T fell onto her back and didn't move

Great Basin Ben

Arachnosquire
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Oct 2, 2010
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86
Hey there everyone,

O.K. I'm BRAND NEW to T keeping, and here's the scenario:

I got my new Kritter Keeper all dialed in w/ coco coir substrate, half burried clay pot, and glazed ceramic water dish. The substrate was approx. 4" from the top of the Kritter Keeper, when my new Aphonopelma schmidti arrived yesterday. She's approx. 2 1/2 inches, and my first spider ever.

Upon introducing her to her new terrarium, she walked immediately over to the wall, and began to climb. She climbed over the walls for the better part of an hour before I noticed her, slip, and fall onto her back. She didn't budge....:confused::confused::confused:

So I put the soft end of a paintbrush in there to see if she'd move, and she quickly grasped at the brush, and allowed me to flip her back over. About a half an hour later, she did this same thing, and I again righted her, before finally settling up in the corner on the wall, when I went to bed.

*Fast Forward to this morning*
I woke up, to find her on her back AGAIN!, :eek: and at this point, I'm thinking that she's dead. Same thing, put the paintbrush up to her feet, and she grabs on, allowing me to right her. Needless to say, I added enough substrate to reduce the distance between it and the lid to a tiny bit over 2 1/2 inches. She expresses no interest in the crickets I put in there, and has yet to go to the water dish, but appears healty overall. There appears to be no sign of any injuries, and when she DOES walk around, it seems to be at a normal gate. She doesn't really seem all that active though.

So here's my question:
Is it normal for a Tarantula to fall onto its back, and if so, does it usually right itself, or does it need help? I'm concerned that I may have too big of a container for a 2 1/2 inch Aphonopelma, but with the substrate, almost all the way filled up, will she still be O.K., in such an enclosure??? Also, should a terrestrial species like this, be spending as much time climbing the sides of the walls of the enclosure, as opposed to in it's hide, in the substrate?

Any expertise, or advice would be greatly appreciated. I want to do my very best to make sure that I give this pretty little girl, the best possible chances for a happy, healthy life, full of future egg sacks, and roach dinners...
 

NikiP

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
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Apr 16, 2006
Messages
540
Don't touch her, it sounds like she could be trying to flip over to molt. You could be stressing her more by trying to be helpful. Would also explain her lack of interest in he crickets.
 

curiousme

Arachnoprince
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Dec 11, 2008
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1,659
Don't touch her, it sounds like she could be trying to flip over to molt. You could be stressing her more by trying to be helpful. Would also explain her lack of interest in he crickets.
+1! If there are crickets in the enclosure, get them out as well.

Tarantulas do not normally die on their backs, they molt on their backs. This is the time that they are the most fragile as well. If a tarantula is dead, its toes will be curled underneath its body.

There is a wonderful sticky linked in my signature that has many of the common questions listed that you should check out.

Tarantulas are able to get off their backs just fine and do not need help. Also, you did the right thing in adding more substrate, but I would leave the spider alone for now and I bet it will flip back over and molt for you.
 

Great Basin Ben

Arachnosquire
Joined
Oct 2, 2010
Messages
86
Don't touch her, it sounds like she could be trying to flip over to molt. You could be stressing her more by trying to be helpful. Would also explain her lack of interest in he crickets.
She DOES have a bit of a bald spot on the middle of her abdomen. So IF I return home from work today, after filling the substrate within 2 5/8 from the top of her enclosure, and she IS on her back again, I should leave her be completely???

You can understand my concerns, being the very first spider I've ever had, or kept. It seemed counter intuitive to simply just leave her on her back. I obviously am more critical, being a complete NOOB, but definately don't want to stress her if she's molting. What are the odds though, that she'd molt the DAY I got her? If she does fall again, it will only be about a 1/4 inch fall at the most, given that she's about as long, as the room between the substrate, and the enclosure roof now.

I feel like a parent watching his kid ride for the first time without training wheels; excited, but nervous as hell!!!
 

