Grammostola pulchra – Brazilian Black Tarantula Caresheet

species-grammostola-pulchra

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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

Venom: Mild

range-g-pulchraUrticating 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.

Description

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


brazilian-black-slingG. 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.


Further reading

The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide Stanley A. Schultz, Marguerite J. Schultz. (2009)

Brazilian Black Tarantula blog

Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens – Greenbottle Blue Caresheet

species-brachypelma-smithi

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Scientific Name: Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens (Strand 1907)

Common Name(s): Greenbottle Blue

Range: Northern Venezuela

Habitat: Scrubland and desert edges

Experience Level: Beginner/intermediate

Type: Terrestrial, burrower

Size: Leg span up to around 15cm (6″)

Growth rate: Medium/fast

Venom: Mild

Urticating hairs: Yes

Temperament: Generally docile but can be nervous and skittish. Doesn’t strike often, but can bite repeatedly if provoked, and some like to flick hairs.

Description

range-C. cyaneopubescens range

Greenbottle blues (often just called GBBs) are a beautiful and interesting species of new world tarantula, with bright coloring and markings.  The abdomen is orange with striped markings, while the carapace is green and the legs are bright metallic blue making for a really striking spider.  Even slings are quite colorful, but their markings darken and brighten with each moult.

These are terrestrial burrowers, and quite heavy webbers.  They like to web all around their burrows, and will renew their webs on a regular basis.

Keeping Greenbottle Blues in Captivity

C. cyaneopubescens makes a hardy and low maintenance pet.  Their care requirements don’t stray far from those of most “beginner species” and one of these could certainly be regarded as suitable for a first tarantula, but I’ve marked them as beginner/intermediate due to their slightly skittish and nervous nature.  They are also quite fast, so GBBs should only be considered as a first T by confident keepers who won’t be put off by a fast and possibly nervous spider.

For general care requirements, read the beginner’s guide to tarantula care page which gives a good overview of tarantula husbandry.

As a ground dwelling burrower, your green bottle blue will need a glass or plastic enclosure with more floor space than height, with a deep dry substrate (2 – 3 inches of coconut coir, or dry potting soil), and plenty of ventilation.  Provide a hiding place (such as half a flower pot, coconut shell, or a piece of cork bark), and a shallow water dish.  As already mentioned, this species like to web heavily so will appreciate a variety of textures such as plastic plants and cork bark in the enclosure as webbing anchors.  Many specimens will pretty much fill their entire enclosure with webbing, even as slings.  Humidity should be kept fairly low, with occasional misting.

A diet of crickets, cockroaches and locusts is ideal.  As with all tarantulas, feed prey items of a suitable size – no larger than the spider’s abdomen.


Further reading

Stanley A. Schultz, Marguerite J. Schultz. The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide  (2009)

 

Brachypelma albopilosum – Honduran Curlyhair Tarantula Caresheet

brachypelma albopilosum

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Scientific Name: Brachypelma albopilosum (Valerio 1980)

Common Name(s): Curlyhair tarantula (Honduran curlyhair tarantula)

Range: The east of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica

Habitat: Scrubland, brush, and the edges of forest

Experience Level: Beginner

Type: Terrestrial, burrower

Size: Leg span up to around 14cm (5.5″)

Growth rate: Medium

Venom: Mild

Urticating hairs: Yes

Temperament: A very docile species, one of the most handleable tarantulas

Description

The curlyhair gets its name, as you might expect, from the exceptionally long and curly hairs covering its plump body and legs, giving a very distinctive look to offset its rather drab colouration.

Range or Brachypelma albopilosumBeing CITES II listed, as all Brachypelma species are, hasn’t prevented this wonderful tarantula from becoming very popular with keepers, primarily due to their docile nature and tolerance to handling. Most keepers report that their specimens are among the most tractable of all tarantulas, almost never acting skittish or defensive, making them an ideal beginner species. They do have urticating hairs, but they are not quick to flick them.

