Other Spiders , Scorpions and Arthropods
Damon diadema :
is a species of arachnid, sometimes known as the tailless whip scorpion. It is found in Central Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania where it lives in caves and crevices, and under fallen logs. The animal is 4–28 mm (0.16–1.10 in) long with a flat body. It is known as a tailless whipscorpion because of the long whip-legs that are the majority of its body width. Its legspan is about 20 cm (7.9 in).
Damon diadema Caresheet :
Disclaimer: This was not meant to be a copy-and-paste kind of caresheet that comes from doing minimal research online. This caresheet is the result of successfully owning this species for years, and reading up on them throughout that time. It is filled with my own personal experience and advice, as well as the usual basics. I hope that even some small tidbit of information is of use to you, and I apologize (sort of) for the excessive length.
Damon diadema – Tailless Whip Scorpions / Whip Spiders :
General Origin: Damon diadema are found in the wild along the Eastern coast of Africa – specifically in the country of Tanzania. They live in caves (typically near the cave’s entrance as opposed to in the deep-dark parts) and are often found in large, communal groups. Alternatively, they reside in vertical nooks and crannies of tree trunks if all the good caves are taken.
Kiwenga Caves in Tanzania:
Size can vary greatly depending on the age (and sex) of the specimen. Typically, the body length is 1- 2 inches, but the LEG SPAN, it has been reported, can be as great as 23 inches! The males are larger than females.
Young individuals will always look female, but as they age it should become very easy to sex them at a glance. Once the individual has reached a body size of about one inch, you should be able to sex them based on the size of their pedipalps – the pincer-looking, spikey bits at the front. Take a look at the animal from above and locate the part of their “claws” (pedipalps) that look like it could be their elbow. It’s not – amblypygi don’t have elbows; don’t make the mistake of referring to them as such in the presence of dedicated hobbyists. I have … it didn’t go over well. Once you’ve identified their “elbows,” compare them to the first set of walking legs. Do the elbows meet the leg joints or extend past them? You have a male! Do the elbows not quite reach their “knees”? You have a female!
There is much debate about the lifespan of this group of animals as a whole, and Damon diadema in particular. If I were to make an educated guess, I would approximate an average lifespan to be 10 – 15 years. My female is approximately 6 years old. All males I’ve ever owned have been sold or traded within 2 years.
Damon diadema do not have an “ultimate molt” and will continue to grow throughout their lives. They will molt much more frequently when they are young – expect a molt every few months. As adults, it may be a year or more between molts. It is important to note that these animals hang upside down from walls, ceilings, or slanted rocks and trees when they are molting. They do NOT go to the ground and make a molting mat or anything of the sort. Keepers MUST provide them with vertical surfaces from which to hang while they are molting – otherwise they may become stuck in their exoskeleton.
And will turn green-ish within an hour or so:
During their white and green phases they are especially vulnerable and care must be taken to ensure that all feeder insects are removed and that no ants have entered the enclosure. I once lost a mature male during a molt because ants had invaded the cage while I was at work and the male was molting. I can only assume they smelled whatever “pheromones” are released during a molt because I had checked him closely the night before and there were no ants in the enclosure. I came home to find him still white, and eaten alive. It was horrible…
Within a day or so they will return to their normal colors and you can begin to treat them normally again. I would recommend waiting at least 3 days after a molt before feeding, as their fangs and pedipalps need time to properly harden before they can hunt.
Behavior / Temperament:
These are some of the most social, docile arachnids on the planet. To own a group of them is to be forever amazed by their gentle nature. When undisturbed, these animals move very slowly and are content – as with most arachnids – to sit in one place for hours (or days) at a time. However, if you startle one, it will be gone before you can blink. Literally. These little speed demons have the ability (so it would seem) to teleport from place to place. Take care when handling because they could be on your hand one moment, and on your face the next!
together indefinitely. Unrelated females can typically be introduced into communal set-ups, provided there is adequate shelter for all individuals. Males are more likely to fight amongst each other, but if ample space is provided, even they can be forced to get along. Adult males should be removed from mothers and their young as a (possibly unnecessary) precaution, but there is no need to ever remove a mother from her young. When they are old enough, the young will disperse throughout the environment and make homes of their own, but will remain in contact with their mother and siblings if given the chance.
As far as human interaction goes, if you are slow, calm, and deliberate, you will have no problems interacting with your amblypygi. They are nocturnal and would probably prefer to interact with you at night. Allow them to feel along your hand or arm with their antenniform legs and walk at their own pace. Remember, they are picking up your chemical scent with their legs. I would love to one day prove that they can “learn” their caretakers through chemical markers.
