consistency & the quest for docile Ts

skadiwolf

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okay, first off, i have some questions for you guys, and then a story to relate. in your personal opinions, please answer the following in regards to docile Ts:

- how often do you feel it is necessary to hold to help maintain this docility?
- do you feel this trait can change if not handled enough?
- do you agree that females are typically more mellow than males in the more docile T varieties?

now, here's my story. (long sigh)

as some of you may remember, i joined this forum at the beginning of May after conquering my lifelong arachnophobia fear, one of the few true fears that i have/had/whatever.

since then, i have to own 8 Ts of docile varieties and currently have 2 more on order.

well, the other day, i went into my one and only favorite local petstore as they were expecting in an order of B. albo. they got three. :) i was just thrilled. one especially large one seemed very content and after drinking a large quantity of water (they immediately took my suggestion of putting shallow bowls of water as opposed to the gel chunks of stuff used for crickets - yay them!) it had wandered towards the front of the tank in a very 'siteseeing' posture and began to contentedly and calmly groom itself.

being one of THE only people there who will even consider holding a T, i offered to check their temperaments from a safe distance with the longest mechanical pencil available. (grin) even though they were curlys, i take no chances. (i am naturally paranoid and consider it a very useful trait) so...this large and beautiful, fluffy curly was my first choice as the second was in a ball (legs up, hiding) and the other was in a flattened ball near the upper left corner of the tank too near the opening for my liking.

well, i gently and slowly put down the pencil and hopefully let the T notice it. then, ever-so-slowly i brought it gently against one of its back legs....with no result whatsoever. i withdrew briefly wondering if this was a good sign (as it is with my A. avic who is so mellow as to seem on valium some of the time) or if it were merely awaiting the chance to destroy the unsuspecting victim with malice. so...i ventured in once again and gently pressed a bit more with a little nudge. no reaction. so, i gently nudged its abdomen which resulted in a rather lazy slight saunter maybe a step away from the original position. much encouraged, i stroked it gently on the side to which it exhibited the same complete lack of interest. :) i was very encouraged. then, i gently nudged a front leg and once again, it lazily moved slightly sensing that i was trying to 'guide' it somewhere and as it had nothing better to do, why not? so, i was thrilled. i happily went up to my friend the manager and pronounced it exceedingly docile and calm.

i then proceeded to the next tank with the ball of legs. again, slowly, gently, i lowered the pencil. i moved it a bit so hopefully the T would see it and brushed it ever so gently against its back leg. to which it LEAPT INTO THE AIR, SPUN AROUND, and tried to end the more already non-living pencil's meager existance. upon this action i leapt about 10 ft backwards and uttered the MOST girly of screams. :8o i was not too pleased. so, i thought, okay, i must've totally scared the little guy and he didn't see the pencil and was naturally freaked out. so, i let him sit for a few minutes and he didn't curl back up, seemed to relax a little. again, i ventured forth with the pencil, again SLOOWLY and gently brushing a back leg and this time the pencil was attacked even MORE quickly and seemingly viciously. at this point, i informed my friend and wandered off looking quite pale and chastised. :(

so...basically i have two problems:

1. ever since my G. rosea was surprised (i think) and gently chastised me with a front-leg thwap, i have not been able to pick her up, paranoia ruling my entire body.

2. i am naturally more concerned with other docile Ts being actually demon-spawns in disguise merely awaiting another foolish and innocent victim. :/

(sigh) what i'm looking for here is suggestions so that i avoid the HORRIBLE prospect of sinking slowly back into my state of perpetual arachnophobia.

help?

- btw, before you complain, this was actually an exerpt from the new novel i'm writing, 'how to annoy T people with incredibly innane and long-winded questions'. thank you.
 

