Scientific Name: Grammostola pulchra (Mello-Leitão, 1921)
Common Name(s): Brazilian Black Tarantula
Range: Brazil and Uruguay.
Habitat: Grassland and pampas
Experience Level: Beginner/Intermediate
Type: Terrestrial, opportunistic burrower
Size: Leg span up to around 20cm (8″)
Growth rate: Slow
Urticating hairs: Yes
Temperament: A generally calm and docile species, suitable for beginners though care should be taken due to their large size. They tend to be reluctant to bite and don’t tend to flick hairs as much as many other species making them very desirable for beginners.
It’s not difficult to see where this impressive looking species of tarantula gets its common name – as adults they are jet black with a striking velvety appearance (immature spiders such as the spiderling shown below tend to be brown, taking on their adult colour after several moults). Combined with their striking looks, their impressive size and generally docile and tractable demeanor make them incredibly desirable to enthusiasts, and suitable for beginner tarantula keepers. A ban on export from Brazil however, combined with their slow rate of growth, means that adult specimens tend to be rather expensive.
Keeping G. Pulchripes in Captivity
G. pulchra is a terrestrial species which will often burrow if given the opportunity, so a decent depth of substrate (of several inches) should be provided, though many specimens will tend to take up residence in any type of hie provided.
For general care requirements, read the basic guide to tarantula care page which gives a good overview of tarantula husbandry.
An adult Brazilian Black will require a large enclosure such as a large plastic or acrylic tank, or a 10 – 15 gallon aquarium with a suitable top. Provide a deep, fairly dry substrate (4 – 5 inches of coconut coir, or dry potting soil), plenty of ventilation, and a secure lid. A large piece of cork bark will serve as a suitable hiding place (half a coconut shell won’t be large enough for an adult!), and a large shallow water dish should be provided at one end of the enclosure which can be overfilled to dampen the substrate slightly at one end of the tank. No special care requirements are necessary.
A diet of large crickets, cockroaches and locusts should be provided. But as with all tarantulas, feed prey items of a suitable size (no larger than the spider’s abdomen).
Like with G. pulchripes, one of the reasons for G.Pulchra being so sought after for some people is their tolerance to being handled. It’s true that this species in general tend to be docile and fairly tolerant to handling, but remember that every individual tarantula is different. Though they don’t tend to bite and have relatively mild venom, care should be taken since the fangs of an adult are large enough to do mechanical damage. As always, handling is at the individual’s own risk and should be avoided if possible.
The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide Stanley A. Schultz, Marguerite J. Schultz. (2009)