My young adult A. versicolor before (left) and after (right) a recent molt.
Yesterday, I noticed that my juvenile A. versicolor was looking very picturesque sitting atop its cork bark, so I decided to snap a couple pics. As I was loading them up to resize, I couldn’t help but to look forward to her next molt. After all, this species undergoes some truly amazing and gorgeous color changes as it develops, and I couldn’t wait to see what new appearance the next molt would bring.
I didn’t have long to wait.
Today I was feeding my Ts when I noticed a discarded exuviae in the corner of my A. versicolor enclosure. I immediately took her down, unscrewed the top, and stared in awe at this beautiful specimen. Not only did this new shed bring with it stunning metallic green tones on the legs and even more on the carapace, but her abdomen was finally showing some of that beautiful adult maroon/red. She also put on a fair amount of size this time around, becoming both longer and thicker. As luck would have it, I was able to catch her in almost the exact same spot, providing for a wonderful before-and-after size comparison.
There is a reason this little arboreal beauty is recognized as one of the most stunning tarantula species!
A beautiful alternative to the Lasiodora parahybana!
When I first encountered the Lasiodora itabunae, it was while perusing Ken the Bug Guy’s site. Although I had heard of several Lasiodora species, this one was brand new to me. A quick Google search yielded very little information on this species, and I had trouble even coming up with a common name or photo for it. To say that I was intrigued would be an understatement. After finding a couple keeper reports in which they described basic husbandry requirements for this species, I decided that I would add one to my collection.
The 2.5″ juvenile that arrived was a light brown in color and a bit skittish in behavior. It quickly adopted a rounded piece of cork bark for its enclosure, and spent most of its time waiting just inside its makeshift den for me to drop a cricket in. Prey items were snatched up quickly, and it only refused a meal during premolt. During this period I would occasionally catch my little guy out, but if I touched the enclosure, he would quickly dart back into his den.
Although this is a hearty species with no strict humidity requirements, I have made some observations that have lead me to adjust how I keep him. Initially, I kept my itabunae on dry coco fiber substrate and supplied a water dish that I kept filled. However, after noticing that my little guy stood directly over the dish for hours at a time during premolt, I started wetting down a third of the enclosure. This species seems to appreciate a bit of extra moisture at times, so I now give it the option of dry or damp. I do not, however, measure the humidity in the enclosure.
For temperatures, I keep this guy at about 77º during the day with a drop to about 70-72º at night. In the summer, the temperature range is around 74-84º. I did not notice a difference in eating habits between winter and summer; it ate well regardless. It seems to do very well at room temperatures, even if the temps dip briefly into the high 60s.
My L. itabunae young adult just chillin’.
Some surprises at around 4″
This is a fast growing species that molts regularly and puts on decent size during each molt. Within two molts, it jumped from about 2.5″ to a much thicker 4″. It was during this second molt in my care that I noticed some impressive physical and behavioral changes. Physically, the overall brown coloration was gone, replaced by a gorgeous deep blue/black overall coloration with reddish hairs peppering its abdomen. This is a very handsome tarantula with a striking appearance.
Behaviorally, gone were the days of this T cowering in its den whenever someone touched its enclosure. After this molt, it stood boldly on top of its cork bark as it waited for prey, never budging when I moved or opened its cage. The crickets I dropped in for it barely had a chance to hit the substrate before they were snatched up, and twice it grabbed the cricket directly from my tongs before I could drop it in.
To be clear, this specimen did NOT become aggressive or defensive. It is just much more bold and has a more ruthless food response. It has never charged at me or kicked a hair when I’ve opened its enclosure to do maintenance or to change the water. Due to its new-found attitude, it has now become one of my best display animals, as it is always out in the open.
This species has a great appetite, and I feed my 5″ specimen 3 crickets or a large dubia roach once a week. This is a large T that can grow to 7-8″ in leg span, so I’ll look forward to watching it put on even more size.
My L. itabunae a week after its most recent molt. It morphed from a light reddish-brown to steely blue with red hairs on its abdomen.
