Best Beginner Tarantulas

Aphonopelma, Brachypelma, Grammostola, Information, Lasiodora, New World, Old World No Comments »

So you’ve decided you want a tarantula. You’ve become obsessed with watching feeding videos, molting videos, grooming videos, unpacking videos, hell, maybe you’ve even watched a couple of breeding videos – but what tarantula is right for you? Depending on your experience with other exotic animals, you may find yourself capable of what might otherwise be considered an intermediate species, but here is my list of the top 5 beginning species (with many bonus options) for those just starting out.

 

Even though I have narrowed this list down to five specific species, these species were chosen with an entire genus in mind. This widely opens your choices, which will largely be aesthetic. Like bright colors? Or jet black? Guess what, both choices can lay within the same genus – giving you varying types of eye candy with the same care needs and behaviors. And what qualities make a good beginner species, anyway? Species that hardy, eat well, grow quickly or grow large, move slowly, are not likely to bite, and have low venom potency are all qualities most people look for when looking for their first pet tarantula.

 

Grammostola pulchripes

Grammostola pulchripes (Chaco Golden Knee Tarantula): Okay, so I am a little biased with this species because it is what I personally started out with when I first got into tarantulas, and I’ll tell you why! Not only is this species hardy and of a very gentle disposition – but they get big and are quite lovely with their contrasting colors. Other species in this genus are also great choices because of their hardiness and there are a variety of colors you can choose from. Out of this genus, Grammostola rosea is often recommended as a beginner, but is known to be rather two-faced – calm and tolerant one moment, and ready to bite anything that moves the next. As long as you are not planning on handling though, that won’t be a problem! Other favorites in this genus include G. pulchra (the Brazilian Black) and G. iheringi (the Entre Rios – beautiful but a bit uncommon).

Brachypelma albopilosum

Brachypelma albopilosum (the Curly Hair Tarantula): Now, this species is just fun. Although it is largely brown, it’s charm lies in its long and (you guessed it) curly hairs. This species, and the others in its genus, are very easy to care for. Although many other Brachypelma species are more striking to look at due to their red or orange hues, the albopilosum is much less likely to flick hairs. Although many of the brachypelma genus are slow moving and easy to handle, their urticating hairs may leave you itching for hours, so handling is not recommended. Out of this genus, I have found that vagans is the most likely to show some attitude – and that can be a pro OR a con depending on what you like!

Lasiodora parahybana

Lasiodora parahybana (Salmon Pink Tarantula): Not only is the species fairly docile and a pinch to take care of – it is very cheap and easy to find! It is also one of the largest-growing species, reaching over 10 inches in size. This species is a fantastic eater and grows quickly, adding to its perks. There are other species in this genus that would be equally great choices, but their availability will be lower and their price will be more. Temperament can vary greatly between individual specimens, with attitude showing as they grow larger. Although their urticating hairs are not as bad as those belonging to Brachypelma, many people still have some sensitivities to them. Another perk despite the large size and voracious appetite of these tarantulas is their likelihood to hang out in the open for your viewing pleasure.

Aphonopelma chalcodes
Aphonopelma chalcodes (the Desert Blonde Tarantula): Just like the above suggestions, this genus has a ton of options. It is the genus that holds the tarantulas native to the United States, and species from this genus can be found through North and Central America. Care of species in this genus are similar to Brachypelma species, and there are a variety of species available to choose from. Although many species can be found close to home for American hobbyists, some species can still fetch a hefty price-tag due to captive bred Aphonopelma species being uncommon. They are not exactly fast growing, but you can usually pick up a juvenile or adult specimen for less than many other species of tarantulas.

Euathlus sp Red
Eathlus sp. Red (the Chilean Flame Tarantula): If a larger spider is not what you are picturing as your first spider, this dwarf species may be up your alley. This is a great species in that it is VERY docile and it’s care needs are simple. As this is a dwarf species barely reaching three inches, you’ll want to aim for a sub-adult or adult to ensure its easy-to-care for quality. This is a curious species that is apt to wanting to see what is going on outside of its enclosure. This species is incredibly slow growing, but for those just starting out a specimen of at least one inch could be just what you need to get your feet wet.
Written by: Christina Vulyak

Neoholothele incei pairing and mutation

Breeding Reports, Neoholothele 1 Comment »

Breeding report: Neoholothele incei

Olive Mature Female with Olive Mature Male

Olive Mature Female with Olive Mature Male

 

Begin with female well fed in a somewhat moist but not saturated enclosure, introduce male. If receptive, female will tap back to the male. If there is no tapping from the female, it’s best to try another day.

