Please troubleshoot my avic avic

Rosemary

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Nov 17, 2016
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Hello! This is my first post, but I've been a lurker for years, these boards have taught me pretty much everything I know about T care. I'm out of ideas for what to do about my avic avic. Her behavior worries me. It has for months. I'm going to give a complete rundown of how she's acting and my husbandry, and if anyone has any suggestions about what I can do to help her, please fire away. BTW I keep two other tarantulas, a Desert Blonde and a Mexican Red Rump, and they're both normal-acting and healthy.
I got this avic from a pet store because I felt sorry for her. I call her a female but she is unsexed. I've had her for 13 months and she has never molted in my care. She has about a 3.5" leg span. When she eats, she eats 1-2 crickets a week. Her abdomen has always been round and full, but now it looks to be shrinking a bit, and balding. I do not regularly handle her. She is not in a place where cats or anything else can bother her/stress her out. I keep her in a 5 gal tank turned on its end, with a screen lid, and shrink wrap covering about half the lid to help with humidity. I also have a black cloth I loosely drape over the screen to block out some light for her (there's a window nearby) and further help maintain the humidity. She's got a couple inches of peat substrate and a little sphagnum moss on the floor, some various sticks, fake plant, and a corkbark log half turned on its side in one corner (this is where she spends most of her time, especially recently). She's got a water dish on the ground which I clean and refill regularly. For daily hydration, I don't mist, but rather use a large syringe to squirt water near the top corner of her cage, and it drips down the leaves and glass, and she will sometimes come out and get a drink from the droplets. Her temperature is always room temperature. I try to keep her humidity around 75%. It's never really higher than that for very long. If it drops below 70% that's when I moisten her substrate a little (it's never soaked but I keep the moss damp). About once a week I will open her screen for about an hour and stir her substrate around just to let everything air out.
I am concerned with her for a number of reasons:
1. She hasn't molted in at least 13 months, yet seems awfully small/not done growing.
2. She's gone off food on and off since I got her. She's currently not eating, hasn't for 4 weeks. Every time she does this I think it's because she's finally going to molt but she never does.
3. She seems to be getting smaller. Her abdomen looks smaller and she's always scrunched up in a little ball. She just looks so tiny all the time. I have read that this is a sign of dehydration. But I don't see any reason why she would be dehydrated.
4. She's become very inactive. She used to be out and about pretty regularly, now she is just always a little black mass inside her log.
5. I suspect that she is needing to molt, but can't/won't because the conditions aren't right. But I don't know what I can do to make her more comfortable.
Another thing that may or may not be important: She's not much of a webber. She never has been. I've never been able to figure out why. She's got the inner surface of her corkbark where she hangs out covered in web, but she's never made herself a little enclosure like I've seen other avics do.
Also, she used to always leave her log to defecate or throw out her cricket remains. For the last few months, she hardly ever leaves that space, and there's quite a bit of poop spray and cricket spit balls built up in that little corner. I'd like to clean it out, but I haven't because I don't want to disturb her/stress her.

Alright I think that's everything I could possibly say about this particular tarantula! Thanks to anyone who can provide some insights, suggestions, reassurance, etc.
 

Venom1080

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you have the importance of vent and humidity backwards, avics can handle dry to moist conditions as long as the ventilation is high. keep the sub dry and take that stuff off the screen. mist a couple times a week and keep the water dish full.

and please, post pics of the spider and cage.
 

Rosemary

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Nov 17, 2016
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Thanks, I will post pictures as soon as I can. I took the plastic off the screen just now. I only put it on there because at another point someone suggested I do that because the humidity was way too low :/
 

KezyGLA

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I agree with venom and photos always help.

As it is unsexed and the abdomen is shrivelling, balding and hasnt moulted in 13 months, I expect it to be an MM. Can you post photos of the pedipalps?
 

Teal

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As it is unsexed and the abdomen is shrivelling, balding and hasnt moulted in 13 months, I expect it to be an MM. Can you post photos of the pedipalps?
This.

