Thursday, September 26, 2019

Bittersweet Bantua Birth...

As the title clearly suggests, today's post is a bit bittersweet, on the one hand I am very excited to announce that for the first time ever, Bantua sp. "Namibia" babies have been born in the US! 😁 On the other hand, unfortunately the litter was smaller than expected, as an apparent result of a slight husbandry screw-up... 😞 But let's backtrack a little and explain this all more in depth.

While I was doing maintenance on my small collection a few days ago, (the 22nd, to be exact), I noticed one of my adult males had passed away, (presumably due to old age). This made me realize that it had been quite a while since my females had matured, and I was concerned that there were no babies yet. So that afternoon I added some more ventilation to their enclosure, which was the only thing I could think of to speed up reproduction, (I already had started heating them artificially 24/7 due to the cool weather we've been having).

Well I kid you not, the NEXT DAY I went and checked on them, and I spotted one of the females down at the bottom of the enclosure, hiding among the horizontal bark slabs near the moist corner. I noticed something scurry over her, and to my great joy I realized it was a baby Bantua! 😄 She was in a difficult to reach area of the enclosure, but after spying on her for a bit I saw at least two more nymphs hanging out with her. They were much larger than I expected, and quite healthy looking too! I assumed there were a dozen or two more hiding in the bark with her, and decided to leave them be for a day before trying to photograph them.

Well the next morning, I decided to dig through the enclosure properly to get a better headcount of the new nymphs, and photograph them of course. I checked to see if any were hiding in the vertically slanted bark hides with the majority of the adults, I saw none there.
So then I started removing the branches in the enclosure, checking all their nooks and crannies for nymphs, I found none on them. Then I went about removing the top two pieces of bark lying on the ground, no nymphs in sight...
Finally I got to the piece where I had seen the female and her nymphs hiding under, and lifted it up... I saw the female, quite flat and deflated as expected, and one, two, three, four... four healthy nymphs next to her... 😐 I checked the surrounding small bark pieces, and found a fifth, sort of deformed looking nymph that I suspect won't last long. I dug around the leaf litter, wood chunks, everything, I SCOURED the enclosure looking for the 1-2 dozen nymphs I was expecting, but found nothing, not even an aborted ooth with half the nymphs lying around dead and underdeveloped as one might expect from this kind of scenario.

It appears this female literally gave birth to five nymphs, and that's it, that's ALL she had in her... Which is not normal for this species. I believe this was a result of substandard ventilation, and when I added more, it kind of shocked her into finally giving birth to the few nymphs she had developed with the limited airflow she was given. So I've added even more ventilation now, a whole buttload more, and have increased the size of their moist area, as that seems to be where the new nymphs are hanging out the most.
So this was kind of a bummer, but at least all but one of the nymphs are perfectly healthy, and I have about six more gravid females that will now hopefully give birth to bigger litters, not to mention some healthy adult males are still alive too.

Anyways, here are some pictures of one of the new little cuties:

Adorable right? 😊 With any luck, this little one and it's three healthy siblings will grow nicely, and who knows, maybe that fourth, deformed looking nymph will surprise me and molt fine too!

While this was certainly a bittersweet experience for me, they say you learn more from your mistakes than your successes, and now I know that this species is just as picky about ventilation levels as their close relatives Perisphaerus and (most) Pseudoglomeris! And with any luck, the changes I've made to their setup will guarantee that my other females will give birth to bigger, healthier litters in the near future! 😃 And when they do, I'll be sure to let you guys know! 😜

Well, that's gonna do it for today's post, I hope you all enjoyed, thanks for reading, I'll see you all next time! 😉

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