Sunday, July 31, 2005

Everything I know about sex I learned from my tarantula

Karen mated her Avicularia metallica pair today, her first breeding effort thus far (not counting Jake), and I am happy to report success. This was a quiet male, not a Mr. Tappy-Toes like Karen's P. metallica. However, judging from the impressive menschlichkeit* of today's performance, he must have been tap-tapping away and setting up his sperm web. If tarantulas were humans, sex would go something like this. The man goes off into the bathroom, does the deed, and comes back into the bedroom with a loaded turkey baster. You're thinking: yup, not very romantic. Or perhaps you're thinking: eeeww. But you'd be wrong. Yes, the male ejaculates long before having sex. He does it into a sperm web, and then he charges up his pedipalps (anterior appendages, quite near the fangs) with a nice hot (cool, actually) load of spunk. Intercourse requires that the male insert his pedipalps into the female's epigynum. Without, mind you, getting eaten first. Karen placed our studly A. metallica into the female's cage and that bad boy crawled right on up to her. He signaled his interest by thrumming her web. She ran to the other side of the cage. He gave her a bit of space but never let up on the thrumming. Soon enough, he had her in the mood. He got beneath her and was so confident he didn't even bother to hook her fangs. (Males have hooks on their forelegs just for this purpose.) Then he started to work his pedipalps closer, closer, making small circular motions over her twitching epigynum. Okay, it wasn't twitching. I made that part up -- but only that part. One pedipalp found its way home, probing deeper. Deeper still. Then, no slouch he, he came at her with the other pedipalp! "Faster," she moaned -- Sorry. Bottom line, he did the deed and Karen got him out in one piece. She'll let him charge up another sperm web, and maybe bring them together again next week. For today, he's back in his cage, toweling off. I dropped a cigarette in his cage -- a reward for a job well done. D. *Manliness, for everyone out there who is neither Jewish nor Gabriele.


Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Actually, Menschlichkeit means "humanity", "manliness" would be Männlichkeit.

I had a spider bungee jumping from the ceiling while I sat on the privy some days ago. So not fun if you're arachnophobic.

7/31/2005 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Yiddish, Gabriele, not German. If menschlich = manly (and it does, at least in my parents' version of Yiddish) and Yiddishkeit = Yiddishness, then I figured menschlichkeit = manliness. Jewish math.

7/31/2005 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Anduin said...

Creepy post. Not a fan of spiders myself, it is still interesting to read about their mating habits. Didn't know they did that webbed sperm thingy.

8/01/2005 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Kate R said...

TMI. That's vivid writing, but oh, my.

8/01/2005 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

AA: Creepy? This from the woman who shaves her cat like a poodle? Just kidding. Yeah, here's the deal: they have to create a sperm web since they can't reach their business (sorry, my wife's not here, and I don't know the technical term . . . but it sure ain't penis) with their pedipalps. So: sperm goes onto web, then they pick it up in their pedipalps, and do the deed.

Hi Kate! I've had lots of experience writing spider porn (there's a hot love scene in my novel between a giant spider and a giant fly -- do you think the RWA would approve??) Thanks for stopping by.

8/01/2005 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

Spider porn. Now there's something with a unique twist. Must be a market for it somewhere!

8/01/2005 05:46:00 PM  
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Perhaps the most controversial subject in the captive husbandry of tarantulas is the issue of "how to sex a tarantula". bet basketball Over my 30 years of keeping tarantulas alive in vivaria, I must admit to having been fooled many times both by the spiders themselves and by my well-meaning colleagues or so called "experts", who claimed to have discovered some foolproof method of accurately determining the gender of individual tarantulas. sportsbook Well, if those techniques were indeed "foolproof", then I must be nobody's fool, since they have proven to be about as (but no more) accurate as flipping a coin. Heads is female, tails is male. The author has heard everything (including a few you may have missed!) about how you can accurately determine the sex of a living tarantula. From "feeling" for the abdominal bulge (try THAT one with a King Baboon or Usambara Red!) to comparing the sizes of the chelicera, march madness legs, abdominal girth or the you-name-it. This includes being told, "the bigger one is the female" or male, as the case may be, until my face is bluer than a Haplopelma lividum' s legs! Invariably, the "female" will molt out with tibial hooks and palpal emboli and the much needed "male" that you raised from a spiderling will continue to molt out every year with nary a sign of maleness. All this from the prophets of theraphosid prognostication, who SWORE that the spider must be a male because its "such and such was so and so". Alas, was there no True Science in the muddled forest of Pseudoscientific methods and outright chicanery??

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