Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A tarantula or two visits

Tarantula in our neighbor's back yard (Photo by Eden)

Last week, our neighbor Butch and his grandson Bowie came by after supper with a surprise to show me. Bowie held up a gallon-sized plastic bag, and inside was a big, hairy tarantula--a Texas brown (Aphonopelma hentzi or similar species). I was thrilled! I held up the bag for a closer look....hmm, a male most definitely. How did I know? Males have a backward spur on the underside of each front leg. They are more likely to be out and about, looking for a date. Females, on the other hand, stay in underground burrows and only venture out at night for food. 

Usually, that is. The next day, our neighbor Eden called. "Miss Sheryl, there's a tarantula in our back yard!" she told me. 

"I'll be right over!" I exclaimed. I pulled down a large critter container (left over from my days of raising and keeping a few tarantulas) and headed over to her house. She'd captured the spider under a plastic cup. I scooped it inside my container and took a close look...a female! My first ever of a Texas species. In all my years, I'd only met male Texas browns. 

As neat as tarantulas are, I didn't want to get back into keeping them. I decided I'd much prefer to release her in a safe place, preferably near that good-looking guy we'd met the evening before.
Photo by Eden
So the next day, I called Butch's wife, Linda, and she told me that Bowie had given the tarantula to his science teacher. I got the teacher's number and phoned him. Oh, my, Mike was on a bus, loaded with fifth graders, headed to Corpus Christi for the class's annual field trip. I asked him about the tarantula, and he said he'd released it on his place. Could I bring my female later, after he'd gotten back home and rested up? Sure, he said.

In the meantime, we offered our guest a moth or two. Nope, she declined. Then Sunday evening, we found a cricket in the garage. YES! She heartily ate it right up (above). 

Yesterday evening, before we took her out to Mike's place northwest of town, I photographed our lady tarantula in her container as best I could...isn't she beautiful?
No spurs on her front legs....

At Mike's place, he showed us where he released the male tarantula...
Out she goes! Female tarantulas can live 20 or more years (adult males, only a few months). She should survive fine once she gets established in her new surroundings. Thanks, Butch, Bowie, Eden, and Mike!

I came across a recent blog post about Texas tarantulas on Insects in the City: "Tarantulas go a-courting," June 7, 2012.


sandy lawrence said...

She is a beauty! I hope she and Mr. T find each other. My neighbor has a female that is quite large. She rescued her from a construction site when the nest was destroyed. She brought her over and I got to examine the tarantula up close. She enjoyed crawling up my arm. They are very curious about their surroundings, evidently. She was quite tame and is fond of crickets, too.
Thanks for the great post!

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

That sure was nice of your neighbor! And brave of you, too! Tarantulas have poor eyesight. So as long as you don't startle a tarantula, then it won't feel threatened and rear up on its back legs in an attack position.

Unknown said...

These "interesting" creatures are lucky to have you around. Although I prefer to keep my distance from them, I was amazed to watch and learn from you-being able to tell Male from Female!
Just think, You probably helped them meet and arranged a nice place for a date!

We shall be on the watch for more of them!

Thanks for all you do.

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