BEGINNER: Reasons why my tarantula won't dig?

ShellessTime

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 8, 2014
Messages
34
I don't necessarily know where this thread should go so I'm just doing to drop it here.
[EDITED]
I most commonly use these two websites for my questions about this species:
MikeBasicTarantula
Tom's Big Spiders
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Hi, I am new at owning a tarantula and have done a lot of research in my time before and while owning him. What I have is a Hapalopus sp. Columbia (Pumpkin Patch T.) and I've noticed that he should be digging in his enclosure. I have 2 inches of dirt lain for him, a log against a coconut dome shadowed with giant plastic leaves, a ceramic bowl of water, and moss lain throughout along with strewn river rocks all on the wet side of the tank while the light shines on the dome side. I feed him a few of my already dusted/vitamin-boosted and gutfed crickets and dubias I feed my reptiles and he eats when he wants.

I've noticed he doesn't like to eat as much as I think he should; he once went in to his dome when I first upgraded him and then moved to the backside where the log lays against it to get away from the crickets. I've come to the obvious conclusion that he doesn't necessarily like curious humans scooting him out of his hiding place, so now he avoids that area completely. (That was dumb on my part, but I have been getting familiar with his odd behavior so I'm trying to see if HE'S STILL ALIVE. Beginner here, might I remind you.) Now that he doesn't stay in his original hiding, he goes under a few moss sections in the corners of the tank, if not there, curled up in the corner of a tank. He hates to be touched by anything, including crickets making their way across him. And something tells me he may be too thin for his age.

My first sign of something being odd about him is that ever since I got him as a sling, he's never dug a hole once. And for a good 8 weeks I had him in a critter cage full of mixed dirt and coconut shavings for moisture/water with leaves in his dome on top of a heating pad. I have been researching as much as my schedules allow me to try and get to the bottom of this concern but it seems that this species isn't popular enough to have sufficient advice on care and diagnosis.

So my question to this wonderful forum I keep falling back on is this: Why isn't he digging? And if you have knowledge or experience with this species, please let me know all of what I need to know. If I were to assume his age, I think he would be 8 months about now. Maybe more. I will add a picture of him, although it won't show a lot of detail, so I will describe him.


He doesn't seem happy at all and I want him to be the best looking boy/girl you come across - as all arachnid enthusiasts do! His name is Jack, by the way - for Jack the Pumpkin King. lol!

He's a very pale color with few hairs on his legs, his rump is still bald and he does shed great! (not as often as I would like him to be) Every now and then his thorax does get a nice bright orange and is black goes pretty dark, although a little pale still. He's got beautiful fangs and is very active (I see him prowling every now and then, sometimes just strolling). As for being skittish, I've heard that is normal with unhandled tarantulas.

I do have a theory of why he may not be as active or as "healthy" as the normal dwarfs would be and it's a factor I am missing with his settup (of what I know). What I think is it's his controlled humidity. He's in a normal glass fishtank with a screen top. The moss in the tank doesn't keep it's moisture and hasn't cemented it'self in to the dirt yet either. I use this moss for my Nightstalker gecko and for my Giant North American millipede (recently died of old age :c), Darkling beetles, and Flat Bladetooth Snail habitats. None of the moss has been able to keep their moisture. Even the live wood in the tanks are keeping little moisture and they're a good 3 inches thick with plenty of cork holes. The insect/snail habitat is in a regular desk-top fishtank without a lid and a 30-45 watt plant-light hovering above it. And for my gecko's tank, she is living in a bioactive tall 50-gallon with tons of moss and logs and her light is 70-120 watt light-bulb and a tropical UVB light. Anyway, this moss I specifically got for keeping humidity in and my open cages are getting the best of me. I don't know any other way of keeping the humidity in besides covering the cages completely or purchasing 3 expensive foggers to keep things alive and still having to find some place to plug-in and put them. (I have 9 tanks in my room, including my office area and 2 lights each tank with only 3 outlets in my room. My room stays at a constant 85 degrees during the day and all the lights shut off at night, dropping down to 78 degrees) So needless to say, foggers aren't the best option for the choosing.

If you have any advice on what I should do for my tarantula, or even my other animals, I would love you for eternity! I really am concerned about him because his behavior isn't what I would expect from a tarantula of his kind. And if everything is set and dandy, mind telling me what I should expect once he gets older? (if he isn't an adult already, which I hope not.)

Thank you!!

