couple of others all who have consistently died very quickly.

*Something* doesn't add up. Even though I would be tempted in many cases to assume that a moist environment is better, my experience tells me it's not that simple. It would seem to me that it is far from simply adding some moisture (& ventilation) but it would seem as if it also depends a lot on where you live. I would be very tempted to say that the best way to keep your spiders is in a way that represents the normal conditions of the region you live in. If you create an environment in your tank that differs greatly from the natural environment outside, you create a haven for extremophile organisms that might not be all beneficial to your tank. Extremophiles who are just waiting to take over and to which there is no normal defence in the environment you live in. For example, I tried to keep my scorpions on moist substrate, result: parasitic mite explosion and mould.

As I mentioned somewhere else recently, where I live its extremely dry. Very low humidity, during winter practically 0%. If I add only a little too much moisture over a prolonged period (let's say a week) to any organic matter I get a mould farm. Mites spring forth and what not. In one roach colony I had an ootheca box, I kept that moist because otherwise the oothecas would dry up. First I had lots of mould in it, then springtails for a month, then predatory mites for two weeks (who ate the springtails) and then nothing, and then the oothecas stopped hatching and started rotting (to a large degree) even though i changed nothing at all in routines or conditions. I would have wanted to know what to do to make this work. But no clue.

Things are far, far from clear cut. Here, if I have too moist tanks my animals die. That's how things go. Nobody can convince me to keep my spiders and scorpions in a "moist" environment. If it works for someone else who lives where it's usually moist, fine, but here it just doesn't. Not for me. And I've tried, done trial buys of bunches of tarantulas, put them in sets of different set-ups, moist regularly died, dry survived. The only thing that was absolutely vital here however, and which if not done would lead to death, was to make sure that every spider and scorp has a good, long drink every week or to have well hydrated food. I always see to it that my animals are plump in appearance but not over fed. There has never been a bad moult in all those years. I've even stopped having water dishes. The only spiders left with a water dish are rosea and parahybana, and that only because they don't put dirt in it all the time. The rest get to drink from a puddle on the substrate that I create right in front of them with a syringe, and not usually much more than they can safely drink before it soaks into the dry substrate (which takes about 10 min).

That's my story. And it differs greatly from those who wish it was otherwise. And I don't know what to do about it. Different rules seem to apply for different regions, that is my only conclusion.
 
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Cirith Ungol

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Theraphosa wont live long at dry conditions and lower temps.
T. blondi:
From 1 in to near 9 in in 3 years. Humidity very low to zero, temps 21-27 degrees Celcius (no heat pad, high temperatures only during daytime and in the hottest summer months of june and july). The male died 6½ months after maturing.

Seems we have different experiences.
 

Fran

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But to add something to the discussion: I only keep the spiders on bone dry substrate with water dish. So far I've had mature and die of old age blondi, parahybana, versicolor, lividum (5), GBB (still alive). And those are only the males, not counting females of different species, of which are alive: GBB, crawshayi, geniculata, vagans, parahybana, rosea, lividum and a couple more. Time period 6+ years, no difference in behaviour over those years. No curls, no sluggishness. But neither have I tried breeding, as it's very hard for me to come over spiders as it is, let alone to find breeders.

The problem is that you cant know if they have died of old age...I want to believe you agree so far.

Its said that Blondi can live up to 15-20 years, If you have had them for 15 years I might believe "old age" could be a posivility, if not that possibility is like 1 in a million.

Another thing is that bone dry substrate doesnt mean very low humidity.

My Theraphosa blondi tank (only have one currently) have dry susbtrate and the hygrometer readings (no, not the Petco Hygrometers, a reliable one) reads 75% at the very least and the tank is almost uncovered (50G tank)
I have really large water dish (9" by 4" deep) and I also have a humidifier for mists that goes on the early morning.
I have never EVER had mites or mold in the enclosure.
 

Cirith Ungol

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We will never know Fran. I'm keeping less and less spiders and more and more fish, where I don't have this problem for some reason ;).

I doubt there are many keepers who live further north than I do (which is equivalent to northern Alaska). Pronty I think lives further north. But that's all I know.

Something that also seems to be rather consistent here is that the majority of my spiders seem to be rather small. But that could be coincidence.
 

The Mack

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Be careful, Fran doesn't like it when you tumble his personal house of cards with "boring scientific crap." Surely he must be right, since he has reported these experiences himself, and there certainly are no other possibilities that could ever be in contrast to his personal experiences!

You can't say, cirith ungol, that we "will never know" because Fran here knows! we can rest assured he knows what is best for the Theraphosas, for his expertise needs no questioning at all.

Yours and my experiences and stories are "worth nothing," of course, please remember that only his are worth something {D
 

Fran

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Cirith:
Yes, living that up is possible that is influencing your tarantulas.

Most of the NW tarantulas live really close to the Equator (tropics) ...
 

cacoseraph

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microhabitat is wildly different from a single temperature reading representing thousands of square miles :)




humidity via an RH% IS NOT UNDERSTOOD BY THE HOBBY AT LARGE! this is clearly demonstrable by the fact all you ever see is a RH% given and no temperature. an RH% without a temp describes a freaking line on a graph where the X axis is temperature. in otherwords 40%RH at 60*F is a quite different thing than 40%RH at 90*F



the areas i can find tarantulas in regularly get to and beat 100*F surface air temperature during the day in summer. do the tarantulas ever see even close to that? not bloodly likely. they veil or seal off their burrows and hide from the hideous heat :) a foot or two down in a sealed burrow, outside ambient air temp might be 100*f but that burrow is probably at least 20*f COOLER :)
 
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