Meadow keeping an eye on her friend. see Maude in the top corner of the tank?
One of Maude's skins she shed. They shed much like snakes, pulling their bodies out of the old skin.
I got Maude when I was 20 years old and she was 2 years old when I got her. I am 39 now. That is a lot of years together! I never expected Maude to be with me this long (not that I didn't want her to); but she was my first tarantula. I've had 4 other tarantulas through the years, even 3 at once for about 5 years. It's been an experience and I've learned a fair amount about these creatures in the years... but this is about Maude, so I should stick to writing about her.
Why did I get Maude? Well, for one, she is a cool pet for a guy. Being a metal head and all that, having a tarantula for a pet is kick ass! Also, they require much less attention than most other pets. So, in my crazy drunken partying days and not coming home all weekend... having a tarantula was ideal. I'd feed her on a Thursday, top up her water dish, soaking the Bounty or sponge and away I went. Even in my few days after coming home, in a tired and trashed state, she was still okay till I got myself together again.
What kind of spider is Maude? Not exactly sure anymore. I was told by the breeder who sold her to me but that was so long ago and I never heard of it before... plus, she has to be part of a sub-species name because all I remember him saying she's a "Peruvian". I did a search on the net but there's a lot of Peruvian tarantula types. Someone once said she just might be some kind of banana spider and I was rather offended by that comment.
Maude almost didn't make it home the first day. I went out to this farm near Stoufville, Ontario to pick her up. I took my girlfriend (at the time) along for the ride. It was a very hot summer day. We are driving out in the boonies trying to find this place and when I finally did, I was almost ready to not pull into the driveway. It was a pretty dilapidated farmhouse with 3 bummy looking characters up on the porch. It was a bit of a drive to get up to the house. The grass was probably 4 ft high on the front. The one guy takes us around back to this barn, cats are running around, couple dogs too. It's 30c and this guy has a sweater on! He's got long scraggly hair, very unshaven, dirty and looked like Leatherface's brother in Texas Chainsaw Massacre Pt 2. We go into the barn and towards this large steel door. He slides it open and within are dozens of tarantulas, just as many scorpions, even more lizards and quite a few snakes. My girlfriend is shaking with fear at the sight of all these creepy crawlys which were all contained. He shows me a few spiders and I finally pick Maude out for $40. He didn't want to part with her container and was moving her into a clear and much smaller container when Maude made a break for it... she got down to the floor and started a dash, my old girlfriend, in her fear, jumped and almost stomped on Maude. Luckily that didn't happen and I brought Maude home. Of course, Maude wasn't Maude yet... she didn't get a name for a couple days. Why Maude? Not sure anymore, just suiting I suppose.
I learned never to under-estimate any creature, great or small. If you think a spider is just a brainless creature that only lives on instinct, you are sadly mistaken. I set Maude up a nice home in a 20 gallon tank, where she still is today. I hadn't a proper cover and in my naive days, used a bunch of record jackets from my old 33's. I kept Maude's tank right by my bedside. Well a week or so goes by and I wake up to find the record jackets have been moved from one corner and of course Maude was gone. Funny that I woke up two hours earlier to get rid of the night before's beer and she was still in there, hanging out in her little skull house. The corner she got out from was opposite to my bed, which is probably good, because she may have just crawled into bed with me. I immediately shut my bedroom door, didn't inform any other family members home of Maude's escape and started a search. I did find her within minutes as I figured with the corner she got out, she went up the wall unit right next to that side of the tank. Sure enough, there she was on the shelf second from the top, hanging out on a paperback book, looking out at the room from this heightened view. I was relieved to find her but now it was a matter of getting her home again. I opted for the use of a small fish net instead of my hand. I was still new to this tarantula game but knew well enough she probably would bite me. So, home she went, and then I had a cover made for her out of plexi-glass. She couldn't lift it and she sure tried for weeks afterwards. Even the next number of years, as the plexi-glass sat, it would begin to curl up and when it did, she would see the light/gap and up she would go to that corner. I'd be able to hear her lifting that corner and there would be this tap noise as she played with it, trying to move it.
I've never handled Maude. Believe me, I have tried. She is not a very docile spider. She's not the meanest I have seen either or ever owned. She does give fair warning by lifting her front legs to show her fangs and it's up to the person owning the hand if they wish to pursue this any further. She will strike fast if provoked. I hear it hurts more than a bee sting and can give off flu like symptoms for 3 days after... providing you aren't allergic to the venom. Funny, in the spider world, it's the smaller the spider that packs the deadlier bite. There are far more dangerous spiders in the world than the Black Widow.
So, going on 20 years with Maude... how much longer do we have? She is obviously female and they can live up to 25 years. A male gets 5 years. I hope to get 25 out of Maude. While we have no connection in a physical bond like one would have with a cat or dog; she's been a part of my life for a long time. She's always there. She's good for conversation. She's good for keeping some people out of my house. She's entertaining to my cat, Meadow. Meadow has a bond with Maude that is fascinating and if I didn't see what I saw one evening I would never believe it.
Maude began a moult one afternoon while I was at work. I got home that evening and Meadow came running for the front door. She squawked at me in quite an excitable manner. She would then run to the bedroom where Maude was, she'd come back out while I was still getting my work boots off and then back to the bedroom. I finally get in the room and Meadow is on top of Maude's tank. Maude is in an upside down position and very still. One might think Maude was dying, but that is not the case. If Maude truly were dying, she would sit in a position with her legs tucked under her body. What Maude was going through, could certainly kill her. It is an extremely difficult time for them, exhausting and stressful. So, how did Meadow know what was happening to Maude? I mean, maybe she didn't know Maude was shedding her skin but she definitely knew something was happening to Maude. Spiders don't talk, they don't make any noise whatsoever. They are gentle creatures in their walk and make no sound that way either. The moult is an incredibly slow process and can take up to nine hours so there was no excitement in the tank in way of big movement.
Meadow spent the rest of the evening and throughout the night with Maude. She'd come to see me for a bit, I would or would not go in and check in on Maude. I slept in the other room that night and left those two together. Meadow spent most of the time right on top of Maude's tank looking down at her. When morning came and I stirred in the bed, Meadow came running into the room. She wasn't as frantic this time. As I got up from the bed, she raced into the other bedroom. I walked in to check on Maude and there was Meadow sitting on top of Maude's tank, purring loud, and there was Maude, resting next to her skin. They do this as a sort of defense I guess in their much weakened state (they are too exhausted to even crawl to safety after a moult) and if a predator were to come along it may be confusing to see two tarantulas sitting side by side.
I hope you have enjoyed my lengthy bit on Maude...
I do have a video I am attempting to post on here. I made it with my cell phone the night of her moult and you will certainly be able to see the excitement in Meadow.