D-Man

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T's are wild animals, so I think it's impossible to say how often you must handle a T to maintain docility. The T that was slow and mellow may try and pop a hole in your hand tomorrow. The grumpy one may be a sweety tomorrow. Understand that you can't sneak up on a T - they have hundreds of thousands of sensory hairs (with several nerve dendrites connected to each) and pours that pick up your vibrations, air movements, and checmical "smells." I handle my T's whenever - no real pattern. When they show any bit of aggression, I leave them alone for another day. If you want to handle them, it's not good to poke or prod their legs 'cause that's exactly where their most sensitive hairs are - poke & prod their abdomen gently by the spinnerets and "steer" them onto your palm.

Good job in overcoming your fear - keep it up and stay confident.

Dario
 

Immortal_sin

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ok...I think I got the gist of your post :D
I would like to suggest that maybe the tarantula is hungry, and mistaking the pencil for a possible food item?
Did you say they just got them in? If so, and if they are wild caught, they may just be REALLY hungry.
That would also explain the behaviour.
B albopilosum is not *usually* a defensive T, and IME, it doesn't go any further than hair flicking.
But, there are always exceptions yada yada yada, as I'm sure you know. Mine will strike just like that, but she is just a pig, and percieves anything that moves as a possible food item.
Once I persuade her to come out of her container, she's very docile.
just some thoughts...
 

skadiwolf

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hmmm, good point about the sensory hairs. i have a sometimes bad habit of comparing Ts with my snakes. you can DEFINITELY surprise a snake with unpleasant results. (grin)

however, they are also considered wild and handling does definitely play a huge role in their continued docility. i know this from experience. now of course, some snakes will never be docile, same with some Ts.

another thought was that the T i was trying to nudge was simply extremely hungry. after he realized that the pencil was just that, he totally backed off and left it alone, not even a defensive posture. both times i'd approached him from the back. then again, he could just be one of those 'DO NOT TOUCH ME!' Ts. :) my B. albos don't mind me touching them and my G. rosea doesn't usually, but have a cricket touch them at all and they're like, 'AH! GET AWAY!' normally a little while later they'll snatch it as it wanders by and eat it. however, they usually don't attack them when they walk on them, investigate them, just move quickly away or twitch a leg to get them to leave them alone.

hmmm. (sigh) well, i'm certainly trying. slings totally help reduce the fear because even if i'm bitten, it won't really be anything. i am really, REALLY hoping that it won't end up like my fear of snakebites. :/

whereas i still handled snakes, i was worried very much that i'd get bitten one day. well, sure enough, i was. amazingly, i was like, 'wow, that's it?' and it really helped cure me of much of my tension.

however, i'd really rather not have a T swing around, sink its fangs into me and calmly pump venom into my hand. :( that is just not something that would make me feel very good, regardless of the effects of said venom. :8o
 

Mojo Jojo

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Originally posted by skadiwolf


hmmm. (sigh) well, i'm certainly trying. slings totally help reduce the fear because even if i'm bitten, it won't really be anything. i am really, REALLY hoping that it won't end up like my fear of snakebites. :/

A wild animal is a wild animal. There is a always a chance that you could get bit. Believe me, a bite from a small tarantula WILL most likely hurt. If its fangs are long enough to break your skin, the venom will be painful. That is the risk you are taking by handling them. You should be comfortable with that notion if you are to be comfortable handling them.

Quite frankly, I would rather be bitten by an aduld burmese python than a small tarantula. The snakes teeth are razor sharp. Therefore, they easily go through the skin causing blood, but usually little pain. No venom! The tarantula though, has thick piercing fangs that really spread the skin and can even make it into muscle. Plus to add to the chaos, they inject a painful venom that can break down tissue.

I'm sure that you have stepped on a tack before. It hurts like hell. Imagine pouring acid right onto the wound right after. ---- Tarantula bite.

I'm also sure that you've probably cut yourself shaving. Little blood - little pain. ----- snake bite.

Now believe me, Grasshopper, when I say that I'm not trying to dissuade you from holding your tarantulas. I'm just trying to add some perspective.

Jon
 

D-Man

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A buddy of mine had a ball python for awhile. I handled it a few times (it was about 3' at the time), but I was pretty damn nervous every time. Give me a pokie over a snake any day - you have some cajones, Skadi!