 
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Moonohol

Two Legged Freak
Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Messages
115
Are you keeping a light on the enclosure constantly? I would get rid of that first, if you are. My Hap is pretty sensitive to light and seems to dislike it in general. As a rule of thumb, you don't want to keep lights on any tarantulas, it's entirely unnecessary. I'd also throw out the river rocks, as they don't serve any real purpose--simpler is better. From the picture you provided, your dirt is looking pretty lumpy; that may also be affecting his ability to burrow. Eco earth is a perfectly adequate substrate for these Ts, and my Hap has burrowed and tunneled all through the Eco earth I set up for him. Can you provide a few pictures of the full enclosure?
 

Hellblazer

Arachnosquire
Joined
May 13, 2016
Messages
134
Putting it in a smaller enclosure might help. I couldn't tell how big it was in the pic, but it looked like an aquarium. I agree with Moonohol about taking out the rocks.
 

ShellessTime

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 8, 2014
Messages
34
Are you keeping a light on the enclosure constantly? I would get rid of that first, if you are. My Hap is pretty sensitive to light and seems to dislike it in general. As a rule of thumb, you don't want to keep lights on any tarantulas, it's entirely unnecessary. I'd also throw out the river rocks, as they don't serve any real purpose--simpler is better. From the picture you provided, your dirt is looking pretty lumpy; that may also be affecting his ability to burrow. Eco earth is a perfectly adequate substrate for these Ts, and my Hap has burrowed and tunneled all through the Eco earth I set up for him. Can you provide a few pictures of the full enclosure?
Thank you! He lives in a 10 gallon, would you suggest a 5 gallon? It recommends he stay at 75-80 degree temperature, what would I use then? I'll go ahead and get rid of the rocks. I have a very large 5 gallon critter cage that I think may work. It used to house my Katydid. Do you think that would be a good place to have him?? If so then perfect! I have the cage next to the dubia tank on top of heat cords that run through a pillow case.
 

TownesVanZandt

Arachnoprince
Joined
May 12, 2015
Messages
1,034
Thank you! He lives in a 10 gallon, would you suggest a 5 gallon? It recommends he stay at 75-80 degree temperature, what would I use then? I'll go ahead and get rid of the rocks. I have a very large 5 gallon critter cage that I think may work. It used to house my Katydid. Do you think that would be a good place to have him?? If so then perfect! I have the cage next to the dubia tank on top of heat cords that run through a pillow case.
You seem to have way too little substrate for it to burrow. For heat source, you should only use a space heater. Heat pads are not safe for tarantulas. As for the size of the enclosure, I agree with the others that it´s way too big. I cannot advise you on anything in gallons, though.
 

Moonohol

Two Legged Freak
Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Messages
115
Thank you! He lives in a 10 gallon, would you suggest a 5 gallon? It recommends he stay at 75-80 degree temperature, what would I use then? I'll go ahead and get rid of the rocks. I have a very large 5 gallon critter cage that I think may work. It used to house my Katydid. Do you think that would be a good place to have him?? If so then perfect! I have the cage next to the dubia tank on top of heat cords that run through a pillow case.
Yes, the 5 gallon would be much more suitable! Temp requirements for most tarantulas are grossly overemphasized; my Hap is perfectly content at room temp (72-74 in my apartment). As long as he has adequate moisture, which can be provided with a water bowl and occasional dampening of the substrate, he will be fine! I honestly wouldn't worry about supplementary heat for this sp unless the ambient temp in your room consistently dips below 70. Heat lamps/heat mats are dangerous to use with Ts because they desiccate the substrate and have the potential to burn or dry out your tarantula. If you feel the need to use a heat source, I would proceed with extreme caution.
 

ShellessTime

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 8, 2014
Messages
34
I will do a switch around and move one of my juvenile king snakes that is getting too big for his 5 gallon over to the 10 gallon. That way there won't be any heat that is excessive (Misfit, the snake, has a hot heat lamp directly on the cage which shines through his and the two other critter cages on the bottom shelf with the dubias.) I just came back from the store and I have everything I need for his new housing. I'll keep this thread updated on the next few days to see if his life-style has improved. If it does, then I don't need to worry about potential parasites that he could have possibly gotten. (The original owner of this tarantulas had several other tarantulas he was selling on Craigslist, all very expensive species, and a few of my friends adopted them. Mine was the last survivor of the collection that didn't pass away) That's also why I have a high watch on his health as well.
 

