So this is a blog I wrote a number of years ago about my Mexican Red Knee Spiderling (Brachypelma Smithi). As you can see there’s quite a lot going on here. I’ve tried to include all the images and details where I can.
The aim of this BLOG is to give an insight into how I decided to set up and look after a Spiderling. The species I went for was the Mexican
The reason I chose this type of spider was the fact that it is easy to care for and fairly cheap. I had always wanted a Mexican Red Knee but was unable to afford one when I was little as the adults are quite expensive. This
is another reason why I went for a baby spider instead of a mature adult. These can be bought from many distributors in the UK. I got
mine from The Spider Shop.co.uk : Tarantula Suppliers
Spiderlings have arrived. They came today in a little cardboard box. Got delivered to the office and, no I didn’t tell anyone they were coming.
The Spiderlings were well packed inside the cardboard box with Styrofoam and kept safe within a couple of 35mm camera cartridges stuffed with tissue (you can see the tissue and the case in the next couple of shots).
Although many people use all sorts of pre-made houses for their Spiderlings – I found a couple of years ago that Ferrero Rocher boxes are an ideal cheap substitute. Not only are they just the right size, but it also means that one can purchase some choccies, pig out on them and have an excuse. I actually used the choccies as a ‘thank you” to the girls in the office downstairs who had looked after my parcel for me (though they were unaware at the time of the contents)…
The base of the box is covered in (at the most) an inch of vermiculite. This is a ‘mica’ based mineral available in many garden centres. I purchased mine at B&Q for 4 pounds UK. You get a very big bag for that price (at the very least 5 litres). Many spiders like to burrow and make a little nest.
Vermiculite is ideal for this. I have heard that sand is not meant to be used, though peat and vermiculite is a good idea. This will all depend on where your spider is indigenous.
I then popped the camera cartridge into the box, teased off the lid, and gently pulled out the tissue. The Spiderling was happily sitting on the tissue paper. I did all this in the one place I know spiders have a problem escaping from – the bath (I made sure it was dry and the plug was in the hole)!
The Spiderling stayed in the tissue for quite some time – not until night fall did he start to explore his habitat and wander about the box.
The vermiculite has had a small amount of water added to it. You must keep the environment at about 50 to 60 percent humidity for the Spiderling to survive. It must also be kept warm. At the moment my Spiderling lives on the top of my fridge in my kitchen – this spot is nice and warm as the fridge is on all the time and cooking makes the room warm too. In the winter I will purchase a heat mat.
Today was meant to be feeding day… After much exercise, I thought my spider would like some baby crickets. Alas, it appears not to be overly hungry and runs away. No doubt after a few days it will become annoyed and hunger will over reach fear! : )
It’s getting well into the evening now and he still hasn’t eaten his meal! Infact he’s decided to have a wander into the camera cartridge for quick a sleep. No doubt later on he’ll be doing more wandering about and exploring!
Spider was very daring last night – he’s been doing a lot of wandering about. The active little fella. Literally climbing the walls. There was no sign of any crickets this morning so I’m not too sure if he has been munching or not. They tend to hide in the vermiculite anyway so I will have to check the housing for any other signs of life later in the day.
You can just make out the Spiderling sitting on the vermiculite under the tissue in the picture above left. Above right is what he is meant to be eating. Small black crickets are an inexpensive food source – though this spiderling hasn’t eaten any of them yet.
Spiderling has been very active over the weekend. As yet still to eat anything so I have given him some smaller crickets. Accidentally held the little guy when I was taking the tissue out. Didn’t seem too fussed about being held.
Top two images are that of the Mexican Red Knee spiderling in his tank. The lower two images are of a common house spider known as a ‘Mouse Spider’ (due to the smooth fur on its abdomen). The scotophaeus blackwalli is quite an agressive creature as a general rule, but this one was docile. I let it go after a few hours and several photos.
