Velvet Worms are in the US!

Hello all, I have some very exciting news! I have been able to bring a brand new invertebrate into the hands of private US breeders for the very first time; Epiperipatus barbadensis, or the Barbados Brown Velvet Worm! I am super stoked to have received these. If you are wondering how in the world these made it to the US, let me tell the story…

Back in October of 2018, I was perusing Arachnoboards like I often do, and I came across this awesome thread started by Mackenzie Harrison (or @AbraxasComplex as he is known) on his velvet worm vivarium. I was immediately blown away by the incredible vivarium, but even more so by the creatures that were living inside it; Epiperipatus barbadensis, or Barbados Brown Velvet Worms!

Prior to seeing this thread, I had only known velvet worms existed from a very short bit in which they appeared in a graphic novel (about insects, coincidentally), but I never researched them further. However, as soon as I saw these on Arachnoboards I made sure to claim a spot on the not-yet-formed waiting list for these with a few other enthusiasts. One slight problem however: Mackenzie was in Canada. Seeing this, me and two other enthusiasts, M.S AKA @schmiggle (M.S are his initials, as per his request) and Carter AKA @Cresto on Arachnoboards created an email thread between us and started researching the legality of these incredible creatures. Not long after we we’re delighted to find that Epiperipatus barbadensis is completely legal to import and keep in the US! The USDA, USFWS, and APHIS had no problem with these, so we started talking with Mackenzie about importing and costs. Carter and M.S did most of the footwork in garnering information, and I am incredibly grateful for their support and help. Unfortunately, the original price for velvet worms was much higher than we had been let on to believe, so in February-March of 2019 things kind of dropped off.

However, in April I came across a few more people wondering about the legality of keeping/importing velvet worms in(to) the U.S. I talked with Carter and M.S about sending them the info we had already found. They agreed, and a few months later I started gathering email addresses from those interested in joining the Velvet Worm Club of the USA, which was the semi-official name I gave to the loose assemblage of enthusiasts interested in velvet worms. I started an email thread between all of us, as well as Mackenzie, and soon after we started having some more serious conversations about pricing and importing.

Before this however, in July, I had been talking with Mackenzie about possibly importing some other invertebrates with another friend. That fell through, but in the process I discovered the price on the Epiperipatus barbadensis had dropped considerably. Ecstatic, I sent a message to Carter and M.S about the price drop, and that was when (in August) we started bringing other velvet worm lovers into the club and started working on the finer details of importing.

The only catch was that the easiest way to get the velvet worms from Canada legally was to go through a broker. We didn’t know much about brokers, but Mackenzie suggested we use Reptile Express, which not only takes care of the legal issues at the border, but also has an agreement with FedEx to overnight shipments of live reptiles/invertebrates through them. Mackenzie even offered to be our intermediary between Reptile Express and us since he had worked with them before on an export to Europe, which made our lives much easier. Thanks Mackenzie!

Now, with 8 of us spread across the US in on the import, shipping wasn’t exactly going to be cheap to send the velvet worms to each person individually, at least not with Reptile Express. While brainstorming, we discussed sending the velvet worms to maybe one or two trusted people within the club, who would then ship out to each person via overnight shipping; this would help keep our import costs down. After some more discussion, we decided this would be the best option. However, with 8 people spread so wide across the US, we decided on two shippers, one for the West Coast and another for the East Coast. I was the only person on the West Coast with shipping experience who was available at the time, so I volunteered to have part of the import delivered to me and then send it on to 3 other people.

With the shipping details taken care of and all our payments in, the date the package was to be sent to Reptile Express was set for September 25th. It would then be flown into the US, inspected, rerouted, and delivered to the two intermediary shippers on the 26th. The other shipper and I then shipped out the majority of packages via overnight mail on the 27th, except where bad weather required the packages to be held for a few days. By the 30th, everything had been delivered. All the while the velvet worms did fantastically! They ship very well, and to my knowledge there were no losses. I took great care, with much help from my brother, who is amazing at packing things, to ship them out with the utmost care however. Thank God for styrofoam insulation!

