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Tarantula toys!

Discussion in 'Tarantula Chat' started by greensleeves, Jun 10, 2004.

  1. hairmetalspider

    hairmetalspider Arachnoprince Old Timer

    This thread has prompted me to set up a wee ping pong table...then try and teach my a.versi to play.

    Who knows? Maybe someday..we'll make nationals.
    Matching sweat bands and all.
    • Like Like x 1
  2. [QUOTEThis thread has prompted me to set up a wee ping pong table...then try and teach my a.versi to play.][/QUOTE]
    Oh man! that's what I was thinking! Where'd ya get the little paddles?{D
  3. drasar

    drasar Arachnopeon

    I put a couple Creepy Crawlers in my T's Tank..but wanted to use things not to be mistaken for food or enemies so there is a Skeleton and a 3" long giant ant in there..but no Rose till Friday it looks like. Yes I know it's more for me than Her:D
  4. My Rosea "plays" with her ping pong balla ll the time. sometimes she'll hole it up in her hide/burrow with her, sometimes she just spins it, and i've evern seen her perch with 7 of her legs on it, and one propped on her hide, while blancing it with her fangs bared. SO funny.


    Spinning it the other night. I decided it was cute enough to try out my new camera on her. Little bit dark, but gets lighter.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009
  5. K I lied. Vid's not working yet. Oh well...
  6. K it's working now. She's a ~4.5" G, Rosea
  7. ph0bia

    ph0bia Arachnobaron

    Why are people so loathe to use the word "happy" to describe a tarantula?

    I think I agree with these people, as does Samuel Marshall, author of "Tarantulas and Other Arachnids" (a very good read, much more than a 'care' book, a lot of insight into the species both in its natural environment from his travels and the good ol' care stuff).

    As he says, and any biologist will doubtless agree, tarantulas have motivations (or drives) and desires (or appetites). When we suggest 'feelings' with a tarantula, we do not mean (to quote Sam) "[they] can suffer or feel happiness the way people or some of the larger animals can"

    We find it easy to accept that a spider needs water and if we don't give it them, they die. However, what about obligate burrowers in 1" substrate? They need a secure hiding place and in this environment, cannot get one.

    If you keep a spider in conditions unsuitable for it (ie, 1" substrate for something like an H.albostriatum), it may live a good time, but the spider will suffer a lot of anxiety and stress and thus will be "unhappy".
    Thus, provide your tarantula with what it needs, and maybe a little bit more (going beyond just food/water and supplying plants like it would live near, mixing the substrate to be as close to that of it's natural environment, even angling a desk lamp over my B.smithi and B.albostriatum because they love to bask...) puts them far more at ease, thus "happy".

    The ping-pong ball idea is cute, and I can see no way in which this harms the spider. We all know how A.seemani will flip it's enclosure upside down for seemingly no reason, so what's to suggest that these creatures don't get bored and maybe like some exercise and new stimuli from time to time?

    Can any of us honestly say we know and understand the tarantula mind 100%? Can you honestly say it has an exhaustive 'stimuli and responses' table programmed into it? Of course not, for one, we see variation between specimens of the same species. The G.rosea that won't let anybody near it, the docile T.blondi, to name two that I've seen.

    I reckon if she plays with the ping-pong ball, it's something she's choosing to do and it doesn't need to have a biological advantage. We can say football has a biological advantage for humans, it's a proving grounds for mating (in some senses), exercise and builds things like pedal dexterity. But what about golf?

    But yes, the hamster ball, IMO, is cruelty. The spider will not be comfortable in there and will be trying to escape. The ball itself is also a particular hazard for the spider. Don't be such immature fools as to do this to your spider for your twisted enjoyment.

    Stick to the ping-pong balls.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Everything you just said......SECONDED
  9. That's what they do with egg sacs. I wonder if she thinks it's an egg sack. They look almost like one.
  10. ph0bia

    ph0bia Arachnobaron

    They do not think it is an egg sack.

    A spider recognises it's own egg sack by pheromones and hormones within the silk of the sack, the same way a male recognises a female of his species by scenting her webbing.

    Consider also that a spider can 'smell' the pheromones of another spider up to a kilometer away using the hairs in its legs and can 'feel' the size, speed and location of prey items, I'm pretty sure they can tell the difference between a hollow, plastic ping-pong ball, and a sack of self-spun web containing hundreds of spiderlings.

