This BLOG is my online journal for my Brachypelma Hamorii Spiderling named, Arogog. This BLOG will be daily updated with my new observations and actions.
/s/ Alfonso Faustino
As many of you know, recently, within the last year, I became a full-time actor auditioning for film and television roles. My finances, time, and energy are now focused on establishing my acting career in Los Angeles. I commute back and forth from San Francisco to Los Angeles for auditions and booked gigs; hence, I need to jet-off at a moments notice from these locations to get to my auditions or booked-gigs — I live and travel light in order for me to have this lifestyle.
Notwithstanding my crazy traveling schedule and life-style, I still wanted a pet — I love all animals: land, see, and air — mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. I’ve had them all from a green iguana to a Holstein thoroughbred. These animals are high-maintenance and need constant care. For example a dog. I would love to adopt another Retired Racing Greyhound, but my acting schedule just doesn’t allow me to adopt one. If I get called to fly out somewhere for an audition from my crib in Beverly Hills or San Francisco, who will take care of my greyhound at a moment’s notice?
It is in my nature to take care of another being…so, I did some research, and I decided to focus my need of caring of another being to that of a tarantula; hence, I am a beginner-level tarantula owner.
I spent four months or so researching scorpions and tarantulas; and, after my research, I decided to purchase a tarantula: Brachypelma Hamorii: Common Name: Mexican Red-knee.
(Photo Credit: George Chevolosky. Source: Wikipedia.)
You can do your own research on this wonderful animal. This was my choice for a tarantula pet; because, they are clean, docile, slow moving, patient, venom is equivalent to a bee sting, terrestrial, and visually appealing to me (so many vibrant colors and color combinations).
They have an easy eating schedule ~ once or twice a week under normal conditions; however, during pre-molt, molting, and post-molting, their eating schedule drastically decreases from their easy eating schedule.
The Brachypelma Hamorii has the reputation of tolerating human handling; although, I have no interest in handling any tarantula except for situations that require me to handle them. In my non professional tarantula opinion, it’s just a matter of time before a tarantula will bite its handler; although, it is known that tarantulas are expressive in their moods — if they don’t wanna be handled, they will let you know either by flicking the hairs off their abdomen (urticating hairs that can irritate your skin and eyes (New World Tarantulas)) or take on a threatening posture: fangs exposed, two front legs, and two palps raised in the air that states, leave me alone — if you don’t, I will bite you with my big fangs!
Tarantulas, like a pet fish, are observation and display pets; hence, they are not pets that need nor want to be cuddled or handled.
Tarantulas satisfy my primal interests in aggressively taking down live prey and eating the prey while it is alive. I am so intrigued by the tarantula’s power and watching them attack and eat a live cricket, cockroach, mice, and so on.
I also like their colors. Blue is my favorite color; hence, as I gain more experience with tarantulas, I’m gonna look for a tarantula that has blue hairs in its genetic make-up.
For now, the Mexican Red-knee’s colors are vibrantly attractive and captivate my visual interest.
So, for this stage of my life and tarantula experience, the Brachypelma Hamorii is the best tarantula pet for me.
Before I acquire my Brachypelma Hamorii, I must, first, build an enclosure that satisfies the life-style of my tarantula.
I’m been viewing YouTube personality, Petko: The Dark Den. I learned about tarantulas from him. He lives in Croatia. Now, it was my time to take all the information I learned from him and put it to use.
So, 10-December-2019, I went to Tap Plastics; and, I purchased:
- custom-cut acrylic panels (14″x 14″x 14″)
- acrylic glue
- acrylic hinges
- acrylic knob
- acrylic 3/16″ drill bit;
I went to the nursery to purchased:
- potting soil
- Hydroton Clay Balls;
I went to the pet store to purchase:
- Coco Fibre Substrate
- Cork Bark Panels
- fake plant
- Cork Bark Hiding Tunnel
- 15″ tongs;
then, I went to an artists’ store to purchase:
- artist’s paint brush
at the hardware store and knick-knack store, I purchased:
- various plastic containers
- foil turkey baking pan
- plastic straws
- wooden kabob sticks
- Dremel bits;
and, a partridge in a pear tree! Merry Christmas, all.