Chris_Skeleton

Arachnoprince
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Jan 31, 2010
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She DOES have a bit of a bald spot on the middle of her abdomen.
A bald spot is not an indicator of an upcoming molt, your T has this bald spot because it has been kicking the hairs. Only the skin at the site of the bald spot darkening and turning black is an indicator. I really have no idea why people are coming to the conclusion that a bald spot indicates premolt.
 

NikiP

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
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Apr 16, 2006
Messages
540
Persoally I wouldn't even bother he enough to put it more substrate. 4" from the top sounds like a decent amount and they do need to be able to flip. Keeping in mind that it should also be larger after a molt.
 

Great Basin Ben

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Oct 2, 2010
Messages
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A bald spot is not an indicator of an upcoming molt, your T has this bald spot because it has been kicking the hairs. Only the skin at the site of the bald spot darkening and turning black is an indicator. I really have no idea why people are coming to the conclusion that a bald spot indicates premolt.
The spot in question is not dark, but actually a bit lighter than the rest of her abdomen. Is the behavior still indicative of a molt, even IF the abdomen isn't showing a dark spot?
 

Chris_Skeleton

Arachnoprince
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The spot in question is not dark, but actually a bit lighter than the rest of her abdomen. Is the behavior still indicative of a molt, even IF the abdomen isn't showing a dark spot?
Climbing the cage is not, but refusal of food is. As it approaches a molt, the skin of the abdomen will get darker and darker. As for this situation, it might not like the substrate or it hasn't got used to it. Is it damp? As for staying on it's back, I have no clue about that.
 

Great Basin Ben

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Climbing the cage is not, but refusal of food is. As it approaches a molt, the skin of the abdomen will get darker and darker. As for this situation, it might not like the substrate or it hasn't got used to it. Is it damp? As for staying on it's back, I have no clue about that.

The substrate is probably 20% damp at most. I dried it in the oven last weekend, but had a small layer that was still a bit moist, so when the dry substrate wicked some of the moisture it all became a tiny bit damp, but nothing too serious. The more I look at pics of pre-molt, the more, I'm inclinde to say, MAYBE.:confused:

The "on the back" thing is what had me worried. If she is indeed getting ready to molt, then I won't bother her, but if it's something else, I want to make certain that I do everything I CAN, to help her.
 

Great Basin Ben

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What is standing out to you as premolt?
The abdomen. I'll see if I can post pics of her this evening when I get home, and then perhaps I can get a second, and maybe even third opinion, aside from my own suspiscions. That is unless she's on her back, in which case, I guess I'm now going to not disturb her, in the event that it is in fact a molt. I'll also include as many pics of her, and her enclosure as I can, if it at all would help.

I'm probably freaking out over something quite natural, but just completely inexperienced. This is all part of the learning process too, but MY FIRST DAY!!! :eek:I surely wasn't expecting to wake up and see her on her back, that's for sure!:?

Hopefully I'll be posting pics soon, of a shed exoskeleton, and a FRESHLY MOLTED Mineral Mountain Rust Rump, and can chalk this up, to my first learning experience with keeping North American tarantulas.
 

Great Basin Ben

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Well,
I went home at lunch to check on my new little girl. She hasn't flipped back over onto her back, and was sitting atop the hide, not far from where I last saw her this morning. She appears perfectly fine. I think you may have been right Chris_Skeleton, I think she just isn't used to, or doesn't quite care for the substrate. It was apparently a little more damp than I had thought, becasue when I just checked it, it had dried out considerably, and I was able to see where it had gotten lighter in color, as it has dried.

Still, no interest in the crickets, so they've been taken out. Maybe she was just disoriented from her trip, and in a state of shock. She appears to have more color today, than yesterday, and it may be just because I've gotten a closer look at her.
 

Great Basin Ben

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This could be bad!!!

Well, I don't know what's going on. :confused::wall::confused:

She has been in the exact same position all day, and hasn't moved at all. I was concerned that something was wrong because her third leg on her right side, is sticking out stiff as if it has rigor mortis, and she didn't respond at all, when I touched her rear of her abdomen. She's right side up, but NOW I'm worried that if she was about to molt, and I flipped her over this morning, then she's now shocked/stressed, and cannot molt, or worst case, about to die.