I currently house my 5″ specimen in a 5 gallon acrylic enclosure from Lorex Plastics. The substrate is now a mixture of coco fiber, topsoil, vermiculite, and peat moss, and I’ve provided a cork bark hide (which it has only used to molt). A water dish filled with fresh water is always provided, and I use a plastic bottle with holes burned in the top to sprinkle water on this side of the cage. I usually let this side dry out before repeating (although I keep it moist during premolt).
My enclosure decorated and now the new home of my L. itabunae.
L. itabunae is a hardy, fast-growing, striking tarantula that would compliment any collection.
Those looking for an uncommon and handsome tarantula with simple husbandry would be wise to check out Lasiodora itabunae. I will definitely always have one of these unique spiders in my collection.
Euathlus sp. red after she crawled out of her enclosure and into my hand. Note: I normally do not handle my Ts
To hold or not to hold … THAT is the question.
For many keepers, one of the highlights of the hobby is getting some hands-on interaction with their animals. Many new keepers feel that holding a tarantula for the first time is a major accomplishment and a benchmark in the hobby. Tell folks that you keep tarantulas as pets, and the first question usually asked is, “do you hold them?” For some folks, they don’t truly feel like they can graduate from the “newbie” stage of T keeping until they can handle one with ease.
Seasoned keepers often enjoy handling their calmer animals (and sometimes, the not so calm ones) as a way to feel more bonded to these amazing creatures and to show others that they are not as scary as they may seem. Some even use handling for utilitarian purposes like rehousings and maintenance, as they feel that it’s easier than prodding and cupping the creatures. For these folks, years of experience has taught them to read subtle behavioral signs and to recognize when a tarantula might be tolerant of handling.
However, bring up the topic of handling on the message boards, and you are likely to wander into a heated, age-old debate between those who endorse handling and those who consider it an unsafe, unnecessary practice. Like politics and religion, handling discussions can often become angry arguments between two sides stubbornly making a gray-area issue into a black and white one.
When I first got into the hobby, it was a major goal of mine to be able to handle a tarantula without fear. In fact, I purchased my first T, a female G. porteri, in part to get me over my arachnophobia. And after years of studying this creature, my first attempt at handling her almost went horribly awry. After seeing this T sit in one spot for years and never flick a hair or make an attempt to bite, I decided the time was right to finally hold her. After putting her enclosure on the floor, I opened it up and laid my hand inside. Using a paintbrush, I prepared to use it to prod her into my open hand. To my shock, she latched onto the paintbrush, scraping her fangs against it as she attacked. In retrospect, I believe that her actions were a feeding response, and NOT a malicious or aggressive gesture. However, the point remains that, had the brush been my hand, I would have been bit.
As I learned more over the years and read others’ experiences, I quickly realized there really wasn’t a point in trying to handle my animals. I know my first reaction when I get hurt is to jerk back, so if I were to get bit, I’d likely injure the animal by throwing it through the air. Hairs are also NOT fun, so I wouldn’t want a handful of those either. The benefit for me would be that I could brag that I held a tarantula. The benefit for the tarantula would be…well…nothing. Besides possibly causing stress to the spider (they are not affection seeking animals like dogs or cats), I’d be risking it injuring itself from a fall or making a possible escape.
But again, this is just my opinion on the matter, and other keepers would disagree.
I know some folks handle, and I understand the draw of it. I also realize that for some, it makes them feel closer to their pet. It’s just not for me. I would rather show my affection and love for them by not putting them in unnecessarily dangerous situations. Still, I recognize that many keepers handle often and without incident, so handling is not necessarily wrong, and the issue is not a black and white one.
I’ve also heard many stories of folks who have held tarantulas and the experience has helped them to see these creatures less as scary monsters and more as the beautiful and amazing animals they are. Some are even brought into the hobby after these up-close and personal experiences. You can’t deny that’s a great thing.
I do think that keepers need to be informed and use discretion before making the decision to handle, and that experience is needed before this is attempted. So, if you are a new keeper thinking about handling (or feeling less than worthy of being in this hobby because you have not yet handled) here are some points to consider.
NOTE: This essay is not intended necessarily to dissuade folks from handling, and I am not trying to change the views of any keeper who handles. I am just offering some points to consider before taking this step.
You do not NEED to hold your Ts.