    Basically, if human hands and noses can tell the difference, you can safely bet that your spider CERTAINLY can.
  11. RoachGirlRen

    RoachGirlRen Arachnoangel

    Interesting thread - glad it was revived. I'm very fascinated by the way animals interact with stimuli and the accompanying behavior, so I'm certainly tempted to try this or other stimuli so long as I do not observe indications of distress linked to it (and no, I do not consider a tarantula approaching and reacting to/investigating a novel object in its environment as distress; they would do the same with a new plant or rock in the enclosure). I really enjoyed some of the posts here.

    And regarding some of the "debate" that seems to come with the thread... I have sentiments similar to Ph0bia. While using terms like "happy" or saying an animal "loves" something may be uncritical anthropomorphism, it doesn't nullify the fact that the animal is getting some form of behavioral enrichment or stimulation when it interacts with the ball or other items in the captive environment. Laypersons simply rarely speak in terms of stimulus response.

    As a general observation, no one bats an eye if someone says that their spider "loves" to eat cockroaches, and it is an equally unscientific way to observe a behavior - we are simply much more reticent to attribute any sort of cognitive or emotional function to invertebrates. I feel this has more to do with a discomfort with considering the capabilities of "lower" animals that it does with actual science. Cognitive ethology and other studies of the mental, emotional, social, etc. capacities of animals are fields in their infancy, and compared to mammals and birds very few studies have been made of invertebrates. I for one am hesitant to write off something as an impossibility if it hasn't been studied thoroughly from every angle; science is about advancing knowledge, not being content with what we already think we know. Can we give likelihoods, probabilities, "according to current research?" Sure - and this is a perfect example. Based on current research it's unlikely that the tarantula is "happy" or "playing" (in the human sense of the word; play is a VERY complicated behavioral definition - if you want a good read, check out The Genesis of Animal Play). Doesn't mean there isn't an interesting or in some way valuable simulus response occuring, nor that we understand completely how this response should be interpreted.

    What we do know is that discoveries are constantly being made that reveal even very simple animals as having capacities well beyond what we may have originally concieved; the challenge is adapting anthropomorphic models of measuring cognition to species that are far from human-like. There have been some excellent studies on behavior and cognition in crustacea, bees, arachnids, etc. that suggest there is more at play than our knowledge and their physiology would imply.

    I often see physiological justifications for why invertebrates "can't" have a given capability, and I think this is dangerous territory to get into when we do not have a firm understanding of the full scope of connection between physiology and most behaviors. For example, a recent experiment in nautili demonstrated short and long term memory in a species that does not, based on our current understanding of memory from a physiological perspective, have the parts of the brain required to have long term memory.

    Of course at the end of the day... if you don't think enrichment is necessarry or only promotes stress in tarantulas, don't do it. And if you think it is necesarry or the tarantula benefits behaviorally from it, go right on ahead. Unless someone here is sitting on a ground-breaking research that completely defines with total accuracy everything there is to know about tarantula behavior and cognition, I reckon it all comes down to individual keeper preferences. ;)
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2009
    • Like Like x 3
  12. Skullptor

    Skullptor Arachnobaron

    We can't be 100% sure that's why we don't use the word happy.

    Well I think it isn't as much of a stretch to say a T loves to eat cockroaches as it is to say it's "happy" to have a ping-pong ball in it's enclosure.
  13. ph0bia

    ph0bia Arachnobaron

    I think it's an equal stretch as does the tarantula show preference for one creature or another? No, it goes for whatever is closest at the time.

    And the reply to my comment above was just anal. The reason people use the word happy is because it is a commonly used word synonymous for 'content' or 'at ease' and a hell of a lot easier to type.

    I don't honestly think anyone here avoids the use of the word 'happy' with the reason "It is unscientific to use such a word" and anyone who does is too far up themselves to begin with.

    If it is moving the ball and not attacking it, then as RoachGirlRen stated, it is garnering some form of physical experience from it. Is this wrong? Of course not, it's enriching the spider, and in no way harming it.

    In fact, shooting down these situations is unscientific. We assume spiders are too simple to 'play' but I don't honestly think there's been any laboratory experiments on this issue. It's an assumed truth.

    Quite honestly, I'm impressed people are trying it and recording their results. Perhaps with more data and discussion on the matter we can work out quite why they are 'playing' with the ping-pong ball and for what purpose.

    Comments like the one above do nothing to advance the scientific study that we (even as amateur enthusiasts as some of us are) conduct daily, and do nothing to assist people in the care of their species.

