Peekaboo…My O. philippinus Makes a Cameo!

Well, look who popped out to say hello!

Okay, I know I already posted a short video featuring this same O. philippinus (Philippine Tangerine) in the process of dragging a cricket into its den, but this time I caught the entire “hunt.” Even better, my juvenile O. philippinus actually completely emerged from its den for a few seconds.

Now, I’m fortunate in that my other O. philippinus constructed a den down the side of its enclosure, so I get to see him all of the time. Still, for this other specimen who usually comes out only at night when I’m in bed, this was pretty special.

Note: This species requires moist substrate, so I periodically moisten the coco fiber to keep it comfortable. The majority of of the water percolates through the substrate, keeping the lower levels (where its den is) moist. The water on the side evaporates before morning. I had applied water shortly before this video was shot.

Do-It-Yourself Sterilite Tarantula Enclosures

Part of the fun of keeping tarantulas, in my opinion, is the endless search for the perfect “found enclosure.” Sure, there are many gorgeous and professionally-designed cages to choose from, and they make lovely displays for any showcase Ts that you are particularly fond of. However, those with large collections can find housing all of their beloved spiders in these top-of-the-line terrariums much too expensive. That’s why many enthusiasts haunt their local WalMarts, Targets, craft stores, and Family Dollar’s looking for various canisters and containers that can be used “off label” as make-shift tarantula cages.

Sterilite has produced dozens of types of plastic storage containers over the years, and their products have long been used by budget-conscious T enthusiasts hoping to keep costs down as their collections expand. They offer containers in a ridiculous number of sizes, making them ideal for any larger T. And with prices often as low as $1.99 for smaller sizes, they won’t hurt the wallet as much.

I recently discovered their series of lockable and stackable storage containers, and was delighted to learn that they come in a number of convenient sizes. Instead of just drilling holes this time, which definitely works but is tedious and, in my opinion, not as attractive, I decided to use vents. The following is a little step-by-step tutorial for those interested.

NOTE: I know that some folks will argue that drilling holes is a bit cheaper (the vents I’m using her will run you an extra $1.90 or so per cage) or more attractive. Still, I like the look of these, and I find the vents less tedious to install. I also have plenty of enclosures with drilled or melted air holes, so I have NO problem with these.

MATERIALS

1. Buy the Sterilite Containers.

Here are several sizes of storage boxed (as well as a plastic canister that I will modify later). These are wonderful, as they stack quite nicely, saving space.

Here are several sizes of storage boxes (as well as a plastic canister that I will modify later). These are wonderful, as they stack quite nicely, saving space. I purchased these at WalMart, but they can also be found in Target (although their selection hasn’t been as good).

2. Get Some Aquarium-safe silicone.

Next, you will need aquarium silicone, which dries non-toxic. For those with hot glue guns, those will work as well.

Next, you will need aquarium silicone, which dries non-toxic. For those with hot glue guns, those will work as well. I allow three days for a full cure.

3. Get 2″ round plastic vents.

I purchase these at  roundvents.com. I like the plastic ones, as I worry that a large T could chew through the wire ones.

Vents of this type can be found through several online vendors. I purchased these at roundvents.com. I like the plastic ones, as I worry that a large T could chew through the wire ones.

4. Grab a 2″ Black & Decker (cheap!) hole saw.

To drill the holes, you will need a 2" hole saw. If you don't have one, Black & Decker makes a cheap set that includes the 2" saw for under $10.

To drill the holes, you will need a 2″ hole saw. If you don’t have one, Black & Decker makes a cheap set that includes the 2″ saw for under $10. I found this one at my local WalMart.

5. Clamp the container down before drilling.

Again, you can probably have someone hold while you drill, but I have the clamps handy, so I use them. Notice the piece of wood underneath, which gives you something to drill in. You can also use the circle created by earlier drillings to line up the hole.

Again, you can probably have someone hold the container while you drill, but I have the clamps handy, so I use them. Notice the piece of wood underneath, which gives you something to drill in. You can also use the circle created by earlier drillings to line up the hole.

