Taming the Ogre- keeping web casters.

Rhino1

Arachnobaron
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PhotoText.jpg I was recently asked about the care for this species and decided to do a quick care guide as there is not much online.
I first bred this species in 2003 and have been captivated by these guys ever since, it is one of my favourite true spiders and for me they still seem to have a slightly special or magical element to them. They are sweet, gentle, harmless spiders (unless your a cricket)
Some keepers I've spoken to in the past have labelled these as hard to keep and short lived, I don't think either is a good excuse for an intermediate keeper with an interest in true spiders not to have a go at owning one, at least once.
Both males and females will grow to a good size, are easily sexed from a fairly young age and with reasonable care you can expect them to live at least 18 months. Raising slings of this species is something else, just to walk past in the evening and see rows of tubs and each tiny sling holding their little square web is worth the effort of it all imho. RSCN7869.JPG
Housing-
Vivaria for these doesn't need to be massive but they can have issues with moulting if there is not enough room (severe deformities can occur especially males), aboreal style, upright enclosures are needed. DSCN7855.JPG
With the species available here, I've found that they must have good ventilation incorporated into the enclosure, I have found that long periods of very high humidity are not conductive to their well being in captivity, slightly moist substrate is perfect and I let it almost dry out before adding more water, as expected slings need a bit more than adults but very damp or sodden sub should be avoided, this is one of the few species that I mist as I'm still yet to see one drink from a bowl, one light spray in the morning once a week or so seems to do the trick.
When choosing enclosures lean towards front opening enclosures and for the first few days in a new enclosure, gently open the door a couple of times to sever any webbing associated with it, this will keep them from attaching web to the door which can become a problem in the future when it comes to feeding time.
I normally hot glue in some plastic foliage at the top and each enclosure will have a stick or twig that branches out at the top, this will give a safe area to hide amongst and also plenty of structure to attach web to, structure isn't 100% necessary and yes they will do well in a bare enclosure as well but I prefer to make them feel as comfortable as I can.
These spiders are extremely sensitive to changes in air currents as they use this to detect flying prey items, so they can be easily disturbed and will drop the net and scurry upwards to go hide. I find being slow, deliberate and gentle around them is a must. They are pretty cool and will let you know when they are hungry and once they get the gist of you and your feeding regime they will be bullet proof eaters and very easy to care for. RSCN7885.JPG RSCN7882.JPG
If they don't have a net made I simply won't feed them until they do and if it looks like they are getting ready for a moult I will check sub for water content and adjust this if needed.
Not much substrate is needed on the bottom and it's preferable to keep it flat, bare and clear of any obstructions, a piece of flat bark, rock or slate in an obvious spot will become a focal point for them and they will put little white dots on these and when a feeder walks across the dots, they strike.
They tend to build a messy web and add old nets and sometimes boluses to it until it becomes a scrawly, untidy looking effort, when it gets out of hand I will remove it, quite often they will hold the net at rest during the day or peg it out perfectly square to be used the next night. RSCN7875.JPG
They can be a little highly strung and will abandon the net if you open the door a little roughly or bump the enclosure a bit too hard, they can also be sensitive to vibrations so watch the placement of the enclosure in relation to stereo's, TVs, etc. They can also be a little bit sensitive to light so try not to blast them with a high powered torch at night, they digest their retinas every morning and regrow them every night, but in saying that I have led lighting on my shelves and tend to put the web casters to one side or the other of any direct light and they do perfectly fine, they will hunt and eat with a room light on but I try not to shine a torch on them directly when I'm feeding, like I would with my Ts.
Breeding- For best results only use well conditioned girls, make sure your fem has been well established in a decent sized enclosure before adding a male, this enclosure should have a few more leaves and twigs glued up top as natural barriers, watch them closely when initially putting the M in, if she freaks out with lots of leg action then take him out straight away and try again in a week or two, if she is chilled out then leave him in there but keep an eye on them until he finds a spot to settle, once he settles into a corner be prepared to leave him in there for a few days to a week, that is if you don't observe any action on the first night. Females will make a browny pinkish ball shaped egg sac and will have it suspended she may try to camouflage it with bits of stuff and she will open this up when the slings are ready to hatch and they will hang around this for a while before they need to seperated, you can get some very different coloured adults from the same egg sac which can be exciting.
These guys really are something special to have in a collection and they will get to know your routine and imho seem to be a little more smarter than the average spider, not to mention that face! they are very chilled out and easy to care for and are worth having a go at. IMG_20190516_185413.jpg Thanks for reading this and good luck. Regards Rhino
 
