I can't re take the shot I mangled whatever was left from it and it was the only thing I managed to capture, which isn't great. It was too small and got obliterated (I'm as delicate as a nail gun) ...
I've seen far too many enthusiasts discard molts, thinking they were helplessly destroyed when in fact they're just fine. The parts that you need to look for and recognize are actually very well reinforced and will survive almost everything up to actually being stomped on. The major problem is your being able to recognize what you're looking at.
Did you save the molt anyway? Or, can you still retrieve it? If so, do the following:
Mix a solution of about a cup of warm water and two or three drops of mild, liquid, dish detergent.
Fold a piece of paper toweling into quarters and lay it on an appropriately sized saucer or plate.
Lay the molt on the paper toweling and start dripping some of the soap water solution onto it with an eye dropper.
Let it set for a few minutes to give it time to soak up the liquid and soften.
Use a couple of toothpicks or very large sewing needles (e.g., darning needles) to carefully dissect the softened molt. You're trying to identify that portion that came off the abdomen of the tarantula. Those of us who do this often use two or more biology lab style dissecting needles (easily homemade from lengths of 1/4" doweling and large darning needles), and pair of reasonably good, reasonably fine-tipped forceps (some mechanic's and machinist suppliers sell them). These are kept in our "Kit" (see here
) with all the other little things we need for caring for our tarantulas.
When tarantulas shed their skin they often manage to somehow twist the skin that covers the abdomen into something that resembles a rope. You may need to very carefully uncoil that skin to open it up and spread it out on the toweling.
You can safely ignore most of the rest of the molt. What you're looking for are two whitish patches connected by a hardened, often dark brown, bowl-like structure that often is trapezoid shaped like so: 0/__\0
The whitish objects (the two "0" things in my diagram) are the two forward book lungs. The trapezoidal thing (i.e., /__\) is a body plate called the "epigynal plate." This is very heavily scleratized and almost indestructible. And, the underscore that I've drawn across my little diagram is a crease (the "epigynal crease") that connects the rearward edges of the book lungs, and forms the rear edge of the epigynal plate. It's really there, you just need to poke around until you recognize it. Once you find it, you want to arrange for the concave side to be facing upward, towards you.
What you are looking for is a dam-like or leaf-like plate (called the bursa copulatrix
) arising from the rear edge of the epigynal plate and extending upward and forward into the tarantula's body cavity. Look at the photos in the links I gave you earlier. In very small molts, and in very badly damaged molts they may be obscure. Take your time. Work slowly and carefully. Sort out all the pieces and try to identify where they belong on the living tarantula's body.
If you get tired, or start getting too uptight over the project, lay another piece of paper toweling on top of your sample, then cover it with another upturned plate (maybe in the frig if you have to leave it more than an hour or so) and set it aside until you recover. You can always remoisten it with a little more soap water if you need to.
Now you know a little of what a medical student goes through when dissecting a cadaver in anatomy class!
As my mother-in-law (a grand old lady, may she rest in peace) once told me, "It all goes under the heading of pleasure!"
Best of luck. Keep us posted. Enjoy your little, 8-legged, black ghost!