I received my 3 baby velvet worms about 1″ long and got them into their cage on the 26th, because I was one of the intermediate shippers and therefore received them early. Insofar they seem to have done very well, but they are exceedingly secretive; I have only seen them twice since I’ve received them! Food continues to disappear, however, so I’m hoping they are feeding and growing. With good care and a lot of prayer, I will hopefully have a colony of these established in a few years, and then be able to continue to spread these amazing creatures amongst enthusiasts in the US invertebrate hobby. Pictures below!

Two babies when I was unpacking them.
Epiperipatus barbadensis are capable of greatly expanding or shrinking their bodies, similar to millipedes; the above photo shows what they look like when they shrink down; this photo shows how they look when they expand.
And here is the enclosure; a 10″ x 10″ x 5″ Sistema enclosure with a 1 1/2″ hole covered in microscreen in the lid. Despite this, a kind of fly similar to scuttle flies has still managed to get in. *sigh*

The substrate is made up of ABG soil with a New Zealand Sphagnum moss covering portions of the substrate. Two medium pieces of cork bark provide hides. I mist regularly in the evening to keep the humidity up and stimulate evening activity, as Epiperipatus barbadensis seems to be more active in the evening after it rains. I keep the temperature up by placing the enclosure next to my Rosy Boa cage which has a heat mat under it, as these fascinating creatures prefer a temperature in between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Lastly, I feed small crickets every two weeks, as well as medium Porcellionides pruinosus “Powder Blue” isopods in between the cricket meals.

And those are my new velvet worms! If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment and ask. I have also attached Mackenzie’s care sheet for this species for those who would like to know more.

And last but certainly not least, I want to give a huge shoutout to those who helped make this happen; thank you to Carter and M.S for getting the ball rolling in the early days of our velvet worm fascination; thank you to Mackenzie for being so incredibly helpful all the way through the process (he smoothed out all the problems for us and made sure each velvet worm arrived safely even though it was an international operation!); thank you to those who already had this species and contributed to the pool of husbandry knowledge; and thank you to each and everyone who helped bring these into the US by ordering some; I couldn’t have done this without you guys!

That’ll do it for now; I’ll see ya next time!

Thanks,

Jessiah

A lot of new additions!

Howdy y’all! Ready for another rip-roaring ride through my new additions and collection updates? Be sure to hold onto yer hats! Yeehaw!

5 2i-3i Pterinochilus murinus spiderlings. I bought these as 1st instars, and then they molted in a friend’s care while I was gone on vacation. These have been an absolute pain to get a photo of, as of course they are fast, making it difficult to take the lid off the cups they are in to get a clear shot. Hopefully I can get some photos of them soon.

1 3i Aphonopelma seemani. This is technically my brother’s, but I take care of it for him so…

2 2i Caribena versicolor spiderlings. Unfortunately one did not make it, but the other seems to be doing very well.

Yes, I know the substrate is a little too wet. There is plenty of ventilation on the sides and top, so it should dry out soon.

5 2i Aptostichus icengloi (teensy, but my first non-tarantula mygalomorphs! Yay!)…

I’m trying out different enclosures to see which is best for raising small slings.

1 juvenile Aphonopelma eutylenum (terrible lighting on this picture, I know)…

7 Mixed adults/sub-adults of Eublaberus posticus

These are much prettier and darker than the previous E. posticus I had, so I’m glad I was able to trade for these from a friend! The adults are much smaller than usual, just like my Ivory-Head Roaches (see below), so I hope extra heat and food will get them back to their usual size.

And a bunch of stuff about a saltwater aquarium that is pending…

Unfortunately my Scolopendra heros arizonensis pedeling that y’all didn’t even know I had died, likely from a lack of food. I’ve been super busy as of late, and wasn’t able to feed it enough.

All of my Blaberus giganteus matured, and so I put a heat pad on their enclosure to try and get them to breed; then one of them died and was subsequently cannibalized, and I’m not sure why. Anyway I took off the heat pad and started feeding them more (they seem to have a need for a rotting leaves as well, even as adults), so we’ll see how it goes with them.

Beautiful creatures to be sure.
Current enclosure, but there is more rotting leaves in there now (and the sprouting carrot has now been torn apart by my Eublaberus. sp. “Ivory” roaches).
Freshly molted specimen. Only one came out with slightly wrinkled wings.