B. albopilosum breeds readily in captivity, so slings and juveniles are easily obtained and relatively cheap, though like all Brachypelma species adults will tend to be more expensive. They are a hardy species, and faster growing than some other Brachypelma species such as the popular Redknee (B. smithi) which only adds to their popularity. While it’s true they don’t have the beautiful coloration of species such as B. smithi, or even G. rosea, and their unique curly hairs can make them look somewhat “scruffy”, that only adds to their charm and any would be tarantula keeper could do far worse than starting out with one of these wonderful Ts.

For general care requirements, read the beginner’s guide to keeping tarantulas page which gives a good overview of tarantula husbandry.

curlyhairAs a medium/large terrestrial T and an opportunistic burrower, a curlyhair will need a glass or plastic enclosure with more floor space than height, with a deep dry substrate (2 – 3 inches of coconut coir, or dry potting soil), and plenty of ventilation. Provide a hiding place (such as half a flower pot, coconut shell, or a piece of cork bark), and a shallow water dish. In my experience B. albopilosum tend to be heavier webbers than other Brachypelma species. They don’t like high humidity (around 50% – 60% is ideal) so don’t mist or spray for adults, but always have a small dish of fresh water available.

A diet of crickets, cockroaches and locusts is ideal. As with all tarantulas, feed prey items of a suitable size – no larger than the spider’s abdomen.


Further reading

Stanley A. Schultz, Marguerite J. Schultz. The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide (2009)

 

Grammostola rosea – Chilean Rose Tarantula Caresheet

Grammostola rosea

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Scientific Name: Grammostola rosea (Walckenaer 1837)
(previously Grammostola cala)

Common Name(s): Chilean Rose Tarantula (Rose hair tarantula, Chilean flame tarantula)

Range: Northern Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina

Habitat: Scrubland and desert

Experience Level: Beginner (see below)

Type: Terrestrial, burrower

Size: Leg span up to around 14cm (5.5″)

Growth rate: Slow

Venom: Mild

Urticating hairs: Yes

Temperament: Often docile species, but some specimens can be temperamental.

Description

Often touted as an “ideal beginner tarantula” the Chilean Rose has been one of the most popular tarantulas with amateur arachnoculturists for the past three  decades.  Their popularity stems from being a very hardy species, tolerant to a wide range of conditions, and often being tolerant to handling, though some can be defensive.  Their popularity is also due to the fact that adult and sub-adult specimens are relatively cheap.  Unhindered by the CITES status of tarantulas in the Brachypelma genus, these are still exported to the US and Europe in large numbers, while at the same time slings are readily available due to successful captive breeding. This has led to them being probably the most widely kept of all tarantula species.

range grammostola roseaThis medium sized but full bodied terrestrial tarantula gets its name from the red/pink hairs covering a fairly dully coloured body.  Several colour forms exist, which were originally thought to be different species, and has led to some confusion in both the binomial and common names (i.e. G.cala as Chilean Flame) while they are now considered one species (in fact different color forms can come from the same eggsac) with the binomial name G.rosea, and the official AAS common name as Chilean rose.

Keeping G. Rosea in Captivity

As evidenced by their enduring popularity, G. rosea can make an excellent pet.  However, there are mixed feelings by enthusiasts as to whether they are an ideal beginner species.  On the one hand they are exceptionally hardy, and it’s almost difficult to make a mistake in keeping this species – they will thrive in a wide range of conditions, so any keeper who has done proper research on keeping tarantulas will probably be able to provide suitable care.  On the other hand, while generally docile they can be temperamental, and they have a reputation for being “pet rocks”.  In fact they often go for extended periods without moving, and have a tendency to fast for long periods of time (sometimes months!) which can be disconcerting, especially to the first time tarantula keeper.  Some specimens also break all the rules and do the complete opposite – they never seem to stay still!  These “wanderers” have periods when they are over active, and will tend to climb excessively often at risk of injury from a fall, depending on enclosure setup.  My advice, would be to think about a Chilean rose to raise from a sling, after getting a little experience with another species (which is actually what I did) but either way, if you are considering G.rosea then please read this excellent article at tarantulas.com first, it’s one of the best pieces I’ve read on the subject and highly informative, going into detail on the particular issues with this species.

For general care requirements, read the beginner’s guide to tarantula care page which gives a good overview of tarantula husbandry, but do also refer specifically to the article linked to in the paragraph above!

