Nephila care - some questions from a noob

Doc Ebola

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Hi there
New user - my first post. I am thinking of buying some Nephila madagascariensis. These would be my first spiders. I have a lot of experience with mantids, but I realise that these would be a completely different kettle of ... um, spiders. So I want to get it right. I've been researching as much as I can, but there isn't a lot of info out there. So I thought I would go straight to the experts!
I have plenty of cups, spider tubs, net cages etc. for the slings, and I believe I'll be ok feeding them FF / pinheads etc. depending on their size. I am missing some information on adults, however. I've read a lot that people often keep the adults living free as they form a very large web. That just wouldn't work for me. I've also seen a number of videos where people seem to have them in flexarium type enclosures. So, my questions are:
1. Does this particular species need a lot of ventilation, and is a large flexarium suitable for an adult female?
2. Does this species only build its web once? (so moving them when adult isn't advisable).
3. Do they require any cleaning in their enclosure?
4. I've read they don't really need a substrate, but isn't this helpful with maintaining humidity?
5. Do they happily repair their web, if, for instance, it was damaged a little when cleaning? I'm guessing so.
6. How often do they need fed, and what do you guys recommend for feeding?
Apologies for the long post and all the questions ... I don't want to rush into this and want to make sure they're well looked after if I go ahead. Thanks in advance.
 

pannaking22

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Welcome to the forum!

1. They need quite a bit of ventilation. How large is the flexarium?
2. They will rebuild, but it's stressful, which may shorten the lifespan.
3. You can tidy up the space underneath the web every now and then to remove finished meals.
4. Substrate optional. Good for retaining humidity, but you can also mist daily.
5. Yes, they'll repair web damage.
6. I'm not 100% sure on how often they should be fed, but you can always start off with twice a week and go from there. If there seems to be a lot of prey bodies still hung up in the web, you can wait an extra day or two to feed again because it has leftovers it can snack on. Flies would probably be the best and easiest feeder for these guys, but you could probably work with sticking roaches in the web.

Good on you for wanting to do all your research first! Feel free to ask any more questions and get as much info as you need :)
 

basin79

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I kept my girl in a 18x18x18 and she did great. Her web obviously wasn't large but she made it work by not making it the typical shape. Fed well and eventually laid 3 egg sacks.

I will say though my lass wasn't massive like you see some of them. Although I can't "speak" spider I don't think keeping her in that size of enclosure hurt. It made it easier to build her web I suppose.

EDIT. Actually looking at some pics it looked to be a 2ft cube.
 

Doc Ebola

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Thanks guys. I'll definitely put some pictures up on the day. That's great common sense advice about feeding and prey hung up in the web - I guess I'm not used to that sort of behaviour with mantids :).
To be honest, I had been hoping to avoid the whole blue bottle / roach colony type business after having cut down my mantid collection from hundreds to a handful, and from what I've read they're pretty happy with most flying insects or insects you make fly into their web. Have you tried yours with crickets / hoppers or anything else?
Sounds like you did a great job with your 2ft enclosure ... I had been looking at getting a 38 gallon flexarium that is 16.5” x 16.5” x 30”, or I already have a few 2ft pop up net cages. I quite like the net cages as they have a plastic wall on one side which is good for getting a clear view.
 

basin79

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Thanks guys. I'll definitely put some pictures up on the day. That's great common sense advice about feeding and prey hung up in the web - I guess I'm not used to that sort of behaviour with mantids :).
To be honest, I had been hoping to avoid the whole blue bottle / roach colony type business after having cut down my mantid collection from hundreds to a handful, and from what I've read they're pretty happy with most flying insects or insects you make fly into their web. Have you tried yours with crickets / hoppers or anything else?
Sounds like you did a great job with your 2ft enclosure ... I had been looking at getting a 38 gallon flexarium that is 16.5” x 16.5” x 30”, or I already have a few 2ft pop up net cages. I quite like the net cages as they have a plastic wall on one side which is good for getting a clear view.
I fed my girl mainly roaches but did throw the odd fly in. I did notice she made her web slanting backwards and I just couldn't think why. However it became clear when I fed her. She could leave an item dangling and it didn't interfere with her web.



How I had her set up.






I've got a couple of videos of her I'll find off youtube too.
 

