Mexican Red-Kneed Tarantula
by Rita Goldner
This month’s interesting animal is a Mexican red-kneed tarantula. A particularly beautiful creature, this one has red-orange leg joints. The wild ones live in the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre del Sur mountain ranges in Mexico. There are also lots of captive ones in pet terrariums – but, as you know, my passion is always wildlife, not pets. These spiders have eight eyes, but poor eyesight, so they have to find prey with their hairy legs, which can smell, taste, and feel vibrations. Their prey is mostly bugs, but they can and sometimes do eat reptiles, small birds, and mice.
The most interesting characteristic (at least to me, since I’m always looking for life hacks from my blog subjects) is their ability to molt. Their outer shell (exoskeleton) doesn’t grow, so as their inner body size increases, they have to shed it. It’s quite a dramatic process, splitting and bursting through from the inside. Young spiders do it once a month or so, and older ones every year or two. If you don’t already have a case of the screamin’ meemies, you can see a video of the molting process here.
My recent interest precipitated from a trip to the Phoenix Zoo last Friday, opening day of the Bugs. BIG Bugs! exhibit. I’m taking a class on how to create a YouTube channel, and our teacher challenged us to make a video for Hallowe’en. We’re instructed to customize it with our own unique agenda, and since mine is illustrating, I figured the giant tarantula would be a perfect Hallowe’en subject. I ventured off with my intrepid sister, who never says no (thanks, Meg.) She was behind the camera, a real perfectionist, in contrast to me, who hates retakes. She took umbrage at the fact that I can never pronounce “animatronics display” but I left the mispronunciation in, for added homespun charm, (i.e. I hate retakes).
My YouTube channel (a work in progress) is called Rita Goldner Books, and the title of this video is Tasty Tarantula, if you want to check it out. The class I’m taking, explaining the logistics of setting up the channel, plus making and editing videos, is a steep learning curve for me. I hope to use my channel as a vehicle for promoting my children’s books by igniting parents’ interest in literature for kids, especially in the science field. The rest of the students are about half my age, but I’m determined.
I’ll wrap this up with my author’s life hack: I’m molting from a technically challenged septuagenarian into a hip, savvy, techie reincarnation. Imagine me on the floor of my writing/illustrating office wriggling out of my old exoskeleton made of self-doubts, procrastination, waning motivation, and inertia. The new me is crawling with resolve, creative zeal, commitment, and focus.
Rita Goldner is the author and illustrator of the children’s picture book, Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy. Rita has also written and illustrated two eBooks, Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure, in the Jackson’s Adventure series.For orangutan facts and images and to purchase the book (also available as an ebook), visit OrangutanDay.com. Or by the Kindle version here. Rita’s newest book, Making Marks on the World: A Storybook for Left- and Right-Handed Coloring, is available for purchase here. Works in progress: H2O Rides the Water Cycle, The Flying Artist, and Rose Colored. To view additional illustrations and Rita’s books in progress, visit Rita’s website. Contact Rita here. Follow Rita on Facebook. Subscribe to Rita’s newsletter, Orangutans and More! and receive a free coloring page of today’s illustration.