Understanding DKS

dmattenski

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Hi, I posted this under DKS??? but it was suggested I post here. In addition to my thoughts below, I'd appreciate any suggestions regarding what to discard and how to clean supplies for when I do get another. Thanks.

Got my first T for 2016 Christmas from my family, a beautiful Chilean red zebra ....just lost her overnight to DKS. I watched her suffer for 3 days, tried several of the ICU recommendations, I'm stunned. Over the last few days I read everything out on the internet about this....nothing makes sense. My husband and I are both scientists - and though a lot of you on this are the experts on T's - we thought we would offer our analytical minds to sift through the anecdotal reports looking for commonalities. Overwhelmingly, folks say pesticides, but there seem to be way too many exceptions to this, including ours, where there are no pesticides in the house. Also a lot of folks with colonies of Ts, yet only one or two die, even though theoretically all would have been similarly exposed. Other chemicals? In my case, I wasn't yet handling her, so other chemicals are not a factor. Other factors? Genetic? then why does it hit every species? It would have to be a mutation that occurred long ago, in an early lineage giving rise to the Theraphosidae, in order for it to show up in so many species...statistically not possible to be a coincidence. Dehydration? Seems to be a chicken/egg thing. Food source? Again, prey types and sources are too diverse (from all over the country) to be the source. So, no matter what the thought, there doesn't seem to be a statistically valid common cause. I haven't seen anything on substrate, I was using eco-earth, but again, I think there will be lots of variation. (BTW I put the wrong species on my previous thread). Thanks all.
 

Chris LXXIX

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In 25 years of arachnids I've witnessed (personally) only two times that nasty disease labeled 'DKS'. And, while I don't have anything to back up this aside my words, both cases were triggered by a prey. Intoxication by live food.

A man I know, waaay back then, did the stupid thing to offer to his 'GBB' sling a cricket that he took from the country here in Lombardy, in an area pretty famous for wine & vineyards. Not even after a week, the 'GBB' died showing all of those 'DKS' symptoms.
 

dmattenski

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:anxious: About two weeks earlier, it had been raining and was warm enough for the worms to surface...I gave her one. Could that have been it?
 

TownesVanZandt

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A man I know, waaay back then, did the stupid thing to offer to his 'GBB' sling a cricket that he took from the country here in Lombardy, in an area pretty famous for wine & vineyards. Not even after a week, the 'GBB' died showing all of those 'DKS' symptoms.
Odd movements, a lack of coordination and a feeling of dehydration is something I have experienced plenty of times after indulging in too much wine as well. Do you think I had DKS? Should I lay down in a small confided place, all wrapped up in wet blankets the next time?
 

boina

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From what I can see "DKS" is a symptom only and it can very likely have many different underlying conditions - like a stomach ache in humans is a symptom of I don't know how many different diseases. The reports of "DKS" are too variable and I think looking for just one common cause for all is futile.
Pesticides may definitely lead to "DKS", but not every "DKS" is caused by pesticides. A worm that comes out in spring has very likely had no contact with pesticides since this in early in the year people will not have sprayed anything yet (unless they are real idiots, which is always a possibility). An ICU for an arid species is not a good idea, btw - I'm pretty sure you didn't get that recommendation on here. But I don't think it would have mattered.
As I said, I don't think there's just ONE cause. That's why I refuse to use "DKS" other than in parenthesis. It's not a disease, it's a symptom of many different diseases in my opinion.
And I'm sorry for your loss. :(
 

dmattenski

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Thanks. I agree that searching for a cause for "DKS" is probably futile, unless I did something obviously stupid...always a possibility. I just don't want to get another and repeat my possible stupidity...or unknown action that led to her demise. I've even wondered that I got a new, acrylic cage for her....how long does it take for the glue to off-gas and could it take 8 weeks to take affect?
 

boina

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I really don't think it's the acrylic cage... btw Chilean red zebra - that's a Grammostola rosea, right? English isn't my first language and I find those English common names really confusing. Could it have been a wild caught? Where did you get it? Could it have spend a long time in a pet shop in really suboptimal circumstances?
 

dmattenski

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To prove what a novice I am...I asked my husband what he ordered (Backwater reptiles). Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula
Aphonopelma seemanni
 

boina

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To prove what a novice I am...I asked my husband what he ordered (Backwater reptiles). Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula
Aphonopelma seemanni
Ohhhh, now that's different. First, they are not really an arid species, so the ICU might not have been such a horribly bad idea... although I'm still not a fan of them, but whatever. Second, you ordered from Backwater reptiles. Now, if you ask the American around here they'll probably tell you that's the worst place to get tarantuals from. It might already have been sick when you got it, and it certainly wasn't well cared for. Third... if you weren't sure about the species then, well, how did you know how to care for it? I don't mean any disrespect, just wondering.
 

dmattenski

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No disrespect taken. I have all the care sheets for the right species, Aphonopelma seemanni, been following them...it was just in the last few days with all the reading I had been doing on DKS I got confused (on the country of origin and species)! I said something to my husband this morning and he said...that's now what she was and I looked at the top of the sheet...so all was right with her care...until she died. Funny, I'm a trained zoologist (mammals) so genus/species names are my go to instead of common names...guess I should stick to those. Yes, I have now read about Backwater. Again, I and my family are novices. Will look closer to home. I know that Kamel Spiders is in Luray Virginia which is close to me. Anyone know of them?
 

boina

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If you get a new spider, throw away all care sheets, really, do it. Most of them are wrong anyway. If you tried to follow temperature/humidity requirements you at the very least have been stressing yourself needlessly and at worst have really harmed the spider. Decide on a spider, then ask on here for tips on care :D
 

Chris LXXIX

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Odd movements, a lack of coordination and a feeling of dehydration is something I have experienced plenty of times after indulging in too much wine as well. Do you think I had DKS? Should I lay down in a small confided place, all wrapped up in wet blankets the next time?
No. You just need to start to drink good wine :kiss:
 

edesign

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I know that Kamel Spiders is in Luray Virginia which is close to me. Anyone know of them?
Alfie Kamel...I have not ordered from him before BUT he has glowing reviews and is active in the FB group as well as here on the forums (see the Classified subforums for his FS ads to find his screen-name *it escapes me atm, probably something obvious). I would not hesitate to give him some of my cash. Many people new to the hobby order from Backwater at first so don't feel bad. I haven't looked in ages but iirc they had some relatively cheap prices. Anyway, getting OT.

