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From the pages of 'The British Tarantula Society Journal'

The Patter Of Eight Tiny Feet

Martin Overton

Have you ever thought about raising spiderlings instead of buying adult spiders? If NOT why NOT? If you have then I'm glad to hear it.

You may be asking “What's so special about raising spiderlings?” Well below I will try to install in you the sense of wonder at having these little creatures.

How often when you have decided to increase your collection have you gone out and spent anywhere between 10-30 on a new adult specimen? If I asked for a show of hands at this point, I feel certain that at least half of you if you are honest would say you are guilty of doing just that. This seems a sorry state of affairs, as the cost of a spiderling is somewhere between 1-5 on average, the latter is for the rarer species. Just on this merit alone the savings can be quite considerable.

The most frequent argument levelled at purchasing spiderlings over adults is You can't tell what sex it will be!" Now from certain suppliers you can get sexed spiderlings at a slightly higher price. I feel this is worth the extra to be 99% sure (no-one is infallible!).

The next most common argument Is 'Spiderlings are difficult to keep and they need special food". Again this is not always true, most spiderlings are as easy to keep as adults, as for feeding as long as you don't give the little creature anything larger than Itself, it should have no real problems. I feed all my arachnids on crickets, this though is because of non-availability of other foods and is my own preference. I would suggest you feed spiderlings on your own preferred food(s).

As for the wonder of spiderlings, they look so fragile but are incredibly strong and agile. They shed their skin frequently. I've had three moults in three months, pretty nerve-wracking! The main surprise Is the speed in which a moult Is accompilished, an adult may take anywhere between 2-12 hours or more in some cases. Whereas my little B.emilia has moulted some six times and none have taken longer than an hour. I now have a wonderful collection of moults showing the growth pattern, the most surprising finding is that the size between moults
increases by around 100%, a bit like someone going from a 32inch to a 64inch waist in under four weeks!

The question of housing usually is raised as a problem with spiderlings but unless you have 50 or more & little room to house them, you can use a standard size tank as with adult specimens, as sooner or later they will grow (with a bit of luck and care) into a fine adult specimen themselves. Obviously, If you have a large collection of spiderlings and no homes for them all you have one of two options:-

1. To foster out to other enthusiasts, or sell some to others
2. To save every margarine tub and other suitable container you can get your hands on. In most households this should be no real problem.

One other thing you must be aware of when buying spiderlings is that their colouring will in most cases not be as vivid as the adult specimen, but the colouring
does come after each moult until adulthood Is reached. Other factors need to be taken into account though, certain species, if not kept in near perfect replica of their normal temperature and humidity range will not show their true colours.

As you can see, I find keeping spiderlings very interesting, I hope some If not all of you experience the patter of eight tiny feet for yourselves.

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Last Updated: April 04, 2007