Tarantula Molting

Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but it is me, talking about spiders and snakes (but not scorpions…).  I still don’t want anything to do with scorpions, but I am trying to learn all I can about the other desert creatures we have here in our nature center at San Tan Mountain Regional Park… Why, because I live here 6 months out of the year so I decided I wanted to take advantage of every learning opportunity I have while I’m here, and it helps me answer questions our park guests have when they visit our nature center.

I have come to love the coyotes that live in the area. Right now, while the weather is so nice, we sleep with our windows open, and I just love to hear them howl every night. We don’t have to worry about anyone coming in our windows at night, because first of all, we are secured within a fenced compound that we lock up at night, and second, our motorhome windows are up so high anyone would need a ladder to climb in..

I have also come to love our snakes, and tarantula, that we have in the nature center for our park visitors to enjoy. All of them are rescue creatures, or donations from schools within the area, so they have always lived in captivity being fed by humans, and could not survive in the desert on their own.

That said, our resident female tarantula, went through her molting process this past week and it was the most amazing thing I ever witnessed up close in real-time…

One of the first things the park hosts that are working the nature center/pay booth are required to do every morning before we can open the nature center to the public is check that all our snakes, spiders, etc. are alive, and well, and still in their perspective homes… If a snake is out, we are not allowed to open the nature center to the public until it is found and returned to its home within the nature center…. Now, lucky for me… I have never come in and found one of our resident snakes out of its cage… We have two non-venomous snakes, and one VERY venomous rattle snake. Because if you are “on-duty” and a snake is out of its cage… guess who is responsible to capture it and return it to its cage… in our case… your right if you said BILL… 🙂

But now, back to the molting process of our little tarantula girl… For the past few days I noticed she had not moved at all. She had her legs tucked under her and just sat in one spot for days… I mentioned this to one of the “official staff members” and the person that cleans her cage, and feeds her, told me that she was fine…He said he touched her leg and she moved so we knew at least she was alive…

The next few days Bill and I were off, and when we went back in for our next shift we were told that the tarantula had molted, and we saw her old skin which is now sitting out on display in the nature center for teaching purposes. You can see where the back of the tarantula just opened up and allowed the tarantula to wiggle its way free… which I also learned is not an easy process.

taranchala

Once free of her old skin, our little tarantula girl looks darker and larger. This is her in the center of the picture below.

taranchala 2

Now this is what I learned about the molting process of a tarantula:

The molting process is something a tarantula goes through as they grow. They shed off their old skin, much like snakes. The entire molting process is a very difficult and strenuous experience for the spider.

A couple of weeks prior to molting the spider will most likely refuse to eat. You many also notice small clear droplets of liquid seeping from its leg joints, this phenomenon does not happen to all tarantulas. The spider may also lose hairs on its abdomen and will appear to have a bald spot.

The tarantula might lie on its back and appear to be dead when it is ready to molt. There may also be webbing around the body. Our little tarantula girl had some of that going on…

The molting process can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to several hours. Disturbing the spider during the molting process could result in its death.

Once the tarantula has emerged from its old skin, it will be extremely soft, tender, and sensitive. It is important to make sure the spider has plenty of fresh water but do not attempt to feed the spider for at least three days after molting. A cricket, which is food for a tarantula, can possibly harm or injure the tarantula if not enough time is given for the spider’s skin to harden.

One amazing thing associated with the molting process of tarantulas is the regeneration properties. If the spider is missing a leg, it can be regenerated during the molting process. However, the new leg will usually be smaller, and not as useful as the original leg was…, but hey, they have lots of other legs to depend on…

So there you have the nutshell version of the molting process of tarantulas.. I found the whole process amazing and just wanted to share some of what I’m learning during my time here at San Tan! Who would have thought that “I” would ever find spiders and snakes so interesting… 🙂

Oh, by the way… our resident giant scorpion died… I didn’t say anything negative… but I also did not attend its funeral either… I still don’t like those suckers… just saying. 🙂 🙂

Stay Tuned!

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Update From Cactus Dog

In my last post I shared a picture of what can and does happen when people go hiking with their dogs and let them off their leash in our desert environment. Everyone thinks their dog won’t run off, and we hear it all the time that “my dog will stay right with me and won’t run off…” Well, guess what? Just like kids, they don’t always “obey” especially when they see a rabbit, or other desert resident, dash across the desert floor.

Below is the picture I shared in my last post to remind you what can and does happen when people fail to ensure their dogs are safe by keeping them on a leash at all times when hiking the trails here at San Tan.

Cactus dog1

It took two vets, working together for several hours, to remove all the cactus needles from this little dog. The owner was VERY lucky that he found the vets he did and they gave this little dog a chance to survive the ordeal. In fact, the owner told the vet that perhaps it would be better to just put the dog down. But the vet said he felt the dog could be saved if they put the dog under sedation and at least tried to remove the cactus needles that covered his entire body, eyes, and were even in his mouth… When the vet told the owner there was a chance to save his dog, the owner told the vet if it was going to cost more than $5k, to just put the dog down because he couldn’t afford to spend anymore than that.

Today the owner stopped by San Tan to show us what the little dog looks like now.

cactus dog

Yes, the owner, who really is a very nice man who just made a very common mistake, actually came back to San Tan today with his little dog, and two little boys, to show us the little dogs’ recovery, and to thank our staff for all they did to rescue his little dog on the day it happened. As you can see, his dog is on a leash, and he said he will NEVER go hiking again and let his dog off the leash. I think he is a changed man/pet owner… at least I hope so…Oh, and the vet bill was only $700.00. That man is counting his blessings for sure…

Stay Tuned!

VERY DIFFICULT DAY at San Tan

In case you are new to my blog, I want you to know that my husband, Bill, and I, retired last May.  Sold our family home, and most of our possessions, bought a 39′ motorhome, and are now full-time RV’ers.

