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*spider warning*

Arachnids are super interesting animals and even though some people find them not so fun to watch, Jessi wanted to feature Animal Wonders' THREE amazing arachnids! Also, meet the newest animal ambassador, Vinny the Vinegaroon!!

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Welcome back to Animal Wonders!

I’m Jessi. Today we’re going to meet three animals, and the last one is brand new!

These animals are really neat, but not a lot of people think they’re very cute, so they don’t get a ton of love. But I enjoy getting to work with them, and they’re just so different from us that it’s awesome to learn more about them. Today let’s get to know the three arachnids that live at Animal Wonders! [CHEERY INTRO MUSIC].

So when I say "arachnid," your first thought might be an image of a spider. And that’s correct, but spiders aren’t the only kind of arachnids. Arachnids belong to the broader group of animals called arthropods, which are invertebrates with exoskeletons, a segmented body and jointed appendages.

Arachnids are arthropods with 2 body segments, 8 legs, and no antennae. Our first animal feature is right in here. Let me go ahead and get her out.

Hiding under her little hut. Come here, Fluffy. This is Fluffy, the Chilean rose tarantula.

So she's a spider, and spiders make up the largest percentage of species in the arachnid group. Now, some people are intimidated by Fluffy, and that’s totally okay because it’s a natural response to have reservations about a potentially dangerous animal. But I’ve found that learning more about something that you fear usually helps reduce that fear, or at least it makes it a little easier to think about.

So, let's learn more about Fluffy and take a closer look. You can easily see her two body segments. And this large place back here, that is her abdomen and it's kind of oval shaped.

And on the very end, you can see these two little things that look like tiny legs. They're called her spinnerets. So they aren’t legs.

They’re more like a pair of knitting needles, and they help her make her web. And then her second body segment is right there. That's called her cephalothorax, which includes her head and it’s where all of her legs are attached.

And you can count that she has eight legs. But then in the very front of the cephalothorax, she has these little extra appendages, which might look like short legs, but they’re actually an extension of her mouth parts called pedipalps. On top of her cephalothorax are her eyes.

She has eight of them, and they're all right on that little tuft right on top. Now, Fluffy is mildly venomous, and it's about enough to incapacitate a small animal like an insect. And while her venom would irritate a human’s skin, she's not deadly unless you’re allergic to the toxin like some people are severely allergic to bee stings.

Now, some spiders are deadly to humans, but most aren't. Which is why it’s good to know more about the animals you might encounter in the wild, so you know which ones to be fearful of and which ones are friendly and pose no threat. There’s so much more to know about spiders, so if you’re interested in them,.

I encourage you to continue researching because they’re really awesome! So spiders are quite well known, but there’s another well known group of arachnids. Scorpions!

So let's bring out our scorpion. And she's hiding under here, like a good girl. I'm gonna scoop her right onto my hand here.

This is Professor Claw, and she's an emperor scorpion. Just like spiders, scorpions have eight legs, which all attach to their cephalothorax. She also has eight eyes.

One pair is on top of her head area, and then she has three on each side of her face so she can see both above and in front of her. And back here we have the abdomen, which isn’t oval like a spider. Instead it’s become quite elongated.

It’s so long that it looks more like a tail, and it ends in a stinger. This end bit is called a telson and it does hold venom, which can be injected when she stings her prey or a potential predator. Very few scorpions are deadly to humans, and emperor scorpion venom is very mild and would cause a similar reaction to a bee sting.

Up front she has these large claws, which kind of look like modified legs. But if you think back to the spider, you'll remember those short leg looking things in the front weren’t legs but pedipalps, and that they are actually mouthparts. So scorpion claws are just an extension of their mouth!

Now Professor Claw is a really neat animal to know. She has a personality, and she’s fun to handle because I have to pay really close attention to her body language to make sure she’s staying comfortable on my hands. And if I don’t pay attention, I might move in a way that made her feel threatened, and then she’d use her pincers to defend herself against my giant offending fingers.

So scorpions are really interesting animals, and I didn’t share nearly everything there is to know about them, so I encourage you to continue to research and study and learn all about these fascinating animals! Alright, most people just know these two groups of arachnids, spiders and scorpions, which is fine because they do make up the largest portion of species. But I'd like to introduce you to another kind of arachnid.