Now, back to my DIY Tarantula Enclosure…I went to Petko’s The Dark Den, to learn more about the way I needed to build my enclosure for my soon-to-be-acquired, adult male Brachypelma Hamorii. Yes, it is important to build the enclosure before you acquire the tarantula.
Thanks to Petko, I got it all done!
Check it out boys and girls — I made my first acrylic adult-size tarantula enclosure!
Oh…with some help of my HAM buddies: WD6DZS (Wayne Lake) and NX6E (Leonard Tom).
My very first DIY acrylic tarantula enclosure. Thanks, again, Petko, for your awesome video at The Dark Den. You inspired and motivated me to build my Brachypelma Hamorii adult-size enclosure; and, you taught me, so much, of the beauty, power, and demeanor of many different tarantula species — especially, about the Brachypelma Hamorii.
(Petko uses a combination of glass and acrylics; I prefer 100% acrylic; because, the curing time for all the panels to secure is 10 minutes; glass panels need aquarium-type silicone, which takes 24 hours to cure — I’m not that patient.)
It’s not perfect, but it will get the job done; and, I’m certain my tarantula will love his new crib…it is a mansion for him, and he will impress many female tarantulas — he will have no problems being the ladies man.
I learned a lot about building this enclosure; and, I will take all that I learned during this build, and I will apply them to my second build…should I decide to acquire a second tarantula.
Do you see the cork-bark tube-like structure in the foreground of the picture, supra?
It is hollow — ~10″ in length and ~4″ in diameter. I filled it in with substrate; so, my soon-to-be adult tarantula can dig and burrow. He can use the end, which leads to ~ 7″ deep of substrate for his private living quarters; and, he can come up to the opening to ambush prey that I will put in for him.
If he wants, he can build another opening for his exit.
When he decides to come out for a drink or just to enjoy the view, he will enjoy the viewing or climbing up the cork-bark wall.
If he wants to just hang-out outside on the ground, his paws will feel the soft, cushiony substrate.
I put a fake plant to hold water for him. I will provide him with water that has 100% water molecules — no faucet water that has chlorine and other treatments. He will get pure untampered water just like what he gets from the rain out in the wild. I will also put a water dish in the left rear corner just in case he doesn’t want drink off the fake plant.
The potted soil will provide him with humidity; and, I provided vent-holes on the side and top panels for circular and cross-ventilation.
He will be so happy with his crib!
The next thing to do, before purchasing my adult male Brachypelma Hamorii, is to purchase crickets to feed my Brachypelma Hamorii. I want my crickets to have a couple of days of getting gut-loaded with vegetables, oats and grains, and fruits. That way, they will provide my Brachypelma Hamorii with tasty nutrition.
Every morning for the past 25+ years, I eat my veggies and fruits for breakfast.
I put them all in my blender and slurp it all up. This holds me over for the entire day; then, I will eat dinner if I’m still hungry.
So now, I will include my breakfast routine to the feeder-crickets.
I want the crickets to be fat, juicy, tasty, and nutritious for my adult-sized male Brachypelma Hamorii.
Now, onward towards finding my adult-sized Brachypelma Hamorii.
This BLOG will be updated as I progress with my Brachypelma Hamorii.
18-December-2019, @ 1307 Hours PST:
I contacted a couple of tarantula suppliers on the Net, and they won’t be shipping until after 6-January-2020; because, the Christmas Holidays pose possible delays, and the weather can be cold; hence, these two events create safety and health risks to the transporting tarantulas.
So, after visiting several stores, I finally found one that is clean, housed their animals well, and had a good selection of animals; but, the only Brachypelma Hamorii they had were small spiderlings.
I really wanted a larger juvenile or adult-sized male Brachypelma Hamorii: >=2.5″ DLS.
