So, earlier this week I was a bit disappointed when one of my Monocentropus balfouri young adults molted into a mature male. Although the little guy is gorgeous with his metallic blue carapace and legs, it means he won’t be with me all that much longer.
Well, yesterday I was delighted to discover that one of my others molted, and it’s a girl! The little beauty was stretching out on the surface, so I took the opportunity to get some photos and this quick husbandry video.
If I were to make a list of best entry-level Old World tarantulas, the M. balfouri would likely be right at the top. This fossorial species is very simple to keep, needing only deep, dry substrate and a water dish to thrive. Mine do well in temperatures in the 70s, although higher temps would lead to faster metabolisms and growth.
Temperament-wise, they are quite calm compared to some of my other baboon species. I’ve found these guys to be more skittish than defensive, and to date I’ve only received one threat posture from any of them. When startled, they will usually just bolt to their dens and hide. That said, temperament can vary from specimen to specimen, and this species is quite fast and can pack a wallop of a bite, so caution is always advised.
Even better, of all of my fossorial species, my balfouris are usually quite visible, venturing out at night to hunt and sometimes just hanging out on the surface. This isn’t your standard “pet hole”, which is great as they’re just too darned pretty to spend all of their time hidden.
Although I feel like I tend to ramble a bit in all of my videos, this one might be even worse do the impromptu nature of it. I was basically snapping photos of this little girl when it dawned on me that I should get a video before she retreated to her den again. So, with little preparation, I set to it. You’ve been warned!
With school in full swing (I’m a teacher by trade), I’ve had less time to sit in front of the computer and write my blog posts. Writing time has basically been limited to weekends for the time being.
However, as I am always diddling around in my tarantula room, it is quite convenient to whip out the camera and catch some footage as I work. It’s been a bit of an awkward transition (talking to an audience you can’t see is a LOT different from teaching a classroom full of kids), but I’m actually finding it a lot of fun.
This video was particularly fun to film, as this cute little girl just did not want to stay in her enclosure! She is easily the most inquisitive tarantula I keep.
A little side note: if you’re interested in this species and you find one for sale, buy it. With Chili closing it’s borders to the exportation of their species (many of the young adults offered on the market were wild caught) and with few people breeding them, the Euathlus is becoming very difficult to come by.
When I noticed some chunky yellow mold forming in my P. atrichomatus‘ den, I figured it was time for this specimen to get a new home. I’m guessing that the little guy left a bolus or two down in the moist lower levels of the enclosure, which led to the break out. Now, normally I don’t freak out if I find a bit of mold in an enclosure; if kept in check, it poses no threat to the animals. I will just used a spoon to spot clean and let the affected area dry out. However, as this mold was inaccessible, and the spider would outgrown the enclosure with its next molt, a rehousing was in order.
Because my daughter, Sid, has been encouraging me to do more YouTube videos, we broke out the camera and headed out to the garage to make a rehousing/husbandry video. I’m hoping that folks that aren’t enamored with my often long-winded care blogs might find the videos a bit more accessible (and my daughter not-so-secretly hopes these vids will launch her YouTube career…).
A typical fast-growing, hardy Phormictopus species
Although I cover most of this species husbandry in the video, I’ll share a bit more in-depth info for those who don’t watch it.
I picked a trio of these guys up as 1.25″ slings from NERD back in April and, like my other Phormictopus species, they’ve proven to be voracious eaters and fast growers. The largest of the three is now pushing 3″ or so, and the other two are around 2.5″. As slings, I keep all of my Phormictopus on deep, moist substrate. All have exhibited a propensity to burrow, so I encourage the behavior. Slings are a beautiful shade of blue, and despite having burrows, most will remain visible at the entrances as they wait for prey.
As they hit the juvenile stage (about 1.75-2.5″ or so), I don’t worry much about keeping the substrate moist. At this point, they will have a larger water dish for drinking and humidity, and I’ll pour some water over the substrate every month or so, letting it dry out in between. I still give them deep substrate to burrow in, which allows the deeper portions to remain moist and maintain more humidity. However, I’ve observed that by the time they hit the 3″ mark, most will stay right on the surface and will only race to their dens when spooked.
These guys like to eat
Like Theraphosa and Pamphobeteus species, Phormictopus are great eaters and fast growers. Even though mine are kept on the cooler end at times (70-26 in the winter and 75-80 in the summer) they still grow like weeds. The size gained between molts is truly impressive, with larger specimens picking up an inch (and quite a bit of thickness) during a shed.
With that quick growth comes a healthy appetite, and my Phormictopus species gobble up crickets and roaches like they’re tic tacs. I generally feed my juvenile 3-4 crickets at time, and watching these spiders scramble to snatch them all up is incredibly entertaining. They will literally zigzag across the enclosure at startling speed as they chase down crickets.
A large, “spirited” terrestrial
Although this is a very hardy tarantula with relatively simple husbandry requirements, it might not make the best beginner T. Phormictopus species grow into rather large, quick tarantulas with plenty of attitude, which could make them quite intimidating to those used to calmer terrestrials. As slings, species in this genus tend to be more skittish than defensive.
However, with size comes attitude.
I have observed that their infamous attitudes seem to start to manifest more as they get larger. My sub-adult specimens are quite bold and wont hesitate to stand their ground or come at you when you disturb their enclosure. Although I have yet to have one flick hair, I have seen some fangs. An amazing feeding response coupled with a defensive nature can make for some heart-stopping moments with these guys. Although I’ve been fortunate in that most of my Phormictopus species tarantulas have been relatively calm, I have seen what can happen when a large specimen is spooked (or mistakes the tongs for a cricket). Personally, I love their spirited behavior, but other keepers might find it a bit off-putting.
However, for those with some experience under their belts who are interested in large, fast-growing terrestrial tarantulas, P. atrichomatus or any other Phormictopus species should not be overlooked.
With some encouragement from my 10-year-old daughter (who’s a bit YouTube obsessed), I’ve decided to post some more videos and work on my channel a bit. I’ve already filmed a couple transfer videos, and I’ll be doing some fun feeding features as well. However, as someone just asked me about how I care for my Pamphobeteus species, I figured it would be cool to start with a husbandry video about my Pamphobeteus species duran.
Instead of doing a normal husbandry blog, I broke out my Nokia 1520 and filmed the little guy/gal as I spoke. I won’t lie … this was a bit more fun than just sitting in front of the computer and writing about them. Hopefully, this is entertaining and not too irritating…