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NYAN

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I am keeping a bunch of slings right now of one of the African species I believe. They are fairly tiny and remind me of Latrodectus a lot for some reason. I keep them communally in a gallon jug with a lot of twigs. I dump fruit flies in every evening and they eat at night and sometimes during the day. There are some of them which are obviously good eaters and some that will probably die because they are not eating as much.
 

basin79

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I bought an adult female that laid an egg sac the day she came. I had the pleasure to watch her make that egg sac and a few more over the weeks. Sadly all the sacs where dud but it was absolutely amazing watching her. Seeing her make her nets was another massive thing for me and of course seeing her cast it.

This was the phenomenal lass.




 

mantisfan101

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Someone give this man a medal! Also apparently they constantly shed and grow new retinas because the sensitivy literally destroys themo_O
 

Ungoliant

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These spiders are very cool. The first time I saw a Deinopis spinosa, I thought it was a bit of Spanish moss stuck in my screen door until I looked closer.

Sometimes around June or July I find several in my blueberry bushes at night, holding their nets between their forelegs. They are indeed photophobic and will quickly fold up their nets if you shine a light on them.
 

The Snark

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Makes me wonder what evolutionary quirks were involved in producing the interesting set of attributes and abilities of these spiders.
 

basin79

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Makes me wonder what evolutionary quirks were involved in producing the interesting set of attributes and abilities of these spiders.
Indeed. Bolas spiders you can understand. But the net casters do seem strange for the type of hunting they do. A web similar to a black widow's would work I'd imagine but obviously not given they evolved to this.
 

Rhino1

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Wow this was popular, I appreciate the likes, comments and interest.
I bought an adult female that laid an egg sac the day she came. I had the pleasure to watch her make that egg sac and a few more over the weeks. Sadly all the sacs where dud but it was absolutely amazing watching her. Seeing her make her nets was another massive thing for me and of course seeing her cast it.

This was the phenomenal lass.




@basin79 that's an absolutely fantastic video, I loved it, well done with the slow motion replay it was very impressive. For what appears on the surface to be a very round about way of securing prey they are so extremely efficient. In the past when I've tried to get action still shots I will set everything up, drop in a cricket and by the time I look through the viewfinder they have already caught it
 
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The Snark

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From the video the eye development is somewhat explained: picture perfect depth perception.
 

Rhino1

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There are some of them which are obviously good eaters and some that will probably die because they are not eating as much.
Yeah Ive noticed this too, one of the juvies I have here has always been a real novice web slinger since it was a spiderling and probs wouldn't have survived if it not been captive.
Another interesting observation is that net seems to have an instant calming effect on the prey, its almost as if there might be some chemical associated with it, I see the spiders eating the net all the time and they seem pretty chilled, if I was a braver soul I might be tempted to nibble on a corner myself.
 

velvetundergrowth

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Oh wow! Those are absolutely incredible! And thanks for the really informative post, I don't plan on keeping these but it was a thoroughly interesting read :)
 

Rhino1

Arachnobaron
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Just had two females make egg sacs yesterday, note the little bits of Coco fibre added as camouflage. RSCN8127.JPG
 

alfiebass34

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Cool stuff - just about to get a few of these so this is just what I’m after, is temperature important? Or is 25C to warm etc.. really informative read
 

MoranDisciple

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Yeah Ive noticed this too, one of the juvies I have here has always been a real novice web slinger since it was a spiderling and probs wouldn't have survived if it not been captive.
Another interesting observation is that net seems to have an instant calming effect on the prey, its almost as if there might be some chemical associated with it, I see the spiders eating the net all the time and they seem pretty chilled, if I was a braver soul I might be tempted to nibble on a corner myself.
Do it, for science.
 
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