TKC US Population Project: Poecilotheria vittata

Poecilotheria vittata. The Ghost Ornamental.

This one I am personally very excited about. The first “ornamental” tarantula that I fell in love with was Poecilotheria vittata, with their vivid whites and dark blacks. I wanted a female so bad but couldn’t find any in the states. I had to get a couple juvies on import. This was in 2017, over a year before the Sri Lankan Pokies were added to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). My juvies turned out to be all boys, but I was happy that I’d be able get some of their babies. My first male to mature went to Brandon Craig in Arizona and his mate there gave us a small sac, from which I have a four-spider communal who is thriving. One of my other males matured recently and the other passed away before maturing.

Just before the Sri Lankan Pokies were put on the ESA, Brandon offered to sell me two P. vittata females. I’ve named Wendy and Bonnie, from the early Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon, after girls whom befriended Casper. Right around that same time, Brandi Vance contacted me with a mature male P. vittata (whom Brandi had named Casper, he was a charmer!). I couldn’t believe how lucky I was getting! Fast forward to a year later, we have over 100 beautiful spiderlings from Casper and Bonnie!

Unfortunately Casper died of old age before Wendy molted in our care. He spent his last days stuffed between two beautiful ladies (all in their own enclosures, of course!), and he tapped to them until he couldn’t tap no more. Wendy has since molted and met with my other boy, whom I call Ghost. (Hopefully we’ll have another P. vittata project at the end of the year!)

The Spiderlings

The majority of the spiderlings yielded by Bonnie have been donated to the TKC for distribution via the TKC US Population Project. We also recently received spiderlings donated by James Fuentes for the TKC US Population Project. (Thanks again, James!!) We are very happy to announce that we have twenty-five sets of three P. vittata to ship across the United States!

How Can You Get Involved?

If you would like to participate in the TKC US Population Project: P. vittata, all you have to do is email us ([email protected]) and tell us about yourself. (Please don’t PM us with breeder requests.) Let us know what species you’ve bred, what other breeders you have worked with, etc, and be sure include your location. When we choose breeders, these are these are the main things we look at. Be sure to include anything you want us to know about yourself or your experience. If your request is missing information, you will be passed for this project. Unfortunately we do not have time to seek your information so it will be your responsibility to include it. We are accepting breeder requests for the next couple weeks. In mid-August, the breeders chosen will be emailed and we will begin sending out sets of P. vittata!

The Tarantula Keepers Coalition is forever grateful to all of our wonderful supporters. We absolutely love all the participation we are seeing. We hope to continue this program for a long, long time, and to expand it to other Poecilotheria species or Brazilian species if they get added to the ESA or are otherwise regulated. Through the TKC US Population Project, we can ensure species thrive in the United States. We are proud to work with so many like-minded people. If you are interested in participating in this leg, please be sure to email us.

If you have spiderlings or are expecting spiderlings and would like to donate them to the project, email us or PM us on Facebook and we will work out the details. We truly appreciate everyone who is participating! However a very special thanks to Brandi and James for donating portions of their spiderlings to the TKC. We are honored. We look forward to working with many other wonderful people in the community.

TKC US Population Project Update: P. fasciata


The Tarantula Keepers Coalition US Population Project is in full swing! (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here!) The first leg of the TKC US Population Project included Poecilotheria fasciata, which were bred from fellow TKC board members Quentin and Amy Salina’s male and our female. We each donated our half of the sac to be distributed across the United States.

A Big THANK YOU!

Firstly, we would like to thank everyone who has supported the TKC and shown interest in the US Population Project. We received an overwhelming response from breeders requesting to participating in the Poecilotheria fasciata project; more requests than we had sets of spiderlings to give. We wish we could send a set to everyone who submitted a request. Anyone who did not receive a set this time will remain in our records for the next P. fasciata project.

The Breeders

Most importantly, we want to welcome the breeders who were chosen to join the TKC US Population Project: P. fasciata. We are proud to work with this diverse group of breeders and look forward to many breeding projects. The TKC is very grateful for the support and enthusiasm we’ve seen already.

The following breeders were chosen for the TKC US PP (P. fasciata) :

  • Edward Addams
  • Corey Felter of Sinister Arachnids
  • Kelly Fornez of KF Invertebrates
  • Brian & Stephanie Griggs
  • William Hiett of Panhandle Arachnids
  • Caleb Hill
  • Cristoffer Hinshaw
  • Chris Minks
  • Natalee M of Natalee’s 8 Legged Journey
  • Jodi Newago
  • Zac Oddo
  • Aaron Singleton 
  • Brandon Tucker

The breeders were chosen based on a number of aspects. The main factors were location and experience. First, we identified which states in the US were lacking in P. fasciata via a survey in the Tarantula Community Facebook group. The location of the breeders was then looked at and we removed those in states that were covered. We then looked at experience. In the end, Amy ended up getting another half of a sac and we were able to invite a few more requestees to participate.

