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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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gotham girl
    Mar 01, 2016 @ 01:44:34

    Oh my…oh my…I honestly think I can handle scorpions more than tarantulas. I’ll never forget how high those little suckers can jump! Witnessed it myself…and don’t want a repeat!!! But…I’m with you…I’m not going to its funeral either!!! Love you!

    Reply

    • beyondcinderella
      Mar 01, 2016 @ 02:03:57

      I remember you telling me about how high the tarantulas can jump GG. All I can say is my viewing of the molting process was from the outside looking into the glass enclosure she lives in… If she had be out in the open, I don’t think I would have been as interested in seeing the process up close in real time… XoXo and can’t wait to see you REAL soon!!!

      Reply

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