The Jewel of the Antilles!
For a video version of this article, click the link above!
(Note: The following article is an update on my original C. versicolor husbandry article from October 19, 2014. )
Despite being very common and established in the hobby, there is perhaps no tarantula available right now, save maybe the T. blondi, that causes owners more stress over the husbandry than the C. versicolor. When I first got into the hobby, I was immediately amazed by this gorgeous arboreal, which starts as a stunningly-blue sling and morphs into a fuzzy, multi-colored adult. The C. versicolor has been one of my favorite spiders to grow up, as it is beautiful and colorful in every stage of its life.
The Caribena versicolor hails from the island of Martinique, one of the Caribbean islands. With a tropical climate all year round, Martinique is generally hot and humid 12 months of the year, with plenty of rain and sunshine during both its dry and wet seasons. This spider lives the lush forests and banana plantations, creating its heavily webbed home in the crooks and hollows of trees. For some amazing video of this spider in the wild, I encourage you to check out the channel World of Spiders.
Anyone researching this amazing species will likely find information that is frustratingly confusing and contradictory. On one side are the keepers who still say this species is difficult to keep due to strict humidity requirements. However, keepers who have had success with this spider argue that humidity and moisture are not as important as good cross ventilation, and that a stuffy, humid cage will prove to be a death sentence for this animal. Unfortunately, while focusing on the high heat and humidity of their natural habitat, some folks tended to ignore that the island usually enjoys air-circulating winds for most of the year.
These dank enclosures resulted constant mention of SADS, or “Sudden Avic Death Syndrome”, the name of the phenomena where a seemingly healthy Avicularia (the versicolor’s old genus) suddenly dies for no apparent reason. The message boards and chat groups were rife with stories of these little blue spiders curling and dying suddenly and without an obvious cause. Many now believe that these deaths can be attributed to the misguided husbandry of keepers struggling to maintain bogus high humidity requirements. Continue reading