I’ve now moved the Ferrero Rocher box to the lounge as I’ve got a wine heating mat which I have placed unded the box. This seems to be a far more effective way of heating the spids envorinment and I’m hoping it will make it more likely to start to eat. The box has got a lot of condensation on it, but the humidity is meant to be high.
Spiderling is spending a great deal of time sitting on camera cartridge or ‘sticking’ to the side of his tank. Still not eating to my knowledge so I contacted North West Exotic Pets for some advice using their forum. Tim suggested that it might be because he is due to shed his skin soon. Of course!! Spiders I’ve had in the past have shed their skin – but they were considerably bigger and ate loads beforehand. Fingers crossed this is the reason, and I’m looking forward to blogging about it.
Decided to feed spiderling some more crickets. The only problem is I’m not too sure if he is eating them or they are just burrowing down into the vermiculite and having a sleep. Spiderling is sitting behind his camera cartridge quite a lot and hasn’t ventured out of there much for some reason. He hasn’t even been inside the black camera cartridge as I expected.
Wondered what crickets ate too over the weekend. Popped some green plant in there (brocolli) and a piece of sausage. They had a nibble of the plant and they totally ate all the sausage. Not too sure what it proves, but if you ever have a black cricket stay I’d feed them bacon, sausage and eggs for brekkie.
Spiderling has been rather active as of late. Lots of digging by the back of his camera cartridge. I’ve made sure the box has been kept moist too.
He has also changed colour slightly – gone a lighter shade of brown. I believe this may have something to do with the shedding process.
Spiderling has shed his skin!!!! I spotted it in the tank and thought – hmm two spids… Haven’t taken it out yet – he seems to be looking after it for some reason. I’ve also raised the tank a little off the heat pad using some more corrugated cardboard.
I was concerned that the vermiculite was too hot for him as he had been spending loads of time stuck to the side of his
Spiderling has been quite active and looks ‘happy’ enough. I have still yet to remove the skin from the tank as he’s been quite close to it and I’m not fond of being bitten by a hungry spiderling. It also appears that he has been spinning some more web. I only noticed this, this morning as the water had condensed on it. I’ll need to get additional crickets to feed him as I’ve run out!
I’ve taken some images of spiderling on top of his camera cartridge. This appears to be his favourite spec – which has led me to believe that heating the tank through the floor is not ideal. I’ve been advised to place the heat pad behind the tank. This would make sense as many insects and spiders use their legs to feel their way around or even hear (and are therefore very sensitive to heat). Planning on feeding spiderling on the weekend. Will post how it goes.
Spider has been fairly active today. At lunch he was doing something which looked busy. Possibly spinning a web behind the camera cartridge. I popped a cricket in the tank but when I left it was still exploring the wrong side and was well away from the spider.
I decided a couple of days ago to test out the theory that the spiderling does not like the heat on the heat pad (as it had been climbling on top of the camera cartridge). I moved his tank so that half of it was on the heat pad and the other half was not. I added another camera cartridge to the side of the tank which was heated. The spid almost immediatly migrated to the warmer area, but this time has not climbed on to the camera cartidge. Although not a perfect experiment, it does go to show that the animal has a strong tendency for the warmer area.
Above are images of spiderlings shed skin. It is extremely delicate and approx 7mm in length (as is). I fed spiderling this morning with a new batch of crickets I had aquired yesterday. At first, the spid jumped out the way and I thought I was going to be in the same position I was last time with a non eating spid. Spid however proved me wrong again and made a pounce for the cricket, missed, had another go and then missed again. I guess it takes a bit of practice to hunt food with your eyes on the top of your head and your mouth underneath you. At first I thought he was going to jump out – I’ve never seen him so active! The cricket disapeared into the camera cartridge and the spid hid waiting outside. I got bored and added another cricket – this time spid didn’t miss and the cricket was made short work of. For the first time (I have seen anyway) the spider went into the darkness of the camera cartridge to eat his meal.
