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  Chat Transcript - 3/17/00
 

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TARANTULAS

RickW: Hi everybody
patstarantulas: hi rick!
bjurgens: howdy rick
patstarantulas: Glad you could make it
JohnB: Hi Rick. Want you to know my students love the "Scientific Frontiers" on Tarantulas you did.
patstarantulas: How many times have you been bitten by a tarantula?
bjurgens: zero for me
patstarantulas: u r lucky
RickW: In my 34 years + years experience handing tarantulas ... I've never been bit ... yet :)
bjurgens: just got a cobalt last week and it nearly got me a few nights ago
patstarantulas: Oh they can be very aggressive
patstarantulas: wow... not once... that's amazing
bjurgens: it is
RickW: Tarantulas are like dogs .... you can tell when or if they're going to bite.
patstarantulas: I know you can but I almost lost my tarantula in my house when it bit me because I had to grab it and it didn't like that
patstarantulas: they don't just bite, they have signals
patstarantulas: and not just them rearing up
patstarantulas: like the way the get all jumpy and stuff
RickW: I never allow my tarantulas to get loose .... if the cats don't get them .... my wife will :(
patstarantulas: I don't let them loose I was handling it then it jumped off my hand onto my carpet and started running so I had to grab it before it got away :)
Jon: Hi everybody, sorry I'm late.
JohnB: Rick, difficulty in breeding G. rosea has come up on the mailing list. What do you think about southern hemisphere spiders being thrown off in the northern hemisphere?
patstarantulas: rick, how many tarantulas do you have?
RickW: Re: breeding tarantulas in captivity out of their 'normal' breeding cycle. I always introduce the male to a well fed female. If, after several attempts they don't mate them wait several days and try again. It's a risk not to supervise. Sexual maturity and the right set up is important, not N. / S. zones.
RickW: I have about 500 live theraphosids and about 5000 - 6000 preserved as a reference collection.
patstarantulas: OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!
patstarantulas: WHERE DO YOU KEEP THEM ALL?
patstarantulas: that's a lot of tarantulas!
RickW: We own a large home with an entire room dedicated to the tarantulas. My cats patrol outside to get escaped crickets :)
patstarantulas: lol
patstarantulas: I have a fruit fly infestation right now they escaped from the vile!!
patstarantulas: Do you have any suggestions??
RickW: The fruit flies will die out shortly without a food source ie. over ripe fruit. We get a natural infestation every year but they don't affect anything.
patstarantulas: oh ok good, because I have millions of them everywhere in my house and I have to try and not let anyone else know, but its funny because they find flightless fruitflies and they are like what is this!?!?!?!
JohnB: Have you found humidity to be as critical as care sheets would suggest? With 500 it must be tough to monitor.
Morbugs: Do you simply heat the room vs. each tank for a specific temp?
RickW: Horrors amongst horrors .... I've only ever used garden soil (unsterile, as in the natural state) and keep my room at 80F. I mist the arboreals and those that need it. Occasional water for the more xeric (dry climate) species 
JoyR: Rick, is your collection focused on any particular genera, or do you just collect a little of everything?
patstarantulas: mine is a little bit of everything
RickW: I collect everything but focus on undescribed species. I'm off to Malaysia in April in search of Lampropelma then Kenya in June and Stuttgart in October.
RickW: Bare with my typing ... my keyboard is sticking on some keys
patstarantulas: ok I have to go now ok bye
Jon: Bye patstarantulas!
Jon: OK guys, please take a break for 1 minute so I can go over the rules...
Jon: We have to keep the questions one at a time. I'll announce when it's time for the next question.
Jon: I'll start off with a question...
Jon: Rick, what encouraged you to precede in this field?
RickW: With no kids my age to play with, I roamed and collected many creatures in my neighborhood. My Mom took me to the museum to learn how to 'study/rear' them In later years I visited and collected tarantulas at my cousins place outside San Diego .... a love was born!!
JoyR: What formal education did you pursue to further your career?
RickW: I received my education both at the local College and University with great encouragement from my professors. Later I was made a research associate of our local museum. By profession, I'm a law enforcement officer of 25 years with the local large humane society.
Jon: OK, who has the next question for Rick?
JohnB: Are the various languages much of a barrier to your work in the field?
JoyR: What university(ies) would you recommend for someone wishing a career in arachnology? Yes, I know they're scarce!
