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Spider, Insect Personality Study

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by findi, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. findi

    findi Arachnodemon

    Study shows that spiders & insects have distinct personalities. What do you think...any experiences? http://bitly.com/Ktte2f
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  2. yodaxtreme545

    yodaxtreme545 Arachnosquire

    I could tell that without there being research and studies. One of my 5" LP's loves to flick hairs at me and the other is chill as sin. That's just breaking the surface though.
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  3. Drakk

    Drakk Arachnosquire

    I think its interesting, surely anyone that keeps more than a few spiders etc will notice this? =)
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  4. findi

    findi Arachnodemon

    Thanks, all,

    I have noticed differences in all manner of inverts as well. But little research effort (and money) goes into such matters, so I;m glad to see at least a start being made to quantify what invert keepers have been seeing...never know where it will ;lead, but it will be interesting for sure! best, Frank
  5. Formerphobe

    Formerphobe Arachnoking Arachnosupporter

    I've even noticed 'personality' differences between same sex sac mates.
  6. See, that's because so many people are quick to assume that inverts don't think or feel or posses enough brain function to HAVE personalities. Granted as far as we can tell SO FAR, there's no HARD facts to state that they have any real cognition beyond instinct, but there's also nothing out there that proves otherwise. They are just different from us, so we assume they lack any ability to rationalize. I will always beg to differ there, while their minds will never be something we can totally relate to, there is SOMETHING going on in there more than just "food. vibrations. sit there for a week." And although people warn you about anthropomorphism, I think that its actually probably a GOOD thing, as it leads you to try to figure out the whys and hows. As long as it doesn't affect their care for the worse, of course. The only way we humans can truly learn about ANY animal at all is to try to find as much common ground as possible, and go from there.

    Also, this is a bit of personal opinion but I think that just about anything I have read of other people's personal accounts would speak to it, it appears that all living things regardless of where their skeleton resides, respond to consistency. Whether or not a tarantula can, say, "enjoy" being handled will always be widely debated and the general consensus is no - but, they most certainly can learn to get used to it. Their entire bodies are made up of sensory organs, it seems only logical that they would eventually be able to tell the difference between substrate, glass, metal, wood, and say, your hand. And whether they frequently APPEAR to be asking to be held when they choose your hand as a walking surface, it may be that their personality is just that of a more brave, active spider that wants to explore its surroundings.

    I know that these sort of threads are dangerous around here, everybody starts chiming in with really intense POVs, for some reason. Its too bad, because if we shut down all possible observations and research that may lead us to discover that there's more going on inside their tiny brains and bodies than we think, we will never know for sure. Please don't let this turn into a "tarantulas are stupid and so are you" discussion. As long as we all properly care for our pet invertebrates, I don't think there is anything wrong with feeling either of those ways.

    Edit: I was only adding all of this because I feel it relates to personalities, but I realize now that maybe most people dont link the two. Personality can be described solely on the basis of whether or not a T is defensive or mellow, I suppose. So please don't shut down this post because I went a different direction...i really didnt see it as a different direction at the time but now i can see how it might look that way.

    "we've got lots in common where it really counts, where it really counts, we've got large amounts.." Guess the movie!:)
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  7. findi

    findi Arachnodemon

    Thanks....I as well. I'd like to see some work that incorporates genetics, etc. Cricket studies have shown that learned predator avoidance is passed along from females to young...I'll post that article soon, you might be interested. Best, Frank
  8. I read that the other day! It was absolutely fascinating. Talk about quick evolution.
  9. findi

    findi Arachnodemon

    Really amazing...I did a write up on it somewhere, searching...

    Thanks, best, Frank
  10. SamuraiSid

    SamuraiSid Arachnodemon

    Come on, it wouldnt be any fun if everybody's opinion was on par with, "thats neat." But your totally right with how dangerous opinions can be. So lets here mine!!!

    Its an issue of definition and an argument in semantics. Hopefully this article will expand peoples horizons. I dont agree with the anthropomorphism aspect, but only because I see it constantly being thrust upon common pets with poor results. I think the merit of these creatures deserves new terminology to describe them, because honestly, some people are stupid and use anthropomorphism to literal extremes. "My Tarantula eats whatever I put in his cage, he must be STARVING!!!!!!"
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  11. I do agree with you there, on both counts. Opinions are always welcome, its just unfortunate when it gets personal, which I've seen happen a lot around here.

    And its the same thing as people who put their dogs in sweaters and carry them in their purse. You can find things in common such as you both like to be warm, and fed, but a dog is a dog is a dog no matter the size.