Moonohol

Two Legged Freak
Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Messages
115
I will do a switch around and move one of my juvenile king snakes that is getting too big for his 5 gallon over to the 10 gallon. That way there won't be any heat that is excessive (Misfit, the snake, has a hot heat lamp directly on the cage which shines through his and the two other critter cages on the bottom shelf with the dubias.) I just came back from the store and I have everything I need for his new housing. I'll keep this thread updated on the next few days to see if his life-style has improved. If it does, then I don't need to worry about potential parasites that he could have possibly gotten. (The original owner of this tarantulas had several other tarantulas he was selling on Craigslist, all very expensive species, and a few of my friends adopted them. Mine was the last survivor of the collection that didn't pass away) That's also why I have a high watch on his health as well.
Please do keep us updated with how he's doing! Don't be afraid to post some pictures of the new enclosure here for comments/suggestions before moving him over. Another thought that just struck me is that if you have the Small morph of the Hapalopus sp. Colombia, then your male could very well be mature and is simply dying of old age. The easiest way to tell if he's mature would be to check for clubbed pedipalps. If you can get a good photo of his pedipalps, I'm sure someone here would be able to confirm for you if he's matured yet or not. Best of luck!
 

TownesVanZandt

Arachnoprince
Joined
May 12, 2015
Messages
1,034
I will do a switch around and move one of my juvenile king snakes that is getting too big for his 5 gallon over to the 10 gallon. That way there won't be any heat that is excessive (Misfit, the snake, has a hot heat lamp directly on the cage which shines through his and the two other critter cages on the bottom shelf with the dubias.) I just came back from the store and I have everything I need for his new housing. I'll keep this thread updated on the next few days to see if his life-style has improved. If it does, then I don't need to worry about potential parasites that he could have possibly gotten. (The original owner of this tarantulas had several other tarantulas he was selling on Craigslist, all very expensive species, and a few of my friends adopted them. Mine was the last survivor of the collection that didn't pass away) That's also why I have a high watch on his health as well.
They all passed away from parasites? That sounds a bit odd to me, to be honest.

Anyhow, I just have another small advise for you. When you do move this tarantula, give it enough substrate to both successfully burrow if it wants so and for it to be able to climb without risking a potentially serious injury from a fall. As a rule of the thumb, there should not be more than 1.5-2 X the legspan from the substrate to the lid of the enclosure. Good luck!
 

Moonohol

Two Legged Freak
Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Messages
115
They all passed away from parasites? That sounds a bit odd to me, to be honest.

Anyhow, I just have another small advise for you. When you do move this tarantula, give it enough substrate to both successfully burrow if it wants so and for it to be able to climb without risking a potentially serious injury from a fall. As a rule of the thumb, there should not be more than 1.5-2 X the legspan from the substrate to the lid of the enclosure. Good luck!
I agree that it sounds fishy. I really hope OP and their friends didn't get scammed by being sold a bunch of mature males...
 

Toxoderidae

Arachnoprince
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Messages
1,010
I agree that it sounds fishy. I really hope OP and their friends didn't get scammed by being sold a bunch of mature males...
Yeah... How big is the spider? I have a couple H. sp. Columbia slings, and they are way less "leggy" and big looking.
 

ShellessTime

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 8, 2014
Messages
34
No, no, I didn't say they passed away from parasites. They passed away and we couldn't figure out why in time. (sorry about the wording confusion) It could be a number of cases for a declined health or not, but I just know that parasites could be one of them. And I can tell you that he was DEFINITELY a sling when I got him. I watched him grow up and move from baby crickets to adult crickets. So old age is a complete out unless they only live for a year.



Yeah... How big is the spider? I have a couple H. sp. Columbia slings, and they are way less "leggy" and big looking.
And for his size, he a bit bigger than a quarter.

 

Moonohol

Two Legged Freak
Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Messages
115
Alright
No, no, I didn't say they passed away from parasites. They passed away and we couldn't figure out why in time. (sorry about the wording confusion) It could be a number of cases for a declined health or not, but I just know that parasites could be one of them. And I can tell you that he was DEFINITELY a sling when I got him. I watched him grow up and move from baby crickets to adult crickets. So old age is a complete out unless they only live for a year.




And for his size, he a bit bigger than a quarter.

Alright, definitely not a mature male then, so that's one thing checked off the list! Seeing your full enclosure, it is definitely way too big for the little guy. You will be on the right track rehousing him; and as @TownesVanZandt stated, make sure to give him extra depth in the substrate to burrow in.
 

ShellessTime

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 8, 2014
Messages
34
The entire block makes a good 4-5 inch depth in the cage. lol! I think I have plenty for my boy!
I think even the five gallon would be to big for that little guy.
Do you think so? I have a 1 gallon as my only downgrade option which was his original home in the first place when I first rehoused him as a sling.
 

JumpingSpiderLady

Arachnobaron
Joined
Jul 29, 2016
Messages
342
The entire block makes a good 4-5 inch depth in the cage. lol! I think I have plenty for my boy!

