WHIP SPIDERS CONTINUED…
In February 2011 Kate had 57 babies and in September 2013 she had 41. At the time of writing (Feb 7th 2014) I am yet to find out how many she has had third time around or how many her daughter Kate Jr has had as the babies are still on their respective mother’s backs! Within 7-10 days of hatching every one of the babies moults for the first time and will climb off of their mother’s abdomen. In September 2013 and February 2014 respectively I was fortunate enough to capture the moment soon after many of the babies had left their mothers’ abdomens:
The unusual looking pale pink mass at the end of Kate’s abdomen below is all of the old exoskeletons (exuviae) which the babies leave behind after they have moulted or removed them, you can see them more clearly here along with the one baby who had yet to moult at this point:
Here are just a few of these moulted exoskeletons or exuviae, looking more like something out of a science fiction film or maybe a portion of crispy noodles!!
After moulting for the first time the babies look very different from how they do after first hatching as you can see here, with beautiful patterns and colouration too!
This next picture shows very clearly just how amazingly long their front ‘feeling’ legs are, even as tiny babies!
Here are the majority (but not all) of the 95 babies which hatched in February 2014, 44 of which were Kate’s babies and 51 Kate Jr’s!
From this point onwards they are independent and able to fend and feed for themselves although they are quite sociable creatures and are known to sometimes live together in family groups, consisting of animals of different ages, at least until they reach maturity. Here are just a few babies exploring their new home:
Within 5-6 weeks of hatching the babies moult again and look a lot more like their parents already!
The next picture is of a recently-moulted individual (on the right) next to its siblings which have not yet moulted, showing the impressive size difference which the moulting process brings about!
By three months old the babies have grown and changed considerably as you can see below!
Here is a comparison of a newly-hatched baby next to one of its five month old siblings!
At just over six months old they have grown much larger still as you can see here, it is really hard to refer them as ‘babies’ once they get so large!
Here are three of the exoskeletons moulted by the ‘babies’ six months after hatching:
Here is a picture of a female from Kate’s first batch of babies on its first birthday, February 20th 2012!
For even more amazing whip spider pictures, including moulting pictures, please click HERE!