We travel during the summer months, but we enjoy Arizona (my home since 1952) in the winter. We are currently park hosts at San Tan Mountain Reserve Park in Queen Creek Arizona, working a couple of shifts a week in exchange for a place to park our motorhome during the winter months, with full hook-ups, and even propane…

We are happy here, and love that the park has over 20 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails throughout the park for everyone to enjoy…

Of course, there are some rules that go along with enjoying the park…Like, bikers yield to everyone, hikers yield to horses.., And at all times, EVERYONE STAYS ON THE TRAILS… Also, IF you choose to bring your dog/family pet with you on your hike, you keep them on a leash

WARNING!!!

The following pictures are difficult to look at, but I feel the need to be share, and to get the following message across, at least to my readers as to why it is so important to FOLLOW THE RULES of the park you are visiting… The rules are there for a reason….One rule wasn’t followed this past week, and caused a rescue, and a LOT of stress to the park hosts and staff here at San Tan…

This past week we had a visitor from Florida come to hike our trails… He had his little dog with him and the dog had never been exposed to our desert environment… He let his dog off the leash as soon as he was out of sight of the visitor center, and when he went off the trail, (not allowed) to take a picture… His little dog followed suit…

This is what ended in a rescue effort by our staff to get the little dog, place him in a plastic container, so the owner, who was crying and saying “if someone hadn’t come to help him he would have had to “leave his little dog there…” OMG who does that??? Our staff was able to rescue the little dog, and educate the dog’s owner to go to the Vet and see what could be done… We are still awaiting response to see if that dog could be saved or if it had to be put down…

Again… WARNING!! The following pictures are difficult to look at, but if it keeps one person from thinking their dog is “ok” off leash”, just know that this is what we deal with here at San Tan on any given day… Can you find the little dog in this picture?

Cactus dog1

Well, this is what our park staff had to rescue one day last week… Of course this left our staff members that dealt with this completely unnerved to say the least, and wondering how anyone who says they love their pets could ever let this happen to them…

cactus dog 2

Rules are there for a reason…. Please keep your pets safe… They depend on YOU!!!

As always, I welcome your comments.

Stayed Tuned!

 

 

 

A Perfect Day

As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved horses. As a little girl, I dreamed of living on a ranch, and having horses of my own to ride whenever I wanted… But my life path was full of many different twists and turns to say the least, all of which I am grateful for. Because, every step I took, and everything I did in my life, made me the person I am today, and brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I didn’t have a horse when I was growing up, and as an adult, I couldn’t afford to own a horse, and still can’t… but that never dimmed my dream of living on a ranch with horses…

What I’ve learned is, when you keep your dreams alive, and never give up on them coming true, some way, some how.., God, the universe, and life… will lead you to your dreams… I know that because I’m living my dream life right now… and everyday is “a perfect day” for me now. Here is but one example of how I’m living my dream life after retirement…

Bill and I work/camp at San Tan Mountain Regional Reserve Park in Queen Creek Arizona for the winter months. This park has over 10,000 acres of land, and over 20 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails… We love it here, and we have made friends with all of our co-hosts, co-workers, and venders here at the park.

Last week, on one of our day’s off, we  started out our day with a “cowboy/cowgirl breakfast of potatoes, onions, peppers, sausage, and an over easy egg on top of a skillet breakfast… We don’t do this everyday, but we do enjoy this once a week…

Perfect Day

It was a picture perfect day here at San Tan Mountain Park as you can see by this picture below…

Perfect day 5

Well, guess what…? San Tan Mountain Park is “THE PLACE” for horse folks, and they come in droves… The picture below shows the early arrivals… but let me tell you the lot you see will be FULL of horse trailers and horses on any given day and this is all happening just outside our motorhome fence that you can see… So lucky me… I am living my dream of living with horses (I may not own the “ranch”, but I live here from Oct-may) and that’s all I need….

Perfect day 4

And, just to make life even sweeter…, Matt, the owner/operator of MD Ranch, is contracted with the park to provide trail rides for park customers… and guess what??? Matt told us whenever we want to go on a ride with him all we have to do is let him know…

We never want to take advantage of Matt’s generosity, but he often just asks us if we would like to go on a ride with him…. Well, if he asks, I don’t have to be asked twice… I’m getting my riding pants, and shoes on, and out the door as fast as I can… Which is what I did last week when Matt asked us to go on a two-hour ride with him…

These are Matt’s horses which are just outside our fenced compound on any given day… Did I mention I so love horses and wanted to live on a horse ranch….? Is this not the next best thing for that life dream…?

Perfect day 2

This is Matt, getting his horses saddled up for the two-hour ride he invited us on… Matt is 39 yrs old and owns the MD Ranch that is contracted with San Tan Mountain Park throughout the winter/spring months. Then, he goes to Oregon where he has a ranch and many, many, more horses… Matt is VERY accomplished in his field, he has trail horses, rodeo horses, breeding horses etc. He also competes in events and has won many, many  times… We love our life here on the “dream” ranch… and we love Matt…!

Perfect day 3

When Matt invites us to ride, he will never accept payment ($30-$50 plus per person an hour depending on the ride…) but we always give him a nice tip, and I scoop his horses poop around his trailer at the end of the day just so he doesn’t have to do that after a long day on the trails… I don’t mind one bit because I’m living my dream of having horses in my life…,and having the “perfect day” EVERYDAY…!

And the ending to the “perfect day”  for me, was, when a gentleman, our age( me and Bill),  said to me as I took his payment at the window with Bill standing behind me said, “did anyone ever tell you “your smile could melt Alaska..?

What a perfect ending to a perfect day!

Stay Tuned!

Stay Tuned!

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