    Take a scientific look at it before trolling.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. RoachGirlRen

    RoachGirlRen Arachnoangel

    I take plenty of issue with uncritical anthropomorphism, trust me; my concern is that is that we routinely write off behavior and value of behavior without any real comprehensive research to back it whenever anything having to do with cognition, behavior, and emotion in lower animals is brought up. To me, this is almost as unscientific as claiming behavior or emotional states as being "x" (ie. happy) without anything to back it.

    And really, to me at least, it is an equally big stretch to say a T "loves" or "enjoys" eating cockroaches - it's attributing a pretty complex emotion to a function, which IMO is not much different than saying a stimulus is making the animal "happy." That point was mostly just illustrating that we tend to write off and explain away behaviors in invertebrates the more complex they get - a double standard that does not advance knowledge and inquiry but pigeon-holes us in current theory.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2009
  15. Nerri1029

    Nerri1029 Chief Cook n Bottlewasher Old Timer

    :clap: :clap: Well Said.

    I think Mr. Kettle has an issue with the colour of Mr. Pot .. no?
  16. Skullptor

    Skullptor Arachnobaron

    I don't think so. There are pretty obvious signs that an animal is more content (trying to find a word that doesn't invoke the dreaded anthropomorphism debate) after a meal. So it's not a stretch to say an animal enjoys eating. That's not a complex emotion IMO.

    Also, the word love can mean the complex emotions of being in love as you are describing. Or it can simply mean an enjoyment which is what I mean. "I love pizza" does not mean the same thing as "I love my girlfriend" I think the spider is aware that prey items sustain it's own life and probably enjoys eating.

    So a spider may love to eat cockroaches in the sense that it is aware of the fact that it brings sustenance to it's life, and maybe it taste good to it also.

    Look at the myth about a black widow spider that many believed the female is so wicked that she eats the male. We know now that the male actually chooses to stick around to provide it's offspring with it's first meal. I would say that is pretty powerful evidence of an animal being aware that food increases the chances of it's offspring's survival with or without the benefit of emotions to the fact.
  17. RoachGirlRen

    RoachGirlRen Arachnoangel

    The tarantula is aware that food sustains its life? The male consciously chooses to be eaten because he is aware that it will sustain his offspring? These are elements of awareness, self awareness, value assessment, and choice - complex levels of thought & mind, so I can't help but find it a contradiction to suggest that a tarantula can't be happy but it can make conscious choices of self-sacrifice based on awareness of reproductive benefit & the value of food. Young human beings are even thought to lack the capacity to understand abstractions such as that. It seems peculiar to argue away something as simple as enjoying interacting with a ping pong ball by using something as complex as self-awareness and value assessment; I don't think it is an argument that follows logically. Unless this is a case of poor choice of wording?

    At any rate, it's probably a moot point (getting back to the ping pong ball) if the tarantula likes or has the capacity to like interacting with it. As I mentioned in my first post, it may be a form of behavioral enrichment or at least it elicits a stimulus response. Either way, a behavioral phenomena of unknown value is happening, and if there is no indication of it being overtly harmful/stressful then novel stimuli could on some level have a benefit (or if nothing else make for some interesting observation). Everything else is mostly a matter of squabbling over how the owner opts to interpret the behavior, and these sorts of discussion tend to fall apart in a mess of semantics specifically because we don't really know enough about cognition and behavior to give a solid argument one way or the other. Hence my earlier posts.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2009
    • Like Like x 1
  18. ph0bia

    ph0bia Arachnobaron

    As far as I was aware, the male black widow doesn't consciously choose to stick around and be a meal, and there are plenty of cases where the male makes it out alive, the female then saving whatever meal next arrives for her offspring.

    Meh, scientific contention.

    Anyways, swerving back on topic, Mr. Pot is not calling Mr. Kettle anything, I am merely saying that if you want to be overly scientific with your choice of language, be overly scientific and see that putting a ping-pong ball in the enclosure is a scientific experiment into the behavior of the spider.
    If you're not worried about scientific wording and happy to personify an arachnid, then just enjoy watching the spider in the knowledge that it's not harming the spider, if in the ignorance that you are still conducting an experiment and every reply of people describing their spiders behavior with the ball is additional collected data into working out why they do this.

    I just think if people want to be picky, they should be recurrent with it ;)
  19. Skullptor

    Skullptor Arachnobaron

    Whose arguing? Poor choice of wording...mine or yours. lol

  20. ph0bia

    ph0bia Arachnobaron

    Backing out of this one now as it's becoming more of a troll thread than a T discussion.

    Basically, I'll say it again, if you choose to try it, study it and maybe we can work out why...

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