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Aggressive Curly Hair!

Discussion in 'Brachypelma' started by Tortoise Tom, Jun 6, 2018.

  1. Tortoise Tom

    Tortoise Tom Well-Known Member

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    I made a couple of mistakes today and learned some valuable lessons. It appears the price for these lessons was some personal embarrassment, but no harm done. I thought I'd share so that other new keepers won't make the same mistakes.

    When I started keeping tarantulas in the 80s and 90s, there were a lot fewer species around and there was no internet and no forums. We had books and we had other tarantula keepers, if you happened to know any, which I really didn't. I had one friend who was into them, but didn't talk to him all that often as we were both busy and lived far apart. I learned what I could learn, tried things out and made adjustments.

    10 years ago I raised 3 G. pulchra and 3 G. aureostriata (Now re-named G. pulchripes) in these little enclosures once they outgrew the little deli-cups they came in:
    IMG_5737.JPG

    These little containers came from Costco with either chocolate covered raisins or cashews in them. I washed them out and they served me and my Grammostola well. I live in a very dry climate, so I intentionally had few ventilation holes in an effort to keep the substrate damp and humidity up, which is what I was told to do at the time. Years later, I still have these little containers on hand, and when I recently got my 3 new 2.5" B. albopilosum, I thought they'd work well.

    Well after much reading and study on the subject in the last couple of weeks, I decided that these little tubs should have more ventilation. I decided to move the new little guys to a deli cup while I melted some ventilation holes into their tubs. I've had this species in the past and they have always been slow, docile and easy to work with. This being the case, I didn't bother with shifting them in a large tub, like what I've been doing with all the species that are new to me. I just opened them up on the counter where I was sitting and proceeded to gently prod them with my little soft bristled paint brush to move them over. The first one startled a little when I first touched him, and then calmly allowed me to herd and gently cajole him into the deli cup so I could work on adding ventilation to his enclosure. Easy peasy and everything I'd expect from a typical curly hair.
    IMG_5736.JPG
    I made the holes at the top of his enclosure and moved him back in. He moved back over the same way he had moved out. Slowly, calmly and with no fuss at all. Boring. As it should be.

    Next was Curly hair #2. Mind you now, I've been researching and studying up on several new species. I already have a few of these new (New to me, I mean…) species, and I've got another load of 13 coming in tomorrow. H gigas, GBB, OBT, P mutica, Psalmopoeus, H lividum, etc… I've been reading everything I can find and watching hours of YouTube videos to see how these hotter species move and get a handle on what to expect. Thanks to Tom Moran, Dark Den, Tarantula Addict, ArachnoClown and several others! I've got catch cups ready to go all over the reptile room, an assortment of brushes, lexan and cardboard blockers and several large tubs to work in while transferring all of these new and unfamiliar tarantula species from container to container. I am prepared to deal with some fast and nasty giant spiders. So imagine my surprise when my common and lowly Curly hair #2 bolts up and out of his container and onto the side of the catch cup. Whoa! That was not expected. In the space of one breath, he then simultaneously leaps onto the brush in my hand and bites it. WHAT!?!?! Did I just see that??? Still a little taken aback by this unexpected behavior, and not thinking as fast as I should have been, I figure he must have been startled and now he's got that out of his system. I put the catch cup in front of him on the countertop (Should have just put it over him…) and I was going to calm things down a bit and just gently usher this docile "easy" species into the cup like a good spider. NOPE! The SOB does a 180, viciously lunges at the brush, bites it again, and then does a flying leap off the counter and onto the floor. Now the gloves are off! This little one isn't messing around. The catch cup immediately comes down over him and he explodes with fury banging off the sides for a second. I slide a piece of cardboard between him and the floor and he BITES that too! He's a BBT! Brown-ish Bitey Thing!!! Now that I've got him contained and put an end to his suicide attack mission, I pull out the big work tub and begin handling him as if he was one of these old world monsters I've been reading about. Now that I'm on full alert, I check for any damage or a split abdomen, and he appears to be fine after his leap to the floor, so I carefully complete the transfer into his newly renovated old home.