Spiderling has spent the weekend wandering about the tank. He’s been quite active since eating and has made a burrow under one of the camera cartridges. Doesn’t seem to use it all that much and preferes to hide in the camera cartridge and peek out. I’m not too sure why he has only recently started to do this – whether it just took a while for him to work out, or if
the moulting process meant that he didn’t have a great affinity for enclosed spaces. On Sunday morning he was happily sitting on the vermiculite cleaning his fangs. I’ll try and feed him again this week and keep the blog updated with how that goes.
Like never before has spid been excavating in his tank. The pictures below show extensive vermiculite movement from under and around the camera cartridge. The spiderling would pick up a piece/s of vermiculite with it’s jaws and fangs (chelicera) – being assisted by its pedipalps (the little front ‘legs’). It would then move the vermiculite away from the camera cartridge, place it on the floor and pat it down with it’s front legs and go back again to move some more. The spider didn’t mind being watched and after a while it wandered into the camera cartridge for a rest. As you see from the second image – the spiderling removed almost all of the vermiculite from under cartridge.
Tried to feed the spiderling again today, but he wasn’t having any of it. The spiderling moved away from the cricket. Note the spiderlings leg. It appears to be okay, but does look at an awkward angle.
Spiderling has spent the night digging another nest as the last one had collapsed. The nest is still situated around the camera cartridge but is a lot shallower. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t eaten the crickets I put in his tank. I will feed him next week at some point. Considering maybe getting another spider in the near future – but don’t know whether I should go for the same species or another one.
Spiderlings digging has continued without stop for the last couple of days. He has now reached the bottom of the tank and sits in a mini ampetheatre of vermiculite surveying his handywork. I decided to try and feed him last night. At first he ran away and hid (I think it’s something to do with the vibrations of removing the lid). He then made a half attempt at getting the cricket but left it alone. The cricket then burrowed into the vermiculite out of site. I added another cricket. This time the spid just seem to stop and bide his time. The cricket moved, the spider followed. The cricket moved again and the spider followed. This went on for ten minutes and I got bored. Coming back an hour later the spid seemed to be up to something. On closer inspection he had a cricket in his mouth and was happily chewing away.
I am considering getting some more spids, but I also think that maybe Albert could do with a tank with more burrowing potential. I may invest in a slightly bigger tank. Not sure if spiders (as fish do) grow in proportion to their enclosure. But I do feel like he could do with more space. The only problem I can forsee is the fact that his hunting grounds will increase and thus make finding the cricket harder. I propose to make a division in the tank at feeding time to limit this.
Another possible problem is that the spider may bury itself. There is not a great deal I can do about this and I have to assume that he can get himself out of any situations were he may find himself covered in vermiculite.
Spid not very active after massive evacuation of vermiculite and eatings of the past week or two. He’s mainly sitting and guarding his camera cartridge and nest.
Spid hasn’t eaten anything for a little while and has not been up to a lot. I checked him this morning and he’s gone white! This happened the last time he shed his skin so I’m assuming he’s going to shed within the next couple of days. He’s a lot bigger than he was when I got him in May. Will certainly need to start thinking about getting a new house for him soon at this rate.
Spiderling has shed skin again! Checked him at lunchtime and skin was in tank. He is all white and soft and looks like he’s trying to dry himself out!
Spiderling looks larger than he was and is a lot more hairy. I think he’ll need feeding fairly soon so have ordered some more crickets. He has started to get a little bit more colour in him now.
The pet shop still didn’t have any pin head crickets in today. Been waiting about a week for them and figured spider was going to be very hungry. Last thing I wanted is for it to die because of under feeding. Decided to try out some medium sized silent crickets (wasn’t aware that there were such things) and see if he’d take one – they are considerably bigger than the previous live food. Popped one in the tank and it scurried off somewhere and hid. Was running out of time as on lunch and popped a slightly bigger on it. It had hardly touched the vermiculite and the spider was on it. Not only is the spider a lot bigger, it seems to have increased in speed and ferocity – though this could well be because it is hungry. As usual, after catching the cricket, it waited for a little while and then wandered off into the cooler camera cartidge to eat it’s snack.
