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Velvet Worm Vivarium - Epiperipatus barbadensis

Discussion in 'Insects, Other Invertebrates & Arthropods' started by AbraxasComplex, May 11, 2017.

  1. AbraxasComplex

    AbraxasComplex Arachnoprince Old Timer

    15 years ago I saw a photo of a velvet worm (peripatus) in the back of a book about keeping tarantulas as pets. From that moment on I was infatuated. For the next 3 years I searched and could never get my hands on any. One day I managed to find a source of a few captive bred New Zealand velvet worms, but due to bad shipping (they squeezed through the air vents) and the joys of summer weather I lost all but one. It remained in the cool room of my basement hiding away and sadly never produced any offspring. After a heat wave and my lack of a controlled environment, like a wine cooler or cheese fridge, I ended up losing this last one when I was away for the week for work.

    So in order to avoid this situation again I decided to search out a source of tropical peripatus that could be legally exported and raised easily in the warm, subtropical temperatures of my terrarium filled apartment. Another 12 years went by full of fruitless searching, dead ends, and so many scam artists pulling photos off of google.

    Until today.

    Ladies and Gents, I present my new acquisitions and their new home. These are Epiperipatus barbadensis. I managed to snag a group to try a breeding project.

    A larger one crawling across my hand after unpacking them. They handled the shipment surprisingly well due to the great packing job of the supplier. He had each one in an individual container with rotting leaf litter, wet paper towel lining, and a small moist sponge.

    Here is a group of 4 in one of my quarantine containers. I've used spaghnum moss, a substrate mix similar to their future terrarium, leaf litter, and cork bark. I've also added lots of springtails to keep it clean and prevent mold.

    Their vivarium and soon to be permanent home. It isn't finished and I will be adding more plants at the top to add shade, but since this species is nocturnal the bright light should not be a problem during the day. The ferns, mosses, liverworts, and peperomias are growing in nicely. Also a stable population of several springtail species is keeping it clean.

    Top view.

    Side view showing off crevices where I hope the velvet worms will hide. They can't burrow due to how soft they are, so tight spaces need to be provided.
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  2. houston

    houston Arachnopeon

    THESE ARE BEAUTIFUL... I'd never even heard of these before! I'm immediately super interested-- keep us updated with how they're doing! If you don't mind the question, how much did these guys run you?

    That viv is incredible too! Definitely watching this thread :)
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  3. Umbra

    Umbra Arachnopeon

    Amazing specimens and it's really great to see them in Canada! I would love to try my hands at some of these in the future!
  4. Hisserdude

    Hisserdude Arachnoking Active Member

    Amazing specimens, and beautiful enclosure, hope they'll do well for you, and maybe breed! :D So what temps can these guys handle?
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  5. AbraxasComplex

    AbraxasComplex Arachnoprince Old Timer

    I hope so too. I'm going by night time temperatures for Barbados throughout the year so 21'C to 32'C. I'm sure they can handle the extremes a bit more if it isn't a huge shock.
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  6. wizentrop

    wizentrop to the rescue! Old Timer

    That's great news! Nice to see another species entering captive care.
    I would say that according to my experience with velvet worms, temperature is not really a problem for tropical species (unlike the NZ ones). They can withstand temps as low as 12C! I wouldn't let them go above 30C though, that's pushing it, even in the wild they are not exposed outside to these temps because they are always hidden between leaves and inside logs. You will find out soon enough that it is not temperature you should be worried about, it is pathogens. Velvet worms are hyper sensitive to fungi, mites and bacterial infections. Epiperipatus in particular are also sensitive to over-watering, they can drown or suffocate if conditions are too humid.
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  7. wizentrop

    wizentrop to the rescue! Old Timer

    Also, don't handle them. Just don't. Learn from my mistakes. There is a heap of pathogens lurking on our skin, waiting for the right moment.
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  8. AbraxasComplex

    AbraxasComplex Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Thanks for the advice. What about predatory mites? There are small populations in my vivariums.
  9. wizentrop

    wizentrop to the rescue! Old Timer

    I would advise against ANY mite.
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  10. Hisserdude

    Hisserdude Arachnoking Active Member

    Yeah, predatory mites can stress out invertebrates just as much as soil or grain mites, (Corydidarum pygmaea for example won't breed with them in their enclosures).
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  11. VolkswagenBug

    VolkswagenBug Arachnobaron

    Man, you are really lucky. I'd love to have these.
  12. Tleilaxu

    Tleilaxu Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Do make feeding videos please. :)
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. AbraxasComplex

    AbraxasComplex Arachnoprince Old Timer

    I will make a feeding vid if I can when they settle in...

    As for an update:

    So I went on a mold check and caught this in the act. Snapped a photo and left them alone. Day one and already have my first live birth.

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  14. Umbra

    Umbra Arachnopeon

    That's amazing! Congratulations! Hopefully many more where that came from!

    On a side note - where did you get the terrarium and how did you set up the light fixture if you don't mind me asking? It looks really nice!
  15. AbraxasComplex

    AbraxasComplex Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Thanks. The vase I found at a garden store and I used a glass candle holder as a lid. The light is an IKEA fixture that I attached a glass cover from Home Depot to. I lined this with tinfoil inside to act as a reflective dome. Only have a 13W 6500K compact fluorescent bulb inside.
  16. Scythemantis

    Scythemantis Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Oh m god!! I've been waiting all my life to see these larger tropical species enter the hobby, and you've got them giving them birth!!! This is stunning!!

    I hope yours thrive for you, and I hope more people can get ahold of them as well as perhaps other species some day! How in the world did you get yours?!
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  17. AbraxasComplex

    AbraxasComplex Arachnoprince Old Timer

    While I am very excited about the live birth I am quite concerned it was a stress induced labour due to this being the first 24 hours after arrival (one DOA I received had given birth in the shipping container and both had passed so I feel the stress is more than enough to cause issues). I hope both survive fine though and will leave them undisturbed until tomorrow.

    All the other adults seem active and one group ate their prekilled crickets, while the other group did not consume as much. I will let them settle in more and try some prekilled isopods and other feeders before introducing live prey. I want to see what they readily enjoy eating first and determine if that item is a threat (isopods I assume won't nibble on them while crickets may).

    I got these by finding a source in Barbados that was experienced with exporting already. He did the paperwork on his end and I contacted the CFIA and applied for a permit to import peripatus into Canada. They responded with a letter informing me I did not need a permit on the Canadian side, though they were still subject to inspection. I followed through with the order, paid far too much in hidden airport fees and taxes, got a parking ticket during the wait at customs, and had an overly stressful day. Either way it was fully worth it and I hope these do exceptionally well in my care and I can begin helping other experienced invertebrate keepers get their hands on these.
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  18. Xafron

    Xafron Arachnosquire

    Could you direct me to some sites/videos with good info on these? Or a book? I really want to know more...

    Edit: Also, I want to see as many videos and photos as you are willing to take lol.
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
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  19. Ratmosphere

    Ratmosphere Arachnoking

    Those are awesome!
  20. Hisserdude

    Hisserdude Arachnoking Active Member

    Awesome man, congrats! :D Really hope it's not stressed induced labor, or if it is, I hope it's just from the shipping and that they'll pull through! Beautiful creatures, so unique, hope more babies will follow! :)

    If at all possible, would love to get some from you in the future, (if you are successful breeding them and have a sizable culture that is ;)), so put me on the waiting list! How much do these usually go for BTW?
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