The more I read, the more it sounds like a MM at the end of his life. We need photos of the pedipalps, preferably from the bottom. If you can get the spider into a deli cup, that should make it spread out a bit and you can get better photos.
 

Venom1080

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Thanks, I will post pictures as soon as I can. I took the plastic off the screen just now. I only put it on there because at another point someone suggested I do that because the humidity was way too low :/
dont chase after specific numbers. avics are very tolerant and hardy as long as the vent is good.
 

CEC

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MM or not. Try filling up a decent sized water bowl and putting the Avic on it. Its the ONLY thing you can do to save an unhealthy Avic. Dehydration will cause this behavior including not eating. Also, a stuffy enclosure will effect them negatively. The key to Avics is suppling well ventilated enclosures, water for drinking (not for humidity) and food. Avics are very simple if you follow these rules.
 

cold blood

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Another thing to consider is that when they are kept too damp and stuffy, they act lethargic and lose their appetite, just like this....often it leads to death...this happens often because of people reading care sheets insisting on number specific humidity, which is a load of crap. Chasing these numbers mean too much moisture is added too often, and as you are adding water daily, I suspect this is the issue.

I keep mine predominantly dry, with a big water dish. On rare occasion I will dribble a little water on the webbing or the wall, but its maybe once or twice a month. The water dish is basically your humidity control. If it gets too dry, like in winter with a heater running, I will moisten the sub directly and let it dry back out. But I only do this under extremely dry conditions.

I would dry the enclosure out and stop adding water daily...and throw away that hygrometer, its only going to cause you confusion and trouble.

I would replace that screen with drilled plexi or acrylic. Screens offer many negatives. Ts can actually chew through them...they don't restrict ventilation enough, which can cause the enclosure to dry out unnaturally fast....and the biggest problem with screens is that a t can get its tarsal claws caught in the screen, leading to trapped ts, loss of limb, and bad falls when the limb does finally give.

Pics are absolutely critical to any further help, please post pics of the set up...often its a set up issue that causes issues....not enough cover or wood, too much open spaces, etc.
 

Rosemary

Arachnopeon
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Nov 17, 2016
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Thanks all of you for your responses so far. I'm gonna add some pictures below and let me also clarify a few things also -
I'm quite sure she's not a mature male. Sorry I couldn't get a good picture of her front legs from the side, but she's not got tibial hooks. My B Vagans is a MM, so I know I'd be able to spot them. And she looks like she's shrinking to me overall, but as you will see in my pics, the abdomen's not shrinking like a male's, like not wasting away, it's just visibly smaller to me compared to how it looked 6 months ago. Not exactly bald either per-say, it's just that she's just lost all her longer reddish hairs that used to be there and it just looks...different.

I will take all of your advice and let her get more air. But to explain - I got the humidity monitor, started moistening her moss, and put the saran wrap on half the screen only because quite a few months ago now I was explaining her hunger strike/lethargic behavior/lack of molting to another tarantula keeper I met (who also has an avic) and she told me I'm probably not keeping it humid enough for her to molt. :/ *sigh* So I tried making these changes according to that person's advice, which seems to have been a bad move.

I will try putting her down by her water bowl today. I have also considered hot gluing a little water dish up near her hide so she doesn't have to go down to the bottom to get a drink, what are your thoughts on that?

Pictures of her enclosure, her scrunched up posture (how she always sits now), and with legs spread out a little more. Sorry if these pictures are too big...
 

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cold blood

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Aside from the ground cover, it looks pretty good. But as an avic has no use for ground cover, it should be removed or elevated, being on the ground simply gives feeders a place to hide indefinitely.

I'd let her dry out for a few days. I don't think there should be any concern about the abdomen size, she looks nice and healthy.
 

Trenor

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I personally would change out the screen lid for plexiglass or something like that. There are a lot of plans for tank conversions to replace the screen.

Avics wall crawl a lot so even on the side there is a real risk of a claw getting hung.
 

bryverine

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Also, just an FYI, they can stop eating for well over a month before molt. At that size the biggest concern should be keeping a full water dish and having good ventilation as others said.

