The other day, I went to my the little pet room (actually a refurbished maid’s quarters in my new unit) and found my little pet Suffix dead. He was in a position that didn’t indicate foul play or anything else wrong with him. As macabre as this may sound, it’s almost like a scene in a movie where the protagonist enters a room and sees that his mom/dad/whatever has passed away while sleeping peacefully on his/her/its favorite rocking chair.
Suffix was a Greenbottle Blue Tarantula (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens) from South America. His species is one of the milder ones among the New World Spiders. That means that though he can be skitterish and a bit nervous around strangers, his immediate response would not be to bite your hand if you came too close. His species is not the extremely docile type, unlike the Mexican Redknee (Brachypelma smithi), the kind you see on TV or in the movies being handled and placed in one’s pockets.
Suffix served as my conversation piece. That meant he was the type of pet who would elicit responses of varying extremes whenever he was mentioned. People either liked him or didn’t. I don’t think there’s any middle ground when it comes to people and spiders.
Days prior to his passing, Suffix had been refusing food. I didn’t find this odd, since he had refused food in the past. He would normally gobble up the cricket I threw in his cage – sometimes after a bit of stalking ala what we see on Discovery Channel. But a week or so prior to his changing skin, he would on a forced fast. He doesn’t just sit there doing nothing – he merely loses all interest in food. (Incidentally, you can’t keep crickets in the cage during this time, as the molting arachnid is very vulnerable when changing skins. When he refused to eat, I just thought it meant I’d have another old spider skin for a souvenir.
I was wrong and now he’s dead. Looking back, I can’t think of anything I could have done to change the outcome. He had water, food, a healthy environment, and everything else a spider could as for. There are just some things in life you can’t prevent – death and taxes.
In remembrance of his passing, here are a few highlights of our existence together:
- His is one of the more colorful designs God has ever made. Before I got him, I never thought spiders could be that colorful.
- He once or twice flicked hairs on me (read this to get a better understanding) when I annoyed him. I must have breathed some of the hairs in, because my throat was burning for a good part of the day.
- My beloved M has no one left to smack. Not that she has tried to smack Suffix.
- Tarantulas (or at least some like the Greenbottle Blue) have the messiest webs I’ve seen. Suffix lays his webs down and when he’s done, it looks like a big piece of hairy tissue paper has been dropped flat on the floor. Nothing like the fancy symmetrical webs we usually imagine.
- Suffix was the only spider left to me after my other spider, Prefix, escaped. He’s still in my old room somewhere. Let the new tenant beware.
- Suffix is really a she. I found out when I autopsied him her. Oh well.
- How about a Black Widow (latrodectus mactans) next time?
In memoriam Suffix.