Aggressive Versicolor or just likes the sound of my voice?

phoebe12483

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So I've had my adult female 3" Versicolor for about 2 weeks now. She has been pretty low key, spending most of her time slowly fluctuating between 2 different spots in her vivarium. On week 1, we were looking at her from the top of her cage when she dashed towards the top and hit the top of the screen. I attributed this behavior to potentially accidentally breathing on her and she mistook this for possible prey (ate voraciously the next day). 2 days ago while stopping by to say hi to her throughout the day (yes...we talk to our tarantula), she bolted towards the side opening of the cage where our voices were coming from and fingered repeatedly up and down the corner of the door as if trying to get out or to us. This precipitated a "woah!" from her "dad" causing her to jump to the other side of her cage. Any low frequency voice in the form of quietly talking near her cage provoked quick movement from her. Finally she calmed down and resigned to her normally chilling spot. My guess was once again, tactile stimulation and hunger, but she was not interested in eating today at her weekly scheduled feeding. It appears that now any time my boyfriend talks in a normal voice near her cage, she will quickly dash in that direction and follows his voice continuously. He can provoke this behavior now anytime he talks around her. She does not do this with me.

Any ideas? Did I just purchase an especially aggressive or defensive Versicolor? Is this just a tactile response and if so, does that normally mean she is hungry, or just irritated? If she is hungry, it seems strange that she can't sense the crickets in her cage but will eagerly follow his voice. I don't mind the interesting behavior so long as she is okay, however it is making me quite nervous about having to change out the main bark log in her cage (it has a small bit of mold starting, so I am going to replace it with cork bark).
Anyone else experience this behavior? No longer does she seem like a nice gentle little Anansi!
:?:?
 

Hobo

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I've noticed almost all my arboreals are the same way. I can get them to come out fairly consistantly with the sound of low talking (humming, or speaking in a low voice), crinkling plastic bags/paper/other materials that make a lot of similar noise, and ...crickets in a bag!
[YOUTUBE]IDTpXm2ygQo[/YOUTUBE]

I've experimented with other sounds, and found that lower pitch sounds, and staticy sounds get their attention a lot more than others. Must be the vibrations.
 

phoebe12483

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Well at least its not totally atypical. Do you have problems with them "going for ya" when you need to go in there or get them out for cage maintenance? Does it seem to be an aggression sort of thing with yours?
 

Hobo

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Well at least its not totally atypical. Do you have problems with them "going for ya" when you need to go in there or get them out for cage maintenance? Does it seem to be an aggression sort of thing with yours?
A food aggresion thing, most likely (as you can see from my vid), but not really defensive IMO. With talking and other noises, it's diffficult to say, as they usually will come out and wander everywhere until those noises stop. Who knows what they will do when they actually find something while wandering around in response to said noises. Something to try, maybe!

As soon as I open the enclosure, they seem to realize it isn't a food item and hide, so I've never had any problems with them coming at me (my arboreals at least. My terrestrials on the other hand...). I do disturb the cage a little bit before opening them, to try and get them into hiding mode as opposed to Imma-gonna-grab-the-next-morsel-that-wanders-by mode.
 

Chris_Skeleton

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I would like to point out that 3" is not an adult. And how did you confirm it as a female?
 

phoebe12483

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My appologies, 3" was what I was approximating while writing this from work...clearly quite off. I am not sure what the correct way is to measure your tarantula, but she is closer to 4" - 4.5" I was told she was sexed by both the original tarantula dealer/seller and the reptile store staff. As per them she is about 2.5 years old. The staff there were all highly versed in tarantula husbandry and have owned and bred tarantulas for years, but I'm also new to owning tarantulas, so my perception of their knowledge is relative.

Would "her" sex change the interpretation of behavior i've described?
 

Big_nito

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I've experimented with other sounds, and found that lower pitch sounds, and staticy sounds get their attention a lot more than others. Must be the vibrations.

That could be true... remember that tarantula relies on ambush and vibration to catch their prey... ;)
 

curiousme

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I've experimented with other sounds, and found that lower pitch sounds, and staticy sounds get their attention a lot more than others. Must be the vibrations.
We have a P. cambridgei that reacts to a didgeridoo pretty consistently. It will even follow the end of it as it is moved around the enclosure. I think it is the lower vibrations as well making the instincts kick in, because it could mean food or foe.
 

phoebe12483

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It makes sense that they are just picking up the vibrations, which is what I had more or less figured. Still a bit nervous about having to try to get her out with this enclosure change as she has been very quick to move with the sound of his voice recently. We were even able to lure her to a cricket yesterday just by moving around to different places around her cage. Hopefully this fast moving, possible food agression behavior is isolated to when she is in her tank and not when moving her out!
 

curiousme

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IME when you cup and remove a tarantula from its home environment, the temperamental tendencies lessen considerably. When they are home and in their element, they have something to defend. When removed they are a bit out of sorts, so I would try and get it into a catch cup(not hands) and then release it into the new home. Good luck!
 

