Dolichothele diamantinensis “Brazilian Blue Dwarf Beauty” Husbandry Notes
When I first got into the hobby, I tended to ignore some of the smaller species. I was basically obsessed with larger Ts, and most of my wish lists were filled with the giant species with leg spans of 7″ or more. At that time, I didn’t get some keepers’ obsessions with the so-called “dwarf” species. Wasn’t the point of keeping big spiders to show off species that were larger than your common garden spider? However, as my collection grew and I obtained more spiders, I matured a bit and let go of my anti-dwarf prejudices. I started to seek out smaller species like B. cabocla and dwarfs like Euathlus sp. red and Hapalopus sp. Colombia larges. It quickly became apparent that by shying away from the more diminutive species, I was missing out on some amazing animals.
After seeing some photos of the D. diamantinensis, I immediately moved this small species to the top of my wish list. These gorgeous, highly sought after spiders looked like miniature GBBs with their blues, greens, and a touch of red. Unfortunately, the first slings in the US were quite pricey, so I decided to wait it out a bit until prices fell. Finally, in December of 2016, I received three gorgeous little slings from Tanya at Fear Not Tarantulas with the polite warning that they were very fast.
She wasn’t kidding.
These little guys are quite speedy as slings, and keepers should take precautions before transferring or rehousing them to prevent escapes. I pride myself on my ability to transfer spiders without incident, and these little spitfires gave me a run for my money.
D. diamantinensis slings are quite tiny to start, so a 16 oz deli cup might appear a bit large to start with. On the other hand, they grow fast, so they will soon be using the extra room. To start mine off, I used three of the rectangular sling enclosures (2-5/6 square x 4-3/16” clear Amac boxes) filled with about 2” of moist substrate. Once the substrate started to dry out, I kept one corner moist until they put on some size.
All three quickly took to digging a bit before starting to web up their enclosures. They are prolific webbers, and it didn’t take long before all three had completely filled their cages with thick webbing.
Although this is a terrestrial species, giving them an enclosure with a little height and several anchor points will encourage even more webbing. Many keepers chose to set them up semi-arboreally, as a D. diamantinensis given some vertical space will use it to blanket its surroundings with a veritable carpet of webbing. Just be aware that if you don’t give them some extra height, they will likely web a more shallow enclosure up to the lid.
Don’t let their small size fool you; these cute little spiders are excellent hunters and voracious eaters. The first time I fed mine, I accidentally dropped in a small cricket in with one that was about the same size of the spider. It didn’t matter, as this tiny sling leaped across the cage at it, wrestled it under control, then calmly started to eat it. I was amazed at this show of hunting prowess. As they’ve grown, they continued to be fun to watch hunt as they will burst forth from their webbing to snatch up prey. Slings can easily be offered small red racers or pinhead crickets to start, but you’ll find that you’ll be moving up to medium prey before long. Personally, I like to get some size on my slings as quickly as possible, so I fed mine 2-3 times a week until they hit about 1.25” or so. At that point, I switched to one medium cricket a week.
I’ve also found that this species grows very fast. Even though I acquired these in the winter when temps in my home are in the low-to-mid 70s, they still ate great and molted every month or so like clockwork. In the six months I’ve had them, they’ve gone from about ¾” slings to 2.25” juveniles. I would imagine that those living in warmer climates would experience even faster growth rates. As these tarantulas only reach about 3” or so as adults, it won’t take long before your tiny sling is a gorgeous adult. Better still, mine started showing some of those adult colors at about 1.25”, meaning they’re pretty, even as slings.
D. diamantinensis slings are quite tiny, so just be aware that the standard 16-oz deli cup will be quite spacious at first. Still, these guys are FAST, so the extra room and depth would give a keeper a bit of extra time to react if/when one tries to escape. Also, be aware that they will likely web the entire enclosure up, so opening the cages to feed can be quite a disruptive event. Extra room will help to accommodate the webbing and keep them from constantly webbing the cage shut.
For juveniles, an enclosure offering a half-gallon of space would work great. Once again, a container offering a bit more height than your standard shallow terrestrial enclosure would be prudent to keep them from webbing it shut.
As a smaller species, adults would do well in anything from 2-5 gallons or so. Mine will likely go into large critter keeper style enclosures when they are ready. These offer some extra height and fantastic visibility.
In the wild, this species does experience a dry period during the winter with temps dipping into the mid-to-low 60s, so it’s a hardy spider. That said, they do come from a region that experiences higher humidity throughout the year. Hobbyists have had great success keeping established specimens on dry substrate with a water dish. Keeping a corner of the substrate moist certainly wouldn’t hurt, although most find it unnecessary.
As these guys are likely to web up any water dish you provide, water can also be sprinkled on the webbing in low spots. Their webs are waterproof, so this can serve as a natural water dish from which they can drink.
Provide newly rehoused specimens with a hide, although don’t expect them to use the shelters once they settle in and begin webbing. Again, if you want your spider to quickly web up its enclosure, supply plenty of anchor points for it to start with. Fake plants and cork bark can make for excellent anchors.
In the wild, this species experience temperatures as low as 40 and as high as 95, so room temps will be just fine for them. Mine were kept 72-75 during the winter months, and will spend the summer at 75-82.
As mentioned, slings are skittish and very prone to bolting. They are not, however, defensive in the least. I’ve also noticed that as mine have put on more size, they’ve become much more calm and bold. When I open their enclosures (a disruptive act with all of the webbing), they barely move. I’ve heard some folks with adults say that this species becomes quite calm and docile as it matures, and some describe them as fast but inquisitive. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on their temperaments as they grow up.
For those looking for a hardy, and gorgeous display tarantula, the D. diamantinensis is an excellent choice. And for newer hobbyists who like the way a GBB looks but are intimidated by its skittishness and size, this spunky little dwarf would be an excellent alternative. Some would even argue that their colors are even more visible and brilliant than those of the C. cyaneopubescens. Although this species is still a little pricey (slings normally run $60 or above), it’s a tough, pretty little spider that would make a wonderful addition to any collection.