Alternatives to Cork Bark in Amblypygids Enclosures

wizentrop

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Possible, but I think something else might have happened here.

What many people fail to understand is that extension and expansion of limbs occur during the molting process, while the limbs are being pulled out of the old skin. The limbs already start to harden during this phase, but they do not reach 100% durability. After the limbs have been pulled out, the amblypygid folds them immediately under its body, while still being attached to the old skin by the tip of the abdomen. So it does not need to spread its legs apart. Even the antenniform legs do not need as much space to spread as most people would think. Once the legs reach a certain degree of hardness, the amblypygi places them on the molting surface (holding itself up side down or vertically) and rests while its body hardens.

So another possible scenario to what happened is that at some point the animal lost grip on the cork or the old skin and moved to the ground level. While being there, it had to support its body weight above ground, which can cause the walking legs to curve. This is not a handicap by any means. The animal will still behave normally and feed.
 

MrCrackerpants

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Possible, but I think something else might have happened here.

What many people fail to understand is that extension and expansion of limbs occur during the molting process, while the limbs are being pulled out of the old skin. The limbs already start to harden during this phase, but they do not reach 100% durability. After the limbs have been pulled out, the amblypygid folds them immediately under its body, while still being attached to the old skin by the tip of the abdomen. So it does not need to spread its legs apart. Even the antenniform legs do not need as much space to spread as most people would think. Once the legs reach a certain degree of hardness, the amblypygi places them on the molting surface (holding itself up side down or vertically) and rests while its body hardens.

So another possible scenario to what happened is that at some point the animal lost grip on the cork or the old skin and moved to the ground level. While being there, it had to support its body weight above ground, which can cause the walking legs to curve. This is not a handicap by any means. The animal will still behave normally and feed.
Thank you so much for your reply and awesome explanation!

So what size molting platform would you recommend for a fully grown male Heterophrynus batesii (Giant Peruvian Tailless Whip Scorpion)? I am assuming this would be the biggest amblypygid anyone would be keeping in captivity.

Would you know of any possible reasons why this happened and things I can do to prevent it from happening again?

I have noticed that she has a hard time holding on to her cork bark but she can do it. Are you sure that she will still be able to feed and molt alright the next time?

:) Thanks so much for your reply! I greatly appreciate it. :)
 

wizentrop

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There seems to be an ongoing debate which is the biggest amblypygid out there. Orin argues that H. batesii has the largest leg span, while anyone who have seen Acanthophrynus coronatus in real life will attest how massive they are. It doesn't matter. The smallest area I have worked with that allowed an adult H. batesii/A. coronatus to molt successfully was 16cm L x 18cm H. This is really small. However, it also depends on the container's volume (or "aerial space") and the material used for molting surface. Some species molt fine on cork, while others prefer styrofoam, mesh, cement, high density foam and even cardboard.

As for other reasons for curved legs after molting... hmmm, I am not sure. Usually it is either a cramped space in the container, lack of suitable molting surface (the animal does not molt in an ideal angle, or does it on the ground), or a disturbance during the molting itself (losing grip, or a disturbance from a leftover feeder).

Your amblypygid is fine, you can count on it. She might spend her time on the ground from now on, this is natural. keep disturbance to the minimum, and try to offer a paralyzed cricket in a couple of weeks. Because I like to experiment with different materials, I have had H. batesii with various degrees of damage, even as far as one with 3 broken walking legs and no whips. All survived. They just require more patience than others, but they always recover.
 

MrCrackerpants

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Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions. I greatly appreciate. You mention "Some species molt fine on cork, while others prefer styrofoam, mesh, cement, high density foam and even cardboard." In your experience, do Heterophrynus batesii molt fine on Styrofoam? I only ask because my adult female that had the bad molt, molted on 6 inch wide cork bark. I have since switched to Styrofoam and all of her babies have had successful molts on Styrofoam. When you use Styrofoam do you lean it at an angle or keep it perfectly straight up like a wall? Thanks again! :)
 

wizentrop

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The answer is a bit complex.
The short version - all my H. batesii prefer styrofoam to other materials.
The long version - I noticed that H. batesii does not have a firm grip on some of the materials I used, like high-density foam and cardboard, which can cause molting problems. It seems that they need some roughness on the board to allow themselves to hang vertically. With other materials like mesh and cork they needed a negative slope with space underneath to hang themselves and molt successfully. However, with styrofoam they do just fine, I have never had a bad molt. Even if the board is vertically straight they can still molt without problems, but it seems that in general this species benefits from some negative slope. It isn't necessary, but apparently easier for them. I must admit that I stopped leaning the boards at an angle in their enclosures, to give the amblypygids more "whip space". Seems to work fine.
 

MrCrackerpants

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The answer is a bit complex.
The short version - all my H. batesii prefer styrofoam to other materials.
The long version - I noticed that H. batesii does not have a firm grip on some of the materials I used, like high-density foam and cardboard, which can cause molting problems. It seems that they need some roughness on the board to allow themselves to hang vertically. With other materials like mesh and cork they needed a negative slope with space underneath to hang themselves and molt successfully. However, with styrofoam they do just fine, I have never had a bad molt. Even if the board is vertically straight they can still molt without problems, but it seems that in general this species benefits from some negative slope. It isn't necessary, but apparently easier for them. I must admit that I stopped leaning the boards at an angle in their enclosures, to give the amblypygids more "whip space". Seems to work fine.
Awesome! Just what I was hoping to hear! Thanks again! :)
 

Nick H

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Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions. I greatly appreciate. You mention "Some species molt fine on cork, while others prefer styrofoam, mesh, cement, high density foam and even cardboard." In your experience, do Heterophrynus batesii molt fine on Styrofoam? I only ask because my adult female that had the bad molt, molted on 6 inch wide cork bark. I have since switched to Styrofoam and all of her babies have had successful molts on Styrofoam. When you use Styrofoam do you lean it at an angle or keep it perfectly straight up like a wall? Thanks again! :)
Any of those H. batesii babies for sale any time soon?
 

