Don’t worry, no photos of the pathetic creature here. Yesterday, I found one of my little friends in mid-molt — but there was a problem, and she had failed to extract her left legs, and so her limbs were immobilized and trapped in her old cuticle. I left her alone, hoping that today she’d have managed to complete the molt.
I put her under the microscope, grabbed some watchmaker’s forceps, and delicately peeled away the stuff that had her legs bound. The operation was a success, in that all was removed without doing any further harm to the spider. But now her legs are deformed, and permanently, I think. They’re elongated, and locked together around the patella. She can’t move them. She drags herself around with her right legs, dragging the unmoving mass of the left with her.
I don’t think she’ll make it. This seems to be a common cause of mortality, general failures during molting. I’m suddenly grateful to have squishy stretchy skin that doesn’t need to be periodically replaced wholesale.
<shakes fist at sky> How could a benevolent deity allow such tragedies?