Monocentropus balfouri Enclosure

HybridReplicate

Spectrostatic
Joined
Jan 26, 2017
Messages
107
Full disclosure: I have stolen many ideas from other people to make this. It is an entirely unoriginal melange, inspired by browsing pictures of Socotra Island. Idea is to have a minimum of substrate & a centralized structure which can be used as scaffolding for a webbed den.

On to it, the first step was modifying the Exo Terra's mesh screen top. I took the lid to Home Depot, had a piece of Plexiglass cut to size.

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According to the instructions on the wrap, slower is better. Leaving the wrap in place helps prevent cracking & splitting, or so my brother-in-law tells me, & it was a handy place to mark. With a sharpie, not sure where that pen came from. I marked off where the bifurcation is & then marked off a 1" x 1" grid on the rest. The wrap did come loose at some point & I attempted to hold it in place but the alignment of my holes ended up a little dodgy. Regardless, I didn't destroy it which in itself is a major achievement. Hot glue gun & done.

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Picked up random driftwood sticks from LPS, screwed together, scrubbed with a bristle brush. Hot glue & coco fiber covering the screws didn't fare too well.

Mixed excavator clay & sand, apparently fifteen pounds was too much, made a base, planted the stick structure then packed it firmly around & down. Tossed some about for a more natural look. Cured it in front of a space heater. I had found a pitted rock that reminded me of a picture of Socotra Island & I fancy that I can use it as a water dish.

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Stark, minimalist, desert island. Has everything a tarantula needs, which isn't much. Definitely a departure from the coco fiber/cork bark/sphagnum moss/greenery formula. & overall I don't think functionally it differs a great deal other than a perilous height, which does worry me to some degree.

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Criticism welcome!
 

Red Eunice

Arachnodemon
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Mar 2, 2014
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667
Nice!
Definitely differs from most setups people use. Functional? Yes. Due to the physical make up of Socotra, surely there are M. balfouri existing in areas similar to your setup. ;)

I like the use of the driftwood, looks very natural. The height, for me, would be of a slight concern. A male may commit suicide, by jumping off the top after a female refuses a mating attempt. :(

Just one question. Why not remove the screen from the top? After taking the time to cut, drill and secure an acrylic piece, I would have removed the screen.

Overall, a nice out-of-box approach!
Kudos to you! :)
 

Venom1080

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that looks like a terrestrial death trap to me.. add 30x the sub and itll work fine. M balfouri are OBs, that cage is designed for a arboreal.
 

HybridReplicate

Spectrostatic
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Messages
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Thanks for the feedback. M. balfouri are pportunistic burrowers. Extensive webbers. Once webbing is in place they appear to live semi-arboreally; so long as the web goes up, so do they.
 

RTTB

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Very nice set up. Looks like you went all out to match the native environment and terrain.
 

Chris LXXIX

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That's a nice Jabba the Hutt set up, man. But I would add more substrate :-s
 

cold blood

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first ive heard of it. id like to hear @cold blood s and @viper69 s thoughts on it..
They seem just like standard heavy webbing obligate burrowers to me...not sure what would posess someone to house them arboreally, or semi-arboreally.

Seems like the burrow, but not extensively. Mine just makes a little hole, but has a whole thick mass of webbing over it with all kinds of tunnels within.
 

HybridReplicate

Spectrostatic
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The example that immediately comes to mind is Tom Moran's communal setup. Not certain if behavior differs when kept communally, but they've webbed all the way to the top & live primarily in the web with a just a thin layer of substrate. I posted a thread earlier soliciting experiences & it was the experience of some that even when provided with substrate they rarely burrowed but always webbed.


& the person responsible for this design:


I can't claim experience, & in the hobby it is king, but I've spent a lot of time looking at a number of setups & blogs following the growth & development of M. balfouri. Preliminary thoughts are that they survive & thrive without burrowing & rarely if ever create the extensive burrows of obligate burrowers.

Reviewing a great deal of the threads from when the spider was relatively new to the hobby it's interesting how early & often it was repeated that this is an OB. I do have to wonder if this has been a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy as most have provided them with the opportunity to burrow; & when the spider takes this opportunity it is then considered confirmation of the hypothesis that they are OB & there ends the experiment, before testing alternate hypotheses.
 