Doc Ebola

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basin79 - awesome videos. She is amazing ... loved the way she hauled that roach up to her lair. And kept that fly for afters. That's a nice enclosure too ... I think I'd like something with doors like that for feeding.
One thing I'm dying to ask you all - do you ever handle them? I've read their venom isn't bad in the grand scheme of things ... I'm wondering how on Earth people get them off the web and on the hand without them thinking it's dinner time? I've plenty of experience with handling mantids, but not spiders. I'm sure it's best to leave them be, but they're just such amazing looking creatures.
 

Ungoliant

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One thing I'm dying to ask you all - do you ever handle them? I've read their venom isn't bad in the grand scheme of things ... I'm wondering how on Earth people get them off the web and on the hand without them thinking it's dinner time? I've plenty of experience with handling mantids, but not spiders. I'm sure it's best to leave them be, but they're just such amazing looking creatures.
I wouldn't handle them. I don't think a bite would be any worse than a bee sting, but handling doesn't benefit them in any way. In fact, it would probably distress them to be removed from their webs.
 

pannaking22

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I don't see why you couldn't feed them crickets or hoppers. I'm sure as long as they get nicely stuck in the web and grab the spider's attention they'll get eaten.

Handling would definitely cause them a lot of stress because they aren't built to be off their webs. Their feet are specially modified to help them grasp strands of thread and it results in difficult, rather awkward movement on any other surfaces.
 

basin79

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basin79 - awesome videos. She is amazing ... loved the way she hauled that roach up to her lair. And kept that fly for afters. That's a nice enclosure too ... I think I'd like something with doors like that for feeding.
One thing I'm dying to ask you all - do you ever handle them? I've read their venom isn't bad in the grand scheme of things ... I'm wondering how on Earth people get them off the web and on the hand without them thinking it's dinner time? I've plenty of experience with handling mantids, but not spiders. I'm sure it's best to leave them be, but they're just such amazing looking creatures.
It's exactly what pannaking put. They're pretty much helpless off there webs. Definitely not a spider to handle. If you do want a spider that from my experience doesn’t give a fig about being handled then get a Phidippus Regius.
 

Ungoliant

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I don't see why you couldn't feed them crickets or hoppers. I'm sure as long as they get nicely stuck in the web and grab the spider's attention they'll get eaten.
I have successfully fed crickets to the Nephila clavipes in my yard before.
 

Doc Ebola

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Thanks for all the advice guys. I've made up my mind and I'm going to order some this weekend. I literally can't wait. So I'll leave them be in their web and plan on trying different foods to see what works. I'll try and get some pictures or a video of my amateurish unboxing for you all to chuckle over.
One more question - I've read that the slings are fine to be housed together at until 2nd instar and then you can divide. All I know is they are 2mm slings. Could I just divide them right away, or do they need some 'family time'? :happy:
 

basin79

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Don't know about the sling question but they'll eat just about anything that hits their web.
 

Doc Ebola

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Don't know about the sling question but they'll eat just about anything that hits their web.
I've asked the guy I'm getting them off what he recommends. I'm guessing they're pretty self sufficient and it will be best to divide them. My housemates are already terrified haha.
 

Ungoliant

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One more question - I've read that the slings are fine to be housed together at until 2nd instar and then you can divide. All I know is they are 2mm slings. Could I just divide them right away, or do they need some 'family time'?
You can separate them as soon as the want.

In the wild, Nephila spiderlings hang out together near the egg sac for a day or two before dispersing. (They don't form bonds with siblings; I suspect dispersal occurs when spiderlings molt and get hungry, as they will cannibalize each other if kept in a confined space.)

Some Nephila clavipes spiderlings that hatched in my yard in May 2014.


A young Nephila clavipes spiderling in her web (same time of year).



Here is some good Nephila information I found a while back:
 
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Doc Ebola

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Ok, the seller advised to keep them together until they are obviously avoiding each other on the web. Fun times ahead.
 

Doc Ebola

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Ungoliant- I missed your post there. Thanks for the links, I'll check them out. I've been reading everything I can find.
Sounds like you've got a great garden. There's nothing quite as interesting on the cold rock that I call home haha.
 

Nephila Edulis

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I love nephila but they have a bad habit of disappearing so you might want to watch out for that. I remember my local giant female disappearing one night and her web was missing for a week. Later she reappeared and had eggs.
 

Doc Ebola

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Hi guys.
Not so much of a noob any more.
Here's a video of one of my girls (Nephila madagascariensis) at 8 weeks old:

And here's another of the same female at 4 months old - what an amazing size difference:


I don't usually handle them, but was rehoming in both cases and just couldn't resist ;)
 

chanda

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Wow - gorgeous! What size enclosure did you end up getting for them?
 
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