The Eublaberus sp. “Ivory” are doing well. The adults are molting out much smaller then when I first got them (about half to a 1/3 of their usual size), despite the temperature’s staying roughly the same. I have added more food and moved them up on the rack, so hopefully they will start growing and molting out larger again.

Enjoying a piece of a fish food block that are made for when you go on vacation; terrible for fish, great for roaches!

I am on my last Therea petiveriana adult. All the rest have matured and died; it took me 15 of them to get 1 female! Anyway I know she laid at least one oothecae, so here’s to hoping she lays a few more and I can raise the next generation!

Last adult female with an ooth. Likely one of my favorite roach species. I only wish the adults lived longer.

And just for fun, a picture of an adult female Bothriocyrtum californicum a friend let me hold! These are a lot smaller than I thought they would be; this specimen had only about a 2″ leg span.

A note on handling: I do not recommend handling spiders in most cases due to the risk of bites/falls and stress to the spider, especially when the novice is doing it. In this case, the spider was already out and being handled by my friend, who is the local expert on all things trapdoor spider, and he offered to let me hold it. This species also has inconsequential venom and prefers to run (very slowly) rather than stand and fight. Considering these are almost never seen outside of their burrows, I accepted the offer. The blue bracelet on my arm is about a 1/2″ thick for reference.

Anyway, that’ll do it for now! Hopefully I’ll be getting in some very special inverts soon, but you’ll jes’ have to wait on that one, ya hear?

Many thanks,

Jessiah

Invertebrate Club of Southern California…

Yes, yes, I know, I didn’t post for July. That month was crazy! Anyway, here is the post that was meant for July. Another for August coming soon(ish)!

Hello invertebrate enthusiasts! In a previous post I talked about how I had gotten my Blaberus giganteus, and mentioned that I would talk a little bit more about that in the next post. Well, that post has arrived!

Back in September/October of 2018, I was perusing through Arachnoboards, and I came across some posts from an old invertebrate club, SCABIES (SCABIES: Southern California Arachnid, Bug, Invertebrate, Entomological Society). As I live in Southern California, I immediately looked into joining the club. However, after some more research, I discovered the club went defunct back around 2010. I was disappointed, but then realized there was still quite a few SoCal invertebrate enthusiasts on Arachnoboards and Roach Forum. After some thought, I decided to launch a new club on the 1st of January 2019. The ICSC (Invertebrate Club of Southern California) was born!

It turns out there was a lot more than a “few” invertebrate enthusiasts in SoCal, and we held the first meeting in February! Since then, we’ve held monthly meetings where we’ve discussed a myriad of topics concerning the invertebrate hobby, gone to reptile shows together, and we are currently gearing up for our second club collecting trip. We also have scored some sweet trades and deals between members! The diversity of interests amongst members is also boggling; everything from whipspiders to tarantulas, scorpions to isopods, true spiders to millipedes, centipedes to primitive spiders, slugs and snails to true bugs, roaches to aquatic invertebrates. And still the list goes on!

Anyway, we are now successfully past the 6 month mark, and looking forward to a bright future! I am working on our website, which I will link to when it is finished. If you are interested in joining, please leave a comment with your email address and I will get back to you as soon as I can!

That’s all for now!

Thanks,

Jessiah

Lose 1, Gain 2!

Hey all, I’ve got a quick collection update, which includes good news and bad news.

Let’s get the bad news over with first. Unfortunately, my adult female Spirostreptus sp. 6 died, likely from old age. What makes it frustrating is that it looks like my subadult male just molted to maturity, which ruins my breeding project for this species. Argh! If anyone has an adult or subadult female, please let me know. I would also be willing to trade the male for several immatures of this species.

Now for the good news! At one of the recent meetings of the Invertebrate Club of Southern California, which I will discuss in the next post, I traded for some new stuff! I picked up a 5i Phidippus adumbratus sling (Red Jumping Spider), and 6 Blaberus giganteus large nymphs, or Giant Cave Roaches! I have the Jumper in a 4-6 ounce deli cup and mist it a little everyday. Photos pending. As for the roaches, I have them currently in a 108.5 oz tall container with a substrate of coconut coir and some paper towel tubes for hides. I will upgrade them to a larger enclosure with some bark for molting as soon as possible. Pictures below.