6. Carefully drill your holes.

Mark the entry point for the guide bit with a Sharpie to keep the hole centered. When drilling, don't push too hard and allow the drill to do it's work. Be careful that the bit doesn't heat up too much, as if it does, it can melt the plastic. Use a piece of wood underneath to drill into  and for support.

Mark the entry point for the guide bit with a Sharpie to keep the hole centered. When drilling, don’t push too hard and allow the drill to do its work. Be careful that the bit doesn’t heat up too much, as if it does, it can melt the plastic. Use a piece of wood underneath to drill into and for support.

7. After drilling the holes, clean edges with a utility knife.

Unfortunately, the drilling process can leave behind some gnarly and an sharp piece of plastic around the edges. Use a utility knife to carefully trim away these scraps.

Unfortunately, the drilling process can leave behind some gnarly and an sharp pieces of plastic around the edges. Use a utility knife to carefully trim away these scraps and make for a clean fit.

8. Put a thin bead of silicone (or hot glue) around the rim of the vent.

Run a nice, thin bead of aquarium safe silicone around the lip of the the vent. Although the vents sport tabs that help "lock" them in place, the silicone seals it up and makes it permanent.

Run a nice, thin bead of aquarium safe silicone around the lip of the the vent. Although the vents sport tabs that help “lock” them in place, the silicone seals it up and makes it permanent. Hot glue can also be used, meaning the enclosure could be used sooner as you won’t have to wait for the silicone to cure.

8. Line up the vent and carefully pop it in.

Now, line up the vent and carefully pop it in. I like to do one side facing up and one side facing down. Use a moist paper towel to clean up any excess silicone.

Now, line up the vent and carefully pop it in. I like to do one side facing up and one side facing down. Use a moist paper towel to clean up any excess silicone. I put a vent in two opposite sides of the the container to allow for cross ventilation.

9. Newly vented cages stacked in a cluttered garage.

Several of the newly-vented enclosures. The large one on the bottom will be fitted with 4" vents.

Several of the newly-vented enclosures. The large one on the bottom will be fitted with 4″ vents.

 10. Modified cages in use.

A couple of my earlier enclosures, already occupied. The top enclosure does NOT have vents. For that one, I used a nail heated on a burner to melt the holes into it.

A couple of my earlier enclosures, already occupied. The top enclosure does NOT have vents. For that one, I used a nail heated on a burner to melt the holes into it.

A small note about ventilation: I find that the 2″ vents work very well with this size enclosure. However, after noticing some condensation collecting on the lid of one of my cages after moistening the substrate, I added a row of holes in the lid above the sphagnum moss to allow for a bit more airflow. The moss stays moist, but I no longer get the condensation. Still, I’ve only done this to one enclosure that housed a T that required more moisture.

 

Jamie’s Tarantulas…My Favorite Place to Shop!

Dealer Jamies

A little history…

For those who have read any of my blogs, you know that I tend to buy the majority of my stock through California-based vendor, Jamie’s Tarantulas. When I first made the decision to purchase some more tarantulas, I researched and read reviews on a half-dozen popular online vendors. Although there were a lot of great dealers out there (and I have since ordered from most of them), Jamie’s really stood out.

Not only did Jamie’s have the two tarantulas I was looking to purchase (a Chromatapelma cyaneopubescens and a Lasiodora parahybana), but she also offered feeder roaches and  a wonderful selection of enclosures for all sizes of Ts.  That one-stop convenience made all the difference, and after a couple email conversations in which she was amazingly helpful to someone new to the hobby, I placed my first order.

Since then, I’ve ordered 11 more times, and every single transaction has been amazing. During this time, I’ve purchased 25 tarantulas from her, and each and every one has arrived healthy and has thrived in my care. I also own 15 of her enclosures and plan to buy several more of her large acrylic cages in the future.

My latest order…

For the past several months, I had been scouring the internet in search of Phormictopus sp. purples. So, when I awoke one morning to discover that Jamie was advertising P. sp. purple slings in her latest newsletter, I was elated. My favorite vendor had a tarantula I had been desperately searching for for most of the year, and the price was much less than I had planned on paying. Wasting no time, I quickly snatched up three slings along with some moss and a water dish for one of my larger Ts.