The Arrangement

Upon agreeing to join the TKC US Population Project, the breeders agreed to a few simple stipulations.

    • Each breeder paid for shipping of their set of P. fasciata.
    • Each breeder also agreed to donate half of any successful sacs, that they procure from the three P. fasciata, to the TKC for further distribution across the United States.
    • In addition, each breeder agreed to send any males they get from these three P. fasciata to the TKC once they mature, if the TKC so needs.
    • Furthermore, each breeder also agreed to let me mention them in this blog. However, this was not a stipulation, but an option. I want to thank all of our breeders for allowing me to give them credit. 🙂

 

The Tarantula Keepers Coalition will have be initiating the next leg of our US Population Project with Poecilotheria vitatta slings in the near future. Be sure to follow us on Facebook to stay up to date. Watch for the post announcing that we are accepting breeder requests and instructions on how to get involved.

As always, we want to thank our supporters. From the bottom of our hearts, your support means the world to us. We invite you to join us on Facebook in our TKC Duscussion group. We look forward to talking with you.

Ranil & the “Save the Pokies” Fund

Photo of Poecilotheria sp discovered by Ranil

There has been some speculation around our mission with Ranil P. Nanayakkara and the “Save the Pokies” GoFundMe. I am happy to post this information, to give the public further understanding and hopefully garnish further acceptance of the GoFundMe. This is all the information I could think of and compile regarding Ranil and the GoFundMe. If you have any further questions, PLEASE feel free to reach out to me personally to ask anything. I will do my very best to answer questions and provide any documentation I can get my hands on. (Contact info at the end of this blog.) Please have a look at each attachment and link.

Ranil has been acknowledged through awards such as the NRC (National Research Council), Sri Lanka,  Merit Award for Scientific Publication in 2014 and the Oscar & Jan Francke Student Research Award, International Society of Archeology in March 2018. More information about Ranil’s research is available on his ResearchGate.net profile. Below are some links to scientific papers that Ranil has published (dating back as far as 2011), just to show that he is heavily involved in mygalomorph research and has been for some years now. Ranil is not just a marine biologist, as I have heard people claim. The next edition of the British Tarantula Society will include more of Ranil’s work, and there are other species that Ranil shared with us recently that have yet to be described. Please check out these links to get a better understanding of Ranil’s contributions to arachnid science.

Below you will also find attached a picture of the contract to buy the land, both in Sinhala and English; included in the same document is receipt documentation from the landowner receiving the money, that was sent to Ranil. Next is the screen shots of the receipt of me sending it to Ranil – three transactions in all, totaling just over $4000. Please notice that I sent every penny; The TKC paid the fees. Next is screenshots of what the GoFundMe has force-withdrawn to me so far.

I believe that I misspoke somewhere and I cannot find it to correct myself. If we do not raise all of the money, the landowner has agreed to allow a partial purchase of the land. Although I cannot bring myself to be satisfied with anything less than everything, it is a relief to know that this won’t be all for nothing if we do not reach the entire goal. We have until June 15, 2019 to raise another $10,000. If we cannot reach our goal, Ranil will secure whatever percentage of land he has paid for. We will keep our supporters up to date on this effort.

If you review these documents and links and still have questions about Ranil or our efforts to help him purchase land in Sri Lanka, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Facebook or via email. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Links:

Discovery of the Critically Endangered Tarantula Species of the Genus Poecilotheria (Poecilotheria hanumavilasumica)

Courtship Behavior of Smith’s Tiger Spider (Poecilotheria smithi)

Some Notes on Ground Dwelling Mygalomorph Araneae Spiders of Sri Lanka

Tiger Spider of Sri Lanka

A New Species of Tiger Spider Genus Poecilotheria from Northern Sri Lanka

The Range Extension of the Critically Endangered Poecilotheria smithi in Sri Lanka with Notes on it’s Sociality

An Introduction to Common Spiders of Sri Lanka (a book distributed to Sri Lanka locals to educate them on their local arachnids and their importance in the ecosystem.)