RickW: Re: John B. .... yes.
Jinx: Hello Rick. What is your personal favorite species?
RickW: JoyR .... try Dr. Fred Coyle at the Western Carolina Univerity in N. Carolina.
JoyR: Thanks, Rick
RickW: Jinx - any of the arboreals are my favorites
Jinx: Good choice, they are a lot of fun, and seem to be more active...Thanks Rick
Jon: Next question...
JoyR: Any light to cast on the Brachypelma tangle? Specifically such disputed species as klaasi, baumgarteni, and annitha?
RickW: Personally, klaasi is valid, baumgarteni and annitha are suspected as hybrids
Jeffreyned: I have a Chilean Rose that seems to be spinning a sperm web and then messing it up. Any insight, and/or advice on breeding him?
RickW: Sperm web is made used and destroyed within an hour or so. Depends on what you witness. 
Jeffreyned: So if I introduce a willing female he'll spin again and go for it?
RickW: Wait a week or so after the first sperm web is detected. Often the males spins and makes more. Introduce the male to a well fed female .... always supervise. If the female is aggressive, take him out and try in a few days.
Jeffreyned: Thank you Rick.
Jinx: What is the easiest way to sex a Tarantula? Thanks Rick
RickW: This is not the forum to discuss the technique of sexing tarantulas. It is something which has to be shown to you. Check the ATS for their little booklet on this subject.
Jinx: Well excuse me. I thought that the whole idea of this forum was to get to chat with an expert!!!
Jinx: Good Bye all.
Jon: Who has the next question?
JohnB: The tarantula hawk is a well known predator. What predators have you observed in Africa and Asia
JoyR: Besides humans (LOL)
RickW: In Africa the tarantula predators are, Maribu Storks, Ground Hornbills, Elephant shrews, Genet cats, pompilid wasps, some species of snakes and primates .... man is the worst one :)
RickW: In many parts of Asia and South America... tarantulas are still cooked and eaten as a valuable food source ... about 63% protein as compared to about 18% in fish (by volume).
Jon: Who has the next question?
Morbugs: I'm still a little curious, you said Law enforcement- do you or did you have a background of biology or something related to entomology?
RickW: I have 4th year entomology. I'm a law enforcement officer by day and an arachnologist by night and weekends .... it does pay my bills :)
Morbugs: Thanks Rick, I'm a physical therapist and real estate agent trying to have fun with bugs too....
Marty: Are there certain types of prey not to be fed to pet tarantulas?
RickW: I've heard there are certain species of moths and amphibians which have toxins and will kill a tarantula when they attempt to eat it.
RickW: Further to the question ..... I regret I don't know which toxic species of moths, etc, these are. I fed primarily dead rodents (from a pet shop) and crickets .... occasionally supplement with local insects which I know aren't toxic
JohnB: Many countries are closing their borders. Where do you see the hobby in 5-10 years? What can I personally do (the average person)?
RickW: I see that eventually ALL theraphosid spiders will be placed on CITES due to the few jerk smugglers out there.
zero: rick have you studied Haitian browns in the wild
RickW: I've only passed through Haiti to French Guiana, never studied tarantula there.
Jon: Who has the next question?
Marty: Are red wigglers (red composting worms) toxic to tarantulas
RickW: I've heard worms, guppies and Goldfish are eaten by tarantulas. Most rainforest tarantulas feed primarily on frogs and cockroaches.
Morbugs: I use a ten gal tank to keep goldfish to feed to "T"'s
Jon: I've heard of rattlesnake venom used for medical purposes. Are you familiar with tarantula toxins being used in medical science?
RickW: I've heard of tarantula toxins being used to find a cure for Alzheimer and Parkinson's Disease ... and anti clot drugs.
Jon: OK, next question...
JoyR: Sorry to keep harping on B. klaasi. But the picture you have posted on your website (great website, by the way) looks nothing like what was sold to me as B. klaasi. Mine looks like B. emilia with black carapace. Yours looks much more like descriptive common name (Mexican Pink). I suspect mine is a hybrid. Seen several other people posting alleged B. klaasi like mine. Any ideas?
RickW: My photos were taken in the field in Mexico. There ARE a lot of hybrids on the market ... primarily out of Europe. I regret to say this is an ever increasing greedy hazard of the hobby.
zero: rick can you give any insight to the Big Bends Tarantula
RickW: The 'Big Bend' tarantulas are largely unstudied. There are several sympatric (overlapping) species there, the largest are in the Chisos Mtns.
Edgeman: This is Earl hopin' to catch the last few minutes here, Hi everyone.
Formosa: Rick...As the C.I.T.E.S. convention draws near, aside from the inclusion of the Genus Poecilotheria upon the List, do you foresee at this time (2000) any additional genera being placed upon the List?
