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Tarantula terrarium makeover

Saturday, April 19, 2008 | 0 comments

Around seven in the evening I decided to clean up one section of the tarantula terrarium. The enclosure has two sections, divided by a piece of glass, each housing a Cyclosternum fasciatum (Costa Rican tigerrump). The tarantula spider in the right section has been hidden from view, it its burrow under a large stone, for many months now. But the one in the left section showed up a few months ago, and didn't return to its burrow under a large piece of wood.

Cyclosternum fasciatum terrarium, left section with webbing in a corner.
Cyclosternum fasciatum terrarium, left section with webbing in a corner.

Instead it created a tent like structure using a lot of silk. Last week I noticed that it had used this tent structure to cast-off its old exoskeleton. And a day or so after I noticed the big spider had molted, it had wrapped the cast-off exoskeleton (exuvia) in some silk, and glued it to the "ceiling" of its tent.

Right section of the tarantula terrarium.
Right section of the tarantula terrarium.

Since the left section looked quite a mess with all the silk in one corner, and since I didn't consider the tent structure a good hiding place for the tarantula, I decided to clean the section up, and provide a new hiding place to the large spider.

Left section of the tarantula terrarium after cleaning.
Left section of the tarantula terrarium after cleaning.

I carefully captured the tarantula spider with a large plastic cup. This was not an easy thing to do. At first it was resting against the glass, and I tried to put the plastic cup over the spider. But it noticed my moves and ran for its tent. Next I used a long artist paint prush to annoy the tarantula enough to leave its hiding place, and with soft pushes I managed to get it walking on the glass. And this time I managed to move the cup over the tarantula. With a piece of paper I made the tarantula leave the glass, and move towards the bottom of the cup. Then I put the lid in its place, and put the cup with the spider out of the way.

Cyclosternum fasciatum burrow with exuvia (right section).
Cyclosternum fasciatum burrow with exuvia (right section).

After I had removed the silk webbing, and moved the substrate a bit so I could create a nice hiding place under the large piece of wood, I misted the substrate and decoration a little. In my experience this species doesn't like a wet substrate very much. When I was satisfied with the result I released the tarantula in its enclosure.

Cyclosternum fasciatum burrow covered by a large stone (right section).
Cyclosternum fasciatum burrow covered by a large stone (right section).

Next, I checked upon the other tarantula in the right section of the terrarium. I carefully lifted the large stone the tarantula was hiding under, and noticed that it had molted as well. In the above photo you can see the exuvia (cast-off skin), through the large hole in the webbing. The tarantula is also clearly visible. The webbing was glued against the underside of the large stone, but when I lifted the stone it didn't stay stuck. The large hole has probably been made by the spider during the molting process because when I checked upon this tarantula several days ago there was no hole in the webbing.

After I had taken a few photos of the exposed burrow I carefully put the large stone back into place because I didn't want to disturb the tarantulas too much.

Cyclosternum fasciatum resting on a piece of wood (left section).
Cyclosternum fasciatum resting on a piece of wood (left section).

A bit later I discovered that some of the photos I had made of the tarantula back in its cleaned terrarium section were made with the camera in "normal mode" instead of "macro mode". So I made several new close-up photos, in focus this time.

Cyclosternum fasciatum walking slowly on a piece of wood (left section).
Cyclosternum fasciatum walking slowly on a piece of wood (left section).

The tarantula looks like it's a slow moving animal, but they can make a sudden run, so I had to be careful while taking photos inside its enclosure with no cover in place. Also, this species, when cornered, can kick urticating hairs from their abdomen. While I know how to avoid getting those hairs in my eyes or nose, I don't like it when the tarantula loses those hairs for no real reason at all.

Cyclosternum fasciatum hiding under a piece of wood (left section).
Cyclosternum fasciatum hiding under a piece of wood (left section).

A bit later in the evening I noticed that the tarantula had found the hiding place I created under the piece of wood, so I took a photo of the large spider hiding through the glass of the terrarium.

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