If you’re worried that by not holding your tarantulas you’ll be looked down on as a keeper, think again. Many keepers with years of experience have a hands-off policy with their pets. If you look up the topic of “handling” on the message boards, you will find many keepers who admit to handling at first, but who discontinued the practice as they got more experience in the hobby. Don’t feel like you HAVE to hold your animals to have credibility in the hobby.
When friends ask whether you handle, feel confident in telling them that you treat your pets in much the same way as one would treat a fish…you look, but you don’t touch. You can also explain that the decision not to handle does not mean that you are afraid of tarantulas or that they are dangerous. You might just mention the stress it can cause the animal or the need to avoid potential injury if the T were to bolt or fall.
They do not get “tame”, but only tolerate handling.
Although some will debate this, tarantulas are really not recognized for being “intelligent” creatures. I have seen evidence in my own collection that some can be conditioned to respond a certain way to stimuli (I have a few that will now come out of their burrows to eat when I open the enclosure), but saying that they learn would be arguable. It seems that some tarantulas have better temperaments than others, and some will become more tolerant of handling after repeated interactions.
However, it should be noted that if you hold the animal without incident, all that means is that on that particular day, in that particular moment, the T was calm enough to tolerate being handled. Instinct tells them that if something big is reaching for them, it’s likely a predator or danger. They will then bite or hair flick to inflict pain and, hopefully, escape. That’s the natural defense response they’ve developed over millions of years. It doesn’t take much, whether it be a breeze or an imperceptible vibration, to kick a calm animal back into instinctual survival mode.
Have you ever accidentally breathed on one? Their reaction is usually immediate and panicked. Keep this in mind if you decide to hold your pet; one minute it may be sitting calmly in your hands, the next it may bolt or bite. Which leads to…
Tarantulas are not domesticated animals and can be very unpredictable.
Can Ts become conditioned to “tolerate” handling? I believe that probably can. Do they “like” the handling? I doubt it. Are they still stressed? Some might tolerate it more than others, but it only takes a slight breeze to set them off, so I would say any perceived “calmness” can be lost in a second. And here’s where we get to predictability.
They are not domesticated animals; they are essentially wild animals (and not ones recognized for higher-order thinking). This makes them VERY unpredictable. The boards are rife with stories of once docile Ts molting into nasty little monsters (and sometimes molting back to docile again). Their temperaments are NOT always predictable, and many will change as they age. That means that the cuddly little G. pulchripes that you handled at 3″ could be a nippy, hair-flicking demon at 4″. Others talk about Ts that tolerate handling one day, but freak out the next. Keep this in mind before sticking you hand in front of your previously “tame” animal.
Old World tarantulas have more potent venom and use their fangs as defense.
Personally, I see no reason whatsoever to ever try to hold an Old World tarantula. Most are quick, defensive, and pack a wallop of a bite. I’ve seen several videos on Youtube of keepers handling species like OBTs and Pokies in either an attempt to disprove temperament myths or, in some cases, to simply show how “brave” (reckless!) they are. It worries me when I see these that someone might see these videos and think that handling a P. murinus is a common and safe practice. No way.
If you are considering holding an Old World species, take a few moments to read through some of the bite reports on Arachnoboards. Although it’s true that there have been no known cases of a human dying from a tarantula bite, some of the symptoms you may get from a bite are just horrifying. Extreme pain, vomiting, cramping, dizziness, and heart palpitations are just a few of the symptoms. Even worse? Some report symptoms long after the bite. Old World species don’t have hairs as a defense, so if they are startled or threatened, they WILL bite. A mishap from one of these species could end in an emergency room visit.
A bite doesn’t have to be highly venomous to be painful…and getting haired sucks.
Many keepers get hung up on venom potency to the point where they seem to forget that even a bite from a species with weaker venom is going to hurt. A 6″ New World tarantula can still pack a very painful bite, even if the venom isn’t enough to put you in the hospital. Some of the New World species get quite large, and the larger the T, the larger the fangs. Just the mechanical damage from this alone could be a problem.