WHAT DO I DO NOW?

Should I increase humidity and temperature, and hope for the best, or is this normal??? She doesn't at all seem like she's doing well now... Her abdomen is not indicating pre-molt though, it is light skin colored, and not dark in color at all... I'm afraid my first ever Tarantula is about to die...
 

webbedone

Arachnobaron
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Aug 27, 2010
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First of all calm down, the slugishness and refusal of food is a definite sign of impending molt, secondly plenty tarantulas complete molts right side up just fine, thirdly LEAVE IT ALONE ALREADY its probably already stressed out from a gaint thing poking her all the time you would be flipping out too if i poke you with a 30 foot marble pilar, spiders molted and adapted without human help or presence for 360 million years.

btw spiders curl up and fold their feet underneath them when they die (look up "death curl") so she isnt death untill she smells dead
 

Terry D

Arachnodemon
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Nov 21, 2009
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Great Basin Ben, Go to tarantula chat then scroll down to a post by projecht 13 entitled "premolt doesn't get much more obvious than this, but...". There you will see an excellent photo of a tarantula in heavy premolt. Note the blackness and overall patina to the opisthosoma. Although they don't always appear so bald, the blackness and shine is pretty much what you're looking for. Hope this helps. :)
 

Great Basin Ben

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Joined
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Messages
86
First of all calm down, the slugishness and refusal of food is a definite sign of impending molt, secondly plenty tarantulas complete molts right side up just fine, thirdly LEAVE IT ALONE ALREADY its probably already stressed out from a gaint thing poking her all the time you would be flipping out too if i poke you with a 30 foot marble pilar, spiders molted and adapted without human help or presence for 360 million years.

btw spiders curl up and fold their feet underneath them when they die (look up "death curl") so she isnt death untill she smells dead
Thank you for the reassurance... I meant it, THANK YOU. I cannot tell you how worried I've been. I'll let Nature take its course...
 

Great Basin Ben

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Oct 2, 2010
Messages
86
Great Basin Ben, Go to tarantula chat then scroll down to a post by projecht 13 entitled "premolt doesn't get much more obvious than this, but...". There you will see an excellent photo of a tarantula in heavy premolt. Note the blackness and overall patina to the opisthosoma. Although they don't always appear so bald, the blackness and shine is pretty much what you're looking for. Hope this helps. :)
THIS is why I've been getting so worried. I did check out the exact thread post you're talking about, and the blackness, and patina are absent. There is some baldness, but it's very light in color... Is this cause for concern? :(
 

Chris_Skeleton

Arachnoprince
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THIS is why I've been getting so worried. I did check out the exact thread post you're talking about, and the blackness, and patina are absent. There is some baldness, but it's very light in color... Is this cause for concern? :(
The bald spot is normal. I don't know if you know about urticating hairs, but here is the rundown. That is where it is missing urticating hairs. These are hairs the T can rub or kick off and they are meant to irritate the skin. It is nothing to worry about, most new world Ts do this. If you have witnessed it taking one of its back legs and scraping its abdomen, this is what it was doing. It's a defense mechanism. That is why it's missing hairs. So no cause for concern.
 

Great Basin Ben

Arachnosquire
Joined
Oct 2, 2010
Messages
86
The bald spot is normal. I don't know if you know about urticating hairs, but here is the rundown. That is where it is missing urticating hairs. These are hairs the T can rub or kick off and they are meant to irritate the skin. It is nothing to worry about, most new world Ts do this. If you have witnessed it taking one of its back legs and scraping its abdomen, this is what it was doing. It's a defense mechanism. That is why it's missing hairs. So no cause for concern.
The concern is simply in her lifelessness, but I'm not going to mess with her anymore. I may have royally effed things up, by flipping her back over in the first place, and now I feel awful. I'm hoping for the best here...:(
 
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