So, everyone meet Vinny the giant vinegaroon. They’re new here! Vinegaroons are also known as whip scorpions, and they do look similar to scorpions generally speaking.

Their body segments are very scorpion like, but they don’t have a stinger at the end of their abdomen. And they don’t have venom. Instead their defense mechanism is to squirt a combination of caprylic and acetic acid from their back end, splashing any predator trying to mess with them.

It smells pretty bad and causes pain if it gets into sensitive tissue like eyes or an open wound. The caprylic acid makes it oily so it sticks better, and the acetic acid makes it smell like vinegar, which is how they got the common name "vinegaroon." Their cephalothorax is similar to a scorpion as well as their eye placement, two up top and six along the front. Now in the front here it looks a bit different than scorpions because their first set of legs aren’t used for walking.

Instead they're long and spindly and used more like feelers, similar to how insects use their antennae. And their claws - which aren't legs - they're pedipalps and part of their mouth, they aren’t as large as scorpions and they also have an additional spike. So, I told you that Vinny was new to Animal Wonders.

They’ve been here a couple weeks, and they’re settling into their home. Vinny’s been eating really well, and now it’s time to get to know them even better. The reason I need to get to know Vinny better is because they’re going to be an ambassador for their species and travel to public presentations in the future.

I need to know if I can pick them up and handle them, showing them off like I do Fluffy the tarantula and Professor Claw the scorpion. If I can’t handle them, then I’ll simply present them inside a travel carrier without having to hold them, or on a piece of bark like this. I do prefer to handle the smaller animals because it makes it easier to see all their little parts.

So I’m going to go about seeing if Vinny will be able to be handled like I’ve done with other animals with pincers or stingers. I’ll use a glove at first, and then if they're comfortable with that and aren’t showing signs of distress or any defense behaviors, I can take the gloves off and just use my hands. So I haven’t done this yet, and I wanted to do it on camera so I could show you how I do it.

And I’ve also got a clear container here so I can put Vinny into it and determine their sex. Now you can do sometimes do this by examining their pincers really closely, but I’m going to also look at the bottom of their abdomen and take in all the physical characteristics into consideration. I could determine their sex by flipping them over on their back, but since I want them to trust that being handled isn’t scary, I’d prefer to do it in a less stressful way.

So, I’ve got my gloves on. And now when I approach Vinny, I wanna be as least predator like as possible. So coming from behind and kind of underneath, even letting him just crawl on me.

There we go. I am seeing no defensive postures. This is awesome!

So if Vinny was feeling like I was threatening them, their abdomen would arch up and that little telson back there would be sticking straight up. But you can see they're just... They're just curious and cruising along just like Professor Claw the scorpion did.

So this is really, really good news! This is a great sign. Look at their little feelers going around.

Okay. I'm gonna set them down in the clear container here and take my gloves off. Oh careful!

Now that we have Vinny in the clear container, let's take a look underneath. I’m looking for a rounded area right in the middle. The males have what looks like an almost swollen area here, while females will have less width between the segments.

To me, this looks... This looks like a female to me. Alright!

So I am calling Vinny a girl. And now that we're done with that, I'm going to attempt to pick her up with my bare hands because she wasn't showing any defensive posturing when I had my gloves on. But to be completely honest, Vinny makes me kinda nervous.

I’ve never been completely comfortable with an arachnid until I get to know their personality a little bit better. Since this is my first time interacting with Vinny this way,. I’ve got some adrenaline going on and some shivers running down my back.

But the only way to get to know an animal better is to spend time interacting with them, so here it goes! This is super cool! I love her long legs.

Those feelers are just amazing! And the pincers... They are big and right out in front of her, so they are intimidating, but I think that serves her really well.

Nothing's gonna really wanna mess with this animal since it does look so much like a scorpion and some scorpions can be really dangerous. Thanks for Vinny for letting me show your awesome self to everyone! I’m excited that I'm going to be able to share her off in this way for future school programs!

And thank you for joining me and the arachnid crew! I hope you enjoyed getting to meet Vinny. And if you’d like to keep going on animal adventures with us, subscribe to our channel Animal Wonders Montana and I will see you next week.

Bye! [BOLD OUTRO MUSIC].