HybridReplicate

Spectrostatic
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More speculation on my part, in arid environs web dens are relatively resource intensive--proteins & a small measure of lipids--but perhaps are less water intensive than burrowing. As I understand it water is resorbed as the silk is extruded from the spinneret whereas water lost to transpiration when digging is not. Additionally silk is hygroscopic & whereas there is a paucity of rain there are frequent fogs, so the interesting behavior of elaborate silk dens may actually serve to recover more water in an environment where there is little.
 

viper69

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I would have removed the screen.
Some of us like to use the screen tops for other critters in the future ;)

Thanks for the feedback. M. balfouri are pportunistic burrowers. Extensive webbers. Once webbing is in place they appear to live semi-arboreally; so long as the web goes up, so do they.
I don't know if they live semi-arboreally in the wild or not. GBBs certainly have been observed to live up in trees at times due to environmental pressures, such as food availability. As for these baboons, I don't know.

first ive heard of it. id like to hear @cold blood s and @viper69 s thoughts on it..
First I'm reading about it too, but I learn something new every day, perhaps it's true, who knows.

Preliminary thoughts are that they survive & thrive without burrowing & rarely if ever create the extensive burrows of obligate burrowers.
I'm not so sure that is true. I only say this because I don't know a soul who owns these whose balfouri hasn't burrowed.

I do have to wonder if this has been a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy as most have provided them with the opportunity to burrow; & when the spider takes this opportunity it is then considered confirmation of the hypothesis that they are OB & there ends the experiment, before testing alternate hypotheses.
There is some merit to the self-fulfilling part no doubt. However, think of this way. If one provides this species with ability to burrow and ability to live above ground, then why is "everyone" reporting they live in burrows? It's certainly not because the owners have designed containers favoring burrowing.

Ts are you seem to know adapt to a lot of environments. It is quite possible they don't burrow in the wild, but I doubt it based on the behaviors people mentioned above in said conditions.

Now, I do know they will web up above the ground and live in their web tubes as well. My 2 balfouri as they have grown larger have decided to live on the sub surface as they have made a web cloud inside the containers they live in. However, is this because my container allows for such behavior? Or because this is their nature, and perhaps my sub is not deep enough for them anymore? I don't know yet, but they are getting rehoused, so perhaps I'll learn this one.

there is a paucity of rain there are frequent fogs, so the interesting behavior of elaborate silk dens may actually serve to recover more water in an environment where there is little.
This may be true. Certainly their trees take advantage of the fog that blows through, just look at them and its obvious.
 

viper69

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Planning a communal, but they're so hard to come by! I've managed to secure two 3" females so far...still searching for one or two more.
A behavior I haven't read about from anyone yet who has seen them in the wild. Captivity, as you know, can create aberrant behavior.
 

HybridReplicate

Spectrostatic
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I appreciate the discussion, @viper69. There is one person here who I read believes they are intrinsically communal, @KezyGLA. In one post it was written that they were observed in the wild living in communes, perhaps he can comment.

I've also read there is an excellent article in Journal of the BTS 23(2) 2008 describing them in both nature & captivity. I joined BTS forthwith but have yet to be added to their members roster so I can (hopefully) access the paper.
 

viper69

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I appreciate the discussion, @viper69. There is one person here who I read believes they are intrinsically communal, @KezyGLA. In one post it was written that they were observed in the wild living in communes, perhaps he can comment.

I've also read there is an excellent article in Journal of the BTS 23(2) 2008 describing them in both nature & captivity. I joined BTS forthwith but have yet to be added to their members roster so I can (hopefully) access the paper.
Belief and observing in the wild are 2 different things. There's a lot of things scientists thought were true or not, and once observed in the wild, they realized they were wrong.

I'd like to read or speak w/the person who observed this behavior in the wild. It could support captive observations.

When you access the paper let me know, I'd love to read it!
 

Whitelightning777

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Feb 9, 2017
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The enclosure looks like an OBT type of cage. They web a lot so falls probably won't be a problem. The only question is if they are as adaptable and can exploit the area.

I never once caught my M balfouri hanging upside down from the ceiling. They're strongly terrestrial or burrowing depending on where you draw the line between those catagories.
 

Mvtt70

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Jul 31, 2017
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Interesting idea, when I got my M. balfouri female like 3 weeks ago all the enclosures I was seeing on the internet were horizontal with 4"-6" of sub for them to burrow. I setup my enclosure for her like this, however I noticed in the first week I got her she liked to climb the sides a lot (sometimes walking a lap around the top perimeter.) However she's utilized every hide I put in for her and enjoys making burrows that connect all of them together so I'm definitely leaving it as is, only thing I might add another 1"-2" of sub for her just to give more burrow room and less fall risk.

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