Tarantula Intensive Care and Emergency Treatment
I've recently found myself having to utilise the ICU setup for a couple of spiders i'm looking after for friends and have been surprised at how little information is available on the net for new keepers so i'm sharing some of my experience with you here.
There is very little known about the treatment of some of the conditions that can affect tarantula but what we do know is that some basic methods available to us have been repeatedly successful in improving a tarantula's health in certain circumstances and repairing some injuries.
In this section I will attempt to elaborate and provide a basic guide to emergency care of tarantulas for the new or less experienced keeper.
First things first...... Dehydration.
A common problem people often encounter with tarantula is dehydration, diagnosis of this condition is fairly easy and if caught quickly can be rectified. The cause of this condition is fairly obvious - lack of fluids - but donít assume that this is always due to poor husbandry, there are many reasons why a tarantula may not be able to regulate its internal fluid pressure and I will touch on a couple but the most common is limited access to water.
Tarantula, Like most other inverts have a hard exoskeleton and the internal structure comprises mostly of fluid, because of this tarantula use fluidic pressure to articulate limbs and in all aspects of its day to day mobility, hydraulics in a basic sense. Loss of this pressurisation will result in inability to straighten limbs, reduced and jerky movements and eventually death. Other signs include:
- Shrinking/shrivelling of the Opisthoma (abdomen)
- Caving in of the carapace
- Thinning of the femurs
- General lethargy
- Partial or complete death curl in extreme cases of dehydration
Do not panic if you see any of these signs there is hope in the form of the ICU.
Tarantula Intensive Care Unit
The principle of this setup is to provide a clean safe environment in which your tarantula can rehydrate, a kind of hospital ward for poorly spiders.
It is very simple to do and i would advise all of you to have a couple of these ready just in case.
Things you will need
- Appropriately sized clear plastic tub with a few air holes (cricket tubs will suffice for most species though bigger tubs may be required for the lager ones)
- Several sheets clean kitchen towel/paper
- clean tepid(room/body temperature) water
- A second identical setup
1) Ensure your tub is clean and has a securely fitting lid
2) Fold/cut the kitchen towel/paper and line the bottom of the tub with several layers so it fits snugly
3) Pour in the water - ensure the paper is completely soaked and tip out excess water, we want saturated paper towel not puddles.
4) place your tarantula into the tub and secure the lid in place
5) place your ICU'd tarantula in a warm dark place
6) remove your tarantula after 24 hours if required into the second ICU setup you should have prepared
you can repeat this process as necessary until the tarantula's health has improved or in the worst case passes on.
If the signs point to dehydration but your ICU has been unsuccessful after 48 hours it is time to consider another cause which I will highlight now.
Damage and Ruptures in the Exoskeleton
As I mentioned before, inside the hard exoskeleton of a tarantula it is mostly fluid, the tarantulas blood, this is called heamolymph. Tarantulas have an extremely limited ability to clot this fluid, as such i small rupture in the exoskeleton and a leak of heamolymph could prove to be fatal if its not stopped. Recognition of these injuries can be tricky but bar an obvious wound the main signs will be more or less the same for dehydration. If an ICU has failed you should actively look for an injury.
An injury will present as a crack, tear of puncture somewhere on the exoskeleton (pay particular attention to the soft membranes at the jointed sections of the legs/cephalothorax) from which a clear of slightly yellowish fluid will be leaking.
Again, fear not as there are things we can do to assist the tarantula's healing process.
- Talcum powder
- Cotton buds
- Superglue (I will talk about this specific item later)
The aim here is to create a seal through which the heamolymph cannot leak and the procedure is fairly straightforward, all you need to do is cover small cracks or splits with talcum powder - this will help to for a clot or scab for want of a better word. For larger cracks, splits or punctures completely cover the wound with Vaseline, again this will form a seal. Please be aware that the book lungs on a tarantula should never be covered with anything.
These methods are a temporary intervention that will stop further leakage of fluid and give the spider a chance to create a new skin underneath; when the spider has moulted there should be no trace of the injury.
N.B. - If attempting any of the above procedures, great care should be taken when handling the tarantula to prevent further injury to it or any injury to yourself.
Right, notice i haven't yet mentioned the superglue, well this may cause some debate among the more experienced keepers but i will share my opinion and experience and let others comment as they may.
I have found superglue to be a most useful tool in repairing minor ruptures, specifically in areas on the legs of tarantulas, a few drops applied directly to the source of the leak of heamolymph has had marvellous affects and has done the trick nicely.
The reason that i expect to be slated for this is as follows..........
Part of Superglue's chemical name is Cyanoacrylate, cyanide and acrylic, i'm sure we all know what cyanide is - its an extremely deadly poison and it is believed by some tarantula keepers that this substance will kill a tarantula if it is used.
I have myself used superglue and as yet have not noted any adverse reactions and all the spiders i have used it on have made a full recovery, as long as the area is well vented and you do not seal the tarantula in with the fumes while it sets there should be no problems encountered.
I'm sure someone will have an argument against it though.
I hope this has been a valuable thread and hope you all take something away from this.
Please feel free to comment or if you feel i've missed something out then by all means add it to the thread.
Live around the bedfordshire/cambridgeshire area? got a rat/rabbit/pidgeon/squirrel problem? send me a PM.
Saint George killed the last dragon, and he was called a hero for it. I've never seen a dragon, and I wish he would have left at least one. Saint Patrick made a name for himself by running the snakes out of Ireland, leaving the place vulnerable to rodent infestation. This business of making saints out of men who exterminate their fellow creatures has got to stop. All I'm saying is, it's starting to get a little lonely up here at the top of the food chain.
- A Whitney Brown
I'm glad people are finding this thread interesting.
I will endevour to add new information as and when i come across anything of importence, most of the knowledge i have is gained through experience and a few individuals that were kind enough to share thier experiences with me, and also resources such as this forum.
keep your comments comming.
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