Your right, handling the slings could take the edge off your fear. Do you have a Aphonepelm chalcodes (Mexican Blond)? These guys are the most docile. I have a 3" sub and this pretty little spider has a full compliment of hair on its abdomen - its never kicked hair, but has let me know when it's not in the mood. Damn beautiful spider and quite receptive to handling, IME. My A. avic is a sweet little spider, too.

D
 

skadiwolf

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well, i am definitely aware of the risks, etc. and do accept them as i presently own Ts. :) i do my research, blah blah.

i certainly hope not to get bitten however.

i am well aware that there is always a possibility of a bite. i always take this into consideration in dealing with any animal, including domestics.

say, does anyone have any handling tips? as in how do you encourage your Ts out of their tanks and onto your hands? do others avoid the back legs as well? i had them specifically recommended.
 

D-Man

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Originally posted by Big Dragonfly

Quite frankly, I would rather be bitten by an aduld burmese python than a small tarantula. The snakes teeth are razor sharp. Therefore, they easily go through the skin causing blood, but usually little pain. No venom! The tarantula though, has thick piercing fangs that really spread the skin and can even make it into muscle. Plus to add to the chaos, they inject a painful venom that can break down tissue.

Now believe me, Grasshopper, when I say that I'm not trying to dissuade you from holding your tarantulas. I'm just trying to add some perspective.

Jon
Ok, BD....send her back to square one ;) !

D
 

skadiwolf

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btw dragonly, a bite from an adult burmese would be far more serious than any T bite unless it has very potent venom. now, perhaps not a scare bite, but a feeding response would definitely leave you severely bruised with some nice gashes.

i have actually been repeatedly bitten by my amazon tree boa whose fangs are definitely larger than any Ts, probably including a T. blondi. :) not a pleasant sensation certainly, but nothing to die from...it's mostly just the mental association really. just not fun.
 

skadiwolf

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btw D-Man...my hatchling ball python once bit me while in shed, i woke it up and BAM! :) interesting enough it has actually been the most painful bite i've received. lol.

i've been bitten by a few 4ft + boas and they didn't hurt as much. i've read often that ball pythons have tremendous jaw pressure for their size. they can pack a wallop. however, the bite is FAR from serious and usually you only have to worry about truly serious bites if a fanged snake (non-venomous) punctures a vein which could obviously not be fun. :) you can bleed an AWFUL lot. the main benefit with those is that most tree boas (not all) have a slower strike than terrestrial snakes. don't ask me why. you can actually see the strike coming in those cases as it almost looks like it's in slight slow-mo. really interesting to watch.

however, with most snakes, you notice you're bitten and don't see the strike itself though it's rare that you can't see a strike coming as the snake assumes a double-s and tenses noticably.

i LOVE all my snakes and most are very docile. there are certain things that disturb snakes and if you avoid these things, it is rare to get bitten. most common are the SFE (stupid feeding errors) where some ponce doesn't wash his/her hands and smells like something tasty. having kingsnakes who are cannibals i am in the habit of religiously washing my hands before and after handling any animal i own. it's definitely handy. :)
 

Mojo Jojo

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As far as coaxing a spider onto my hand, I usually just tickle the spiders hindlegs with some long tongs utiill it climbs the terrarium. My other hand is waiting on the other side of the terrarium for the spider to climb onto it. So in effect, the spider should come to your hand and not vice versa.

Jon
 

Immortal_sin

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I once posted a series of pictures on how to coax a T out of a container, and handle it, but I'll be damned if I can find the thread.
I also explained each step in detail, I believe it was for the benefit of rknralf, but I'm not sure, maybe someone else can find it
 

skadiwolf

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okay, that's consistent with the way i've been doing it. my one-time errors was with my G. rosea when i put my hand in the tank, encouragingly nudged her back leg gently and got thwapped for my trouble. :/ i used to use my hand to nudge her. (grin) hehehe.
 