Spider has finished the cricket and is in the middle of it’s tank not doing a lot. I suppose that now it’s eaten it is not as eager to hunt for food as it was before.
Spider ate again! He’s very hungry. The cricket didn’t have a chance.
Have taken some images of the new silent crickets I have been feeding spider. They are considerably bigger than the previous black cricktes at about 5mm to 1cm in length. They are very curious creatures and explore their habitat extensively – almost always keeping on the move and using their antennae to smell their surroundings. The shredded paper allows the crickets to hide. At the bottom of their habitat I have place some vermiculite and also a layer of paper egg box shapes which they seem to favour to hide in. The crickets appear to be omnivores and consume anything from each other to the paper on which they are living. I have given them various food stuffs, all of which are eaten though they seem to enjoy semolina and carrots. As yet, not tried giving them any meat but will probably do this in
due course to see their reaction. It would be ideal if I could breed them in their current enclosure as this would provide me with a free food source for the spider.
Decided to try and feed spid again last night (19th). The cricket which I caught was quite jumpy and escaped a few times when I was handling it. When I finally got it in the tank the spider went for it and missed as the cricket jumped out the way a few times. The cricket ended up at the other side of the tank and the spider was stationary for a while. The cricket knew there was something wrong but started to explore after a while. Another battle with the spider left the cricket in the jaws, but it kept on kicking (I assume through random nerve impulses). This posed the spider a
few problems. Due to the side of the cricket, the nervous kicks were quite strong, and this meant spid had a hard time keeping hold of it. Another problem was the spider wanted to take the cricket into it’s den under the camera cartridge and eat it. However it could not fit. It took it all around the tank and then ended up in one of the camera cartridges where it was this morning looking a lot fatter than it was last night.
Spiderling has shed skin again! He’d been off his food for about a week and then did his usual of turning white. I found him upside down in his tank in the morning and initially thought he had died, but he was still moving.
When I went back at lunchtime he was upright again and moving about. He’s now a lot bigger and is spending the time digging in his vermiculite. I’ll attempt to feed him later on next week. Note in the picture the way his
colours are starting to show through.
Last night I moved the tank onto the heat mat fully as the spider has been favouring the warmer half of his environment. As with before he migrated onto the top of the camera cartridge as if to cool down? Then again it might be that the higher up the spider gets the warmer it gets? I can’t see a way to practically test this hypothesis in the current tank.
When he is moved into the larger tank I will note down his movements (it is higher and likely to have a smaller temperature gradient from the floor to the top of a camera cartridge). Fed spider today. I didn’t see him take the cricket as I had to go out, but he certainly had caught it on my return – busily munching by the corner of the camera cartridge. I think I’ll be able to feed him some of the larger crickets now he’s getting bigger. I’ll attempt to feed again mid-week. As noted above his colours are really starting to show through now.
Fed spider again in the evening. At first he didn’t take it, and then the next minute the cricket was in his mouth doing it’s usual twitching routine. I’ve added some more vermiculite and moved the camera cartridges around again. As seems to be common, after the spider has eaten the cricket he hides for a day in one of the cartridges. The tank was also starting to get a bit dry so I added water to keep the humidity up.
Spider was super hungry. The cricket dropped into the tank, walked a pace or two and then was agressively pounced on by the spid. The spider is several times bigger than it was when I first got him, the growth rate is quite amazing. I expect him to shed again in the next two to three weeks.
Tried feeding spider today, but he wasn’t hungry. The cricket was very active and kept on jumping about. Spid ignored it and I removed the cricket. I expect him to shed his skin again within the week. This should mean he will be even more colourful.
