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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Off topic -- The tarantula on my balcony today!

Click for larger view

I'm posting this for the bug hounds that have loved the scorpion pics I've shared in the past. My husband was getting ready to heat up some absolutely delish leftovers from a fantastic resturant we ate at last night when he looked out our kitchen window, went pale, and began to back out of the kitchen.

Naturally, I thought there was yet another scorpion in the kitchen, but this time it wasn't. He
pointed out the window and sitting on the balcony was an absolutely beautiful specimen of tarantula, the only one I've ever seen in the wild.

I went out and took a look at it and naturally wanted to get it off my balcony because I have
sprayed a lot of poison out there and didn't want it to die. I picked up the phone and called our leasing agent and she said to please not kill it (which I wouldn't have done anyway), but to catch and release it on the mountain just behind our apartment. They eat the scorpions and black widows that we have such a problem with, so they are really beneficial.

An old boyfriend of mine used to have several tarantulas, so I'm very familiar with how to catch them and avoid hurting them. I put her in a ziploc container and then transferred her very gently into a large glass mixing bowl for photos. She was very docile and pretty cooperative.

We then took her up to the mountain out back and released her. I really wanted to get some footage of her walking away and knew I'd have to be quick because she'd find a new home under a rock very quickly. They don't move all that fast, but there are tons of loose rock on the mountain. Well, for some reason I'm having trouble with the video setting on my camera, so I didn't get the little clip I wanted, but she was very graceful as she climbed across the rocks and right under a large rock about 15 feet away.

Also, I haven't mentioned this, but we have a resident coyote that likes to come down off the mountain and hang out in the courtyard in the wee hours of the morning. A neighbor of mine one building up got a pic of him standing out in the courtyard, just as at home as can be, but I can't post it online because it isn't my photo to publish. It's really fantastic to finally get some glimpses of the local wildlife aside from those damn scorpions.

I have larger photos of the tarantula, if you would like to see them just shoot me an email. I think it was Milo that had mentioned that the next time I trapped a scorpion I should put something in the container for a size reference . I grabbed a quarter and put it in with the tarantula so you can get a bit of a feel for her size.


  1. It made me think of Richard Pryor's Mudbone-Little Feets bit. " A big motherfucking tarantula this goddamn big crawled up arm, around my neck, I almost shit on myself. I tried to mash him. When I lifted my he was gone. I said "Miss Rudolph, Rudolph, please tell me what happened to the tarantula". She said "that ain't any of your goddamn business, but if you don't bring me that turkey, you will see him again". That did if for me. When I left there I'm thinking turkey. There's a big pretty bird in my goddamn mind. I don't care if the bitch is in Timbuktu she got a turkey coming.

    Okay, I'll stop before I end up putting down the entire bit.

  2. What a pretty girl!

    I should post my wildlife pictures from the creek behind my apartment.

    I was viciously attacked by a gigantic crayfish a few weeks ago.

  3. Rufus,

    I love Pryor!

    Maragon, please do post them. I'd love to see!

  4. Beautiful, but I hope nobody minds if I admire from a respectful distance.

  5. I like spiders despite a "healthy respect" (read: paralyzing fear).

    I've seen some good sized huntsmen at our place, and more than a few redbacks (black widows for you people who don't know how to speak Australian). Among the worst places to encounter a giant spider (none of these are made up):

    - On the dinner table.
    - Above the dinner table.
    - In the shower. With you. Directly above your head on the roof the moment you wake up.
    - Perched on the headrest in the car you need to drive home in. When you've already gotten in and closed the door.
    - On the inside window of the drivers seat of said car. In the dark, which is why I didn't notice her until I turned the headlights on.

    I've never seen a scorpion in the wild, which irritates me: scorpions are among my favorite creatures.

    On the subject of wildlife: Our cockatoos are back! Last summer we fed a pair of them as they passed through, and this year they've remembered our location and came back to eat our birdfood again. I suppose when you live more than 80 years you've got to have a good memory, but it's still impressive how they learn and remember. They're beautiful birds.

  6. Quasar,

    If I knew that I was going to encounter it, then I'd love to meet up with a huntsmen. If not, it would scare me into a stoke.

    Interesting that you should mention cockatoos. I started this comment and left in the middle of it to eat dinner and what should be on tv but a documentary on Australian cockatoos! You guys have a magnificent bounty of beautiful birds.

    What type of cockatoos are you feeding?

    There was a certain type they were talking about in the documentary that can live to be 90 years old and the males do this interesting thing where they go get a stick and drum on the nest. No one knows why they do this exactly, but the female watches very intently and if she is pleased with his drumming she comes down off the top of the nest to join him and he shreds his drumstick and it becomes part of the bedding of the nest. They were black and had a red area on their heads. Do you know what type those are? Those were my favorite.

  7. Quasar,

    I just looked it up, the kind I was referring to are palm cockatoos. Interesting creatures, they are.

  8. Nah, 'fraid we don't have any palm cockatoo's. The kind we feed are the most common: Sulphur-crested cockatoo's. We also occasionally have black cockatoo's drop by, but they are very timid.