Nick H

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Hey Nick! No...so sorry. I have them all set up for a massive next generation breeding project. It is going to be a long time. Wish me luck! :)
Hey, no worries. Sounds like a great project for this species in the hobby in the long run. Best of luck to you!
 

Aquarimax

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However, with styrofoam they do just fine, I have never had a bad molt.
Ever since I learned from you, @wizentrop, about styrofoam, I have keep two of my D. diadema on it with great success. They have completed several molts successfully. I'm really glad you pointed it out.
Some dart frog keepers are leery of using styrofoam, asserting that it is an endocrine disruptor...others use it to create natural-looking faux rock walls.
Have you ever encountered any difficulties with breeding that could be attributable to hormonal problems caused by styrofoam? I expect that you haven't, just curious.
 

Aquarimax

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IMG_3596.JPG Another successful molt on styrofoam...Beteeen the two styrofoam setups I think this is the 3rd or 4th.
 

Aquarimax

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Awesome picture!
Thank you! Earlier that morning, I popped in to check on things in the critter room and noticed he was in the very early stages of the molt. Unfortunately I had to leave for work. When I got back, I was fortunate to catch this shot before he pushed the molt off the wall (do everyone's amblies do that?)
 

wizentrop

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When I got back, I was fortunate to catch this shot before he pushed the molt off the wall (do everyone's amblies do that?)
Yes, they all seem to kick down the molt after finishing the process, at least in captivity.
In the wild I have found molts still hanging on cave's ceiling or walls.

Not sure if there is a reason behind this behavior (nothing published anyway), but it is possible that in a tight space the whip spiders are trying to avoid disturbances. Fresh molts attract scavengers, which can be harmful to a soft amblypygid. Let's give these animals some credit.
 

schmiggle

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That is very interesting to hear. I don't think I've ever seen mine push a molt off (maybe one time?)--I usually just find them hanging off of a log or the ceiling.
 

Nick H

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Speaking of giving them credit, last night I witnessed mine actually using his whip like a whip to herd his prey over to where he wanted it. The cricket was being especially difficult and wasn't moving much. When it did move it stayed away from the Styrofoam. The ambly knew where it was the whole time and eventually it started rapidly smacking the cricket, using it's whip like an actual whip, and making the cricket jump. It did that twice consecutively before the cricket finally jumped into range the third time, and was quickly snatched up. I've seen him do this before, but I wasn't sure if it was on purpose or if he was just feeling the prey and accidentally freaked it out. This time it was unmistakably deliberate. I'm sure many of you have seen this too, but I was impressed. These really are fascinating creatures.
 

MrCrackerpants

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Speaking of giving them credit, last night I witnessed mine actually using his whip like a whip to herd his prey over to where he wanted it. The cricket was being especially difficult and wasn't moving much. When it did move it stayed away from the Styrofoam. The ambly knew where it was the whole time and eventually it started rapidly smacking the cricket, using it's whip like an actual whip, and making the cricket jump. It did that twice consecutively before the cricket finally jumped into range the third time, and was quickly snatched up. I've seen him do this before, but I wasn't sure if it was on purpose or if he was just feeling the prey and accidentally freaked it out. This time it was unmistakably deliberate. I'm sure many of you have seen this too, but I was impressed. These really are fascinating creatures.
Nick H: What species was this? :)
 

Ghoul

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Yes, they all seem to kick down the molt after finishing the process, at least in captivity.
In the wild I have found molts still hanging on cave's ceiling or walls.

Not sure if there is a reason behind this behavior (nothing published anyway), but it is possible that in a tight space the whip spiders are trying to avoid disturbances. Fresh molts attract scavengers, which can be harmful to a soft amblypygid. Let's give these animals some credit.
Interesting, I haven't had Benji do that yet. And he just molted today, the first time upside down on cork bark! The time before he molted on a piece of cork bark that was leaning against the glass of his enclosure. I remember carefully lifting it up to check on him and getting the crap scared out of me when his "old skin" fell off the bark :happy:

Speaking of giving them credit, last night I witnessed mine actually using his whip like a whip to herd his prey over to where he wanted it. The cricket was being especially difficult and wasn't moving much. When it did move it stayed away from the Styrofoam. The ambly knew where it was the whole time and eventually it started rapidly smacking the cricket, using it's whip like an actual whip, and making the cricket jump. It did that twice consecutively before the cricket finally jumped into range the third time, and was quickly snatched up. I've seen him do this before, but I wasn't sure if it was on purpose or if he was just feeling the prey and accidentally freaked it out. This time it was unmistakably deliberate. I'm sure many of you have seen this too, but I was impressed. These really are fascinating creatures.
I've seen a Damon diadema do this in a youtube video! Wish I could find it again... they're smarter than people think.
 
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