    Wow! I've had a couple dozen tarantulas over a couple dozen years, but I've never seen that sort of behavior out of one. I've only ever kept mild mannered species, including these. Even on the videos of OBTs, H lividum, and other aggressive/defensive tarantulas, I didn't see them go into full attack mode like that. I realize that all tarantulas are individuals and have different personalities, but I made a mistake in not being prepared for this guy's antics. I don't know this spider. I made incorrect assumptions based on previous experience with the species and based on what most people seem to think of this species. I was wrong and this one isn't behaving "typically" for whatever reason. Mistake number two was not working inside a big tub, which would have kept this guy safely contained and off the floor. He and I both survived my mistakes, and these lessons are now learned. Be prepared for bad behavior and work in a big tub for safety.

    #3 behaved like #1 and since I was ready for combat this time, I think he was the calmest of the bunch. Here they are all moved over into their new and improved houses:
    IMG_5739.JPG

    As you can see, #2 now gets a yellow dot to signify that he's dangerous. Wear your yellow dot with pride #2. To date, you are the baddest dude I've ever messed with of any tarantula species.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2018
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  2. Dave Jay

    Dave Jay Well-Known Member

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    I must read this to my wife, she's a bit too complacent imo. She's used to handling huntsman spiders found in the house and treats her tarantulas much the same, pokes them with her finger to get them moving, doesn't use tongs, works without a work tub and so on if I don't nag her.
    I've always been wary of spiders, which serves me well imo! I use every precaution possible and take no chances. Keep in mind all our tarantulas are old world, a mistake could mean pain for us or even a dead dog or cat if they escaped so me being a bit paranoid is a good thing I think.
    So far though, unpacking and rehousing has gone very calmly without any aggressive behaviour.
    A few weeks after receiving my Phlogius plumipes I noticed it was roaming it's enclosure so I thought I'd have a closer look, it pretended to run then swung around and attacked the "glass". Over the next hour it repeated the behaviour 3 times, a 1" spider trying it's hardest to attack me just for looking at it! It then burrowed and hasn't been out since but still hasn't moulted, I've been waiting since February/March.
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  3. Enn49

    Enn49 Moderator Staff Member 3 Year Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    :D:D Proof perfect that not all Ts follow the rules and no matter what species is being moved it is worth taking full precautions.
    I had 3 curlie slings that behaved differently too, the 2 that were more outgoing turned out to be males and the shy one is female.
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  4. Dave Jay

    Dave Jay Well-Known Member

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    I'm looking forward to finding out if behaviour is linked to sex, I suspect the more outgoing of my tarantulas might turn out to be males.
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  5. MassExodus

    MassExodus Well-Known Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I've had two or three aggressive tarantulas. We don't know why they act that way, and it seems to be random species. All new world, for me, a G pulchripes that actively tried to bite me, a Ld that literally drools venom and slaps the ground when I open her top(not actually aggressive, just extremely defensive), I see threads on psycho spiders, people talk about changing the enclosure to change their behavior. It didn't work. Only time mellowed them both out..a little..
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  6. Whitelightning777

    Whitelightning777 Well-Known Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    All spiders are individuals. Yes, they are living robots but each is still unique. A catch cup and a paint brush are always your friends.

    Sometimes placing the enclosures into a cooler room or area prior to rehousing can help curb exuberant behavior. I wouldn't go below 60 degrees however.
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  7. Tortoise Tom

    Tortoise Tom Well-Known Member

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    These guys are all around 3", so with help from all of you, I think we'll be able to sex them next molt. All are eating an adult male B lateralis 2-3 times a week, so the molts shouldn't be far away. I was noticing a bald spot on the one's abdomen yesterday, but its still pretty pale. I'll keep and eye on it and keep you posted.
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