Tarantula Corrections
 
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Prologue.  Sarah sent me a fairly long email with corrections to my tarantula page(s).  Since she went to so much trouble, I'm printing her words here pretty much verbatim.  I'll add some pictures later.  In the meantime in the interest of alacrity, here's her info.
 
Sarah Hinchliffe, Springfield, VA, February 14, 2010
Hello! I came across your website and saw your pages on tarantulas. I know you've had some emails previously regarding tarantulas, I just wanted to clarify a few things as I've been in the arachnid hobby for years and wanted to help you guys out.

No Blowing ZoneIt's definitely not a good idea to blow on tarantulas :) Any puff of air will cause the tarantula to assume it's a predator and just like the Pterinochilus murinus ("Starburst Baboon" or proper common name, Usumbara Baboon) on the first page, they become defensive. Also, with New World tarantulas (or tarantulas from the Western Hemisphere), they have the ability to kick their urticating setae ("hairs"). When these hairs from hell become airborne they can become stuck in sensitive skin and mucous membranes - and even your eyes - so it's not a good idea to blow on tarantulas. It just irritates them and you could suffer serious consequences from what seemed to be an innocent puff of air.
 
Best Substrates.  Most tarantulas require adequate substrate and a burrow to be happy. Wood chips will KILL your tarantula because they are sharp and unforgiving. They will rupture a tarantula's abdomen if they fall on it, or cause tears on the underside of the abdomen due to the tarantula crawling over the wood chips, leading to a rupture and eventually death. Many oils in the wood chips are toxic to tarantulas and it will kill them. Any kind of aromatic wood, (cedar, juniper, fir, etc.) has toxic oils. Cedar is especially toxic to tarantulas. Wood chips are good for certain rodents and reptiles, but not good for invertebrates. Peat moss is much cheaper - you can go to your local Lowe's or Home Depot and find a huge block of Canadian peat moss for a little over $4, and it lasts forever. Second, a clay pot (no broken ones, just as dangerous as wood chips) on its side and partially filled with substrate will make a good burrow for terrestrials. Your Asian (Old World) tarantulas like Haplopelma will like deep substrate so they can make their own burrow. The humidity is also crucial for their health. They are very aggressive if they are not happy. Most of the time my three Haplopelma bolt into their burrows as if their hairs' on fire if I barely move their tanks. Tarantulas normally seek shelter if they're afraid. If they have no shelter, their last resort to protect themselves is to fight off an attacker. Tarantulas do not like rocks in their terrarium - plain peat moss, and if you absolutely have to, a piece of cork on a very slight angle suffice.

Water Bowls.  Tarantulas do not need anything in their water bowls except a piece of smooth slate for their food items to save themselves from drowning. Wood is not good as it holds bacteria, and sponges are even worse as crickets love to lay their eggs in them and defecate all over them causing even more bacteria to flourish, which can kill your tarantula.
 
Tree ClimbersArboreals such as Poecilotheria regalis (Indian Ornamentals), Psalmopoeus irminia (Venezuelan Sun-Tigers), and Avicularia genus (Pink-Toes), need a taller terrarium and a few pieces of fake plastic plant. Terrestrials and burrowers don't have much of a use for fake plants as they enjoy matting them down into the substrate with their own web.

Climbers.  ALL tarantulas can climb - they don't use their web to climb; instead, they have special pads on their feet. These hairs, called scopulae, feel almost sticky to the touch and allow the tarantula to grip slick surfaces. Tarantulas also have tarsal claws (two on each leg, and two on each pedipalp) that look somewhat similar to cat claws that they use to help them grip better on bark and leaves.
 
Webs.  If a tarantula builds a web, it's meaning can vary. It could be a mature male spinning a sperm web, it could mean the tarantula is going to make an egg sac, it could mean the tarantula is happy, and it also could mean that the tarantula is ready to molt. Many tarantulas build webs because that is what they do; Avicularia are notorious for building web just because that is in their nature to do so. They live so high above the ground, they have enormous web structures. Pterinochilus tarantulas are arboreal in nature - meaning they build their webs ABOVE ground, in the tall African grass. In captivity, 90% of them build webs on the substrate, or burrow under the substrate and form their own little tunnels.
 
Allergies.  Also, you CAN have an allergic reaction to tarantulas. Many people who are allergic to bees and wasps probably should not be keeping tarantulas, since scientists have come to the conclusion that tarantula venom is similar in chemical makeup to bee and wasp venom. There's a fine line between "venomous" and "poisonous". Reptiles, arachnids and insects who need to inject their venom are venomous. Those who secrete their toxic defenses from external glands are poisonous.
 
Sexing.  As far as sexing goes, not all male tarantulas develop the tibial hooks on the front of their legs. That is not the only way to tell their gender, by the way. Ventral sexing (or looking at the underside of the tarantula and knowing what to look for) is a good way. Checking the exuvium's - or shed molt - is even better. Third, males have embolus bulbs on the end of their pedipalps (those "short legs" just to the sides of the chelicerae, or their fangs) they look like little round boxing gloves. They are very distinct from the normal, flat pedipalps on females and immature males who have not made it to their ultimate (sexually mature) molt. Other less than accurate ways are checking the dorsal side of the tarantula; males have thinner, more oblong shaped abdomens while females are normally a lot rounder and plumper. Also, males are leggier than females, having thinner and longer legs. Your best way to sex your tarantula is to check the molt. Nothing is as reliable. if you see a small flap on the inside of the molt's abdomen in between the first two booklungs, it's female. The flap is the uterus. If there is no flap, it's male. Tarantulas shed everything when they molt, including their esophagus and pumping stomach.
 