The biggest house spider I have ever seen has been running about my lounge. I caught him and took some photos. I also popped him in a tub with a cricket, but the spider ignored it. I assune they simply go for smaller prey, unless he’d already eaten. Though I am a bit confused as to why he broke cover from under my chair to run accross the room. The spider was very fast and tended to dart away from the light. When I picked him up he seemed not to mind, but favoured the underside of my arm and at one point ran up to my shoulder blade – which was a moment to remember. He came back down again though onto my hand. At no time did he attempt to bite me or act aggressively to me.
Spiderling has still been off his food. I’ve tried feeding him a number of times but he ignores the crickets so they have been swiftly removed. Spiderling shed his skin today. He’s now bigger and considerably more orange and black.
Placed another circket into the tank for the spiderling. The crickets seem to be more jumpy and intelligent in their old age. The spider showed some interest but the cricket hid behind the camera cartridge. As the spider has got considerably bigger it can no longer hunt them out in this area. Instead he went onto the camera cartidge and hasn’t moved since. I assume he is either waiting for the cricket to come out or is simply not hungry.
Spider has finally taken the cricket. Although he has ignored it for a couple of days and has been perched on top of the camera cartridge when I checked in the evening he had the cricket in his mouth. I will attempt to take some more pictures.
Spiddle eaten again.
Fed spider again last night. It was the last of the crickets I bought ages ago. They seem to survive for quite a while which is good as it keeps the costs down! The cricket went into the tank and wandered around for a bit. The spider sensed the cricket was in there (as it wasn’t in it’s line of sight) and turned to face where the cricket was. After a while the cricket decided to jump and landed on the spider. Needless to say the spider attacked and caught the crickets very quickly.
It then took it into one of the camera cartridges to consume, though it did the strange ‘dance’ which I’ve seen it do the last couple of times it has eaten. I think it is laying some web on the floor of where it is eating, but I am not sure of the reason for this. I definitely need a larger tank as I believe if the spid wanted to it could lift the lid off (it has been digging again, and now the vermiculite is right up to the roof almost).
Watched spider last night (I don’t think I can call him a spiderling anymore). He was in the camera cartridge and then came out and physically moved it around his tank by half hanging out of it. I was very impressed. The reason i decided to watch him is because the camera cartridge has been in loads of different positions, non of which I have placed it in. The other day it was on it’s end, and this really puzzled me as it cannot role onto the end unless there had been an express intention to do so.
He seems to be aware of his strength and understands that he has the ability to change larger objects in his environment.
I’m worried that soon he’ll work out that the lid is a large object, and it might be something he can move.
Spider ate again today. At first he didn’t show any interest in the cricket, and then I came back and he had it in his mouth. The crickets I have purchased seem to like orange. I believe it is important that they have a balanced diet (fresh fruit, veg and majze) as they are the first step in the spiders food chain. Giving the spider poorly fed crickets will only result in the spider obtaining poor quality nutrients.
Also, I would like to say a big thank you for those of you who have been giving me feedback about the site. If you have read any of this blog and found it useful, please use the form on the contact page and let me know. Always good to hear from fellow spider enthusiasts.
Fed spider again today. He’s getting quite fat. Need an opportunity to take some pictures of him. I was going to rehouse the little fella over the weekend, but I’m not too happy about using his new house. I think it may be a lot cooler and dries out quicker. This isn’t ideal if I have to go away for a weekend on business.
Spider has not been eating lately which has been a bit worrying. He’s been hiding in his camera cartridge and not taking crickets. I spotted that one of his legs was poking out the cartridge and it looked like the colours had become more vivid. Eventually he came out his hiding hole and he looked a lot bigger, more black on his abdomen and considerably more furry. I had a thought and checked the inside of the camera cartridge. Sure enough he had shed his skin either in the camera cartridge or outside and carried it in.