The Chilean rose is a ground dwelling burrower, so you will need a glass or plastic enclosure with more floor space than height, with a deep, generally dry substrate (at least 2 – 3 inches of coconut coir, or dry potting soil), and plenty of ventilation.  Provide a hiding place (such as half a flower pot, coconut shell, or a piece of cork bark) at one end of the enclosure, and a shallow water dish at the other.  They don’t like a damp substrate, or high humidity but so long as your enclosure is large enough, keep the water dish at one end and when you fill it, overfill it slightly to moisten the substrate.  This will create one end of the enclosure (opposite end to the hide) with higher humidity, which can help prevent dehydration if your spider decides to fast.

A diet of crickets, cockroaches and locusts is ideal.  As with all tarantulas, feed prey items of a suitable size – no larger than the spider’s abdomen. They are also prone to being over fed as adults, so avoid the temptation to offer more food than necessary.  A healthy, adult will only eat 6 – 8 adults crickets a month, much more than that can cause obesity problems.


Further reading

Chilean rose answer page at tarantulas.com

Stanley A. Schultz, Marguerite J. Schultz. The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide  (2009)

Brachypelma smithi – Mexican Redknee Tarantula Caresheet

species-brachypelma-smithi

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Scientific Name: Brachypelma smithi (F.O. Pickard-Cambridge 1897)

Common Name(s): Mexican Redknee (Mexican Red-kneed tarantula)

Range: Southwestern Mexico

Habitat: Dry scrubland and brush

Experience Level: Beginner

Type: Terrestrial, burrower

Size: Leg span up to around 15cm (6″)

Growth rate: Slow

Venom: Mild

Urticating hairs: Yes

Temperament: A generally docile species, though many will flick hairs quite readily.

Description

The beautiful Mexican Red Knee is the most iconic of all tarantula species, having been a popular pet species, and its appearance in a number of Hollywood movies and TV shows including Home Alone, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and several James Bond films to name just a few.

range-b-smithiOne look at this impressive tarantula and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.  A large, robust looking spider with bright banded coloration, from deep blacks to oranges and the distinctive dark orange or red colour on the legs.  Females are full bodied and reach a leg span of around 15cm (6 inches).  They are also believed to be one of the longest living species, with females living 25 years or more in captivity.

They were once by far the most popular species of tarantula. but the entire brachypelma genus were added to appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) treaty in 1985, which prevented their export from Mexico, and effectively stopped international trade.  However, B. smithi breeds quite readily in captivity, so it’s still widely available though adult specimens in particular are markedly more expensive than some other tarantulas.

Keeping B. Smithi in Captivity

B. smithi makes a hardy and low maintenance pet.  As a terrestrial, new world species with low humidity requirements, the Mexican Redknee is one of the simplest tarantulas to care for, and is suitable for beginners to the hobby.

For general care requirements, read the beginner’s guide to tarantula care page which gives a good overview of tarantula husbandry.

As a ground dwelling burrower, your redknee will need a glass or plastic enclosure with more floor space than height, with a deep dry substrate (2 – 3 inches of coconut coir, or dry potting soil), and plenty of ventilation.  Provide a hiding place (such as half a flower pot, coconut shell, or a piece of cork bark), and a shallow water dish.  Brachypelma species don’t like high humidity (around 50% – 60% is ideal) so don’t mist or spray, but always have a small dish of fresh water available.

bsmithi-bald-spotA diet of crickets, cockroaches and locusts is ideal.  As with all tarantulas, feed prey items of a suitable size – no larger than the spider’s abdomen.  Redknees tend to be good eaters, so if they seem uninterested in food you can be fairly sure they will soon moult.  Since they like to flick hairs, there will likely be a bald spot on the abdomen and this will darken in premoult (picture shows a bald spot on a female red knee, when in premoult this will look a lot darker).


Further reading

Distribution and Natural History of Mexican Species of Brachypelma and Brachypelmides
A. Locht, M. Yanez and I. Vazquez – JOURNAL OF ARACHNOLOGY, 1999
 (PDF)

Stanley A. Schultz, Marguerite J. Schultz. The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide  (2009)

Brachypelma smithi in the wild – www.mantid.nl