ZergFront

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All my Psalmopoeus do the same thing. I actually got my bangs to close to the cage one time while talking and looking in on a neighbor T. Just a light tug of hair.

They seemed really responsive when my boyfriend spoke. Probably the lower tone.
 

phoebe12483

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IME when you cup and remove a tarantula from its home environment, the temperamental tendencies lessen considerably. When they are home and in their element, they have something to defend. When removed they are a bit out of sorts, so I would try and get it into a catch cup(not hands) and then release it into the new home. Good luck!
I am not planning on doing "handling", but especially with this sort of behavior being exhibited regularly, should I go out of my way to avoid direct handling during exchanges such as cage transfers/modifications? Really, is this behavior pretty normal tarantula behavior, or is it indicative that she might be more difficult in general? My understanding of versicolors was that they are supposed to be quite docil, albeit fast. I'm not planning on handling to handle, but I would also like to know if I need to be more careful based on her temperment when handling is necessary. I will probably try and always use a transfer sort of cup just because, but should I be concerned should she decide to use an alternative route (ie: my hand). I don't want to hurt her or vice versa.
 

curiousme

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I am not planning on doing "handling", but especially with this sort of behavior being exhibited regularly, should I go out of my way to avoid direct handling during exchanges such as cage transfers/modifications?
With a T that is behaving like you describe, I would personally not try and use my hand. I am unsure what 'out of my way' entails for you, but we would use the catch cup in a manner that was least likely to leave any room for escape. Whether we block off part of the area off with a spare piece of plexi glass, or fancy door maneuvers/ helping hands, we do what we feel is necessary for the situation. So, since you have a feisty arboreal, a catch cup and maybe a spare piece of cardboard to block off what isn't blocked by the catch cup and some sort of instrument(chopstick/ paintbrush/ tongs) to herd the T into the cup through one of the small uncovered places. That's how we would do it, but there are some that would say that is being overly paranoid. I would personally would rather be a little paranoid, than a little careless. ;)

To answer your question though, it is up to you. If you feel that things will be alright without such extreme measures, then make your own way to accomplish the cage maintenance and re-housings. You will learn how the T reacts to things by doing them, so it is possible you will find that it is easier, or harder than you expect.

Really, is this behavior pretty normal tarantula behavior, or is it indicative that she might be more difficult in general? My understanding of versicolors was that they are supposed to be quite docil, albeit fast.
It is doing things that tarantulas do, so yes it is normal behavior. However, every tarantula has its own personality. That's why some people wind up with a P.murinus that is as handleable as a kitten, and others wind up with an incredibly defensive G. pulchra. They not only have their own personality, but that personality can change from molt to molt and while in premolt. Our A. versicolor is a bit fast at times and prone to jumping, but never defensive.

I do wonder about the size of the enclosure that you have yours in though, because I have noticed among ours that the smaller the enclosure is for them, the more defensive they become. Maybe it is time to move it to a larger home. Post pics if you got 'em! ;) It also sounds like it is hungry to me, judging from its extreme reactions to low frequency sounds. Our P. cambridegei would be the most responsive to the didge when she was hungry, after she fattens up, she loses interest.

I'm not planning on handling to handle, but I would also like to know if I need to be more careful based on her temperment when handling is necessary. I will probably try and always use a transfer sort of cup just because, but should I be concerned should she decide to use an alternative route (ie: my hand). I don't want to hurt her or vice versa.
Sometimes handling happens, even if you are careful. Don't breathe on the T, the air currents can cause it to bolt. Remain calm, because the calmer you are, the calmer they are. You should always have the T as near to the ground as possible. At the size yours is, it won't seem so much like it teleports, but it will still be fast if it decides to be; so keep the catch cup handy to cup it when you can. Remember that they are blind except for light and dark, so your hand is just squishy, funny tasting ground and tarantulas don't make a habit of biting the ground. It will stop moving, because of the way its locomotion works, so if you can be calm until then, you should be alright.
 

gmrpnk21

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I tried this with my A. Avicularia last night and got no response. As far as handling goes, don't be afraid! The worst thing that can happen is you get poo on you. Just handle her close to the ground.
 