If you get a new spider, throw away all care sheets, really, do it. Most of them are wrong anyway. If you tried to follow temperature/humidity requirements you at the very least have been stressing yourself needlessly and at worst have really harmed the spider. Decide on a spider, then ask on here for tips on care :D
I don't know that it's that they're that wrong especially to the point of causing much harm (at least not the ones I have seen but it's been a while), but rather like you said, it's unnecessary to try and follow those recommendations very strictly in most cases. Especially with juveniles or larger as they're hardier at that life stage. Like plants if you mess with them too much you can do more harm than good. Slings you usually need to be vigilant with ensuring they don't dehydrate especially if you live in a dry climate and/or have a heater that runs often and reduces humidity.

Many T's will do fine kept at normal room temp (if you're fine without blankets and stuff they're likely fine) with a water bowl but that's more for increased humidity in the tank than drinking water as they get most of their hydration from prey. They like to use it to clean their fangs and palps and groom themselves too. Tropical burrowers I tend to try to keep their subs moist, just enough to darken the sub a bit, but it's not something I fret over.

One should always verify what you read/hear in one place with another good source if possible. The collective experience here on AB is a great source :D Gotta watch the dates though as techniques have changed a bit since I got my first T so old threads should always be verified with newer threads. What's said in one thread should, ideally, be echoed in others over a number of years. With this site being almost twenty years old that's usually not that hard lol but there's a lot of newer species and new ones coming in annually it seems.

Anyway, blah blah blah, always double check what you read, especially if it's a care sheet, I'm on a tangent, back to D...K...S :)

My first collection had nine T's along with various other inverts. I am sure that I lost 3-4 to DKS. I know two were males that I sent off for breeding. One died of possibly old age (adult seemani, not sure how old it was, bought full grown). One I still have who became a teenager just now (likely hatched in February/March of 2004) :D One I sold. That leaves four. I distinctly remember multiple spiders (more than two for sure) succumbing after developing DKS.

At the time I lived in an apartment so I had always suspected insect poison as they would come in and spray sometimes. But, like others who have considered the possibility including some in this thread ;), it didn't make sense that only a select few developed it despite the close proximity to the affected spiders (also something to note as it doesn't seem to be contagious unless some T's have a better immune system...do T's have immune systems?). None of my centipedes had issues nor my scorpions. I suspect they'd all be sensitive to the same pesticide as a T would. I'm an engineer, all about being analytical! Welcome to the forums.
 

edesign

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Thanks. I agree that searching for a cause for "DKS" is probably futile, unless I did something obviously stupid...always a possibility. I just don't want to get another and repeat my possible stupidity...or unknown action that led to her demise. I've even wondered that I got a new, acrylic cage for her....how long does it take for the glue to off-gas and could it take 8 weeks to take affect?
Highly doubtful it's the acrylic tank. If I'm not mistaken the glue doesn't off-gas for too long. The fumes would be fine after eight weeks and, if they were present and at a high enough level to be toxic when you first put it in there, it would have exhibited symptoms that day. I have used aquarium silicone in a couple of my tanks and they were fine 24-36 hours later when I rehoused two pokies in to them many months ago (last summer). In case you ever want to use that stuff.

So, what's the next one that you're going to get? :D Don't be discouraged. DKS seems to be pretty rare. Many people have had T's that get it but many people have multiple spiders, a dozen is not at all uncommon, even two dozen. Out of all their spiders very few get it. Some people have way more than that and never see it happen or only one or two over numerous years. It's statistically quite rare based on what I've read. My first T was also an A. seemani. I have another one now too. Both purchased with good size on them as they grow quite slow. Great spiders!
 

darkness975

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@dmattenski A worm (or any prey item) from outside can most definitely cause the symptom that is commonly referred to as DKS. There is no telling what the outside creatures have been exposed to in terms of pesticides, parasites, or any number of other ailments. It is not a good idea to feed prey items from outside to your Tarantula. Also, you should stick to invertebrate prey items (crickets, roaches, mealworms).

If you are following "care sheets" then that is a major problem. The vast majority of those supposed "care sheet" you see out there are useless and result in the acquisition of excess equipment, stress, and ultimately a focus on unimportant factors. You should acquire all of your care information from the users here on Arachnoboards.

As my Deutscher friend @boina mentioned, you should not order from that "vendor" again. Check out Swift Invertebrates, Ken the Bug Guy, Jamie's Tarantulas, and the other recommended vendors that can be found in the reviews section of this site. Also, there are a lot of great members here that you may be able to arrange a shipping or meet up with.

I am glad to see that you are going to give it another try. It is a worthwhile hobby for sure. When you decide on a species, post some images of the enclosure that you intend to house it in so that any oversights can be critiqued before they become a problem.

Good luck and welcome to the boards and the hobby.

Also remember that Tarantulas are like potato chips. You cannot have only one!!!
 
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