I fed him today and think he took the cricket quickly. One point to make, I have been feeding the crickets a balanced diet. I figured that the only place the spider gets it’s nutrients from is the crickets, so these need to be very well looked after. They are changed on a weekly basis and kept well fed with a variety of foods. They seem to like orange and green bean, though they are quite happy eating maize and slightly soggy rice cake.
Once fed, the spider soon went into his hidey hole. I had prepared a new house (identical to his current habitat) and moved over the camera cartridge swiftly blocking his entrance with a credit card so he could not escape and fall out if panicked. He has been exploring his new environment today.
Above is an image of the spiders different shedded skins to date (since I have had him) and shows the increase in his size. The spider skins are very delicate and brittle. Trying to move them into another position than they have been shed in results in them snapping and coming apart. The numbers below the respective skins are the approximate date on which they were shed.
Fed spid today. Because the habitat is a little more sparse than it was the cricket could not hide and was pursued by the spider – which is getting bigger. I will need to get a new tank for him in a couple of weeks.
Fed spid again today.
Fed spid today. He was very hungry and attacked the cricket with quite a bit of speed and force. Because he’s large now, his appetite has increased and the crickets are physically eaten a lot faster than previously. As usual he did
his strange dance after he had caught it. Still to work out the exact reasons for this. Another thing he does, it wander about the tank with it in his mouth. He’ll go into his hidey hole, then come out, then wander around some more.
Once he went on top of his hidey hole and fell off. He’s done this a couple of times. I have sorted out a new tank for the spider over the weekend. It’s a Cadbury’s Roses box and is considerably bigger than the current habitat. This should allow him to grow bigger and have more room to move about. I wasn’t happy with any of the other spider habitats I saw in the shops or on the web.
I’ve been examining the spiders last shed skin, and the difference in size between that and his current status is very big indeed. I have a feeling that he is going to shed again in the next week or so.
Fed Spiderling again tonight. The cricket made one step and then got eaten. Spiderling (who is possibly not a Spiderling anymore) wandered around his habitat as usual. Note the difference in size and colour between Spiderlings
in the images below.
Spiderling has been doing a lot of digging lately.He also spends a great deal of time on top of the camera cartridge.
Fed spider this evening. He appeared to be quite agressive and made a mad dash for the cricket. He has also moved all his vermiculite from one side (the warmer one) to the other, but still stays pertched on top of the camera cartridge.
This makes for interesting feeding times as he can easily crawl out over the top of the tank now if he wants to.
Fed and watered spid. The weather has turned very cold recently and I think the spider has felt this as he was sitting in the floor of the tank (something which he doesn’t usually do). He hasn’t been moving much so I turned up his heating.
When I fed him it took him a little while for him to bother getting getting it. Usually the attack is very quick indeed. He moved around more afterward though and was sitting on top of his camera cartridge again.
Finally moved spiderling to his new house. A food tub (note the holes in the top – it’s airtight and would kill the spider if not modified. I set the new home up on the heat pad and made sure it was warm and watered. I also purchased a piece of bark from the pet shop for the spider to sit on. Not shown is the camera cartridges which I transferred over and some of the original vermiculite. I made the assumption that the spider must be able to ‘smell’ or sense certain things so some familiar objects may help – or at least would not do any harm.
To get the spider out his original home (see the picture below with him on top of the camera cartridge – marked with an arrow) I opened the lid and carefully tipped him out. He needed a little bit of encouragement with a pen (not the point but the side) and he slowly walked backwards onto the piece of bark. When I next looked in about an hour later he had hidden somewhere (either under the bark – which is slightly raised – or in the camera cartridge). This morning he was back on the camera cartridge as is his MO. There was a cricket in there somewhere, but I am not sure if it is hidden or he has eaten it. As I have mentioned a few times before, it has been a little while since he moulted and should be due
Spider has spent a great deal of time hiding in one of his camera cartridges. He has come out a few times, the evidence of this is a fine web which he has spun over his hiding hole.