As always, communication was fantastic, with Jon getting back to me immediately about my order. To date, I have never had a problem with either Jamie or Jon getting back to me quickly, and they are both always incredibly friendly and pleasant. They have even emailed after a shipment to make sure that everything arrived safely. That’s great customer service.

Although they offer several options, Jamie’s has the lowest shipping cost with a live arrival guarantee (LAG) at $17. With this option, the animals are shipped USP Priority and take 2-3 days to arrive. Her packing has always been fantastic (I once had Ts arrive safely even with temps in the single digits), so the extra day or or two has never been an issue. My package was shipped promptly, and it arrived in two days.

Once again, the packing was fantastic. The priority box was lined with foam insulation, and the items were surrounded by packing peanuts.  There was no room for shifting. In the winter months, Jamie always includes a heat pack, but due to the warm temps in my state, none was required for this shipment. The animals themselves were packed well with moist paper towels in small deli cups.

My box, just opened, from a recent order from Jamie's Tarantulas.

My box, just opened, from a recent order from Jamie’s Tarantulas.

This is the box opened and with the top layer of foam removed. I took the items out of the peanuts to better display them.

This is the box opened and with the top layer of foam removed. I took the items out of the peanuts to better display them.

My new acquisitions were in great shape and quite lively, and all three ate immediately after being rehoused. To date, all of my purchases from Jamie’s have arrived very healthy and ready to eat. It’s obvious that she takes great care of her stock. As my other tarantulas in the Phormictopus genus grow very quickly, I chose to house these in Jamie’s Juvenile enclosures.

One of three 1.5" Phormictopus sp. purple tarantulas I just acquired.

One of three 1.5″ Phormictopus sp. purple tarantulas I just acquired.

Jamie’s Tarantulas continues to be my favorite online vendor for all things tarantulas. Her communication is excellent, her shipping prices are unbeatable, the prices are always reasonable, and her packing is perfect. For folks new to the hobby, Jamie and Jon have proven to be wonderfully supportive and knowledgeable. When my wife ordered tarantulas for my birthday, they were incredibly helpful, even holding the order and timing the shipping so that it arrived on my birthday. Even my mother, a lifelong arachnophobe, now gets me gift certificates to Jamie’s store for holidays and birthdays. She’s become a trusted vendor for my entire family.

Click here for a list of reviews for Jamie’s Tarantulas.

H. incei gold Feeding Video

I recently acquired a trio of juvenile/sub-adult H. incei golds, and I immediately discovered what a truly beautiful and interesting species they are. These lively little dwarfs sport gorgeous gold and orange tones that make them wonderful display spiders. They also like to decorate their enclosures with copious amounts of thick webbing, making them one of the more prolific webbers of the species I keep.

One of my H. incei golds after being housed. Not the best picture, as the flash has washed out it's colors.

One of my H. incei golds after being housed. Not the best picture, as the flash has washed out it’s colors.

All three have been excellent eaters, snatching medium crickets from the mouths of their burrows with lightning speed. Although they were furnished with identical enclosures with cork barks and starter burrow holes dug into the substrate, only two of my H. incei golds adopted these as homes. Both of these two dug deep burrows before lining the opening of their dens in a liberal coating of silk.

The third built what I can best describe as a silken teepee over its cork bark hide. This specimen did not dig, but instead sits on the surface, sometimes beneath its hide, waiting for prey. It makes for a wonderful showcase animal, as it is more often than not visible. It is this T that is featured in the feeding video.

A modified Ziploc container. This H. incei dug a deep burrow; the circle marks the lower chamber.

A modified Ziploc container. This H. incei dug a deep burrow; the circle marks the lower chamber.

I keep my H. incei golds in the same temperatures as my other Ts; high 70s during the day with low 70s at night. I also keep the substrate for these guys on the moist side (not wet), by sprinkling water on the surface twice a week. They are currently eating one medium cricket every three or four days.

While feeding my surface-dwelling incei, I decided to get a bit of video with my cell phone. Below is a brief clip of my little guy snatching up a cricket. My apologies for the raucous soundtrack; it is covering up my daughter telling me a story in the background. 🙂

For lovers of dwarf tarantula species, or even just those who want a gorgeous, heavy-webbing T, the H. incei gold makes a wonderful pet.