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A Gentle Giant: Lasiodorides polycuspulatus
(Schmidt & Bischoff 1997)

by Lucian "Luc" Ross

With the growing popularity of arachnoculture in the 1990's, the last 2 years has seen a dramatic increase in new species arriving from around the World into our hobby and into our collections.

The biggest growing sector in our hobby is the continuous arrival of large terrestrials from South America. Such genera as Brazilopelma, Vitalius, Acanthoscurria, Lasiodorides, and Pamphobeteus have many species that only a short time ago was mostly unavailable to the majority of hobbyists here in the States and abroad.

One such fascinating species to reach the hobby in 1997 was Lasiodorides polycuspulatus. Described by Schmidt & Bischoff in 1997 from the drier-forested regions of Peru, this beautiful tarantula was mostly over-looked by many hobbyists and only in the past several months is gaining some popularity in the hobby.

Unlike their more-robust and larger cousin, Lasiodorides striatus (Schmidt & Antonelli, 1996), L. polycuspulatus have a temperament more akin to species such as Grammostola pulchra and Brachypelma smithi. They are the "gentle-giants" of Genus Lasiodorides.

Actually, the term "giant" is misleading as the majority of specimens seldom attain leg spans greater than 12.5cm. The rare specimen may attain leg spans very near the 15cm mark. And, they are not nearly as robust as their cousin L. striatus. They are still a wonderful addition to any arachnocultural collection and are a great contrast to the great majority of darker-colored tarantulas.

Another great advantage of maintaining L. polycuspulatus in captivity is the ease of maintenance and undemanding demeanor. These tarantulas can be maintained easily in 5 to 10-gallon (18.5 to 37 L) plastic or glass vivaria filled half way (6" to 8"/15cm to 20cm) with dry, premium quality potting soil or top soil with a simple shelter and medium water dish.

For shelter for all my terrestrials, I prefer using the common clay, flowerpots sold at gardening shops everywhere. For L. polycuspulatus, I use the 6" (15cm) diameter pots for average-sized specimens and the 8" (20cm) size for unusually large individuals. I then, bury each pot midway into the substrate and pile substrate at the entrance until there is only a 2" (5cm) opening into the pot. This affords the tarantula additional seclusion within its retreat. I then cover the pot and the area around the pot with sheet moss to present a more naturalistic setting.

Because they are maintained in a drier environment than their cousin, L. striatus, I include a 4" (10cm) diameter x 2" (5cm) water dish kept filled with distilled water at all times to complete the set up. I also 1x per week, lightly mist inside their shelter as well to afford them an area with a slightly elevated humidity. Every 14 days, I lightly mist the vivarium with distilled water as well.

I maintain my specimens at a temperature range of 68 (20C) to 75 (23.9C) degrees f. during the day with a 2 to 5 degree drop at night.
Humidity range is always kept between 65% to 70%.

Diet includes 2 "pinkie" mice per week and every 2 weeks, each is treated with an anole (Anolis carolinensis). Although these tarantulas will readily accept crickets (Acheta domestica and Gryllus sp.), I prefer feeding mine larger prey but will several times a month, toss in a few crickets to vary their diets somewhat. This species readily accepts all prey and presents no problem in feeding.

As stated above, any hobbyist looking to maintain a large, easy to maintain tarantula that is hardy, easy and safe to handle and offers beautiful coloration as well, will find that this "gentle-giant" from Peru fills this bill perfectly for all hobbyists regardless of keeping experience.

But, most of all enjoy your specimens and your keeping experiences because, if it becomes work, it's just a job!

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