I found this Aphonopelma 7 months ago near my house ...
And, "near my house" might be where? DON'T GIVE AN EXACT ADDRESS! We only need to know the nearest city/town and state.
... He has eaten only once or twice since I've had him and usually ignores any food I put in. ...
In September it was probably all set up for a long winter's nap. Until you caught it. As such it had already pretty much shut down for the season, and simply wouldn't take much of an interest in food until warm weather arrives. But, by then it's time to molt instead, which it could easily be doing, judging from the season and what little I can see of the top of its abdomen.
... He has not molted in my care ...
From about 2/3 grown till old age and death the Aphonopelma
ordinarily only molt once a year in spring. So, this behavior is not entirely unexpected.
Which begs the obvious question, "How big is it?" (Use D
... compared to when I first found him he seems to be in worse shape! Do you think he scraped away the hair on his carapace because he is stressed out? ...
Stress probably has nothing to do with it. The tarantula is probably just looking a little worse for the wear because this is the molt-a-rama season, and it is preparing to change suits.BUT WAIT!
There is another possibility. It could be preparing to bless you with an eggsac. How do you feel about becoming a stepparent to 200 baby spiders?
If it begins a massive earth moving project or digs a shallow depression and begins to spin a bowl shaped web in it, prepare yourself.
In the meantime, I suggest that you read Care and Husbandry of the Chilean Rose Tarantula
. You can skip most of it because it discusses a different species, but the link should take you to the part about caring for an eggsac. That part would be very relevant.
In addition, Carolyn Swagerle has recently published a great little book, The Legacy of Annie Rose
, that deals with her triumph over arachnophobia (of only passing interest to the current issue), and describes her method for hatching and successfully caring for several hundred baby Chilean rose tarantulas, quite germane to this topic. This book might also interest you.
Don't handle it. Don't get worried if it stops eating. Everything's going to be all right. If it stops eating, remove all the crickets (or other food) and don't try again until it molts or about July, whichever comes first. No, I'm not kidding. It looks nice and plump and could probably easily go a year without eating if it had to. Just make sure it always has a water dish in case it gets thirsty.
Please get back to us on this thread (so we can more easily review the history) as things develop.
Enjoy your little 8-legged surprise party!
Edit: One final thought - Whatever it does, especially if it DOESN'T
molt out into a mature male, it's going to have a terrific hunger after all this. Some enthusiasts feed their tarantulas all they can eat at times like that. I prefer to keep them on the 1 cricket per week/4 or 5 per month diet. Tarantulas don't have to be obese to be happy.