T. stirmi died

crlovel

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Nov 23, 2011
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My T. stirmi is in a 20 gallon terrarium on my desk. Substrate (coconut fiber and peat moss mix) kept moist - not wet - with dry leaves on the substrate. Numerous isopods in the substrate to keep mold down. She had about 10-12" of substrate, with a cork bark log that she tunneled into, under, and back out the other side. A large water bowl (the bottom of a 1 liter soda bottle) that I always over filled to overflowing.

I purchased her back in March or April, I think it was. The spring Hamburg show. She was already large, and she had several large abnormalities on her abdomen. I figured she'd molt them out. I keep saying "she," and not sure if she's a she or a he, since this species doesn't have hooks. I assumed, by size, that she was a she. I suspect now I may have gotten a mature male or a very old female.

Anyway, yesterday, I'm working at my desk, when I see her come out of her cork hide. She's already in a death curl. She came out, came to the glass, and literally collapsed. By the time I got the top open and used tongs to very, very, very gently lift her to some moist paper towel, she was completely non-responsive. Not even a twitch. This wasn't molting behavior. No more than three or four minutes from seeing it, grabbing paper towel, moistening it, and opening her enclosure. I carefully placed her back in her enclosure and left her alone. This morning, I checked again, and no doubt - dead. I put her in the freezer in a ziplock bag.

She was always active, always moving, always digging, and ate like a hog until about a week ago, when I last offered her a roach, which she killed and then dropped.

So I'm at a loss here. Old age? It couldn't have been internal parasites (although she is wild caught), because wouldn't they have manifested a long time ago?
 

crlovel

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You can really see the abnormalities on her abdomen in this one. Unfortunately I never took a better photo. They appeared a little lumpy, probably scarring?

 

Flexzone

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The MMs still have bulbous pedipalps, your specimen based on those pics did not appear to be mature, assuming it was a male.
 

Poec54

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This wasn't an adult male. Can't really sex them by size, as I've had 9" stirmi molt into 10" adult males. I'm surprised you can't sex tarantulas without hooks. Strimi males have a black triangle above the vent, which is evident on juveniles.

Old age is a slow winding down, it wouldn't have been eating well until a week ago and then suddenly died of old age.

My first impressions:
- The substrate looks on the dry side, and Theraphosa don't like that for long. I keep mine moister. I also keep my Asian terrestrials moister than that.
- How far from the substrate to the top of the cage? Theraphosa like to wander & a slip and fall from the sides on the cork or bowl could have caused internal injuries, particularly in combination with the abdominal abnormalities. I keep water bowls away from the sides on all my cages; it's just not a good idea.
- What kind of top, and ventilation? Screen?
- The abdominal abnormalities hadn't impacted it for the last 4 or 5 months, with it eating well, but you never know, they could have caught up with it, especially if it was internally starting a molt.
- I've owned and cared for hundreds of w/c tarantulas over the decades; most of my stirmi were w/c, and parasites are a rare issue. It's possibly parasites, but unlikely.
- At this point I'm leaning towards the issues being substrate that wasn't moist enough, combined with too much ventilation, especially if there's an a/c vent hat could blow near it. It wouldn't have died from a lack of drinking water, but they're a species that needs a moist microclimate and I just don't see that with that set up. A water bowl with dryish substrate and a lot of ventilation isn't going to be humid enough for this genus.
 

crlovel

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It's a 20 gallon high terrarium. She tried a few times to climb the sides, but never got off the ground, as she was too heavy. Screen top, as you said, but I also misted every few days to a week. The substrate was dry in that photo - the photo was just taken after being placed in the terrarium. I used to keep it moist. Not wet. It was always darker in some spots than others. She wasn't near any vents, and my office, where I keep the Ts, have all vents closed and the door kept shut. It's a solid 80 degrees in my office.

I suspect you may be right, that I didn't keep the substrate wet enough. I caught her several times laying in the water bowl when the water would start to run low.
 

cold blood

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Screen top...misting can't keep up with a screen top forever. Actually pouring water into the sub would have been a better plan....but the best plan would be to have a drilled acrylic top and not a screen.
 

Najakeeper

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I find the issue to be more the ambient humidity than the "wetness" of substrate. A screen top is obviously very bad for ambient humidity especially if you live in a dry climate. But stirmi are more tolerant to humidity issues. A sudden death like this is probably something else. Maybe a built up of parasites if her immune system was not top notch as WC animals will carry them but not die of them unless their immune system is compromised.

Sorry for your loss.
 

crlovel

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This was VERY sudden. Yesterday she was acting fine. Out and about. Looked normal. Did a few laps in her terrarium, went into her hide. All normal. And as I said, she'd been eating one or two roaches a week, big orange heads, without hesitation. Yesterday was a complete surprise.

The tank has about 10-14 inches of substrate, varying in spots. Always moist - not wet. Dry leaves on much of the surface, deep hide.

My desk is next to her terrarium. Of all the Ts I have, I look at her every single day. I would have seen something out of the ordinary.

Also, as I said, no open vents are in this room. It's kept almost uncomfortably warm.

If I did something wrong, I'm open to hearing what it was. Maybe the substrate wasn't wet enough? I don't know.
 