    Not comparing tarantulas to dogs, but just making that point. The thing is, the psychology of a dog has been studied and studied and I'd say that as far as we know, we humans pretty much have a good handle on that. THe psychology of a tarantula hasn't really been studied, because as far as anybody can TELL, they are unthinking unfeeling balls of neurosensory fuzz and instinct. But that's just because there hasn't been enough hardcore studying. I will gladly accept that they have no cognition or sentience of any type when someone proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt. But until then, I really can't believe that. And of course I know not to anthropomorphize to the extent where I feel my tarantula needs a fuzzy sweater and a cheeseburger, and a ride in my pocket....but I will assume that their "happy" or "sad" or "curiosity" extends as far as anyone's but on a plane of existence that is relative to their basic needs. So that said, I don't think there's anything wrong with feeling that a T enjoys something, be it being held, or one food over another, or anything like that - as long as you're keeping them right, in a good setup, and doing all of the basic husbandry things that they require. keep them safe, hydrated, fed, and be aware of what their moods are from day to day....and there's nothing wrong with trying to find a way to identify with your pet. After all, its the person who tries to find some sort of commonality even though it will be totally relative, who will finally discover what REALLY makes them tick.

    Also, I like the psychology of anything. Maybe because i'm craaaaazyyyy!! :-D
  12. findi

    findi Arachnodemon

    Hi, Thanks for your input.

    Anthropomorphism, and a poor understanding of ecology/natural history (i.e "I'm saving animals by being a vegetarian, or not wearing fur" - as if farming and sheep ranching have not destroyed habitats and led to extinctions!) has long plagued myself and other zoologists as we go about our work. While these sentiments do often translate into money that may do some conservation good, as a whole anthropomorphism does animals, the environment and people a disservice by clouding the true facts and realities of various situations.

    I had hoped that my comments under "Please Note" at the end of the article, as well as it's general tone and citation ( a peer-reviewed journal) would be enough to prevent folks from viewing the research as anthropomorphic. But...

    Alltheworld601 makes some interesting points, thanks. And true, just as money raised for conservation is useful no matter what sentiments have generated it, feelings that spark folks to look, record, wonder and investigate are a good thing.

    I have, unfortunately, seen many instances where anthropomorphism has resulted in poor captive care and even poorly advised conservation programs ( a biologist I worked with, who had financial backing and was passionate about crocodile conservation, very nearly succeeded in releasing captive bred Marsh Crocodiles close to an Indian village where they has killed several people in the past, because they "had a right" to their ancestral habitat. Village elders suggested he release king cobras in his children's bedrooms!).

    The poor care issue arises more with mammals and birds than inverts, in my experience. Was never a problem with reptile keepers many years ago, as most tended to be quite serious and diligent, but the current explosion of interest has its down side, and I see a growing cadre of people, including zookeepers, who treat them almost as "little people with scales",

    Best regards,. Frank

    ---------- Post added 09-18-2012 at 08:23 PM ----------

    Good points again, thanks. I can't tell you how many cases I'm familiar with where people contract serious illnesses from dog and cat saliva, etc., caused by their being treated as 'family". Also dangerous, sometimes very much so, with herps and inverts. The number of venomous snake bites, tarantula bites and others has skyrocketed in recent years, and it is not solely related to their being more venomous species available (I was part of NYC's venomous bite response team, through the Bx Zoo, for 20 years). Considering any reptile, spider, scorpion, etc. "dog tame" ( a popular term in some circles) is foolish and very dangerous to oneself and others. Best, Frank
  13. Taysha

    Taysha Arachnosquire

    Considering any animal, exotic or not, what some consider "dog tame" is ridiculous in my opinion. I have seen dogs raised in the perfect enviroment, trained and treated how all consider "right" and they can still turn in a second if someone does something that kicks off an instict that "Cute puppy" will go wild as a wolf. Maybe I have a different view on things since my mom used to run a wolf rescue center and then later began taking in wolf mixes. I've had exotics since I was what im sure most consider to young but since I was LITTLE I was taught to rspect animals, all animals insects and arachnids included. Im talking three or four, I was taught an animal is an animal and nothing will ever change that! A snake is a snake, a snake will bite you if he thinks your food or a threat.

    However, I'm definitely not saying they don't have personality! They certainly do! My dog had no idea shes a dog, shes an attention ham. I also have three Beardies with three distinct personalities. All girls from the same litter. Ones an loving attention ham, the others an adventurer, the others a cuddle bunny. My spiders have just as distinct personalities and its not just species distinction either.Some are out and about and super curious and want to inspect everything, some will charge everything to inspect it, some will run and throw their legs about and dive in their burrows. Some are sweet and don't mind being handled and don't mind me cleaning their tank and showing them off. Some get ticked at me if i touch their tank. Some only want me in their tank if a come with a cricket haha. So yea, definitely agree on personality and at least some level of awareness, even on the same level as a dog as far as somethings go.
    Just like I do even with a dog, i know my limits. Knowing their personality is part of knowing those limits. All in all, an animal is an animal and must be respected. Well just love throwing my .02 out there :D
  14. findi

    findi Arachnodemon

    Considering any animal, exotic or not, what some consider "dog tame" is ridiculous in my opinion. I have seen dogs raised in the perfect enviroment, trained and treated how all consider "right" and they can still turn in a second if someone does something that kicks off an instict that "Cute puppy" will go wild as a wolf. Maybe I have a different view on things since my mom used to run a wolf rescue center and then later began taking in wolf mixes. I've had exotics since I was what im sure most consider to young but since I was LITTLE I was taught to rspect animals, all animals insects and arachnids included. Im talking three or four, I was taught an animal is an animal and nothing will ever change that! A snake is a snake, a snake will bite you if he thinks your food or a threat.

