12/15/13
MEET FLUFFY At Plunkett’s we have pet tarantula named Fluffy.  She’s a Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula who was found by one of our technicians about 5 years ago.  We’re guessing she’s about 8 – 10 years old. Last week Fluffy molted, which is a very fascinating process to watch!   Like snakes, a tarantula will periodically break out of its old exoskeleton in order to grow.  Young tarantulas can molt every few months, but, since Fluffy is older, it’s been a few years since she has molted. HOW FLUFFY MOLTED At the beginning of the molting process, Fluffy lay on her back and appeared dead, (saddening those of us in the office who have grown attached to her).  Then she started to wiggle her legs straight up and down, literally kicking the old exoskeleton from her.  First her legs came free, then her abdomen.  The whole process took about 4-1/2 hours.  It’s actually a tiring process for a tarantula, so, at times, Fluffy laid still to rest before continuing to “kick”.  When she was completely free of her old skin, she flipped back upright and moved away from her old self.  Then she took a really long nap, not moving for quite some time.  Now it’s easy to see that she is indeed bigger.   FLUFFY’S PUFFY LIFE Fluffing coming to live with us was prompted by a call for service that came into our office from a woman who wanted us to take care of a spider and she was freaking out.  Turns out the tarantula must have been the pet of someone in her apartment building and had gotten loose.  Nobody in the building owned up to the spider and our technician didn’t have the heart to kill her.  So, she’s here in our office living a life of tarantula luxury.  Fluffy lives in an aquarium that’s free from predators and full of nutrition-filled crickets upon which she noshes. MORE ABOUT CHILEAN ROSE HAIR TARANTULAS (DO THEY BITE?) Chilean rose hair tarantulas, commonly called "Rosie's" by arachnid enthusiasts, are one of the most common and popular pet spider species.  Known for beautiful coloring, Chilean rose hair tarantulas are native to the desert regions of Chile and are a terrestrial species. Coloring on Chilean rose hair tarantulas varies from pink to red to brown. At maturity, Rosie's are typically five to six inches in leg span. Chilean rose hairs are a long lived species, with most spiders living up to 20 years in captivity when properly cared for. Rosie's are very docile and sweet in nature, making them an ideal species to have as a pet.  However, like all species, they are venomous.  The good news is that these tarantulas are nice enough to warn you in three different ways before actually attacking.  
  • First Warning: The spider’s spinnerets, usually flat against their body when relaxed, will rise and protrude, showing heightened alert.
  • Second Warning: The spider will “throw its hair”; they fling the urticating hairs from their abdomen, which stick in the victim and will cause a temporary rash on human skin.
  • Third Warning: The spider will rear up on its two back pairs of legs and show its fangs.
 


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