    Oh, and we have 5 pet cockatiels, all of which we aquired by accident (2 were wandering our yard, 1 was spotted down the lane, and the other 2 we got from a friend who wanted to get rid of them).

    Australia sports an awsome range of birds, especially parrots. At my place, the most common birds are Rainbow and Scaly-Breast Lorrikeets, Pale headed Rosella's, crested pigeons and Noisy miners. Less common birds that we see around include a pair of blue kingfishers, who have a home in a treeborne termite nest on our block, a whole family of babblers (about 5-6) who seem to love our veranda and a pair of bronze-wing pigeons (very timid birds, but they're starting to get used to us).

  9. We have tarantulas here but you don't see them very often. I see way too many Brown Recluse spiders, because of my job. I have been bitten by brown recluse spiders at least 3 times, luckily for me I have an immunity to their poison. The bite barely even swells.

  10. That is neat and cool and creepy!

    We've got black bears and cougars and wolves, but nothing icky here in MA.

    Count me jealous...

  11. NM,
    I don't really know if I should envy you or quasar. As a biologist, I do, but on the other hand I'm quite happy that I'll probably never come across a dangerous animal where I live (well, recently a hunter was killed by a wild boar quite close to my flat in Berlin)
    The most exciting animals we have are wild boars and foxes (in the middle of the city...) This summer a fox was actually raising its puppies under my boy friends lab.

    There is only a single spider species that is slightly dangerous in Germany (coming from the south - fucking climate change...) But anyway a lot of people are afraid of spiders. Even the extremely small ones.

  12. Tilia wrote This summer a fox was actually raising its puppies under my boy friends lab.

    Just after college, I lived at home for several months. When I moved back in, my parents told me a creepy story about screams coming from the woods around our house at the time. They said it sounded like someone stabbing a baby with a knife.

    I was jaded and thought "Yeah, sure...". One night a few days after that story, I was awake and playing video games in my room next to the open window. Sure enough, the screaming started - and it was scary as hell. Short and very human-sounding, it was exactly like they described it. A woman or a baby getting stabbed...

    We found out that vixen (mother foxes) often make the sound when calling to their young. I never would have believed it could sound so realistic - the phrase "blood curdling" is appropriate :)

  13. whateverman,
    I once heard some kids crying from a little swamp close to my parents house. I rushed there, nearly climbing the fence that is there to keep people out and only realized in the last moment it was just my cat that had an argument with another one...
    Animals are not as far from humans as some believe ;)

  14. Quasar,

    How lucky you are to have such beautiful birds around you!


    I saw a brown recluse just the other night in our mail room. It scared the Jebus out of me.

  15. WEM,

    I love bears. I'm pretty neutral about wolves and the big cats, but bears are a whole different story. I'll trade you one tarantula for one bear.

    If you can throw in a moose, I'll throw in 2 scorpions.

  16. Tilia,

    While I wouldn't want to be bitten by it, the tarantula wasn't poisonous. The bark scorpions we have are, though.

    I am way more afraid of small spiders than I am the large ones. I can keep my eye on a large spider much better than a small one.

    My husband grew up in Germany and I was asking him what kind of creepy crawly things they had there and as usual he didn't remember. I'm kind of fascinated by the different species of animals that different countries have.

    I've never seen a fox in the wild. That's a cool story! Did your boyfriend get any pics of the baby fox?

  17. WEM & Tilia,

    I gre up in a quasi rural area in the southeast US. I remember calling my mother out into our front yard as a kid and asking her to listen the 'baby crying' and being very upset and telling her we HAD to go rescue the baby! I can't remember what animal she said was making the sound, it might have been a fox, but it became a common sound around the neighborhood.

    I never saw whatever animal it was, but it makes sense now looking back on it.

  18. JIM STAFFORD - Spiders And Snakes

    I remember when Mary Lou said
    "You wanna walk me home from school"
    And I said, "Yes, I do"
    She said, "I don't have to go right home
    And I'm the kind that likes to be alone
    As long as you would"
    I said, "Me, too"

    And so we took a stroll
    Wound up down by the swimmin' hole
    And she said, "Do what you want to do"
    I got silly and I found a frog
    In the water by a hollow log
    And I shook it at her
    And I said "This frog's for you"

    She said, "I don't like spiders and snakes
    And that ain't what it takes to love me
    You fool, you fool
    I don't like spiders and snakes
    And that ain't what it takes to love me
    Like I want to be loved by you"

    Well, I think of that girl from time to time
    I call her up when I got a dime
    I say, "Hello, baby"
    She says, "Ain't you cool"
    I say, "Do you remember when
    "And would you like to get together again"
    She says, "I'll see you after school"

    I was shy and so for a while
    Most of my love was touch and smile
    Til she said, "Come on over here"
    I was nervous as you might guess
    Still looking for somethin' to slip down her dress
    And she said, "Let's make it perfectly clear"

    She said, "I don't like spiders and snakes
    And that ain't what it takes to love me
    You fool, you fool
    I don't like spiders and snakes
    And that ain't what it takes to love me
    Like I want to be loved by you"


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