D-Man

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Originally posted by skadiwolf

say, does anyone have any handling tips? as in how do you encourage your Ts out of their tanks and onto your hands? do others avoid the back legs as well? i had them specifically recommended.
If they're in a burrow or deep in a web (arboreals), I would leave them alone. I usually do it as follows:

I nudge them on to a structure - on top of a hide or bark, or up the cage wall - and when I'm convinced they're in a chill mood (based on them accepting the nudges), I lay my hand if front of them and nudge 'em on my hand. I just don't touch the legs 'cause of the hair sensillum (2 types) and the slit sensilla (pores) - equate that to poking someones, eyes, ears, nose, or mouth. The hairs on the abdomen are generally not innervated, so I poke nothing but booty ;) .

D
 

skadiwolf

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btw dragonfly...what Ts have you been biten by and were the experiences different?
 

xBurntBytheSunx

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"as some of you may remember, i joined this forum at the beginning of May after conquering my lifelong arachnophobia fear, one of the few true fears that i have/had/whatever."

i'm a psychology grad student, and i think getting a tarantula to overcome your fear of spiders is a great reason to have one. its called invivo desensitization if you want to be technical :D , meaning you are exposing yourself repeatedly to an "unpleasant" and/or frightenting stimulus until you are no longer afraid of that stimulus.

personally i don't have a strong fear of spiders but i am somewhat afraid of my own tarantula haha, but that is something i am able to handle with almost no difficulty. your fear is something that exists completely in your own mind, no matter how dangerous (or hardly dangerous at all, like most T's) what you are afraid of actually is.

i personally don't ever want to handle T's. they don't have emotions like humans and they don't have the capacity to "like" you. thats what my cat is for :D
 

RugbyDave

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i've said it before, and i'll say it again:

it's all about letting the T crawl out of the tank and onto your waiting hand.

but thats just me :)

pce
dave
 

luther

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Interesting point about the legs being more sensitive than the abdomen. I'll bear that in mind.

I don't think this quest for a perfectly docile T is ever going to reach it's holy grail of a friendly arachnid. They are, after all, a creature with a tiny brain and a hair trigger. I guess we'd like them to consistantly recognise us as "not food, not threat" but I think we're asking a bit much of their finely tuned nervous systems to regonise us at all. They don't have time for analysis and they don't get a chance in nature to be wrong. They don't cuddle, groom or stroke each other. As far as I'm aware a T has no friends in the wild.

So, we're going to be able to handle some species some of the time and that's about it (unless you're a bit "special" like some of the guys here;) ).

We accept the risk of being attacked when handling any of our pets. My lovely cat "Mum" put in in A+E one night after slicing my face. Dogs often get over excited. My millipedes often stink me up. The only pet I've got that seems to be harmless is my leaf insect, and I bet that would attack me occasionaly if only it could.

I'm rambling.
 

Mojo Jojo

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Originally posted by skadiwolf
okay, that's consistent with the way i've been doing it. my one-time errors was with my G. rosea when i put my hand in the tank, encouragingly nudged her back leg gently and got thwapped for my trouble. :/ i used to use my hand to nudge her. (grin) hehehe.
I made that same mistake when I was newer into the hobby with my A. geniculata. It too, pulled bacy at the last second. I guess it could tell that I wasn't dinner.

Jon
 

Mojo Jojo

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Originally posted by skadiwolf
btw dragonfly...what Ts have you been biten by and were the experiences different?
Oh, I've never been bit by a tarantula. Knock wood. I have stepped on plenty of tacks though...and let me tell you they hurt. But my adult A. geniculata's fangs are larger than that of a tack, so I'm sure that a dry bite would hurt even more than a tack, add some necrotising venom, and I think that the pain would be compounded substantially. Plus I have read some really good (bad) bite reports of even "non dangerous" tarantulas.

I don't know if you are familiar with the following link, I think that you are though - bighairyspiders.com

There are some detailed bite reports there as well as on this site.

Jon
 
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