RickW: Eventually, T. blondi and maybe a few other 'star' tarantulas will be added to the list as their habitat rapidly diminishes or they're over collected.
Formosa: Thank you! Quite expected.
zero: Do you have information on the Burmese Birdeater?
RickW: What do you want to know?
zero: about its habitat and how long its been described
RickW: If you mean Haplopelma lividum ... it was described by Andrew Smith in 1996. It lives in semi cleared tropical forests from Mid Burma east across Thailand to Laos and Cambodia (Kampuchea)
Marty: Is it difficult to get most tarantulas to eat dead prey?
RickW: Some species eat dead prey naturally. A herper friend found four male roaming T's eating a squashed toad on the road in Costa Rica!
RickW: Did you know that some tarantula in Bolivia and Chile live at 14,000 feet?
Erich: Does anyone know how to tell the difference between H. apostolicus and H. scepticus spiderlings?
RickW: Spiderlings 'no', adults 'yes'
Rabbit2: Rick, are there people breeding Poecilotheria smithi's here in the US?
RickW: Maybe Formosa can answer this .... I'm not aware of any.
Formosa: 2 of us are and I think both of us failed Bill!
Formosa: Myself and Bryant Capiz both have adult females and shared the male. His mating failed and after one attempt at my female, she readily dispatched the male!
JoyR: Those darned predatory females
Rabbit2: We better get some before the CITES thing goes 
Rabbit2: We gotta move to get that species in the US
RickW: I know Jeremy Huff in Vancouver, BC, is trying.
Formosa: Nicolai Pedersen (Denmark) has also bred this species and may have 1 gravid female?
RickW: The way the local need for charcoal and firewood is going .... you won't see Poecilotheria spp much longer!
Formosa: I agree Rick. The saddest part is the Poecilotheria loose if added to C.I.T.E.S. and if ignored by such.
Rabbit2: Are there any tarantula enthusiasts in India?
RickW: There are no tarantula enthusiasts in India to my knowledge .... they're called 'catleg' spiders there as their legs look like a cat leg.
Rabbit2: How do we get them in this country with all that's going on?
RickW: The taking or export of Poecilotheria out of Sri Lanka is closed ..... so all of you who have them can guess their arrival into your collections >:)
Rabbit2: I thought some of the Pokes came from India
RickW: Yes, some Poke spp. do, however, P. smithi is from Sri lanka if I recall.
Formosa: Correct Rick
Formosa: Bill, as it now stands, the only way to acquire Sri Lankan sp. of Poecilotheria is to purchase CB or illegally collected specimens. There are no "legally" collected Poecilotheria out of Sri Lanka.
Rabbit2: How can these CITES idiots be made to understand that in order to save the species, they have to be bred by hobbyists?
RickW: A word of warning to all here ..... enjoy the hobby. If you travel for them, know their laws. One Swiss person was just caught in Venezuela (closed to tarantula export) with 700!!! in his luggage. Another person was caught in Australia and yet another was jailed in Brazil ... no way to spend a trip
RickW: I regret to say that there is not a single theraphosid species that can be sustained by captive breeding without the eventual influx of wild stock
Rabbit2: There must be a program instituted to correct this situation . 
Formosa: Its sadly unfortunate but with or without C.I.T.E.S. protection, several Poecilotheria such as rufilata and smithi may already be headed down the road to extinction and sustained captive breeding is unrealistic.
Rabbit2: A certain number of wild stock could be designated to reputable breeders
RickW: With the human introduction of the cane toad, then the mongoose to rid the toad, the native tarantulas were wiped out of Jamaica
JoyR: What species were native to Jamaica?
RickW: Cyrtopholis jamaicolus was one
Rabbit2: How do you approach the CITES without making the situation worse
Formosa: Problem is, without conservation and severe protection legislation of wild habitat, there will exist no WC stock to furnish any breeder.
RickW: Get the # for the 'Office of Scientific Authority' in Washington, DC, and ask your questions
RickW: You've been a pleasure to be with tonight. Thank you but I must bail. Thank you Jon for this opportunity.
Jon: It's been a pleasure to have you...
JohnB: Rick, thanks for chats. My sixth-graders will be impressed that I've talked with Rick from the "tarantula video"!
JoyR: Thanks, Rick
RickW: Pleasure John
RickW: Pleasure JoyR
Formosa: Adios amigo...Very informative as always
Marty: thanks rick. Please come again
Morbugs: Thanks Rick..
Rabbit2: Thanks for your time Rick
JohnB: Thanks for hosting, Jon
Marty: thanks Jon .Got to go for now
JoyR: Yes, I think it went good tonight. Signing off now, Jon. Thanks for hosting.
Jon: No problem, cya'! 

 

 

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