Charlotte joined our classrom in August as a gift from a school board member. She is a Red-Rumped Tarantula, Brachypelma vagans. Although the species is native to Mexico, we’ve seen them throughout Belize. We were told she was 3.5 years old when she came to us and had just molted. We were told, and read, that she should be fed several crickets about once a week and that she would molt twice a year. I was surprised to come in the day after Thanksgiving to find that she had molted sometime during the past 48 hours. I retrieved the molt (top) and placed it in a specimen jar.
Six crickets began to disappear from her habitat within hours of delivery. I started to worry that perhaps she needed more to eat and began feeding 8 crickets and a few mealworms, then 12 crickets……
I came in Thursday morning to find Charlotte lying flat on her back near her burrow. Occasionally, she moved a leg but appeared to be dying – exactly as all I had read about molting described. I removed all the crickets I had just given her, no easy task, and we checked on her from time to time. By 1:00 she had completely emerged from her old exoskeleton (bottom) and was resting back in her burrow.
I think she’s growing.