Caution! This post contains a giant Tarantula.

We were able to set up a time-lapse camera to film Harriet, our Rose Hair Tarantula, molting a couple of weeks ago. Harriet has been our family pet {one of them} for nearly 12 years, and while she has molted about six times, we have never actually seen it happen.

Since she began molting around 10pm, we put a light on her tank, and set our time-lapse up to run overnight.

Harriet eats crickets. She is a menacing predator, but once the molting process begins, she is stuck on her back. She is basically a prisoner of her exoskeleton, until she is able to shed the old one. Imagine being stuck in a pair of pants that is way too small, inching them off, a little at a time. Crickets wait for this moment. They will attack and eat a spider stuck mid molt. Because of this, I joked with Vegas that it would be horrible if our time-lapse captured the cricket attack, instead of the molting process. Just to be certain, I double checked the tank before I went to bed.

Sure enough, there were three crickets, all lined up behind a rock, just waiting. They looked like they were waiting for a good movie to start.

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I ran to Vegas’s room, woke him up, and we began extracting the crickets one by one. Harriet was just frozen on her back the whole time, and I kept wondering if she had any idea of what was happening, or if she was just annoyed that her molting was being disturbed by tweezers and lights.

After we were sure she was alone in her tank, we set the light and camera back up. The resulting video is one of my favorites, ever. I love how she rubs her face at the end, as if to say ‘ew! Get it off!’ Even if you don’t like spiders, the process is amazing.

The crickets we removed from her tank were tossed out into the back yard, and I think they are pretty happy with it, they’ve been singing ever since!

Researching curriculum, Shelley

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