The Importance of Being Burrowed


Old Timer
Aug 17, 2002
A couple of weeks ago I told you all about a C. crawshayi 'ling I had that died, apparently from dehydration due to my not being able to give the spiders a proper watering/feeding (a few got a little water through the top of the cage lid) for 2 weeks. That T had, for whatever reason, abandoned burrowing, at least temporarily. In the past it had dug out tunnels underground, and that is the behavior I was most used to it showing.

Yesterday when feeding/watering my Ts I came across another African T, an H. gigas, that had, for whatever reason, abandoned its burrow since last week and was starting to look bad. Fortunately, the spider apparently had not suffered as much water loss as the crawshayi had and within an hour of offering water and watering the substrate the T was fine again. Since my emperor scorpions don't use both retreats I gave one to the H. gigas (originally my gigas both had them but then went underground and abandoned the retreats) in the hope it will encourage her to burrow again.

Both the crawshayi 'ling and the H. gigas have counterparts in a crawshayi 'ling that does have a burrow and an H. gigas who is still burrowing. Both are about as polar opposite from their deceased/ill counterparts as you could imagine. Whereas the one crawshayi sans burrow had perished, the one with the extensive tunnel network was absolutely fine. Likewise with the gigas.

Compared to the number of tarantulas I have owned in 2 and a half years, my casualty numbers are very low, but when I do lose them, it seems to be winter time when it happens, and I place partial blame on winter heating. I try to over-water, knowing that it isn't going to stay oppressively moist for very long. But it seems that for our spiders that haven't expressly adapted to utterly xeric conditions, a burrow or retreat that can be closed off with silk is essential. This may be old news to most of you, but given the very clear examples I got recently with my pair of crawshayi and my pair of gigas I thought I would share.