GOOD CHOICES FOR BEGINNERS:
 
Grammostola rosea - or Chilean Rose tarantula. Very docile and very hardy.
 
Brachypelma albopilosum - Curly Hair tarantula. Gorgeous tan color and looks to be having a perpetually bad hair day every day.
 
Avicularia avicularia - Pink-Toe tarantula. Although these are jumpers and are fast runners, most are very easy-going and look like little metallic black fuzzies with pink toes.
 
Now, ANY Grammostola, Brachy or Avic are good for beginners. Why? They don't usually kick hairs, and Avicularia cannot kick hairs in a CLOUD. They have to physically rub their little bums on you to "hair" you. As far as the ungood choices you've recommended...
 
"Cobalt Blue" is Haplopelma lividum. An Asian burrower, they NEED a deep burrow and somewhat moist substrate to be happy. Wood chips, as mentioned above, don't make them happy. They cannot feel secure in their environment without a decent burrow.
 
"Ornamental Chevron" is Psalmopous cambridgei. They are just like their cousins, the P. irminia, or "Venezuelan Sun-Tiger" tarantulas, except I personally believe they're just a lighter color form. They are fast and it's easy to set them off. Their venom is not that potent as the Indian and African arboreals such as Stromatopelma, Poecilotheria and Heteroscodra, but bites still hurt nonetheless.
 
"Indian Ornamental" is Poecilotheria regalis. This venom potency falls into the red catagory, which means it's very strong. P. regalis is the ONLY "Pokie" that has a cream stripe on the ventral side of the abdomen. They are very fast and are not usually aggressive. I handle mine frequently without incident. As with it's equally venomous cousin from Africa, Heteroscodra, this genus demands an experienced keeper with a respect for their venom and speed.
 
"Skeleton-Leg" is Ephebopus murinus. They're considered to be high-strung and they love to burrow. They're not as potent as the above tarantulas, but they still demand respect because of their bad attitudes and their sudden ability to spazz and go nuts all over their enclosure.
 
The definition of "Baboon" tarantula varies. Pterinochilus murinus is a "baboon" tarantula. And although it isn't that venomous, it's bright orange and usually not happy. Heteroscodra maculata is a "baboon" tarantula, and it's a white and black mottled arboreal with some of the strongest tarantula venom. Most of your "baboon" tarantulas are found in Africa. So, basically, "baboon" is just a widely varied slang for tarantulas of the African continent.
 
Banana tarantulas aren't really tarantulas but a smaller spider not in the Theraphosidae (tarantula) family. Their venom has a punch, and because of their size, people who are not well-versed in arachnid identification assume they're tarantulas.
 
Onto the second page...
 
The second photo down is listed as "Mexican Red Rump" - actually, it's not.. it's an Avicularia bicegoi, or "Brick-Red Pink-Toe". This is a rare and hard to find animal, not usually found in pet stores. This tarantula is usually a purple color as a mature female, although as odd as it seems I have seen reddish-orange females. The males are usually orange hued with a fire-red abdomen.

The fourth photo down from that shows a tarantula with tiger striping on the abdomen, a copper-colored carapace ("head", if you will) and black legs. That's not a Mexican red-rump, either. Mexican red-rumps are Brachypelma vagans. They are all black with a red bum. The tarantula pictured here is Cyclosternum fasciatum, or Costa Rican Tiger-Rump. I have five of them and they are very pretty!

The one you have listed as a "Purple Pink-Toe" is not even a pink-toe. This is a terrestrial, most likely of the Brachypelma, or even possibly Lasiodora genus.

The "Salmon Pink Bird Eater" you have listed below that one is a Grammostola rosea! True salmon pink bird eaters are Lasiodora parahybana.
 
And a tarantula identification for you here, the last tarantula photo on the page is a Ephebopus cyanognathus, or "Blue Fang" tarantula. It is in the same family as E. murinus, or the skeleton leg. This one however is much prettier with the metallic blue chelicerae.
 
The first unidentified tarantula on your third tarantula page looks very Lasiodora to me.The one below it looks to be a Theraphosa blondi, a Goliath bird eater, not a Thai black. Thailand black tarantulas are ALL black and have an abdomen the same shape as the H. lividum, or cobalt blue tarantulas. The scientific name for the Thailand black tarantulas is Haplopelma minax.

The "Tawny Red Baboon" is a Haplopelma albostriatum, called the Thai zebra tarantula - you can tell by the gold markings on the legs. Hysterocrates gigas is a tawny red baboon. They look like the C. crawshayi, or King Baboon, but they are darker brownish red.
 
Also, one more spider identification for you - the Costa Rican Sun-Tiger you have listed is the Psalmopoeus irminia, the "Venezuelan" Sun-Tiger. This is why I don't like using common names, they confuse people :)
 
Well, that's all I found that I could help with :) you might enjoy checking out arachnoboards.com, which is an arachnid enthusiast forum that I frequent - or letting your tarantula specialist check out the website - that way, you'll be able to identify the rarer, hard-to-find species that come into your shop, and you'll be able to figure out what kind of habitat that best suits the tarantulas' individual needs. There are a lot of knowledgeable people on the forums!
 
Have a good one,

Sarah Hinchliffe, Springfield, Virginia
My photography website:
http://www.wix.com/Psalmopoeus/photos

YouTube channel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/superhotspiderchick
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/ArachnoQueen


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