And that does it for this post!

Thanks,

Jessiah

Reattempting to keep the blog updated regularly and continuing with my collection…

Now that is a title! Hello everyone! My apologies for the long posting hiatus, I have just had a rush in work, with animals, school, and otherwise, that has kept me from posting. But I am back now, and I hope to start posting at least once a month, if not more often!

Anyway, let’s get this started! I am going to post up what I have in my collection currently, with some pictures of a few cool species, and then I can work on getting pictures of everything, IP (If Possible;). Feel free to ask questions, I’ll do my best to answer.

Tarantulas=8 total.

1 Psuedoclamoris gigas (formerly Tapinauchenius gigas), 1/4-1/2″. Video below of it nailing a fruit fly (I would suggest turning the volume down unless you want to hear the deafening roar of aquarium filters)!

1 Psalmopeus pulcher, recently molted to about 2″. Picture below.

1 Bumba cabocla, about 1/4-1/3″.

1 Brachypelma emilia, 2-2.5″.

1 Brachypelma albopilosum, 3-3.5″.

1 Grammostola porteri, 4-4.5″. My “Gateway” tarantula!

1 Grammostola pulchripes, 3-3.5″. My second tarantula, once bit my tongs so hard it knocked them out of my hands!

Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens (try doing that off the top of you head!), 3-3.75″.

Scorpions=2 species total.

1 Pandinus imperator, about 4″. I got this one CB just after they stopped importing this species. My second arachnid, after my G. porteri.

1 Paravaejovis spinigerus, 2″. WC, Gave birth to over 40 babies after 6+ months in captivity!

Thelyphonids (vinegaroons)=1 species total.

1 Mastigoproctus giganteus, 1″.

Amblypygids (whipspiders)=1 species total.

2 Phrynus marginemaculatus, 3.5″ whip length. I’ve got a breeding pair of these. I lost the first brood of babies because I couldn’t find a steady source of food other than fruit flies, which lack nutritional value. Hopefully I can get a second brood and raise them to maturity!

Millipedes=7 species total.

I’ve got too many to count of baby Narceus gordanus and Anadenobolus monilicornis.

Five Spirostreptus sp. 1, getting close to maturity!

2 (male/female) Spirostreptus sp. 6, looks like a mature female and and a subadult male.

1 Acladocricus sp., my female unfortunately died, but I’ve still got the male.

1 Tylobolus sp./Hiltonius sp.

1 Tylobolus sp./Hiltonius sp., different species.

1 Tylobolus sp./Hiltonius sp., 3rd different species. Nice red-brown coloration.

Centipedes=2 species total.

1 Scolopendra alternans “Puerto Rico”, 4-4.5″. Really nice green color.

1 Scolopendra polymorpha “Rademacher Hills”, 1-1.5″. A pretty blue-tan color.

Isopods=11 species.

Porcellionides pruinosus “Powder Blue” medium colony.

Porcellio laevis “Dairy Cow” small colony.

Porcellio sp. (maybe the wild variant of laevis) small colony.

Porcellio scaber “Spanish Orange”, small colony.

Armadillidium sp. “Montenegro”, 7-10 individuals. I’ve had some trouble with overwatering this species, but I’ve rehoused them in a drier substrate, so hopefully they’ll do better now. Picture below.

Armadillidium maculatum, small starter colony. Just received these from Aquarimax Pets (thank you!), hoping they will do well for me! Picture below.

Armadillidium vulgare, 5-6 individuals. Common species, but some have nice orange-brown coloration that I’m looking at trying to isolate. Collected in Indiana/Michigan.

Trichorhina tomentosa, medium colony. Awesome isopod species, breed super quick and form densely packed colonies.

Dwarf Purple Isopods (species?), small starter colony.

Philoscia muscorum, small starter colony.

(EDIT:) I forgot to add my small starter culture of Venezillo sp. (likely arizonicus). Love this little species, I’ve finally got some babies out of them!

