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The Happiest Spider in the World

SATURDAY, AUGUST 7, 2021   |   POSTED BY MICAH GARTMAN

 
     
   
  Happy dog (left). Sad dog (right).  
     
 

A key component to great pet parenting is being able to gauge your pet's emotional well-being. Dogs, for example, are reasonably open about their state of mind. "Happy" and "sad" are easily distinguished. A cat's mood presents more of a challenge to decipher but purrs and headbutts are common indicators of contentment.

Tarantulas, on the other hand, do not have tails to wag or biscuits to make. Long-term observation is required to determine which spider behaviors are "happy." Once established, further investigation is needed to test these behaviors against commonly understood sources of unhappiness. Sources include getting socks from a drawer, opening mini blinds and refilling water dishes. In the past, these actions triggered a run-and-hide response from Sydney Sue.

 

 

 

     
   
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I was reluctant to rehouse Sydney Sue based upon our experience during his last move: he climbed the wall in a state of panic and didn't return to the ground for over a week. But in the four months since he moved into his new abode, I have concluded with absolute certainty that Sydney Sue is the happiest spider in the world! He has been a completely different tarantula since the very first day. He loves exploring all the new nooks and crannies in search of the best places to sleep. The only time he crawls up the walls is when he's stringing silk tripwires to ensnare would-be intruders.

The new enclosure is providing him with a tremendous amount of positive enrichment and stimulation. There are new smells to sniff and obstacles to discover. He's also had to memorize the layout of his new surroundings which provide a healthy and constructive activity.

 

 

 

     
   
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In the wild, tarantulas stay inside their burrow most of their life. Since the move, Sydney Sue has been inside his burrow only one time. He spends all his time out in the open showing off his gold stripes and fuzzy butt. This is the ultimate sign of spider comfort and happiness.

We decorated his new enclosure with several plants and grass. It's the first time Sydney Sue has ever seen a plant and he spends a great deal of time investigating each leaf. I suspect he believes the air plants are "his people." I have to admit there is a striking similarity.

 

 

 

     
   
     
 

Exploration is tiring work so Sydney Sue takes long naps to rejuvenate his strength. A few weeks ago, I wasn't able to find him. After several moments of frantic searching, I finally spotted him sleeping between the forks of the driftwood on top of his burrow. He's impressively camouflaged. I'm amazed at how he's able to squeeze into such a tight spot.

 

 

 

     
   
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Equally impressive is how large Sydney Sue has gotten. With so much space to stretch out, he seems to have grown by leaps and bounds. He's still a gentle giant—with a distinct emphasis on "giant." He's as big as my hand!

 

 

     
   
     
 

Sydney Sue continues to amaze us every day. He constantly disproves the notion that tarantulas are emotionless bio-machines. He's a happy little critter whose only concern in life is when his next meal will arrive. Which reminds meI need to order crickets.

Continue staying safe and taking care of each other. Give your pet a big hug and don't forget:

Be nice to spiders :)

 

 

 

     
   
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Our Summer Vacation

On another note, we visited the Hatari Wildlife Park in Weimar during our 2021 staycation. It's a drive-thru safari that's home to several endangered species along with a variety of African deer and other exotic animals. My favorite, by far, was this ridiculously cute dama gazelle. He was shy at first but eventually had his entire head inside the car! I wanted to bring him home but the park prohibits removing the animals :(

 
     
   
     
 
 
     
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Sydney Sue's Forever Home
INTRODUCTION
Meet Sydney the Tarantula
 
     
 
 
     
 

Spiders need love, too.
IUCN and CITES classify 37 species of tarantula as threatened or critically endangered.
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