    Thanks very much for your thoughtful reply. Vert good point re instincts that kick in, with dogs and all other animals. What many fail to realize is that animals sense sounds, smells., vibrations, chemical cues and others of which we are often unaware. I recall my early years working with horses, and later with elephants, both of which were serviced "up close" (less common with elephants these days, after several tragic zookeeper deaths, incl. a co-worker of mine). All would seem fine to meet, yet a horse would kick out, an elephant might try to bolt, etc. Thanks again, best, Frank
  15. tpduckwa

    tpduckwa Arachnopeon

    LOL this made me chuckle
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  16. Tarac

    Tarac Arachnolord

    I think the dog is a perfect example to bring up as there has been lots and lots of work done with dogs and other canines. We do know why dogs are "tame" and it is genetic. And this leads right into why tarantulas and many other organisms exhibit variable temperaments- the "tame gene" in dogs relates directly to a flight or fight response and how violent that is. Probably many of you know of the study done with foxes in Russia that were formerly used for fur. By simply only breeding the adults that don't cower in the corner or lash out at you when you present your hand to them you are selecting for animals with a much much lower adrenaline response to this stimulus. Turns out this is linked to many other genes and by breeding these less reactive adults you also get curly tails, variable coat colors and qualities, floppy ears, etc. Basically you have a permanently puppy-fied canine, whether it be a former wolf or a fox or what have you. It is strictly genetic and has been verified in both wolves and foxes- you can implant "docile" embryos into "hostile" mother's uterus and vice versa and the resulting pups will reflect the biological lineage, not the surrogate mother's. This strictly behavioral selection changes the way they look, the way they play, the sounds they make, their ability to socialize, and so on.

    Likely the same thing is at work with tarantulas- some get a bigger kick from stimulus than do others so some are more flightly/defensive/aggressive than others. Is that a true personality? Like another poster said, that's semantics. In a more complex way all of these things function in people too- are you a nervous type, do you worry, do you take wild risks or act conservatively, have a bad temper, are you brave, do you frighten easily, etc. and what influence does that have over how you approach the assorted stimulus you will experience from day to day. You have to set up some parameters for what constitutes personality versus what is "instinctual" or probably more accurately genetic, driven by pre-programmed physiologic signals.

    Conditioning can certainly happen of course, think of bees. Wild colonies that are out in the vast wilderness are much more likely to attack than a colony used for research or honey production. The bees at the university here are so tame you can literally squash them in an effort to get them to sting you and they more often than not will not sting (faculty member does this to demonstrate the mechanism of a bee stinger and his resistance to the venom after so many years of working with them). But that is distinct from "personality" even though disposition will have a role in how conditionable an individual is. In tarantulas it is probably the same things functioning as with most other animals, just hasn't been thoroughly investigated.

    Wonder if breeding especially docile individuals from generally aggressive/defensive species would ultimately have an effect on other characteristics of the spider? Maybe a floppy eared T with a spotted coat and a proclivity to play fetch ;)

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  17. findi

    findi Arachnodemon

    Thanks very much for your insightful post - I began thinking of the Russian fox experiment as I read the first sentence! Foxes from that line are now being sold in some US states as pets. The experiment was also repeated, in Russia, with mink, otters and rats. Did not work out with otters, but I believe more due to breeding difficulties (I've worked with a few species - despite their "playful" rep, they can be very rough customers! National Geographic mag ran a story on the fox experiment a year or 2 ago, with some interesting photos.

    Excellent points re genetics, and the parallels in invertebrates. Environment, training, trauma etc. can affect behavior in most creatures, as far as I know, but the info concerning transplanted embryos is most interesting. Re the bee example, I habituated a wild population of bullfrogs and green frogs to remain close when I tossed crickets to them - a few would let you put a hand right near in time (small outdoor pool, grounds of Bx Zoo - useful for classes)

    Let me now when you come up with that fetching tarantula!

    Best regards, Frank
  18. natebugman

    natebugman Arachnoknight Old Timer

    Does that mean I should stop knitting these little sweaters with eight leg holes that say "Juicy" on the abdomen?
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  19. findi

    findi Arachnodemon

    No..you can probably make a good deal of money with them! :)

    Best, Frank
  20. HairyCelt

    HairyCelt Arachnosquire

    When do sweaters become pants? Is this the origin of the sweat-pants?
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