Theraphosa blondi

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This is a specific care sheet for Goliath Bird Eating Tarantulas (Theraphosa blondi), for more in this genus see Category:Theraphosa.

Species Information Bar
Goliath Bird Eating Tarantula care sheet
Theraphosa blondi
Goliath Bird Eating Tarantula
Goliath Bird Eating Tarantula
Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Subphylum: Arachnomorpha

Class: Arachnida

Subclass: Micrura

Order: Araneae

Suborder: Opisthothelae

Family: Theraphosidae

Subfamily: Theraphosinae

Genus: Theraphosa

Species: T. blondi

Theraphosa blondi was given the name the Goliath Bird Eating Tarantula when explorers witnessed a specimen feeding on a hummingbird in South America. The local natives of the rain forests occasionally eat these spiders as a delicacy. This new world terrestrial tarantula is considered as the largest tarantula in the world because of its remarkable 25-30cm leg span. It currently holds the place in the book of Guinness World Records for the largest spider and is powerful enough to feed on frogs, toads, lizards, mice and snakes.
Tarantula Information (for a more detailed Tarantula care review see Tarantula Care Sheets
Information and Tarantula Care
Regions Found: Venezuela, Northern Brazil, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname.
Class: Terrestrial and ground dwelling
Longevity: Reach maturity in 3-5 years and females can live to 25 years, whereas males will die shortly after reaching maturity
Adult Size: Leg span of 25-30cm
Temperament: Very aggressive and will make defensive hissing noises
Urticating Hairs: Yes and lots of them
Venom Potency: Strong and painful
Theraphosa blondi Housing Requirements
Tarantula Housing: Floor space is more important than height, a deep substrate should be provided for burrowing. A good retreat is required.
Temperature: 24-28°C (75-82°F)
Humidity: About 80%
Special Requirements: Humidity needs to be increased near a moult to prevent problems
Breeding Theraphosa blondi Tarantulas
Breeding Difficulty: Difficult
Egg sac size: 50-150
Danger to Male: Possible sexual cannibalism
Theraphosa blondi Diet
Livefood insects such as crickets, locust, butter worms, meal worms, superworms, houseflies and cockroaches.
Recommended Pet Supplies for Theraphosa blondi

The goliath bird eating tarantula[edit]

Theraphosa blondi
The Goliath Bird-eating spider is large and very stocky spider with a broad carapace, thick legs, and a large abdomen. It is a terrestrial species and has evolved to this large, heavy body type living in the humid burrows of the tropical forests of South America. They are a hairy, light-brown coloured spider with a leg span that can extend up to about 25 cm (10 inches) but can be up to 30.5 cm (12 inches).

Though the male and female are very similar, a mature male will be more slender and long-legged, as with other species of tarantula. They mature at about 3 to 4 years and females can live for up to 25 years while males live just past reaching maturity.

Housing goliath bird eating tarantulas[edit]

Adult Goliath's can be kept in a converted aquarium with approximately 2-3 square feet of floor space. You should add at least 20 cm (8 inches) of substrate (peat moss or cypress mulch are recommended) and allow this terrestrial species to dig a burrow. A large shelter can be offered in the form of a cork bark cave or a half-buried clay pot.

Theraphosa blondi enclosure
Spiderlings will generally be semi-arboreal until they are strong and large enough to begin burrowing into the substrate. They will climb, so a piece of cork bark would make a nice web anchor. They can be kept in small containers such as pill tubs and waxworm tubs and slightly larger species can be kept in livefood tubs. Use moistened peatmoss or similar substrate to ensure the humidity levels are correct.

Temperature[edit]

The Goliath Bird Eating Tarantula requires a temperature range of 24-28°C (75-82°F). At night a temperature drop of up to 6°C (10°F) may be useful to best recreate the natural daily cycles that a spider would encounter in the wild.

The use of heat mats or under tank heating (UTH) will increase substrate temperatures, whereas lamps will increase air temperatures. You can use both these apparatus along with thermostats to control the temperature within the vivarium. The warmer you keep your tarantula, the higher its metabolic rate will be, the higher the humidity will be and the faster the substrate will dry out. Keeping a tarantula at a lower temperature is not necessarily a bad thing.