Well, I thought about it, and I decided to accept the challenge of raising a spiderling; hence, I purchased the biggest spiderling the Reptile Room had.
I figured the reward of raising and overcoming the challenges of this Brachypelma Hamorii spiderling to a big adult Brachypelma Hamorii would be a wonderful and educational experience.
Mind you, I am a beginner tarantula owner; and, the tarantula community doesn’t recommend beginners to start with a small tarantula spiderlings nor slings. Raising slings and spiderlings take a lot of work, and spiderlings and slings have a high death-rate — many spiderlings and slings do not make it to adulthood.
I selected this Brachypelma Hamorii spiderling; because, out of all the ones I viewed, this Brachypelma Hamorii spiderling preferred to stay out in the open rather than hiding under the cork bark.
Now, in my non professional opinion, I guessed this little spiderling figured out, through all the human contact, there was nothing to fear. This spiderling was hatched and raised in a safe and domesticated environment and not in the wild; hence, this spiderling didn’t have any life-threatening experiences requiring a hiding behavior.
So, I concluded this Brachypelma Hamorii spiderling was the best choice for me.
Other tarantula spiderlings at the Reptile Room all hid under their coco barks.
Brachypelma Hamorii tarantulas, adults, slings, and spiderlings, use hides or create burrows to have privacy, safety, comfort, and ambush their prey. It’s natural and common, especially, in the wild.
Shea, an employee and tarantula owner at the pet store, mentioned that this Brachypelma Hamorii spiderling will get bigger and get its color in the next molt or so.
It came with its own enclosure, which was a Critter Box. Since my Brachypelma Hamorii is a small spiderling, the enclosure I built was too big.
Shea mentioned to keep the Brachypelma Hamorii spiderling in the Critter Box; and, after its next two molts, I can move the spiderling to the adult-size enclosure I made.
When I got home, I presented a cricket to my new family member. My Brachypelma Hamorii spiderling ignored the cricket.
My instincts tell me, the Critter Box is too big for my little Brachypelma Hamorii.
I will keep close observation on this…I felt my Brachypelma Hamorii should have taken down the cricket I presented.
19-December-2019, @1030 Hours PST:
My Brachypelma Hamorii spiderling still isn’t eating, and he seems to be hanging out at the top corners of the Critter Box enclosure.
I find this odd; because, the Brachypelma Hamorii is a terrestrial, which means, this species prefer staying on the ground.
Hanging out on the top corners of the Critter Box enclosure could also mean my Brachypelma Hamorri doesn’t like the substrate — I find that the substrate looks to be too moist, and the Critter Box enclosure is too big.
After viewing my Brachypelma Hamorii’s underside, I am 90% confident that my spiderling is a male; hence, I will name him Arogog.
Arogog is the name of the Acromantula in the Harry Potter book, Chamber Of Secrets.
In the event that Arogog is a female, I will name her Mosag; the name of Arogog’s wife.
19-December-2019, @ 2337 Hours PST:
Arogog still hasn’t eaten, and he has been at the same spot for the entire day and night. His abdomen looks a little slim, but nothing to worry about — it’s still a healthy size in my non professional opinion; but, I’m concerned about his behavior of hanging out at the top of the enclosure and not eating. I don’t find this behavior to be a positive sign.
I consulted with the Trinity for guidance, and asked Him, “should I move Arogog to a smaller enclosure?”
He confirmed my instincts with a strong, yes.
Tomorrow, 20-December-2019, I will start the process to build him a smaller enclosure.
20-December-2019, @ 2347 Hours PST:
I moved Arogog to a smaller enclosure; and, he was so calm; he moved calmly, without any signs of aggression, such as urticating hairs or taking on a threatening stance exposing his fangs, into the new small enclosure I prepared for him.
My mum and sister took me to a knick-knack store called, Diaso, and I purchased a plastic container with a lid for 97 cents.
I drilled holes in the container and lid for circulation and cross-ventilation of air.
