I think it’s offi­cial now — either solifuges like me, or there’s some­thing sub­stan­tially wrong with me.*

Yes, there was another one in the hall at work this morn­ing, a good-​​sized one too, and it was very hale and quite peppy. I was able to con­tain it using my trusty candy jar, but since it was so active there was no way I’d be tip­ping it onto my desk to try to get it posing.

So I popped over to the pet empo­rium and scooped up a small plas­tic locking-​​lid aquarium/​terrarium … and, well, a few more things too. The images that fol­low can be right-​​clicked for view­ing full scale.

Solifuge exploring its local environment...

I decided on the gaudy aquar­ium sub­strate because its color lets the arthropod’s body show much more clearly. The blue lines on the mat are one inch apart, to give you an idea what I mean by “hale” and “good-​​sized” when I refer to solifuges. Here the arach­nid is explor­ing its local envi­rons. To the right is a bit of egg carton.

...and deciding on a place to settle down.

…and here it is again, bur­row­ing a lit­tle. The small brown insects are feeder crick­ets. I bought them along with the mini-​​terrarium and sub­strate. They came with the egg car­ton section.

I think it might be worth try­ing to see if I can keep this crea­ture alive for a while. (I said I think there might be some­thing wrong with me.) I’ve been observ­ing it for a lit­tle while now and have learned that solifuges seem to use their legs pri­mar­ily for bur­row­ing, but will also pick up larger peb­bles in their mouth­parts, car­ry­ing them out of the way in a fash­ion sim­i­lar to the behav­ior of ants.

Given the size of the abdomen on this spec­i­men, I think it ate com­par­a­tively recently — that, or it’s loaded with eggs — and so might not want to have much to do with the crick­ets for a while. The crick­ets, for their part, don’t seem par­tic­u­larly alarmed at the arachnid’s pres­ence; when they get near enough to brush against it and it moves, they freeze, but apart from that they don’t seem to know it’s there.

Curiously enough the solifuge seems to avoid rest­ing where the crick­ets con­gre­gate. Maybe they give it the creeps.

Anyway, depend­ing on how things go I might need a name for this lit­tle guy/​gal. I can’t keep call­ing it solifuge or arach­nid or arthro­pod. Anyone got any ideas?

UPDATE: Wahoo! It ate a cricket!

That’s actu­ally impor­tant. If the arach­nid refused to eat I’d have to let it go. That is obvi­ously not a prob­lem now. More pics below.

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There’s a man­gled bit of cricket — abdomen and leg — vis­i­ble in the mandibles.

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Not much cricket left to go here. The insect was half-​​devoured when I noticed what was going on; in all I think it took the solifuge about thirty sec­onds to eat everything.

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Here and in the next shot you can see its mandibles’ front-​​and-​​back as well as up-​​and-​​down motion. The solifuge did this for a few moments after it ate the cricket. Cleaning its jaws, maybe? Or just work­ing down the last crunchy bits?

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Well, it looks as though I know now whether it’s even fea­si­ble to keep a solifuge. I sup­pose the next ques­tion is whether they can be leash-​​trained, and taught to attack on command.

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* Hush. This is NOT a poll.

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