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TARANTULA FACTS

Abdomen: The posterior portion of the body. Contains the heart, book lungs, and female reproductive organs.

Arboreal: This means 'dwelling in trees." Is used to describe any tarantula that lives out its life off level ground in either a tree, or without a burrow.

Book lungs: The respiratory organ on that tarantula. Similar to the structure of books, formed by the enfolding of the cuticle which maximizes the surface area for the exchange between the hemolymph (anthropod "blood") and environment gases.

Carapace: Shield - like plate on the dorsal side of the cephalothorax.

Cephalothorax: The front body division on the tarantulas body. All appendages attach to the cephalothorax except the spinnerets.

Chelicerae (fangs): A pair a appendages of the cephalothorax. Each contains a basal segment and a fang. The basal segments contain the vemon glands and include cuticular teeth which are used to macerate prey.

Cuticle: The external material covering arthropods.

Eye pod: The small raised area on the carapace that contains the multiple eyes.

Instar: The periods between molts in an arthropod.

Invertebrates: A general term for all multiple - celled animals that lack an internal skeleton, that is, are not vertebrates.

Legs: Each leg contains seven segments which are (from body out): coxa, trochanter, femur, patella, tibia, metatarsus, and tarsus. The tip of each tarsus contains two tarsal claws which are serrated and can be retracted.

Obligate burrower: A type of burrowing behavior in which that tarantula builds its own burrow. These kinds o f burrows are generally perfectly found at the entrance and vertical.

Opportunistic burrower: A type of burrowing behavior in which the tarantula adopts a pre-existing habitat feature such as a hollow under a rock or root for a retreat.

Pedipalps: The second pair a appendages attached to the carapace. The pedipalps look like small legs, but consist of only six segments. The pedipalps are primarily used to handle food.

Spinnerets: (web weavers) the silk producing appendages on the end of the abdomen in spiders.

Tanning: The chemical process by which the pale, soft cuticle of a recently molted arthropod hardens and darkens.

Terrestrial: Literally "living on the ground usually in a burrow" Any organism that lives most or all of its life on the ground and lacking any obvious adaptations for climbing.

Urticating hairs: A type of defensive hair shed by tarantulas. These hairs are notified to irritate skin by digging into the tissue. Tarantula flip or throw these when agitated or upset.

MOLTING

As spiders have a hard exoskeleton molting is the growth process. Before they molt, they usually stop eating for a week or longer. When you see it lying on its back it probably is molting. The tarantula will normally rest for a few days after molting before it resumes its normal routine.

The molt is divided into three phases

A. Splitting open of cephalothorax.

B. Freeing of the abdomen.

C. Withdrawal of the legs, Pedipalps and extremities. *

* Sometimes a problem occurs and the tarantula can not free itself. If this is bad enough you may loose the spider. Spray misting lightly and preventing dryness can prevent this.

Pressure causes the cuticula to split open. This produces tension that causes the carapace to lift up like a lid. The abdomen is freed by means of tears originating in the cephalothorax. After the molt the spider remains motionless for a fairly long time to recover from its exertions. It takes several days before the exoskeleton of the spider hardens again. This is when growth occurs.

BASIC CARE

Tarantulas are actually relatively simple to care for and inexpensive. Basically for ground dwellers, you need a 5 gallon tank, a gallon jar or even a box big enough to let the tarantula move about. Do not fail to provide fresh air access, wire mesh lid, lots of holes in a metal lid or a small mesh screen wire cover for a fish tank or box.

For soil you can use potting soil, peat moss. Peat moss retains moisture very well, though too much promotes fungi and mold.

Don't use too decoration in the container or you will not enjoy watching the spider.

A rock instead of wood may prevent the growth of mold. A small water dish or a sponge filled regularly with water is needed constantly you pet must have a constant supply of water.

Do not let the container contents stay wet but you must maintain humidity. A fine spray mist from a spray bottle (as needed) is a good idea.

FEEDING

Crickets and grasshoppers are a staple food supply for most American tarantula. For spiderlings, give them freshly killed crickets grass hoppers or most insects (smashed). Do not be allarmed if after first hatch spiderlings are eaten by other spiderlings. This is a part of natures "survival of the fittest". With a hatch of 300 to over a thousand your problem may be housing and feeding.

Adults, they eat most any thing they can capture in the wild. (NEVER feed wasps, bees or any stinging insects or species).

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