Falk

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That could be true... remember that tarantula relies on ambush and vibration to catch their prey... ;)
What they normaly feed on in the wild are butterflies, moths etc. Try tong feeding it with nice sized butterfly and make sure the wings are buzzing and the Avicularia will jump for it:)
 

shanebp

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@Hobo:

LOL, you're video had me rolling, MEOW MEOW MEOW LMAO!!!
 

phoebe12483

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"With a T that is behaving like you describe, I would personally not try and use my hand. I am unsure what 'out of my way' entails for you, but we would use the catch cup in a manner that was least likely to leave any room for escape. Whether we block off part of the area off with a spare piece of plexi glass, or fancy door maneuvers/ helping hands, we do what we feel is necessary for the situation. So, since you have a feisty arboreal, a catch cup and maybe a spare piece of cardboard to block off what isn't blocked by the catch cup and some sort of instrument (chopstick/ paintbrush/ tongs) to herd the T into the cup through one of the small uncovered places. That's how we would do it, but there are some that would say that is being overly paranoid. I would personally would rather be a little paranoid, than a little careless. ;)"

Your approach seems pretty consistent with what I was thinking in terms of being more cautious than not. When you mention catch cup, I am literally thinking of a large cup, and not something specifically designed for catching/transplanting/moving tarantulas. It sounds like this is a modified container. Also, in opening the cage, how do you get them to go into this and not elsewhere (like up the wall and out the opening you have created?


"It is doing things that tarantulas do, so yes it is normal behavior. However, every tarantula has its own personality. That's why some people wind up with a P.murinus that is as handleable as a kitten, and others wind up with an incredibly defensive G. pulchra. They not only have their own personality, but that personality can change from molt to molt and while in premolt. Our A. versicolor is a bit fast at times and prone to jumping, but never defensive. "

What is interesting is that I know she was handled on a pretty regular basis while at the shop and I have handled her myself prior to taking her home, but I don't know if this is the behavior that she has always exhibited, or if it is new post being brought into her new habitat. However even the few times I held her in the past, she has always been lightening fast when she wants to, and very quick to startle.

"I do wonder about the size of the enclosure that you have yours in though, because I have noticed among ours that the smaller the enclosure is for them, the more defensive they become. Maybe it is time to move it to a larger home. Post pics if you got 'em! ;) It also sounds like it is hungry to me, judging from its extreme reactions to low frequency sounds. Our P. cambridegei would be the most responsive to the didge when she was hungry, after she fattens up, she loses interest.
"
Her new home is actually substantially larger than her old one. Her old set up was about 8" x 6" x 6". Now she is in a 18" x 12" x 12". She has been in this new home for over 2 weeks, but the drift wood is molding at the base and so I have cork bark and ghost wood to replace it; hence the need for a remodel. It does appear that her behavior is correlated to hunger. Do you advice attempting this cage maintenance a day or two after feeding when she is less readily stimulated by voice and vibration?

Thank you for your advice and feedback! It has been very helpful!

---------- Post added at 03:30 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:20 PM ----------

I've noticed almost all my arboreals are the same way. I can get them to come out fairly consistantly with the sound of low talking (humming, or speaking in a low voice), crinkling plastic bags/paper/other materials that make a lot of similar noise, and ...crickets in a bag!


I've experimented with other sounds, and found that lower pitch sounds, and staticy sounds get their attention a lot more than others. Must be the vibrations.
That's great. Yea, quite similar to what mine has done, although Anansi will almost jump towards the noise. I will see if I can get a video of her to post on here as well. Thanks!
 

curiousme

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Your approach seems pretty consistent with what I was thinking in terms of being more cautious than not. When you mention catch cup, I am literally thinking of a large cup, and not something specifically designed for catching/transplanting/moving tarantulas. It sounds like this is a modified container. Also, in opening the cage, how do you get them to go into this and not elsewhere (like up the wall and out the opening you have created?
A catch cup is just a large cup. We use a large deli cup like you would get food from the deli at Walmart in. It is clear and a bit bigger than a normal cup. We purchased an adult A. metallica in it, but it is still just a cup.

You have to use the chopstick/ paintbrush/ something long and skinny that won't hurt the T, to convince it to get into the cup. It is a process to herd a T into a cup, but with the skinny instrument you can do so through the small spaces not covered by the cup or cardboard.

What is interesting is that I know she was handled on a pretty regular basis while at the shop and I have handled her myself prior to taking her home, but I don't know if this is the behavior that she has always exhibited, or if it is new post being brought into her new habitat. However even the few times I held her in the past, she has always been lightening fast when she wants to, and very quick to startle.
It is possible that it is in the settling in phase of a new enclosure, it is also possible that it is approaching premolt, or it could just be hungry, but there is not a way to truly know why it is acting so defensively.

Her new home is actually substantially larger than her old one. Her old set up was about 8" x 6" x 6". Now she is in a 18" x 12" x 12". She has been in this new home for over 2 weeks, but the drift wood is molding at the base and so I have cork bark and ghost wood to replace it; hence the need for a remodel. It does appear that her behavior is correlated to hunger. Do you advice attempting this cage maintenance a day or two after feeding when she is less readily stimulated by voice and vibration?

Thank you for your advice and feedback! It has been very helpful!
I would get a good meal or two in her belly and then do the maintenance, if it were me. The enclosure size doesn't sound like a problem either, but if things are molding it is possible that you need more ventilation. Switching to cork bark will help as well.

What is ghost wood, if you don't mind me asking? Glad I could be of assistance. :)
 
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