And then there is the hair. Many people who haven’t experienced urticating hairs poo-poo them as a weak and negligible defense technique. After all, how bad could some prickly little hairs be? The answer is, VERY bad. Some species have very irritating hair, and people’s reactions to them can prove to be more than just a minor annoyance. The effects can also leave you feeling very uncomfortable for several days, which can be no fun. Catch hair in the eyes or breathe some in, and you will likely be headed to the ER for help.
Also, even though you may not have a bad reaction to a hairing the first time it happens, many keepers complain of increased sensitivity the more times they are exposed. This means that you never get used to the hairs, but instead your body becomes more reactive them. Some keepers report having to get rid of certain species because they find the hairs too irritating to deal with. Just something to consider…
Handling is not necessary for a transfer or maintenance.
Some folks find that it is easier and safer to use their hands to move tarantulas during rehousings. Obviously, if they have the experience and it works for them, who am I to judge. However, I’ve have done dozens of transfers, and I’ve never had a situation where I felt that I needed to handle the animal. In fact, I try to keep my hands and fingers away from them as I work. I am calm and deliberate when transferring, and my goal is always to move the animal with minimal stress and as little risk to me and the T as possible. In my opinion, handling the T could add stress for the animal and put it in harm’s way should it bite or flee up my arm. The key is NOT to rush it and to back off and try again later if the animal starts to show signs of stress or agitation.
One bite is all it can take to end up with you and/or your tarantula injured. You have to ask yourself, if one of your pets decides that it is not in the mood, are you really going to be able to keep from flinching and flicking it into the air? Is it worth the risk? It’s a question that you have to ask yourself…
As with all things tarantulas, the key is being informed and prepared.
Again, many keepers extol the benefits of handling tarantulas, so if you still decide that handling is for you, you are certainly NOT doing something wrong. However, you do want to keep in mind some of the points above so that you are prepared and are able to keep you and the animal safe. Google “tarantula handling” and read up on techniques and precautions and watch some of the Youtube videos that show proper handling. Be ready to study your pet before hand to make she displays the temperament that would make her a good candidate for handling.
Full disclosure: I HAVE held my Euathlus sp. red a handful of times, but not for fun. That little booger tends to climb right out of her enclosure every time I open it, and I usually use my hand to just gently put her back in. I have not taken her out for the purpose of handling, though.
When I went searching for my first tarantula back in the late ’90s, the only information I could find on them was in exotic pet magazines and outdated books. Although there was plenty of information to be found on common species like G. rosea and B. smithi, many of the species I encountered at shows, some labeled with nonsensical common names, were enigmas. Back then, if you saw something that looked “cool”, you bought it with little concern to whether or not the species might be a bit too much for someone new to the hobby to handle. I’m sure several folks went home with animals that they they were ill-equipped to care for (or that they became terrified of).
For more information on this topic, check out the updated article and video version by clicking on the link. This new version not only includes a YouTube video with all of the species listed, but I’ve added a few to the list. There is also a poll for folks to choose their top choice for best beginner tarantula. Check it out!
Today with internet, any information you need is just a mouse click away. With hundreds of websites, blogs, and forums devoted to tarantula keeping, it is much easier for the novice keeper to interact with other enthusiasts and access current information on the hobby. Nowadays, there is no excuse for ignorance, and it is the responsibility of the newbie to do his or her homework BEFORE acquiring a new animal.
Perhaps the first question one new to tarantulas should be asking is, “What is a good beginner tarantula species for me to start with?” There are a staggering number of species currently available in the hobby, and many of them have dispositions or husbandry requirements that render them unsuitable to novice keepers. Conversely, there are several species that make for excellent “gateway” pets into this addictive hobby.
To create the following list, I first drew from my own experience and observations. I then reviewed several forum threads on good beginner Ts from three different message boards and recorded the species that came up the most. Species have been selected on temperament, ease of husbandry and care, and cost and availability. There are certainly other species that would make good pets for the first-timer. If you feel that I missed your favorite, feel free to comment.
Now…onto the list.
1. Brachypelma albopilosum
Photo by Kelly Swift from Swift’s Invertebrates, and amazing tarantula dealer.
