STATES CHRONICLE – A clutch of over 200 Montserrat tarantula babies hatched at Cheshire’s Chester Zoo in England. The spider younglings were welcomed by the British zookeepers with high emotions as they were unsure if the mating ritual succeeded or if the babies were fully developed.
Chester Zoo is the first establishment to success in breeding the arachnid in captivity, zoo officials confirming that the scientists here have managed to break a new record.
The Monserrat tarantula, as the name suggests, is native to the island of Monserrat, one of the Caribbean Islands. However, little is known about the hairy arachnids, their habits and breeding rituals being somewhat of a mystery for scientists. Until now, of course.
After carefully studying the spiders in the wild, a keeper from Chester Zoo decided to bring back a dozen of specimens for closer examination. That is how a dozen of these hairy brown crawlers ended up in a British zoo enclosure.
According to Gerardo Garcia, one of the curators in charge of the lower vertebrates department at Chester Zoo, trying to synchronize a male’s and female’s sexual maturity is a race against time.
One of the main impediments is the different lifespan of males and females. It seems that the male Montserrat tarantula survives an average of 2 years, while the female lives longer and reaches sexual maturity later in life.
Due to the small sample that Garcia brought back from the Caribbean, the mating process was nerve wreaking for the scientists. The dangerous nature of spider mating habits was an added concern for the zoo keepers that were trying to convince the specimens to reproduce.
After a couple of positive encounters, three pregnant females disappeared into the ground, leaving the researchers baffled, and making them abandon hope of ever managing to breed the Monserrat tarantula successfully in captivity.
However, after the females refused to resurface, making the zoo keepers believe that they starved themselves to death, hundreds of spider younglings started to sprout from the ground where a single female buried herself.
Now, the Chester Zoo is proudly harboring over 200 Montserrat tarantula babies, more than enough specimens for the scientists to study and discover more about the mysterious tarantula species.
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