I filled it with a 50/50 mix of potted soil and coco fibre.
I put enough substrate for Arogog to dig a burrow should he decide.
Now, Arogog spends his time on the ground; because, I created a new substrate for him; and, he loves it!
I put his smaller enclosure into the big enclosure for humidity and some his visual stimulation — well, really, for my own visual stimulation. I don’t know about the way tarantulas see their world with their eyes.
Once he moved to his new enclosure, I fed him one cricket, and he ate it! About four hours later, I fed him a second cricket, not thinking he would eat it; but, to my surprise, he ate the second cricket! A couple of hours later, I put in the third cricket, and he pounced on it, and Arogog chomped away on his third cricket.
Would their be a fourth? Yes! He ate the fourth cricket!
How about a fifth cricket? Nope! He was full, and he refused the fifth cricket:
Arogog ate four crickets today; and, I am so jazzed!
His tummy is round and fat like it should be; and, he is not stressed out at all — he just hangs out on the substrate instead of on the top corners of the enclosure.
21-December-2019, @ 2315 Hours PST:
Arogog ate two more crickets in his new smaller enclosure. I’m relieved. I have the feeling he might be going through a pre molt. I will determine by the changes in his abdomen and feeding patterns.
22-December-2019, @ 2349 Hours PST:
Arogog ate a total of six crickets within the past two days after moving him to a smaller enclosure.
Today, he refused the cricket I presented to him. He definitely satisfied his appetite during the past two days…he might be going through pre molt; or, he might be just plain full or both — full and pre molt. I will monitor these two events.
It’s amazing that this little guy…
will grow up to be looking similar to this big girl…
and, I will be part of that experience.
22-December-2019, @ 2236 Hours PST:
Arogog didn’t eat today — nothing to worry about. He is still full from the 6 crickets he at over the past two days.
Adult tarantulas have a slow metabolism; tarantula experts also include slings and spiderlings also have a slow metabolism, and the experts recommend a once or twice a week feeding. My common sense tells me that slings and spiderlings need to eat as much as they can to grow fast. In the wild, they want to get big fast to fend off and intimidate potential threats — just my common sense input. So, I’m gonna offer Arogog a cricket every day; and, if he eats it — great. If he doesn’t eat it, I just remove the cricket from his enclosure.
Oh, by the way…do you see that black spot on his abdomen?
It has gotten bigger during the past four days of having him. I’m guessing that he is growing up, and he is beginning to show more of his adult colors — I wouldn’t be surprised if his next molt will show more of a new black abdomen, like this older spiderling, pictured below: Photo Credit: Fear Not Tarantulas (tarantula distributor).
For the record, I have not engaged with this distributor at any level — I am merely giving this distributor a photo credit.
23-December-2019, @ 1237 Hours PST:
Today, I re-housed Arogog’s enclosure, based upon the information I gained from Tom Moran: Tom’s Big Spiders.
He recommended a tight pack and moisturizing the bottom layer of the substrate.
So, Arogog calmly moved from his enclosure to a holding area while I re-housed his enclosure.
I removed the substrate and placed it in a cup; then, I put some of the substrate back into the enclosure and saturated it with distilled water. I packed it down tight. I put the next layer of substrate, but I didn’t saturate it with distilled water; I kept it dry, and I packed it down on top of the saturated bottom layer. I did the same for the final top layer.
I made starter burrows at all four corners of Arogog’s enclosure just in case he wanted to burrow down into the moist first layer substrate.
Arogog calmly went from the holding area to his newly designed enclosure. I will monitor his behavior to see if he is adjusting well.
He is just hanging out at the top level substrate. He looks like his is in pre-molt phase. Check out the round abdomen — it is big and the exoskeleton seems really tight, as seen with the presence of a shiny spot in the picture, below.
I will continue to observe his physiological changes and behaviors; at this time, they are indicating pre-molt.
According to Tom’s videos, I’m guessing Arogog is ~ 2 – 3 years old. Certain species, such as, Brachypelma Hamorii, have a slow growth rate.