I did have some Porcellio spinicornis, a beautiful European species, but I was unaware of their special care requirements until it was too late. Looking to get some more in the future though, now that I know how to take care of them.

Roaches=3 species total.

15+Eublaberus sp. “Ivory”, 1 adult, the rest are nymphs/subadults. Awesome species, I love their ability to shred food within a day of it being placed in the cage! Below is a picture of my adult. Beautiful colors!

7 Therea petiveriana, nymphs. I though my starter colony had died out, as for months there had been no movement in the cage. I was using their container for some isopods, and what do I find? A nymph crawling through the dirt! After sifting the substrate, I found six more; all had been surviving in a low-food, low-moisture environment for 6-8+ months! What amazing creatures God has made. Below is a photo of one of my adults before it died.

20+ Blatta lateralis of various sizes. Typical Red Runner or Turkestan Roach.

I know these aren’t invertebrates, but I recently have become very interested in carnivorous plants. Insofar I have two Nepenthes sp., one Sarracenia sp., and 8 “Red Dragon” Venus Fly Traps. I did have another Sarracenia and some Drosera sp., but after the setup I was keeping them in malfunctioned, they died from lack of light and humidity, unfortunately. Hopefully I can get some more though soon!

Finally, I’ve got a 30 gallon saltwater aquarium in the process of being cycled to go along with my 10 gallon freshwater.

And that’s it!

Thanks,

Arthroverts

Cool Finds, reptile show dart frogs!

Hey all, I went to a local reptile show a little while back and “interned” at a friend’s table (Check out Jurassic Pet Supplies, the only shop I have been to that can rightly be called an “invertebrate store”, they have hundreds of tarantulas at any one time, dozens of scorpions, true spiders, including trapdoors when they can find them, millipedes, centipedes, isopods, beetles, and whatever else they can get their hands on! And they ship!). Right next to him was his friend at Tim’s Dart Frogs, who had quite a variety of Dart Frogs and live plants. Very cool!

Here are some pictures (Sorry about quality of photos, I took them with my phone, and I.D.s, I am going off what I know about Dart Frogs):

Dendrobates tinctorius morph, I think.

D. tinctorius “Alumnis”?

D. tinctorius “Powder Blue”.

Dendrobates leucomelas, Bumblebee (I have one of these).

D. tinctorius “Alumnis”? Something “Giant”? They are definitely beautiful.

Another D. tinctorius morph, I believe.

Tadpoles, these were only $10, which is a pretty good deal if you are willing to take care of them till the metamorphose.

More D. tinctorius morphs.

Phyllobates terribilis, I think up top, D. tinctorius “Azureus” on bottom.

What beautiful creatures God has made! I will definitely be getting some next time, if I don’t buy some invertebrates…

Anyway, check out https://jurassicpetsupplies.com/ for some great deals and finds, I have bought from them for over a year now, and I trust them completely. Right now they have some Potato Bugs, or Jerusalem Crickets (Red Form) in stock. The red is absolutely incredible, you have to see it to believe it, and I have never even seen or heard of these from anywhere else. Unfortunately, every time I opened the lid to get a picture, the lumbering cricket charged to where the opening is, leaving me with blurry pictures through the plastic that were not worth posting.

Thanks for looking!

 

Arthroverts

Cool finds, Beetles.

As the name above suggests, I will be doing a series of posts of cool creatures I have found recently, some which I have collected, others that I have left be.  Identified to the best of my ability.

Enjoy!

Blue Death Feigning Beetles (Asbolus verrucosus).

There was three of them underneath a well insulated board, but one crawled into a hole before I could get a picture. It had just rained, and the moisture level underneath the board was high.

Larvae, which are probably beetle larvae.

They were found under a moist, well insulated rug that had been left in the desert.

Unidentified Darkling Beetles (At least I think so).

Dialbolical Ironclad Beetle (Phloeodes diabolicus), I think. It tucked its legs in so completely when disturbed it looked like a an empty hull. Very cool!

Thats it for this post! See you next time!

Arthroverts

 

Sizing up the stuff.

