Sunday, March 05, 2006

Spider Blog.

I know a lot of people don't like spiders, but I do. The picture below is of Phoebe, a female Selenocosmia crassipes. I've used this photo because I don't have any pictures of the spider I used to have, who was the same species.

These spiders are commonly known as Bird-eating Spiders. They are also known as barking or whistling spiders.

There are some great spider sites around:Steve Nunn has lots of great information and pictures.
Mavis is a bird eating spider with her very own webpage, and there is even a yahoo group devoted these seriously cool creatures.

For those too twitchy to follow the links, a brief bit of info about these spiders.

They are big. My spider (Uma) was about 5 years old when I got her, and I had her for 3 years. She was as large as the palm of my hand. She whistled or hissed if she was pissed off (she didn't like me cleaning her cage, but sometimes, you have to do this), and she had some serious fangs. When I mean serious, I mean big.

A practical visualisation would be imagine chopsticks from the local chinese. Now imagine a spider rearing up

If you poked that spider with those chopsticks, her fangs would easily curve around the end of your utensils. It's quite unnerving, yet endlessly fascinating.

Of course, being mainly nocturnal, they don't seem to move around much, and being ground-dwellers, they like to build their nests in or under things.

But at night.... you can often find your spider roaming around her cage.

These spiders don't eat every day, and they like live food. Plenty of pet shops cater for the big ones these days, so you can always get crickets or baby mice.

If you want a low-maintenance pet, bird-eating spiders are keepers.

You will need a small tank or spider cage, a heater to keep the cage around 27c minimum (they are tropical animals), and something for the spider to burrow in. I used sphagnum moss, with a small plastic cup for her to build in, so I could see into the nest. When it wasn't covered over with silk, of course.

Oh, and a regular supply of food. Crickets are a great staple, with baby mice or baby birds for something different.

Things to remember? Well, if your spider bites you, you will most likely get sick but not die. As far as I'm aware, there is no antivenin available.

Another interesting tidbit: Bird eating spiders are very solid, stocky animals. They are also deceptively fragile. Compared to something like a huntsman spider (a tree dweller), it seems like it's made of glass.

Drop a huntsman from a height of four feet, it will just scuttle away. Drop a bird eating spider from the same height, and it is more likely to splatter than not. They have such a solid mass that their exo-skeleton can't protect them from a fall.

That's what the bloke from the museum told me when we were discussing the possibility of my spider falling off a wooden chest. I shot a film with my spider, and since we had to put pillows and cushions all around on the offchance that she fell, I think he could have been right.

Alas, I no longer have the spider. She got traded in at the zoo when Magilla came along.

She is gone, but not forgotten.

Sometimes, I know it sounds weird, but I miss my spider.


At 4:42 AM, Blogger Major John said...


Do you know what "stepped on a barking spider" means in American slang? :)

If you referred to such a creature as a "barking spider" it might not get the respect it appears so richly to deserve.

At 7:55 AM, Blogger Nilk said...

I didn't know, but as google is my friend, I do now. LOL!

I can appreciate that.

At 4:21 PM, Blogger Jai Normosone said...

Think back to 1983 to an album that Cold Chisel put out: The Barking Spiders Tour.

I have an almost pristine copy of it at home even though I've always thought that Cold Chisel sucked donkey balls :) (they were tolerable until some MORON gave the radio stations a copy of Khe Sahn - I don't care if I never hear that overplayed song ever again >:/

I'm not a fan of spiders but I refuse to kill them - I hate flies and cockies more. Even saved a Huntsman on the footpath this morning so that some halfwit didn't come along and stomp on her (female) simply because it was a spider.

I should go and get one of these spiders to walk on me somewhere to help me get over the basic fear I have. Growing up with Funnel Webs under the house (Toowoomba) tended to make one very wary.
We had the most poisonous ones - Sydney only claimed the title because Sydney wants to be the best of everything. They should bulldoze the place into the harbour and start again - if only it wouldn't pollute a perfectly good harbour!

At 6:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

how do i make a homemade spider cage? i love spiders and i have a lot of little ones around in my room, i want to keep them all. so please answer me....


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