Irritated T? - opinions welcome please

Saf

Arachnosquire
Old Timer
Joined
Oct 16, 2009
Messages
50
Hi guys. Over the last two days, I have a situation developed with Cyan (my 2" GBB), and some curious behaviour. I'd like to get your opinions please.

I'll describe:

Every now and then during the course of the day / night, she will start to have a bit of a scratch. Not like normal cleaning / grooming routines, and not like putting u-hairs down around her webbing either. It's different.

She'll be 'sitting' normally for a fair while, undisturbed, then will suddenly start scratching. Not always the same place, sometimes might be a leg, then a different leg, perhaps her abdomen, etc etc.

Now to me, I'm pretty sure it is not a mite issue. The enclosure is always bone dry (with a small water dish), and the humidity between 25-40%, which should be fine for a GBB. I've taken very close up macro shots of her, and there is nothing at all that I can see on her that could be causing problems.

In addition to that, if she did have something like some kind of mites, surely she would be itching much more regularly? This is only a few times a day we're talking about, like something has only just landed on her at that moment.

So, she itches suddenly every once in a while, and then does the little scurrying motions with her front legs like she's trying to gather up a prey item, but whatever it is is too small for her to catch. She'll then attempt to chase whatever it is (which would infer whatever it is have now left her again). Clearly something that she can 'see' / sense, but whatever it is, is too small for my eyesight.

The behaviour leads me to suspect the possibility that some kind of very small fly has gotten in there through the vent holes, which every now and then lands on her, annoying her, hence her responses outlined above.

I've taken the lid off for periods of time when I can be present to observe without her getting out, but seen nothing moving at all.

So, firstly, have you had similar experiences, and what caused them?

Secondly, if my fly theory is correct, do I just keep doing what I am, keeping lid off so it can get out, or any other advice you may have?

Thirdly, I hate seeing her uncomfortable, and want to help her. She's made such an awesome job of creating herself a great home in her enclosure, and put so much time and effort into her webbing, I'd really prefer not to have to move her into another to start all over, when she's still got another 2 or 3 moults in this one yet, size wise.

So, if it is a fly, what are the chances of it having laid eggs which could further disturb her later, and what kind of life cycle would such tiny flies have? I'm wondering if I just leave her a few days, will it die off anyway if it hasn't escaped by then?

Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to be as clear as possible with the information I'm hoping you can help me with.

Thanks in advance for any advice you have to offer.
 

flamesbane

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Dec 10, 2008
Messages
529
Based on what you are describing it sounds like she is just cleaning/grooming.
 

webbedone

Arachnobaron
Joined
Aug 27, 2010
Messages
410
Tarantula's are clean freaks they will groom themselves for hours they will even remove any uneaten food boluses and pray remains/their own molts from their burrows. They even go as far as taking a poo somewhere further outside so its totally natural for them to sit there and groom themselves for few hours.
 

Bill S

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Oct 2, 2006
Messages
1,426
Mites would probably not make a tarantula itchy. Tarantulas don't have skin with nerve endings in it like we do, and when mites attach they go pretty much unnoticed by the tarantula, stay in one spot until they've drunk their fill, and drop off.

For that matter, I would not expect a tarantula to "itch" through it's exoskeleton anyway. (Picture the likelihood of getting an itch through your fingernail - somewhat the same thing.) Tarantulas do have sensory structures at specific points in it's exoskeleton, and they need to be kept clean in order to function. That's no doubt part of what accounts for the grooming behavior - but they could also be irritated I suppose.
 

Saf

Arachnosquire
Old Timer
Joined
Oct 16, 2009
Messages
50
Hi guys, thank you all who replied and offered your opinions. :)

Maybe I didn't explain as well as I thought. ;)

I've spent countless hours watching her groom since I've had her, as I think she looks so cute while doing so, and this behaviour was not at all like the way she grooms herself.

By way of analogy (albeit a relatively poor one), think of when a dog grooms. Usually relatively controlled, intentional, deliberate actions etc. As opposed to if it suddenly felt something (insect etc) land on it's fur, or a flee bite, it would suddenly spring into action to attempt to remove the culprit.

I appreciate also Bill's clarification and analogy about a tarantula's skin and sensory functions, thanks for that. In this instance, I imagine it must have been feeling via the sensory perception of it's hairs, as when a cricket touches it from behind with it's feelers / antennae, it suddenly springs into action to arrest the disturbance.

As I explained in the OP, this was not like a normal grooming procedure. One minute she'd be still, and completely at rest, the next, leaping into action as if touched by something. This would be followed by some shaking and rubbing of her legs, to get 'it' off of her, then the scrabbling motion she makes with her front legs and palps when she's trying to gather up a small prey item.

This would be often followed immediately by her attempting to 'chase' the offender at sudden speed all round the enclosure. Up the sides of the walls, around the lid (all places she almost never goes). The only comparable behaviour I've seen in a T is that of chasing prey. I know her behaviour, and something was definitely 'bothering' her.

Anyway, she was still doing this last night. This morning I opened the lid to top up water, and indeed a very small fly was seen emerging. I'm happy to say she's back to her old self, and has not since engaged in this behaviour. It seems that's what it was, so I think we can put this one to bed.

Thanks again for your replies my friends. :)
 

skippy

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
Joined
Jan 6, 2009
Messages
927
A vid would be really helpful. If it is phorid flys then you might want to keep her drier. Without seeing what you're seeing I have no other advice:(
 
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