Hello Everyone, sorry about the long diapause (pun intended) on posts, I have not been able to keep up with everything else and the blog. But I am back for now, with some pretty cool new stuff and some things found while collecting!

First up, my tarantula collection is doing really well, My GBB is getting to a decent size! Notice my thumb in the background (around 3-4 inches both ways).

My Tapinauchenius violeaceus is much larger now since the last picture, I rehoused him into a larger jar.

Tapinauchenius sp. “Colombia”. When it was younger it had beautiful yellow spots on it’s abdomen, then it went brown, and now it’s a pretty reddish-brown with blonde-brown highlights on the legs (I am color blind, so that is what it looks like to me). Definitely a good deal for only $10! I would highly suggest getting Tapinauchenius species as a beginner arboreal tarantula. Much more robust than Avicularia’s, calmer than Psalmopeus’s, and definitely better than Poecilthoria’s.

Both Tapinauchenius sp. I posess.

Tapinauchenius sp. “Colombia”

I finally got a picture of my Pandinius imperator glowing under a black light. He is in the area of 3-4 inches long, including tail. Much larger than when I bought him at an inch! (Or is it this button….)

Much more to come in future posts! I am going to try and do smaller posts regularly, instead of large posts irregularly. So, see you next time!

Arthroverts

 

 

Updates and New Stuff.

Hello Everyone! I have had quite a bit happen in my collection over the past couple months, including new stuff! Anyway, lets jump right in. I finally got some good pictures of my Tapinauchenius sp. “Colombia”.

Turns out he was molting, so thats why I didn’t see him for a while. The yellow on his abdomen is much brighter in real life.

My Tapinauchenius violaceus has molted, and I caught a picture of him doing yoga after the molt! (Ha Ha)

He’s around the two inch mark now. (all references to “he” or “she” are assumptions for ease of writing unless otherwise stated)

Some weird fungi has grown in some of my enclosures, such as the long, elongate mushrooms I found in my Grammostola porteri’s enclosure. (sorry about the blurriness, I am having trouble with the aperture on the camera).

Moving on, I have found quite a few cool invertebrates around my neighborhood. Here is a picture of some sort of fly…..

Nice proboscis!

Some species of shield bug (I think)….

A large moth that was hanging out around our porch light….

And this cool Praying Mantis that I found at my Grand Parents house….

And now for the new stuff!

I just got six Centruroides hentzi as an early birthday present, of which one was dead when I got it, I just didn’t notice it, and another which had two scorplings but died after a few days in my care (sadly, the scorplings died a little later too), and another which died after about two weeks for almost no reason I can think of. Anyway, the other three look O.K., thank God. They are in a gallon jar in a communal setup. I am getting another C. hentzi as a refund since the one was dead when I got it, and I am going to buy another since the mother one died as well. Anyway, I hope I can get a breeding colony going soon. Pictures coming soon!

I also purchased a Huntsmans spider, a Heteropoda insubtilis (or is it Holoconia insubtilis? Who knows?)! At roughly an inch in legspan fully stretched out, he is still rather small, but boy, is he fast! I dropped a pinhead cricket in, and I couldn’t tell if he nailed it before or after it hit the ground. Crazy fast.

My grandfather also got himself a Scolopendra subsinipes subsinipes, or Giant Vietnamese Centipede. I am taking care of it for him, so that’s cool. He is in his new jar, so I’ll try and get some pictures of him there soon.

I caught this mantis (I think its a California Praying Mantis, Stagmomantis californica) in Sacramento, it was hanging out on my brother’s leg! (It has been such a long time since I’ve posted that this mantis has actually passed away)

The enclosure….

I have a few other new animals to share with you at the next update, so until then, see ya!

Mysterious Deaths.

Hey Everyone, I have bad news. For some reason one of my Chicobolus spinigerus died a few days ago, and a few weeks back I found one of my Ebonies dead as well. They were both found dead on the outer edges of the terrarium, so I think they might have fallen from the lid to the substrate. There might be some other reason though, so any insight is greatly appreciated. I have a ton of babies, so its not a terrible loss, but it still is sad. Anyway, on a higher note, I’m looking at getting some new scorpions and maybe some assassin bugs, so stay tuned!