Whenever one asks on the boards what the best beginner T is, the B. albopilosum is mentioned early and often. A gentle terrestrial with a medium growth rate, the “Honduran Curly Hair” is renowned for its calm disposition and ease of care. Reports of hair-kicking or threat postures are almost non-existent, and many report handling this T frequently and without incident. This species is very readily available in the hobby, with slings often given as freebies, so this is not an expensive species to acquire. Plus, their little curly hairs just make them so darned cute (they are always having a bad hair day).
Check out my B. albopilosum in the video below!
I keep my little guy with mostly dry substrate and moisten one corner. It is kept at room temps (70º to 84º) and it has been growing at a slow pace. Slings like to dig, so be sure to give them a few inches of substrate when they are smaller. Adults will normally remain out in the open, but a hide should be provided.
2. Euathlus sp. red
Euathlus sp. red
This dwarf species is the only one I can confidently refer to as “adorable”. Maxing out at about 3.5-3.75″, the Euathlus sp red is a calm, gentle, inquisitive species and a wonderful beginner T. Although I don’t normally handle my animals, this is a species I find myself making an exception for. Whenever I open their enclosures for maintenance, these curious little guys will calmly climb out of their cages and into my hand. Many times, they will curl up next to my thumb and just sit there. For one looking to ease into the hobby, there is no better ambassador. This is the tarantula I introduce to folks who have a fear of the animal.
Husbandry for these little guys is easy. Dry substrate with a water bowl is sufficient; I overflow the bowl a bit, and I’ve observed that they will sometimes stand over the moist patch. They do fine at room temperature (my temps range from 70º to 84º throughout the year). I supply hides, but my girls rarely use them.
See this little gal in action in the video below!
Things to consider: If there is a downside to this species, it can be its propensity to fast during the cooler months. For someone new to the hobby, this could be cause for stress. Also, as slings they are VERY small. Finally, with Chili closing its borders to exporting tarantulas, the wild caught young adults that used to be readily available on the market will be drying up. As not many folks are breeding these in the US, the Euathlus sp. red is becoming very difficult to come by.
3. Eupalaestrus campestratus
Photo by Anastasia Haroldson from Net-Bug, a wonderful vendor.
Long overdue on this list, the E. campestratus (or “Pink zebra beauty”) has long been sought after by hobbyist for its pretty appearance and its consistently gentle temperament. Folks who keep this species gush about about its laid back personality and willingness to be handled. In researching this animal, I couldn’t find a single incident of one biting or kicking hair (although, they are certainly capable of both).
Like the other species on this list, the care for E. campestratus is quite elementary. As this species endures temps in the mid 60s in the wild, it’s a wonderful “room temperature” specimen. It should be provided with a terrestrial enclosure with mostly dry substrate. As this species does come from an area where it rains heavily for part of the year, a water dish should be provided for a bit of extra humidity. That being said, the E. campestratus is a very hardy and would be fine in most conditions.
Things to consider: This is another slow growing species, so a sling is likely to take quite some time to mature. Also, these haven’t been as readily available in the hobby lately, making it a bit difficult to find one.
4. Grammostola pulchra
Photo from Wikipedia (Unfortunately, my juvenile isn’t showing it’s colors yet!)
Sometimes referred to as “The Black Lab of Tarantulas”, the G. pulchra is a jet black gentle giant. Reaching sizes of 8″, this heavy-bodied T is recognized for its very calm nature and is usually a species that is reluctant to flick hair and tolerates handling well. A very slow growing species, females can live for decades while even the males can make it to 8 years. This means that if you purchase one as a sling, you will enjoy many years with this animal regardless of the sex.
Like the previous species mentioned, this species does well on dry substrate with a water dish. I like to keep one corner of the enclosure a bit damp. Slings will dig, so provide them with several inches of sub to allow for burrowing. Older specimens should be provided with a hide. I keep this species between 68º and 80º.
Check out my G. pulchra below!
Things to consider: Slings of this species can be a little more on the expensive side, with $40-$50 being common. It is also a very slow grower, so if you buy a sling, it will be quite a few years before this T hits its adult size. Adult specimens are also very expensive, with large females fetching $200 or more.
