For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

Videos: YouTube

Friday, April 29, 2011

Pet Shop / Exotic pets

Exotic pets, tarantulas in particular, seem to have gained a lot of popularity here and there is apparently a lot of money to be made breeding them. Although these species are not from South Africa, we do have others here and as I was at the pet shop the other day, the owners allowed me to take some pictures. KEEPING A TARANTULA Keeping a tarantula can be very rewarding. They are beautiful, elegant creatures, individual and utterly charming. The ground species of tarantula are generally the most docile (although there are notable exceptions). The most popular of the ground dwellers is undoubtedly the Mexican red knee (Brachypelma smithi) which is becoming somewhat harder to obtain. Two good alternatives are the Zebra tarantula (Aphonopelma seemanni) or the Chilean Beauty (Grammostola cala). These are both readily available from dealers and both are fairly docile species although the former can be skittish. They are both very attractive. Among the many arboreal spiders the Avicularia avicularia (the South American pink toe) is one of the more popular. These are extremely pretty and very docile although they are fast moving at times and can jump quite high when surprised. Whichever you choose you will enjoy owning a tarantula. Housing Ground Dwellers — a fish tank 12 x 12 x 12-inch with a lid is adequate—I stress WITH A LID since tarantulas are great escapologists! Cover the bottom with VERMICULITE well wetted —this is the best medium for tarantulas since it is completely germ and mite free and holds humidity. A heating pad placed under the tank and controlled by thermostat will keep the tank to the correct temperature (around 75°F for most ground dwellers—slightly warmer for some species and more humid). A spray of the tank daily will keep the humidity at the correct level. Housing Arboreal Spiders — the tank and stratum need to be the same as for ground dwellers but remember that these spiders do climb so a tank which is higher would be preferable. The spider will need twigs or the like to suspend its arboreal nest. (You can compare the size of this one to the mans hand.) Feeding — you cannot overfeed a tarantula since it will only eat what it needs. Feeding consists of crickets, locusts, cockroaches etc. It will also eat giant mealworms sometimes and most tarantulas will take a piece of raw fat-free beef occasionally. Fresh water should ALWAYS be available. A small low dish either filled with soaked cotton wool or purely open water will suffice for most spiders. Arboreal spiders prefer to drink from the tank walls or the twigs so that a spray of their tank every day is most essential. Loners — spiders should ALWAYS be housed alone as they will fight and even kill one another. If you have a large enough tank you can insert a divider thereby enabling you to keep two in one tank. They do not need a great deal of space. Most spiders do not travel more than four feet in a lifetime. Moulting — a web is spun to make a mat upon which to lay to shed the skin so that is a first sign. The spider will usually not have eaten for some few weeks, even months, before the moult and the bald patch on the abdomen will turn blue-black. The spider will flip over onto its back—DO NOT TOUCH IT — but make sure there is no live food in the tank which can disturb and even nibble at the moulting spider. The moult itself can take several hours and once complete the spider will flip back over onto its feet. It will be very tired for several days and you should not touch the spider dyring this time or, indeed, until it starts feeding again. Offer food after three or four days but do not worry if it does not immediately snare its prey. If you treat your tarantula correctly and with tender care, it will be with you for many years, the females living the longest. Another important thing to remember is that tarantulas neither like nor do they need bright lights. The spider's home should be in a darkish corner making sure that the sun does not pass over the tank. ALWAYS keep the tank out of reach of toddlers and young children. Information supplied by: (There was also this beautiful Iguana. This one is about 2 1/2 feet in length and not a pet for children as even the man had difficulty holding and controlling it.)

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