My A. avic girl took about 4 months or more (I'd tell you exact, but I lost my feeding data to a broken phone :banghead: ) of not eating before molting.

Edit:
One more thing, don't expect your avic's abdomen to be quite as plump as NW terrestrial Ts. From what I've seen (besides regalis) arboreal don't get nearly as fat as terrestrial.
 

Teal

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I expected to see a skinny spider... but she isn't! She looks just fine.
 

Rosemary

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Nov 17, 2016
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Oh yeah, she's not exactly skinny, it's just that I can tell she's lost some mass since I got her. But that's not the thing that's most troubling to me, it's more her behavior, her lethargy and always being scrunched up. I mean she used to scamper or at least tense up when I moved her log, but today when I took that picture, I had to prod her to get her to even take a step. :( But hopefully better ventilation will alleviate this.
And the not molting for over a year, that is really the most puzzling thing about her to me.
I will look into converting her screen to plexi.
 

Venom1080

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Avics are generally slow growers, at 3.5" and eating 1-2 crickets a week, i dont expect it to grow fast. maybe you should try some different feeders?
 

Rosemary

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Nov 17, 2016
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Just wanted to come back to this thread to post a sad update: This little avic unfortunately appears to have passed away sometime yesterday. She is very scrunched up, upright, in her water bowl, and she has been that way for at least 16 hours. I have not disturbed her because I saw some threads which indicate that they'll sometimes get in their water bowl before molting, but she's just not looking good. It looks like a death curl. I feel like I failed this poor spider. FWIW I did make adjustments to her tank and care based on the recommendations I got here after my initial post, and also glued a smaller water dish up high by her perch. Nothing about her behavior ever changed, she never ate again, never molted, though I did see her drinking water from time to time. I wish I could know what I did wrong. I've never had an animal die in my care before.
 

KezyGLA

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Sad news. Dont let it deter you from getting another T. Sometimes these animals in our care will die with what seems like without reason. We try our best but there is only so much we can do.

My condolences. :(
 

darkness975

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Just wanted to come back to this thread to post a sad update: This little avic unfortunately appears to have passed away sometime yesterday. She is very scrunched up, upright, in her water bowl, and she has been that way for at least 16 hours. I have not disturbed her because I saw some threads which indicate that they'll sometimes get in their water bowl before molting, but she's just not looking good. It looks like a death curl. I feel like I failed this poor spider. FWIW I did make adjustments to her tank and care based on the recommendations I got here after my initial post, and also glued a smaller water dish up high by her perch. Nothing about her behavior ever changed, she never ate again, never molted, though I did see her drinking water from time to time. I wish I could know what I did wrong. I've never had an animal die in my care before.
I am sorry for your loss. That is not the news I was hoping to hear from this.

But like @KezyGLA said I would not let it deter you from acquiring another Tarantula. You are already a member of the #1 place for accurate care information so that is 98% of the battle. :)
 

Rosemary

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Nov 17, 2016
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Sure enough, she was dead. I took her out yesterday evening when she started having a "death smell." Thank you @KezyGLA and @darkness975 for your kind words and encouragement. I think I am done with arboreals or anything requiring "special" humidity, but might start keeping an eye out for another terrestrial friend. I've got an A Chalcodes which I adore, and a B Vagans who's great, but he's been a mature male for several months now so his days are numbered. So I'm thinking maybe another brachypelma, if I can ever find one in my price range. :)
 

Ghost56

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Aug 28, 2016
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Sure enough, she was dead. I took her out yesterday evening when she started having a "death smell." Thank you @KezyGLA and @darkness975 for your kind words and encouragement. I think I am done with arboreals or anything requiring "special" humidity, but might start keeping an eye out for another terrestrial friend. I've got an A Chalcodes which I adore, and a B Vagans who's great, but he's been a mature male for several months now so his days are numbered. So I'm thinking maybe another brachypelma, if I can ever find one in my price range. :)
Try to find a B. albopilosum "Nicaraguan", prices are cheap for adult females since the hobby albos are so cheap. They look amazing, and the price is just unbeatable for what you're getting IMO.
 
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