5. Brachypelma Smithi
4″ B. smithi female
One of the most gorgeous and long-lived species (at least in my opinion) is also one of the best starter tarantulas. With its fiery red/yellow/orange leg markings set against the dark brown/black base color, this is one awesome showcase animal. The B. smithi is also known to mature into a calm, even-tempered adult, which makes it a wonderful starter tarantula. With an estimated life-expectancy of 40-plus years for females, you will also have decades with your new pet.
Again, there are no special care requirements with this species. An enclosure with more floor space than height, dry substrate, a water dish, and a hide will suffice. Slings will want to burrow, so provide them with a few inches of sub to tunnel in. I keep mine at temps between 68º and 84º, and there are no humidity requirements.
Check out my girl in the video below!
Things to consider: Younger B. smithi can be skittish, kicking hair or even threatening to bite when disturbed. Most will outgrow this behavior. As this is a long-living species, adult females can be quite pricey.
6. Grammostola pulchripes
Photo copyright Snakecollector.
The G. pulchripes or “Chaco Golden Knee” is a beautiful terrestrial species that can reach an impressive size of 8″. Like other Grammostolas, this one is a slow grower, taking many years to reach maturity. However, the G. pulchripes is generally recognized as having a very calm disposition, which makes it a wonderful candidate as a first tarantula. Many point to this species as one of the ones most tolerable of handling. And, for those looking for a display T, this golden-striped beauty loves to sit out in the open, meaning you’ll always see your new pet. Even better, the G. pulchripes is readily available, and slings can be procured for as little as $10.
Check out my G. pulchripes in the video below!
As slings, these guys are little bulldozers, constantly digging an rearranging their substrate. Be sure to give slings plenty of mostly dry substrate in which to play. I keep mine in containers allowing for about 4″ of sub, and I moisten down one corner. Adults should be kept in an enclosure allowing for more floor space than height with a water dish and hide provided. These guys can be kept at room temps (I keep mine between 70º and 84º) and there are no specific humidity requirements.
Things to consider: Although this T has a reputation for tolerating handling, individuals may vary in temperament. This is also a large T, so a bite could be quite painful and could cause mechanical damage. Always exercise caution if handling and make the safety of your animal your first priority.
7. Grammostola rosea/porteri
Notice the coloration on the carapace.
For years, the G. rosea (or “Rosie”, as it’s often referred to) was the most recommended beginner species. This readily available, inexpensive tarantula is recognized for its extreme hardiness and a supposedly tractable disposition. Although other species have emerged over the years that have proven to be better first Ts, the G. rosea shouldn’t be overlooked. For someone looking to get their first T, this slow-growing, long-living species can be a great choice. With the porteri reaching a max size of about 6″, it is a fairly good sized display T as well. G. rosea/porteri slings can usually be purchased for under $10, and adult females can be acquired for around $30, making this species VERY affordable.
The G. rosea/porteri are very simple to care for. Supply them with dry substrate, a hide, and a water dish. I do NOT moisten overflow the dish as this species abhors wet sub. This species will tolerate temps in the mid-60s, so for folks with cooler home temps, this species could be ideal.
Check out my G. porteri female below!
Things to consider: Despite its rep for being a “handling friendly” spider, this species can be quite unpredictable in temperament. Many keepers admit to having “Psycho Rosies” that can be quite defensive and bitey. The G. porteri is also known to fast for long periods of time, which can be quite disconcerting for new keepers. Finally, this species is the quintessential “Pet Rock”, spending the majority of its time sitting in one spot.
8. Euathlus parvulus
The E. parvulus or “Chilean gold burst” is a wonderful beginner species that is often overlooked by new hobbyists. This medium-sized tarantula (females get about 4-4.5″ or so) has a slow growth rate, meaning it’ll be with you for a long time. This is a docile species that can be a bit skittish, but is generally calm overall. Mine has never flicked a hair or given me a threat posture, and it usually just sits calmly when I perform maintenance. The E. parvulus also a bit more active than some of the “pet rock” species, although it will spend much of its time just sitting out in the open.
Care is simple: a standard terrestrial set-up with dry substrate, a cork bark hide, and a water dish is all they will need to thrive. Mine does well in temperatures 70-76 in the winter and 74-80 in the summer time, but adults would be perfectly comfortable in temps down to the mid-60s. For folks with cooler home temps in the winter, this would be a tarantula you could keep without needing supplementary heat. This species likes it dry, so their is no need to moisten the substrate or spray the enclosure. Dry substrate with a water dish is all it will need.
