Saturday, May 23, 2009

Head Games

All right, so yesterday was spider feeding day. I should have done it on Thursday, but I just wasn't up to it. Besides, they're all a little porky (like their daddy) anyway. I figured a day wouldn't hurt them.

The eight of them are different ages and sizes, so feeding time involves three different sizes of crickets: pinheads for the Brazilian Black spiderlings, two-weeks for the unmatured Mexican Fireleg, and three-weeks for Horrible Spider. I have the nice lady at the pet store put them all in one bag, then sort them out when I get home. Basically, I pour the right sizes into each little critter house and everyone is happy. Well, I suppose the crickets aren't, but nature is a cruel mistress. And I'm sure the Cricket God rewards them for their suffering.

With most of the spiders you simply plop the crickets into their terrariums and pounce-pounce-pounce they're gone. Sometimes it takes a day or so, but eventually everyone is eaten. Horrible Spider, however, has always been fussy about food. For a while he was all excited about silkworms, then one day he decided they were passe. Then he was into waxworms for a while, until I bought a big buttload of them, at which point he couldn't be bothered. Now we're back to crickets.

But getting him to eat them is a problem. Because he's an aroboreal tarantula, he spends all of his time in the upper branches of his terrarium. This makes it difficult to feed him, as the crickets tend to bounce around and get lost in the leaves. I used to toss them into his web, but that just freaked him out. And tarantula webs aren't really suited for catching dinner anyway, so the crickets almost always got out.

For a while I worried that HS wasn't getting enough to eat. But a few weeks ago I decided he was a big boy now and could take care of himself. So now I throw half a dozen crickets into his terrarium and let him have fun hunting. The crickets are almost always gone in a day or two, so I figure he knows what he's doing now.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon I gave him his crickets. Then a few hours later I sat down to do some writing, and saw that Horrible was hanging on the side of the terrarium having dinner. He had a big cricket in his mouth and was going to town on it. I left him to it and got to writing.

About twenty minutes later I noticed that HS was wandering around the tank. He had reached the front panel of glass, so his underbelly was clearly visible. And in his chelicerae (that's fancy talk for spider fangs) he had a cricket head. Just the head. With the eyes and antennae and everything still intact. He was just sitting there, showing it to me, like Salome holding John the Baptist's noggin on a tray.

After a while he continued his tour of the terrarium, carrying the cricket head with him the whole way around. There were still three or four crickets in the terrarium, and I swear it was as if HS was waving the head around and taunting them. I could just hear him: "See what I did to your friend? You're next! Bwahahahahahahahahahaha!"

It's disturbing to find that one's children are not as polite and charming as you've been led to believe. HS has always been a very quiet spider, minding his own business and not getting at all uppity when I have to clean his house or even pick him up. He usually just sits on my arm, waiting to be put back again.

Now I have to rethink this. Any spider that carries a cricket melon around for fun must have a sadistic streak, like those little kids at the end of Hostel 2 who play soccer with the dead girl's head. And I don't think he eats them. I've found a couple of heads in the terrarium before. But I thought he just didn't like them. I mean, I like shrimp, but I don't go around munching on the heads, right? Now, though, I suspect he leaves them around as trophies, which is a little unnerving. It's like I have Ed Gein in a terrarium.

As I write this HS is working on his web. He's climbed up into the corner and is being all, "Look at me! I'm fascinating! I make silk!" I have a feeling that soon he'll start tapping on the screen, which usually means he wants me to open it and bring him out for a little visit. I don't know, though. I think it might be time for military school.


amrit said...

I just (nearly) peed myself laughing. No bindi for him. sam and I are taking a break--staying at a resort in Phoenix for a day or two.

Miss Quoted said...

It's like I have Ed Gein in a terrarium.

Best line ever.