I am giving my only amblypygid the honor of being the subject of the first post on The Mantis Menagerie. Amblypygi are an ancient and strange-looking order of arachnids. Among their members are the longest-legged arachnids in the world with leg spans exceeding two feet! My amblypygid is not one of the truly massive species but still has a leg span that exceeds a foot. My specimen is an adult female from west Africa, and I purchased her at a Repticon show in November 2018.
The most obvious characteristic of amblypygi are the large raptorial “arms.” Technically, though, those arms are not actually arms, but rather, they are called pedipalps and are the same type of structure as a scorpion’s pincher.
When I purchased her at the show, she was carrying an eggsack. I wanted to see the baby amblypygids hatch, but unfortunately, she decided to eat the eggsack. Since she had been well-fed and had no great need of the nutrients in her eggsack, I am guessing that she knew it wasn’t going to hatch. I was sad, but I plan to find her a male eventually, breed them, and try again.
Care of these animals is extremely easy, as long as basic tank construction requirements are met. These requirements do not necessitate a high-quality glass tank or special lighting. Indeed, I keep my amblypygid in a five-gallon bucket with a vertical piece of styrofoam. To mammal or reptile owners, this may seem like a cruel setup, and you would be right for most mammals, reptiles, and some amphibians. Invertebrates are different. First, their brains are not as complex as the aforementioned vertebrates. This means they cannot be bored from a simple enclosure, and as long as they can follow their instincts, they will be content with the setup (food is a different matter sometimes). Second, many of the aforementioned vertebrates require ultraviolet light to make vitamin D for regulating Calcium and therefore bone growth. Invertebrates do not have calciferous bones and do not have these requirements. Finally, amblypygi like the dark. Some species are even troglophilic, and therefore, in captivity, they are perfectly content sitting in the dark. My amblypygi is hard to get out of the bucket. She darts back and forth over the styrofoam, and it takes two hands to corral her a get her to crawl on one hand. Now you can see that the bucket setup, while possibly sounding like a cruel enclosure, is not at all cruel if used for the right animal. I mentioned a vertical piece of styrofoam in the bucket. The most important part of an amblypygi enclosure is having something for the residents to molt on. Molting is an essential process in the amblypygid’s life. In order to molt properly, amblypygi must have a surface they can grip well and is at least vertical if not leaned backward a little, so the amblypygi can hang from the surface and stretch its delicate legs. This is not a problem for most species as they never get large enough, but make sure your amblypygid can fully stretch its legs in the enclosure without hitting the walls. One final thing to watch with molting is humidity. There needs to be a moist substrate, such as coconut fiber, to maintain high humidity. Once you have a secure enclosure, a substrate to hold moisture, and a good place for the amblypygi to molt, your setup is ready.
The daily, or more like weekly, tasks associated with pet amblypygi include misting to keep the substrate wet and the humidity high, feeding crickets or roaches, and removing the occasional droppings.