A New Species of Tiger Spider from Sri Lanka  (Poecilotheria rajaei)

Current Distribution of Tiger Spiders Genus Poecilotheria, in Select Sites in Sri Lanka

The Taxonomy and Conservation Status of the Spiders Arachnida Araneae in Sri Lanka

Hitherto Unrecorded Species of Poecilotheria Tarantula from Sri Lanka

See also: Ranil’s Plea to the Tarantula Keepers Coalition’s Supporters

Attachments:
Original Land Contract
Original Land Contract

Land Contract Translated

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TKC Withdrawals
TKC Withdrawals

Ranil’s Message to TKC Supporters

TKC logo

 

A message from our biologist partner in Sri Lanka; to our wonderful supporters and any concerned individuals

Ranil's Message
Ranil’s Message to TKC Supporters

Please take a moment to consider what our friend is asking of us. If we can raise $7000 by the end of this month (we’re already over $1500!), and the other $7000 by May 20, we can help Ranil secure this land. Imagine a trip to Sri Lanka in 2023 to tour the research station and spend a few days out in the field with Ranil, observing these new species he has discovered. If we help him secure this land, it’s very likely that that could happen.

The TKC Helps Desertas Wolf Spider Project See Goal

 

TKC logo

We are proud to announce that last week we raised enough funds through charity auctions to help bring  PredatororPrey Online and Bristol Zoo Gardens’ Desertas Wolf Spider project to their goal. It didn’t take much convincing from Tom Patterson when he brought up the project at a TKC board meeting. Conservation and land preservation are something that we all care very deeply about. This project was something that Tom has been watching for a few years.

“I had first read about the declining isolated population of Hogna ingens (Desertas Wolf Spider) in a 2015 article of the British Tarantula Society Journal,” Tom explained.  “I’m happy to see Bristol Zoo Gardens ongoing efforts to restore the ecological balance of the Castanheira Valley where this beautiful critically endangered spider is found. It’s great to be able to help fund projects like this through the TKC, and I hope to work on many future conservation efforts moving forward.” Tom spoke for us all when he concluded. “I wish Bristol Zoo Gardens and all other parties involved the best of luck with their work in the on Deserta Grande Island and the future of Hogna ingens.”

A little bit about the Desertas Wolf Spider project, excerpt from Bristol Zoo Gardens’ website

The Desertas wolf spider (Hogna ingens) is endemic to Vale da Castanheira, Desertas Islands, Madeira, Portugal. Despite having an impressive 40mm body size and being the largest known species of wolf spider, very little is known about this species.

Even though some taxonomists have provided redescriptions, every other aspect of this remarkable species has remained unknown until recently. It was assessed as Critically Endangered according to the IUCN (Cardoso 2014) but is not protected by any international, national or regional legislation or agreements.

In the absence of any native terrestrial mammals, this spider is a top predator in its habitat. Although its major prey consists of other invertebrates, such as beetles, woodlice and millipedes, adults have also been seen predating on juvenile lizards. The latter, along with birds and mice, are the major predators of H. ingens, mostly during its juvenile stage. This is when the spider is most vulnerable to predators because in addition to its smaller size, it tends to disperse in order to find new shelters, thus maximizing the likelihood of encounters with potential predators. As spiders grow and find proper shelters, mostly below rocks but also in soil crevices, their inclination to disperse gradually decreases. It takes about two years for spiders to reach maturity.

The small valley where the spider lives is currently mostly covered by Phalaris spp. The colonization of this grass in the Vale da Castanheira was hidden for some years due to the presence of rabbits that grazed and controlled the spread of the plant. With the eradication of rabbits from the Valley in 1996, Phalaris lost its main predator and now proliferates. This grass appears to not only displace many native plants, but also many of the native animals. It covers the surface of the soil and rocks, making the microhabitats below the rocks harder to access for the spiders.

Five year objectives:

– To restore the ecological balance in the Castanheira Valley through reduction of Phalaris density on the assumption that a viable population of spiders will persist across the entire valley
– To analyze the genetic structure of the population, its habitat preferences and the potential consequences of climate change
– To maintain and breed a second spider population at Bristol Zoo Gardens
– To raise awareness of the importance and uniqueness of the spider to visitors at Bristol Zoo Gardens

The TKC often holds auctions for various fundraising endeavors. Each of the board members has very generously donated spiders from our own collections. We have also donated spiders from our shops. The community comes together time and again to raise funds and has shown great support for the TKC.  We will soon be announcing other preservation and conservation efforts that we are working towards. We welcome any suggestions or ideas from our supporters as well. 

To take part in the auctions, supporters are encouraged to join the Facebook group The Tarantula Community

To donate to the cause, click here.

Resources:
Bristol Zoo Gardens Desertas Wolf Spider Project
PredatorOrPrey Online
Photo credit: Emanuele Biggi