Do you think so? I have a 1 gallon as my only downgrade option which was his original home in the first place when I first rehoused him as a sling.
I'd use that.
 

ShellessTime

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 8, 2014
Messages
34
It's strange knowing that an enclosure is TOO big. I'm so used to reptiles and their love of roomy space. lol!
 

JumpingSpiderLady

Arachnobaron
Joined
Jul 29, 2016
Messages
342
It's strange knowing that an enclosure is TOO big. I'm so used to reptiles and their love of roomy space. lol!
Took me some getting used to also. I have been keeping fish for much longer than spiders. With fish, a bigger aquarium is always better.
 

lunarae

Arachnobaron
Joined
Sep 22, 2015
Messages
385
Ok I'm sorry, but on the size of an enclosure being 'too big' I honestly do not believe there is such a thing for a T considering they will pick a place and park it where they decide to call their territory and not care about the rest of the enclosure. Really if it's 'too big' how do they even possibly survive in the wild I wonder. However, you can argue to big for the KEEPER to do their best in caring for it. It does make it difficult to care for the slings in bigger enclosures, it's a lot more work and a lot more can go wrong if you do not pay very close attention, such as keeping track of where it is at and such. (People also argue that they have a harder time finding food....I combat this personally by ensuring the food isn't going to harm my T's such as dubia roache nymphs or madagascar hissing cockroach nymphs) Though honestly in my personal opinion once you know where your T settles down in an enclosure, a larger one is easier to manage and cause less stress on the T because you risk disrupting it's web/home less if you have more room to work with.

I have a G. porteri that digs and burrows in topsoil which is by far not the finest soil at all (Looks similar to yours), one almost would think they'd find it difficult but mine manages that perfectly well. From your picture reference I would say roughly the same size as yours. I keep it in a 2.5 gallon tank, you can get them at petsmart for like 15 dollars. If you want to downsize to a more manageable tank size to make things easier on you.

I would say though that yes, your set up does not offer enough soil to burrow from the looks of it. As well as if you want to have a planted tank you should look into having a drainage layer as well so that the bottom layer of soil does not get waterlogged and end up killing any plants that root down that far. Also having the drainage layer can act as a water reservoir, That will help with humidity levels and your moss more then likely. But if you do that, your going to want to also look into springtails and isopods if you haven't already to help combat mold and fungus that comes with more humid enclosures. As well as fiddle around with your lid and adjust how much ventilation you allow it to have. Screen tops let all the air up and out and along with it your humidity. As well as T's can get their tarsal claws stuck in them. I would look into getting a piece of acrylic and drill holes in it. The smaller the holes the more you'll have to have for air flow.

Normally with a planted tank, you want it to sit for a month at least (two is better) to let it cycle, as well as see how the humidity levels are with your ventilation set up. Make sure to adjust accordingly, once the tank stabilizes, the populations of the clean up crews settle as well as the plants acclimate themselves, then you add your T to the set up. I've learned from personal experience getting to excited and not utilizing patience when it comes to proper set up with a planted tank can lead to a lot more stress on you and the T then needed to be necessary if you put them in it to early before making sure it's cycled properly.

So personally, if it was me in your situation. I'd go for a smaller tank with the simple basic set up. No live plants or anything, and then while your T is in there. Re-do your current set up. Make sure there is plenty of soil, that there's a drainage layer, etc, and let that cycle through for a month to two months, making sure you have it down right and then you could put it back say after it's next molt, if you wanted and it be 'happier'.

Here's a link to the concepts of vivariums and what goes into setting them up properly so that it functions right and everything in it can thrive if you do it right:

http://www.neherpetoculture.com/vivariumconstruction101
http://www.neherpetoculture.com/vivariumconstruction102

There is a lot that goes into a planted tank for it to really look really nice and function to a point of requiring very little maintenance. It's why a lot of people opt to avoid live plants and the like. Which I can't blame them for, it can be annoying at times, but at the end of the day I find it personally rewarding and worth the challenge and occasional headache it can be from time to time. But for beginners, it is recommended by a lot of experienced people to avoid planted tanks and the like when your just starting out. I got into T's last september and started out with an A. versicolor sling as my first. It's still alive and kicking but we've had a bumpy ride because I'm stubborn and love the vivariums and jumped into it when I probably shouldn't have just yet. But I can admit I've caused myself more stress then I really needed to by jumping the gun with that. So just tossing out what I've learned thus far, and I'm still learning even now. It's a long hard road and not for everyone, but very rewarding if your willing to travel it.
 
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