My Euathlus is a good eater and has only refused food before a molt. Currently, she gets one large (or two if they are a bit smaller) crickets once a week or so. As a slow-growing species, this one doesn’t need a ton of food to be happy and healthy.
Check out my E. parvulus in the video below!
I’ve heard this species referred to as “just another big brown spider”, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. From its dark metallic green carapace to the red patch on its abdomen, this is a beautiful little tarantula. Although it may appear brown at first glance, sunlight (or a flashlight) reveals a myriad of striking colors. Plus, it’s got some adorable raised patches of hairs on it’s abdomen that are quite unique.
Things to consider: With Chili banning the export of its tarantulas, this species might become more difficult to come by in the future. Many of the specimens being sold were wild caught sub-adults and adults, so larger specimens will most likely become scarce.
*Note: The following species are still beginner level due to cost and ease of husbandry, but their behaviors can make them a just a little trickier than the those of the tarantulas named earlier. Also, I would not endorse attempting to hold any of these next two.
9. Chromatapelma cyaneopubescens
Many first time keepers are immediately enticed by some of the more colorful species available on the market. Unfortunately, if they do their research, they will soon discover that the P. metallica, M. balfouri, and H. lividum are advanced Ts that would normally prove overwhelming for the new keeper. Enter C. cyaneopubescens, or the GBB. This stunning species sports amazing colors, and its easy husbandry makes it a wonderful entry-level tarantula. GBBs are voracious eaters, only refusing food when they are in premolt, and they have a reasonably fast growth rate, which is great for the impatient keeper. They are also prolific webbers, making for a beautiful display animal.
See my girl in action in the husbandry video below!
This is a species that likes it dry. For slings, I keep one corner a little damp and use and eye dropper to put a little drinking water on the webbing. If supplied with a little extra height and something to anchor to, this species will produce copious amounts of webbing. I keep this species between 70º to 84º; it has no specific humidity requirements. They eat like machines, often snatching prey before it hits the ground, so keep them well fed.
Things to consider: I have seen this species described as an “intermediate” level tarantula due to its speed and skittishness. That said, this was one of the first tarantulas I acquired, and I had no problems with it. As long as the keeper is respectful of its speed, there should be little issue. This might be one you get as a sling so that you can get used to the animal and its personality as it grows.
10. Lasiodora parahybana
4″ L. parahybana female. This specimen doesn’t sport its darker adult coloration yet.
Bigger is always better…that can often be the mantra of someone new to the hobby. Many keepers become fascinated with large tarantulas after learning some of these beasts get to 9″ + in size. Unfortunately, some of the larger genera like Pamphobeteus and Theraphosa have husbandry requirements and temperaments that can make them too advanced for many keepers. However, for those new to the hobby who are looking for something BIG, the L. parahybana is the perfect choice. This large terrestrial has been said to reach sizes of 10″, although 8″ is probably more common. Although slings and juveniles can be a bit skittish, flicking hair when disturbed, most adults are calmer and make great display Ts.
Check out two of my LPs in the husbandry video below!
Husbandry is simple: provide this species with more floor space than height, and keep the substrate on the dry side. I do moisten approximately 1/3 of the sub and allow it to dry out in between. A water bowl with fresh water should be provided at all times, as should a hide (although my larger specimen never uses hers). They are tolerant of lower temps, but this is a species that will grow like a weed if kept a little warmer. Mine are kept between 70º to 84º. Although there are no stringent humidity requirements, mine seem to appreciate a moist area. Smaller slings like to burrow, so give them an enclosure that allows for a few inches of substrate.
Things to consider: This is a large species, and should be treated with care. A bite from this animal could do serious mechanical damage. Also, as this spider can get very large, space may be an issue as it reaches adulthood. Be prepared to procure larger housing.
Did I miss one?
There are obviously many other species out there that can make for good beginner pets. Do you think I missed an obvious one? Let me know in the comments section, and perhaps I’ll add it to the list.