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Breeding pair of Honduran curlyhair tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum). Click/double click to enlarge.

Breeding pair of Honduran curlyhair tarantulas (Brachypelma albopilosum). Click/double click image to enlarge.

The male Honduran curlyhair tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum) produced several sperm webs January 4, 2014, so I paired the tarantulas at 9:30 PM on January 6, 2014.

Unlike the second mating, there was no drumming from either individual. They were slower to begin mating than was the case the previous two times. The female was receptive each of the three times they came together tonight. Multiple insertions each time.

I may pair them one more time if the male produces additional sperm webs.

This has been an extraordinarily easy first pair of breeding tarantulas. The first two pairings occurred on December 26, 2013 and January 1, 2014.

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BemiliaHandDec292013

Mexican redleg tarantula (Brachypelma emilia), December 29, 2013. Click/double click to enlarge.

The Mexican redleg tarantula (Brachypelma emilia) juvenile purchased from Sailfin Petshop in June, 2013 molted December 29, 2013, revealing itself to be female. A close-up of the spermathecae is shown below. She should be sexually mature after the next molt.

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Mexican redleg tarantula (Brachypelma emilia) spermathecae. Click/double click image to enlarge.

BemiliaExoDec292013

Mexican redleg tarantula (Brachypelma emilia) several hours post-molt, December 29, 2013. Click/double click image to enlarge.

BemiliaDec262013

Mexican redleg tarantula (Brachypelma emilia) the day prior to the molt, December 28, 2013. Click/double click image to enlarge.

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First tarantula pairing a success!

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Honduran curly hair tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum) embrace prior to mating. Click/double click image to enlarge.

The first mating took place at 6:30 PM on December 23, 2013. It was certainly easy!

The male crawled down the side of the female’s tank, squared up so that he was directly in front of her, and she raised up as he supported her legs. The mating took place over a several minute. Afterward he slowly lowered her and backed off quickly. It was about seven minutes from start to finish.

I had a number of questions afterward which I posted on the Midwest Tarantula Keepers facebook page. Jen Newman of Heartland Invertebrates was quick to respond. Our conversation follows:

Question 1: When should I repeat the breeding and how many times should I repeat?

Jen’s Response: Look for evidence of a sperm web from the male before pairing again – a long, thick, white rope of webbing. You might even catch him in the act, you never know. I typically pair 2-3 times, with new sperm webs in between, but don’t be surprised if your girl rejects him and tries to chase him off on attempt #2. It happens – and can be a sign that he got things done the first time.

Question 2: In your experience, how long does it take until the egg sac appears, and how long is it until the eggs begin to hatch. I realize there are still a lot of “ifs” at this point… My spiders are in a room that is kept at 72 degrees during the winter.

Jen’s Response: That’s really, really variable. Mine didn’t take all that long – 4 months from the last pairing, but I’ve heard of them taking as long as 6-9 months for sac construction. Feed her up well, and make sure she has a suitable spot to retreat to and/or dig, and see what happens. This is one species of Brachy that really doesn’t need anything special (unlike their red legged/kneed cousins, lol).

So at this point, I await the production of a sperm web and another pairing. All is golden thus far!

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Sperm web production

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Male curly hair tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum) in the middle of his first sperm web. Click/double click image to enlarge.

Observing the tarantula life cycles is fascinating. The first Honduran curly hair tarantula I purchased (Brachypelma albopilosum) molted into his final, mature male form on March 2.

Recently he produced his first sperm web. The entire sperm web concept is pretty fascinating, again reinforcing the myriad of ways that life forms differ in how they go about reproducing. Sperm webs are tent-like webs that are open on both ends. Spun against a rock, or side of their enclosure when in captivity, the mature male crawls upside down underneath the web and deposits a droplet of semen on the underside of the silk tent.

He then crawls onto the surface of web and alternately loads the boxing glove-like bulbs at the end of his pedipalps with sperm. The sperm, with their flagellae wrapped tightly around them, are encapsulated in a layer of protein. They will remain dormant until called upon to fertilize a female’s eggs.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a mature female curly hair tarantula. I may have to do some online shopping this weekend…

;lk

Freshly molted mature male curly hair tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum). Click/double click image to enlarge.

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The extraordinarily sharp distal end of one of the many hemipteran probosces observed the Saturday following Agora Days, 2013.

We followed the Agora Days’ Scanning Electron Microscopy class with a Saturday visit to prep, sputter coat, and view a variety a variety of specimens from last semester’s Field Biology class.

The two most impressive sets of mouthparts observed were those of the hemipteran above as well as the Mexican red knee tarantula (Brachypelma smithi) fang below, taken from the shed exoskeleton pictured in “Abnormal Mexican redknee tarantula (Brachypelma smithi) molt.”

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Distal portion of the chelicera and entire fang from the shed exoskeleton pictured in “Abnormal Mexican redknee tarantula (Brachypelma smithi) molt” on June 11, 2012.

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Cohort #3 – Six 2″ diagonal leg measurement Mexican red knee tarantula (Brachypelma smithi) spiderlings in their shipping cups (January 11, 2013). Click/double click to enlarge.

Yesterday I began what turned out to be a very short search for a few young male Mexican red knee tarantulas (Brachypelma smithi). Michael Jacobi (tarantulas.com) offered me a package of six 1” – 1¼” red knees at a good price, so I made the decision to move forward and purchase six spiderlings. I’ll grow them out, keep the males, and sell the females.

The tarantulas arrived the next day. All were in excellent condition and were considerably larger that the advertised 1” – 1¼”. Almost all have a 2” diagonal leg measurement at this point and appear to have molted recently. I anticipate being able to determine gender of the individuals comprising this cohort by the end of April – certainly MUCH sooner than I anticipated at the time of my order!

Written January 11, 2013

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Tarantula Leg Regeneration

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Close-up of a juvenile female Mexican red knee tarantula’s (Brachypelma smithi) regenerating leg after its December 15, 2012 molt. Click/double click to enlarge.

You can’t help but be impressed by the regeneration ability of young spiders. This Mexican red knee tarantula (Brachypelma smithi), identified as a female in the December 18, 2012 blog entry, emerged from its molt on October 16, 2012 with a distinctly mismatched leg. Immediately after the December molt the mismatched leg was proportionally much larger, more heavily pigmented (see above) and fully functional.

Leg loss/damage during the molting process is not uncommon. Both of my rapid growing Honduran curly hair tarantulas (Brachypelma albopilosum) have experienced leg issues during previous molts. You can read more about those molts and the resulting leg issues in the blog entry entitled “Honduran curlyhair tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum) molting issues.”

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Close-up of its newly regenerated leg after the prior molt on October 16, 2012. Click/double click image to enlarge.

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