After witnessing a successful insertion from the male, immediately rehouse the female into a fresh enclosure with saturated substrate (so wet you could squeeze water out of it). Feed female heavily until she webs herself into her chamber.

 

Incubation times (temps at a constant 83 F)

 

0-12 days- eggs

12-13 days- EWLs

14-23 days- 1i

23-30 days- 2i

 

Color forms:

Neoholothele incei has two color forms. The first is the “olive” or wild type, the second being “gold.” Unlike other theraphosid species with recognized colorforms, the color forms of N. incei aren’t locale specific but rather genetic mutations. It is uncertain what type of mutation the gold colorform is, however data is suggesting it is a simple recessive trait. Over the last 6 months I have bred Neoholothele incei extensively, using every combination of colors to prove the gold color form is genetic; here are some of my findings;

To start, I paired each olive female to a gold color form male. This allowed me to determine whether or not said female was heterozygous (het) for the gold gene. We can use punnet squares to predict the outcome of the eggsac, however to do so the genes of the pair must be known, hence my initial pairings. Out of 7 olive females initially bred to gold males, only 1 female of the group produced approximately 50% gold offspring in the sac, with the other 50% being olive. So, that one female was noted to be het for gold while the other 6 were noted as homozygous olive.  (note: a female noted het for gold is still olive colorform, as a gold specimen is inherently homozygous).

As predicted, a gold female mated to a gold male yielded 100% gold slings, and a homozygous olive female mated to a homozygous olive male yielded 100% olive slings. When a heterozygous female was mated to a heterozygous male, the sac was approximately 60% with the rest being olive.

*Note: the colors of offspring within a sac can deviate from the predicted percentages significantly since theraphosids reproduce in rather high numbers compared to other animals.

 

Homozygous olive female (gg) mated to homozygous gold male (GG), produce offspring heterozygous for gold (gG)

 

Heterozygous for gold female (gG) Mated to homozygous gold male produce offspring with approzimately half being homozygous gold, and half being heterozygous for gold

 

A homozygous gold female mated to a homozygous gold male will produce all homozygous gold offspring

 

A het for gold female mated to a het for gold male yields the most complicated mixture of offspring:

Approximately 25% gold slings, 25% homozygous olive slings, and 50% heterozygous for gold slings. Since the genes of an olive specimen cannot be determined based on phenotype, olive slings from these pairings are typically labeled 66% possible het, as there is a 66% chance that thany one olive sling from this sac is het for gold.

 

Article by Jonah Lazich

Photos by Jonah Lazich/Bellinghamarachnids

In search of Brachypelma red leg tarantulas

Brachypelma, Information, Lectures No Comments »

The following lecture is based on a talk Andrew Smith delivered at the BTS (British Tarantula Society)about Brachypelma.

It revolved around his field trip to the Pacific coast of Mexico and the Sierra Madre Mountains in search of the wonderful red leg tarantulas of the genus Brachypelma. This is a very interesting video that is must watch

You can view as well as read a lot more of Andrew’s amazing works on his website lovetarantulas.com

Andrew Smith on a brachypelma tarantula

Pictured is Andrew Smith on a mature female tarantula

 

From wikipedia:

Brachypelma is a genus of the family Theraphosidae containing several species of tarantulas.

The species are native to Mexico and neighboring countries of Central America. Habitat destruction and pet-trade collection have led these spiders to be among the few arthropods protected under the international Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species rules. They are docile tarantulas which are easy to keep in a terrarium. The most famous species in this genus are the Mexican redknee tarantula B. hamorii (formerly B. smithi), curlyhair B. albopilosum, and the Mexican redrump B. vagans. They feed on smaller invertebrates and occasionally vertebrates, but while insects are the norm, they may also eat lizards or frogs. These species, like most tarantulas, are cannibalistic, so in captivity, individuals must be kept singly, though brief captive introductions of a mate for breeding purposes can prove unproblematic, so long as they are separated once mating has occurred.