Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tiger, tiger, burning bright.

This is a gravid female Tiger huntsman, the undescribed species we have maintained both at Melbourne Museum and at home since finding a single gravid female in 2006. Since then we have bred several generations of these superb spiders, but all are related as they originated from that one female. This individual presents the first opportunity to mix new genetics into the pool in six years. We found her near our home in Kuranda and had a male sent up from Melbourne to pair up with her. They mated on the 12th of January this year, and all appeared to go well.

If she produces an egg sac it will take around 40 days for the young to emerge. We intend to send some spiderlings down to Melbourne Museum if everything goes to plan.

We have been lucky and have found two individuals within the last year. The second actually fell out of a tree and landed beside me. It was bleeding from the stubs of three missing legs and had obviously just escaped the clutches of some sort of predator. She has now moulted twice and has regrown her missing legs, but she has still two more moults to go until she matures.

Since 2006, we are only aware of seven recorded specimens of this species. Unfortunately the specialist Australian Sparassid taxonomist that began work on them retired recently, which is why the species remains undescribed. I have been discussing this with other arachnologists in the hope that someone will pick it up.

For more information about Australian huntsman spiders visit Minibeast Wildlife's page.

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