Monday, 22 April 2013

R.I.P. Tibia

this is the only photo we have as every time we took the lid off her tank to try to take one she would hide.

Poor Tibia has gone to that big web in the sky. We have been half expecting it, really. You see it is very difficult to tell the sex of an immature spider. At between the ages of three and five a tarantula will become sexually mature. One always hopes they will be female as a female tarantula can live, ten, fifteen maybe up to twenty years--moulting again about once a year (immature spiders moult every 3 months, then 6 months then finally once a year). Bad luck if they turn out to be male as male tarantulas usually die within a year of reaching sexual maturity.

How can you tell? Well male spiders typically have considerably smaller abdomens than females and upon their final moult develop bulbous like protrusions that resemble boxing gloves as a place to store their sperm. Some can develop tibial hooks on their legs to help hold a female back so she can’t bite him whilst mating.

We have always suspected poor Tibs might be male as she had an abdomen the size of a grape (our other spiders of similar size have abdomens the size of walnuts) and her last moult we suspected her palps were enlarged, but we never saw tibial hooks. But to be fair, not all species of spider develop them. We got her fairly late in her growth cycle--she was a sub adult when we brought her home three years ago for my 40th birthday.

On the weekend we noticed she was sitting with her legs curled up underneath her--a sure sign of death. Don’t be fooled if you see a spider on it’s back--they are not dying, but moulting (shedding their skin.)  We tried to joggle the tank a bit and put some water in--both events would have sent her (him) running in the past as Tibs was a bit of a fraidy-cat. No go. Not a movement. Poor thing.

Every spider has their own temperament. Some are neat, some are messy. Some like to climb, some like to burrow. Some are chilled out and some are skittish. Some are aggressive, some are passive. None are passive-aggressive. Tibia was very nervous. Lifting the lid, pouring water in the tank, the cricket jumping about on the substrate made Tibia hide in a corner and suck her (his) thumb. OK, I made the last bit up because spiders don’t have thumbs--but you can bet if they did, Tibia would have.

We will miss Tibia, the first parting that was among us here in England. We have already said goodbye to Shirley and Charlotte from our U.S. days. We will think of Tibs fondly and recall the time we had to camp out for hours in the bathroom trying to coax her (him)  out so we could clean the tank. I will struggle to use the male gendered pronouns as we have always thought of Tibia as female, but wherever you are Tibs--I hope you can find a corner to hide in. 




  1. I looked for a copy of the pet death poem "Rainbow Bridge" to send you, but it really doesn't apply to a guy like Tibia. He wouldn't run to meet you as you crossed that bridge when you go. . . . .maybe we need to rewrite it as "The Big Hiding Place in the Sky" for timid souls like Tibs. Maybe Shirley McLaine and Charlotte will be there to coax him out of his shyness.

  2. I am very sorry for the loss of your Spider Babe...