Humidity[edit]

T. blondi is a rainforest species and they require high humidity levels of above 80%. It is important to keep the humidity high or this tarantula will not live very long. A mix of peatmoss and water, combined with under tank heating and a large shallow water bowl should help to provide these high humidity levels. A hygrometer can be used to measure relative humidity within the enclosure and additional humidity can be provided by misting the tank regularly with a misting bottle. Reducing ventilation may seem an easy way to increase the humidity but this can also lead to the air in the vivarium becoming stagnant which will without a doubt lead to the death of any pet tarantula.

Feeding[edit]

This specimen is powerful enough to feed on frogs, toads, lizards, mice, snakes and even birds, although in captivity these tarantulas should diet on mainly small insects such as crickets, locust and beetle larvae.

Similarly to other tarantulas, the bird eating tarantula will eat insects, reptiles and small rodents up to their own size. Suitable insects include crickets, moths, beetle larvae (meal worms and superworms), houseflies and cockroaches. Although they may take on rodents and reptiles in the wild it is not recommended you feed them in captivity, for complications may arise such as a fatal bite by the food item itself.

Theraphosa blondi

When feeding livefoods, although it may be fun, try not to over challenge your Bird Eater by giving it food items that are too large. Stick with something about half the size of the tarantula and remove uneaten food items so they do not cause harm or stress.

Spiders usually eat massive amounts post-moult until they are full, this is called power feeding. They will refuse food pre-moult or when ready to lay an egg sac. It usually takes about 1 week to 1 month for a Theraphosa blondi to accept food after a moult, because of the skin and fang hardening process. You can’t really over feed a tarantula, but this doesn't mean you should overdo it by giving it 50 crickets after a moult; the tarantula will probably end up killing them all and leaving dead ones uneaten. If this is the case then they should be removed to prevent bacteria and mould growth. The other factor is that a plump abdomen is more prone to rupture if this species falls from a height.

Theraphosa blondi are sometimes troublesome to feed as they will spend a long time down in burrows and it’s just not possible to know if a missing food item has been eaten or is rotting in the burrow. To encourage feeding try to drop the food items near to the tarantula and so that it lands on the web at the entrance to the burrow. Hopefully you will see the Bird Eating Tarantula jump out and grab it.

Goliath bird eating tarantula health[edit]

Moulting Problems[edit]

The Goliath Bird Eater is notorious for its moulting problems. A significant number of T. blondi will die as juveniles through getting stuck in a moult or simply damaging themselves while moulting. This is one reason why the humidity should be maintained at a high level, as humidity softens the moulted exoskeleton allowing it to be removed.

Breeding Theraphosa blondi[edit]

Theraphosa blondi are particularly difficult to breed, and even after a successful courtship it is likely that the female will eat the egg sac. Several couplings are usualy required for a successful mating. The egg sac size is huge and can be upto 3cm in diameter, containing some 50-150 eggs. Nymphs are typically dull coloured and nothing more than eggs with legs, but from the first moult the huge size of this species can begin to be appreciated.

Preparing to breed Theraphosa blondi[edit]

Adult female Goliath Bird Eating Tarantula
If you are sure that you have an adult male and female Theraphosa blondi you have the two main ingredients to making up to 120 spiderlings of this beautiful species. An adult female will usually moult every 14-18 months, and so mating should be done before the final 6 months of her cycle to ensure successful courtship. Upon maturing males will lose bulk in their abdomen and legs become long and spindly, this, in addition to the development of emboli attached to the thickened last digit of the pedipalp, looking somewhat like boxing gloves are an indication that he is ready to produce a sperm web and go on to mate. These "boxing gloves", or emboli, are the bulbs where he will store his sperm after creating a sperm web. This species lacks apophoses (mating hooks) on the first leg pair.

