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.
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 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.
There’s a mangled bit of cricket — abdomen and leg — visible in the mandibles.
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.
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?
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.
* Hush. This is NOT a poll.
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