Cage size – the bigger the better. BARE MINIMUM, in my opinion, should be double the width and height of HALF the individual’s leg span. That’s confusing, I know, and probably sounds arbitrary – but I promise, it isn’t. Damon diadema don’t go around with their antenniform legs fully extended like zombies, nor do they keep them tucked in like namby-pambies. Their at-rest, comfortable posture, is to have those long front legs kinda-sorta extended. Therefore, you must calculate the individual’s size based on half of their leg span. Make sense? So, if you have an individual whose at-rest leg span is approximately 4 inches (a good average), then you would want a cage that is roughly 8” x 8” x 8” – eight cubic inches. Now, I realize it is hard to find a perfect cube for an enclosure, so you’ll probably have to sacrifice ONE of those dimensions. These are very thin animals so the depth is usually what gets cut, and that’s okay. To keep things simple, I’d recommend keeping an adult in a ten gallon tank. In fact, due to their communal nature, you could probably keep 3 – 5 individuals in the same tank, as long as they are familiar with one another.
DO NOT – I repeat – DO NOT (!!!) house these animals in kritter keepers! They are very thin and will simply walk right through the ventilation holes. You were considering it, weren’t you? Yeah. You’re welcome.
Substrate – Doesn’t matter. No kidding. It doesn’t matter. Ignore all the nonsense about Eco Earth and Peat and Organic Soil and I don’t even know what else. It does. Not. Matter. The only reason you want substrate in a Damon diadema cage is to hold moisture. As long as it isn’t kept so wet it molds over, what you use is irrelevant because the animal will never touch it. They do not burrow, they don’t even walk on the ground unless they’re forced to. So, these guys don’t really don’t care what kind of fancy dirt you put in there.
Décor – Unlike most arachnids, these animals really appreciate a keeper with an eye for interior design. Their environment can make or break them, and if you don’t provide the right kinds of shelter, your amblypygid probably won’t last long – remember the bit about them molting upside down? Exactly. You must provide lots of rough-textured surfaces on varying angles. Most keepers use cork bark, which is a really good choice. Some use real rocks (be careful that they won’t fall and crush a passing amblypygid!). Whatever you use, the goal is to just make it look like a really bad round of tetris in there. You want things jutting out all over the place – they love that!
Here are some photos of my girl’s enclosure (which, I’ll admit, is now probably too small for her):
That’s where she spends 90% of her time. She loves it:
And if you turn over the cork bark pieces, you’ll find that they’ve all been hot glued together:
This is a grey area with this species. Many say that you should keep them warm – say, 80*. Others will argue that caves are cold and they should be kept in the low 70’s. Personally, I keep Gloria somewhere in the middle. Most of the year she lives at a comfortable 77*. During winter, it will fall to 70*. She enjoys the Florida life.
Water and Humidity:
Yes. That about sums it up. YES. Water and humidity – lots of it. This species loves humidity. Think about it – they are naturally found in dark, damp caves, where rain water collects and just sort of recycles inside there, underground springs and magical sources of water probably supply the caves with a perpetual dampness, etc. So you want to make sure they always have access to a shallow body of water. The vessel, again, doesn’t matter. If your substrate will tolerate watering without molding, then go ahead and wet the substrate once every week or so (maybe not quite so often, depending on how good your ventilation is). I keep a bowl of sphagnum moss in Gloria’s cage to keep the humidity up. I’ve never seen her drink from it, but she prods around in it on occasion.
As far as getting Damon diadema to drink, it is really important to remember that they typically will not drink from standing water. You must mist their enclosure weekly to allow them to drink from whatever vertical surfaces the water droplets collect on. That is one of my favorite parts of owning these guys – watching them come out for a drink each week. They will literally do back-bends to slurp water off the walls. They use their pedipalps to delicately scoop up water droplets and bring them to their mouths. It’s awesome. And therapeutic. Seriously.
Damon diadema are thin by nature, and really don’t eat much. Gloria will take one adult cricket, mealworm, or juvenile roach every other week or so. When she is preparing to molt, she will refuse food entirely. Young specimens will have a heartier appetite and I recommend feeding them whatever they’ll take. Fortunately, they don’t seem to be a very gluttonous species and will usually refuse food if they don’t need it. No need to worry about getting your Damon diadema fat. If it wants to eat, let it.
I won’t go into breeding here as I’ve never successfully bred Damon diadema, and I try not to give information on things I know little about. Instead, let me direct you to a PHENOMINAL book by Orin McMonigle called “Breeding the World’s Largest Living Arachnid.” This book has more photos and information about Damon diadema and other varieties of whip spiders than any normal human being would ever need to know. I highly recommend it.
Recommended websites ;
Further reading :
by Orin McMonigle
Tailless Whip Scorpion (Damon diadema) Catches Cricket
Introducing Damon diadema
New Addition: Damon diadema (Tailless Whip Scorpions // Geißelspinnen)
by Orin McMonigle