Before he is ready to mate the male will need to produce a sperm web, normally made within a couple of weeks of his maturing moult so keep an eye out if you are expecting this to happen. He will produce a hammock shaped web in a corner of his enclosure, usually above the ground rather than inside his burrow. He will then deposit his sperm in the web by a wriggling motion underneath it. To collect the sperm he then walks over the web hammock and if you look closely at his bulbs, you will see his embolus (a small pointed hook) going into the web and taking the sperm from the web. When he is finished with the sperm web, he will usually destroy it, and the sperm is safely stored in his boxing gloves until he finds a female.

Introducing the male and female tarantulas[edit]

Goliath Tarantulas mating
The male should always be introduced into the female's enclosure, never the other way round; he should be introduced at the opposite end to the female's position or burrow if she is hiding. This technique allows the male and female to sense each other’s presence and approach each other with caution, preventing any unwanted fights.

He will now begin to act bizarrely, twitching and dipping his abdomen. Drumming is a common mating communication technique used by tarantulas, he will hit the substrate with his front legs and pedipalps, as he approaches the female, and she may reciprocate with some drumming of her own. They are both analysing each other’s response and deciding if it’s safe to continue.

When their legs first touch, he will keep tapping and rubbing her legs until she goes into a threat-like posture. He will use his first and second pairs of legs to try to lift her up and expose her underside. He will now insert his embolus into her epigastric furrow and deposit his sperm. This process may take a long time, usually a couple of hours will be enough for mating to occur. It is important to keep an eye on them at all times, as you may be required to separate them if a fight breaks out. Do not leave them together for extended periods of time, especially if they do not seem interested with each other, they will irritate each other and the male will probably get eaten. Attempt several introductions aiming to see the insertion of his embolus into her epigastric furrow on at least two occasions, this way you can be sure she takes his sperm to fertilise her eggs.

Egg sac production[edit]

File:Theraphosa blondi Egg sac.jpg
Egg sac of a Goliath Tarantula
A mated female will begin to eat like she has just moulted. She will need all the energy she can get for egg sac production, and this means feeding her all the food she will accept. A plumping abdomen is a good sign that she is ready to lay an egg sac and this can be expected around the 2 month mark after a successful mating.

The signs that she is ready to lay an egg sac are the signs similar to an forthcoming moult, i.e. excessive webbing and refusing food. This is the point you should consider taking a step back and letting nature take its course. Disturbing the female may have devastating results on all the hard work reaching this point, a stressed tarantula will destroy and then eat what remains of her egg sac, and Goliath Birdeaters are renowned for doing just that. T. blondi are a species that will carry the egg sac around, rotating it and massaging it regularly to allow them to breathe and not sweat. As long as the female is carrying the egg sac, she should not be disturbed at all, any disturbance could result in the egg sac being eaten or destroyed. If a female drops the egg sac you may wish to recover it and rear it yourself. For more information on hand rearing egg sacs refer to the Tarantula Breeding article, which explains how to create a hammock and an artificial rearing chamber.

Looking after the spiderlings[edit]

Nymph Goliath Birdeater Tarantulas
After 1-2 months of painstaking watching and waiting the eggs should have grown into eggs with legs, and then later into nymphs. Nymphs will moult once, into second instar nymphs and finally for a third time into first instar spiderlings. You should take the egg sac from the mother when you suspect that nymphs have hatched. To do this try to isolate the female from the sac using a cup, and gently remove the egg sac.
File:Theraphosa blondi Spiderlings.jpg
Spiderling Theraphosa blondi
Cannibalism is common in tarantulas but rare between nymphs, so separation is not really necessary until the nymphs have completed the moult into spiderlings. Spiderlings of Theraphosa blondi may tolerate each other’s company for a further 1-2 instars, however there will inevitably be some cannibalism. Separate the spiderlings as soon as possible into appropriate containers such as small spice storage jars, pill jars or waxworm tubs.

After care for the female[edit]

It is possible for the female to lay a second egg sac so she must be fed well and left to rest after her ordeal. If a second egg sac is not produced she will probably moult and, in which case lose what remains of the male’s sperm. She can now regain strength and prepare for another mating, if you are lucky enough to find an adult male.

Gallery[edit]