Late last year, while looking for interesting new species of Ts to possibly add to my collection, I encountered P. cancerides (Hispaniola Giant or Haitian Brown) slings on several sites. A couple of the descriptions I read didn’t make them sound particularly interesting, with cancerides being described as good eaters, but fast and skittish tarantulas that mature into large 7+ inch brown females or purplish male adults. Still, the slings were gorgeous, sporting a gorgeous blue sheen, and the fast growth rate was a plus. After weeks of reading personal accounts from those who kept this species, and finding them all to be enthusiastically positive about these animals, I decided to pick a couple slings up from Jamie’s Tarantulas.
I’m so glad that I did.
P. cancerides has quickly become one of my favorites. My juveniles have a vicious feeding response, stalking their prey with a fast, no-nonsense approach that I’ve only seen in my female L. parahybana. My large P. cancerides will literally leap at prey at an awesome speed. However, as described, they are more skittish than aggressive, choosing to flee into their dens rather than stand their grown or hair kick when their enclosures are opened. I’ll be interested to see how their temperaments change as they mature.
Speaking of dens, both of my juveniles are ambitious burrowers, constructing huge underground caves for their dens. However, unlike some of my other burrowing species, they spend much of their time standing boldly out on the surface for easy viewing. No matter time of day, they are usually right out in the open, ready for another meal.
As for the rate of growth, my two larger specimens have only molted once in my care. However, the amount of size gained between molts was nothing sort of amazing. My slings started off at a thin 1.5 inches, but grew to an impressive and robust 2.25″ after molting (see photos). More than just the length was the thickness of the spiders; they went from looking like little bluish garden spiders to hairy mini Ts. Both of my cancerides are in pre-molt again, and I can’t wait to see how much they grow this time around.
Their care has proven to be quite simple: I keep both of mine in plastic jars measuring 4.5 L x 4.5 W x 7″ H filled to a couple inches from the top with a mixture of coco fiber and sphagnum peat moss (with a layer of vermiculite at the bottom to retain moisture). This gives them plenty of space for burrowing, and the layer of vermiculite at the bottom allows for better moisture retention and a humidity gradient. The top of the substrate is mostly dry, although I overflow the water bowl on one side; the bottom of the substrate is damp. I do not mist, and instead pour water in a corner and allow it to percolate down to the lower levels.
The enclosure is well-ventilated with a round 2″ vent in the top and strategically place air holes in the sides to supply cross ventilation. The temperature is around 70 degrees at night with a high of about 78 degrees in the day. These two are fed medium crickets or roaches twice a week.
I recently picked up a third P. cancerides, a 1″ sling from Net-Bug, in hopes of increasing my chances of procuring a female. If my current trio turn out to be all males, I will look forward to buying more slings and growing some more. This is definitely a species I’m interested in breeding in the future. For someone with some T keeping experience, P. cancerides is a beautiful, fast growing, hardy tarantula that would make a perfect addition to any collection.