Poec54

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It's a 20 gallon high terrarium. She tried a few times to climb the sides, but never got off the ground, as she was too heavy. Screen top, as you said, but I also misted every few days to a week. The substrate was dry in that photo - the photo was just taken after being placed in the terrarium. I used to keep it moist. Not wet. It was always darker in some spots than others. She wasn't near any vents, and my office, where I keep the Ts, have all vents closed and the door kept shut. It's a solid 80 degrees in my office.

I suspect you may be right, that I didn't keep the substrate wet enough. I caught her several times laying in the water bowl when the water would start to run low.

I sprinkle water in my cages, a big stirmi will get a whole 16 oz water bottle, and that's before the substrate dries out. The benefits of misting are momentary with a screen top, and with a Theraphosa, it just sends hairs airborne. A 20 gallon high with 10-12" of substrate is an accident waiting to happen with a terrestrial, especially a lumbering heavy-bodied species, even without hard objects near the sides. Screen tops eliminate most of the microclimate, and terrestrials can rip right thru them. 80 degrees is a good temp, but that increases evaporation, and combined with a screen top, means a dry cage. I've never had stirmi standing over their water bowls, that was a sign that it needed more humidity; with Theraphosa you have to respond quickly to that.

The TKG uses the erroneous term 'swamp dweller' regarding this genus. A better term is 'moisture dependent.' They don't live in swamps, but are on shady moist rain forest floors, have little drought tolerance, and require high humidity.
 

Ran

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I don't think you did anything wrong. Seeing those blisters on her abdomen are a bad sign from the previous molt. Most T's will not make it through to another molt. If the substrate was too dry and she was dehydrated her abdomen would be bald as she would be very stressed. So, it seems you did all you could for her. FYI, I keep my T room with Theraphosa's and other T's at 78 degrees but I also heat each tank individually to over 80 degrees.
 

crlovel

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Yeah, I never poured that much in. When I did the water bowl, I always filled to overflowing - about half a bottle 16 ounce when running low, and weekly misting.

Her abdomen was never any more bald than that photo.
 

Chris LXXIX

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About the 'humidity' part and how I mantain that, IMO misting is useless as well for overflowing too much the water dish: I directly add (with a plastic cup full of room temperature water) water in the substrate for my tropicals.

A lot of mines tend to leave prey remains near the water dish, you don't want to overflow too much that, therefore.

Also I add when preparing the set up, a hint of vermiculite (extra fine one, not the rough) this helps me for mantain in the long run the humidity level.
 

Poec54

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I find the issue to be more the ambient humidity than the "wetness" of substrate.

Substrate moisture is what drives ambient humidity. Even with a better top, a water bowl with dryish substrate is not enough humidity for a stirmi.
 

Poec54

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I don't think you did anything wrong. If the substrate was too dry and she was dehydrated her abdomen would be bald as she would be very stressed. So, it seems you did all you could for her.

So that other stirmi owners will benefit and won't be posting threads like this:
- tall cages are dangerous for terrestrials; falls are a concern and can cause serious external and internal injuries
- water bowls, cork, and other hard objects should be placed away from the sides in a tall cage
- screen tops let out almost all of the cage's humidity, besides being something that tarantulas can tear thru
- this is a moisture-dependent species; misting is inadequate
- stirmi can die from low humidity conditions, and won't have a shriveled abdomen (which is caused by dehydration, a different type of water problem)
- tarantulas can suffer from severe dehydration without losing the hairs on their abdomen
- when any tarantula stands over it's water bowl, quickly resolve the problem with a permanent solution
 
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Najakeeper

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Substrate moisture is what drives ambient humidity. Even with a better top, a water bowl with dryish substrate is not enough humidity for a stirmi.
Yet you can keep some of the substrate moist and rest dry(ish) and still have an increased ambient humidity. The entire substrate does not need to be moist at all on a large enclosure

My plastic tubs are 60cm x 30cm floor space. About 2/5th of the floor space is covered with the moist substrate and 3/5th is dryish. Water dish is one the "wet" end and the spider burrows are on the "dry" end. Ambient humidity is quite high, plastic has droplets by the ventilation holes at all times. Spiders stay in the dry areas most of the day.
 

crlovel

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Question - As I've said, the onset of the only symptom (not eating, completely normal pre-molt or in general) was sudden and death was almost immediately following, after normal behavior. For months, the T was fine. There was no fall, because the T was too big to get off the ground and climb smooth glass.

I can see old age being a gradual winding down. I can see bad temperature, bad humidity, being a gradual winding down. What I can't see are these two factors resulting in almost instant death out of nowhere.
 

Chris LXXIX

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Question - As I've said, the onset of the only symptom (not eating, completely normal pre-molt or in general) was sudden and death was almost immediately following, after normal behavior. For months, the T was fine. There was no fall, because the T was too big to get off the ground and climb smooth glass.

I can see old age being a gradual winding down. I can see bad temperature, bad humidity, being a gradual winding down. What I can't see are these two factors resulting in almost instant death out of nowhere.
It's because "poop happens" man <-- I hate the fact that I can't use the S-Word for that, btw
 
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