I can’t wait for his first molt with me — of course, he had many molts before coming to me.
23-December-2019, at 1620 Hours PST:
I measured Arogog’s DLS as best I could with his slight bends on both legs. My measurement came up to ~1.7″ DLS with slight bends — I can imagine his DLS could be 1.75″ if the two diagonal legs were fully stretched out.
I did some search on the Internet, and I found several breeders mentioning their Brachypelma Hamorii spiderlings were hatched in 2017, and they measured, 1/2-3/4″ DLS.
Based upon the distributor’s measurement, compared to Arogog’s ~1.7″ DLS measurement, my guess is Arogog’s age is ~2.5 – 3 years old; hence, I will give is DOB my purchase date minus 2 years; hence, his DOB is 18-Dec-2017.
Wow — the tarantula breeders weren’t kidding by their assertion that the Brachypelma Hamorii is a slow growth species.
24-December-2019, at 1007 Hours PST:
Arogog refused a cricket. He hasn’t eaten for two days…I’m not concerned. He ate six crickets over the past two days.
I will mist his enclosure just in case he is thirsty.
24-December-2019, @ 2202 Hours PST:
Arogog’s first Christmas with me. He refused another cricket. I misted one corner of his enclosure. He has been hanging at one spot of the enclosure for the entire day after I presented the cricket to him and misted the one corner of his enclosure. I also put a water dish and fake plant in his enclosure.
I still suspect he is going through pre-molt based upon my observation of him: not active, not eating, large shiny abdomen.
25-December-2019, @ 0930 Hours PST:
I observed Arogog kicking the coco fibre substrate into the bottle-cap filled with distilled water; then, after several minutes, he went into the bottle-cap and dragged a piece of wet coco fibre out of the bottle-cap. He waited several seconds and dragged the water-logged (saturated) coco fibre under the fake plant and began to suck on it. I couldn’t observe the sucking motion cuz his booty is facing me, but I did observe the saturated coco fibre captured in his fangs, and I saw the movement of his fangs, the same movement as he does with a cricket in his fangs, before he retreated to the fake plant. So, I am 99% confident, he is drawing water from the coco fibre under the fake plant.
Arogog’s Substrate Preference:
It seems that Arogog’s substrate preference is 100% dry. When the substrate is dry, he is not pressed up against the wall of his enclosure like the picture, below. (I can sense his discomfort in this picture — the substrate is too moist for his liking.)
When the substrate is 100% dry, he is not up against the wall, and he appears to be happy, as shown in the picture, below.
So, based upon this information, I will not mist Arogog’s enclosure. Instead, he will have his water bottle-cap containing a mixture of coco fibre and distilled water in a mud-like mixture for him to get his water intake.
I really love this little guy…he has never flicked his hair at me; he has never assumed the threat-position; and, he always moves in a calm manner into his catch-cup while I landscape his enclosure.
I really like that he stays out in the open even when I approach his enclosure or enter his enclosure to adjust it or feed him — most slings and spiderlings tend to hide — Arogog seems confident and seems to feel safe around me since he doesn’t bolt nor hide from me.
I feel like he trusts me, and he knows my routine with him.
When I had my three Beta fishes, in time, they would all face me and swim towards the front panel of their aquariums to greet me with or without food.
I would put my finger on the outside of the glass aquarium panel, and they would follow my finger as I moved it. It was our way of bonding.
Wouldn’t it be neat if Arogog showed his own way of acknowledging and bonding with me? Maybe, like walking over to the front door of the enclosure whenever I visited him.
For now, we seem to be working together really well in our newly-found relationship. He is really a marvelous being, and I enjoy his presence in my home.
6-January-2020, @ 1500 Hours PST:
Arogog ate again; and, he ate his first mealworm. I crushed the mealworm’s head and left it in Arogog’s enclosure. I went out to play tennis; and, I saw the mealworm in his mouth when I returned home at around 1730 hours. I’m glad he ate.