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Care Sheet

Avicularia urticans (Peruvian pinktoe)
 Tarantula Care in Captivity

by Todd Gearheart


avicularia_urticansDescribed by: Schmidt, 1995 (?)

Distribution: Tropical rain forests of the NW Amazon region. Exported mainly out of NE Peru.

Size: Spiderlings emerge as 1/2" 1st instar. Mature males may reach a legspan of 5.5" and have a purple sheen on the carapace on on the femurs of the legs. Adult females may reach 6² in leg span and weigh 1 ounce or slightly more.

Growth rate: Males take 1-1.5 years to mature. Females take 2-3 years. They will molt (shed their exoskeleton) 4-6 times the first year, and then molt once a year after that.

Temperature: Keep 80-90F. They can take drops to 70F for short periods of  time as long as they have made their tube web shelter. Keep your tarantula's enclosure away from windows, sunlight, heaters and air conditioning.

Humidity: 80-90%. Keep substrate slightly moist and provide a shallow water dish. Spray spiderling pill bottles once a week lightly. The substrate should NOT be "swampy" nor should it be so dry that if you were to blow on it particles would go up in the air.

Habitat type/enclosure/substrate needed: This is an arboreal, rain forest species found in "tube webs" in crevices of trees and on rain forest vegetation. Keep adults in 5-10 gallon tanks with 2-3" peat moss/vermiculite mix with cork bark shelter leaning against the side of the tank or placed in middle. "Tubular" cork bark with a 180 degree arcs works best. Use a tank that is taller than is wide. Spiderlings will need to be keep in pill bottles with peat moss/vermiculite mix for 1st six months, then moved to 8 and 16 ounce deli cups as they get bigger. Make sure your lid on top is secure. A good tank for adult tarantulas are "Critter Cages" with sliding and locking lids. Live plants that need little light and have strong branches and leaves can be used also.

Food: Feed prey that is smaller than the length of the tarantula¹s body. You can use "pin-head" crickets, but these must be 1-2 week old crickets and very small as they will eat your spiderling when it tries to molt.

Adults can be fed large crickets, flying insects and anole lizards and house geckos. Make sure all insects come from non-pesticide areas. Feed spiderlings twice a week a couple of prey items. Feed adults once a week a couple of insects and occasionally an anole lizard or house gecko. They rarely go off-feed for longer than one month, and this is usually due to an expected molt.

Cleaning: To keep your tarantula¹s tank clean and keep your animal healthy, get in the routine of feeding your tarantula one day, and then coming behind the next day and taking long tweezers and picking out any left-over prey remains. Keep the water dish (it must be shallow and wide) clean at all times. If you follow this advice, you will need to only change out your substrate (vermiculite, peat moss, sand mixture) once every six months or so. Because of the higher humidity requirements of this species, keeping a clean tank is very, very important.

Longevity: A. urticans are fast growers and are somewhat short lived compared to Brachypelma spp.. Males will probably only live to be 2-4 years old while females may live over 12 years old.

Handling/Disposition/Venom: Freshly-caught A. urticans can be semi-aggressive and skittish when first imported and sold, but after being acclimated, they tend to calm down and can come across as somewhat docile, but usually remain skittish like most arboreals. They do have urticating hairs, but instead of throwing them, they just knock them off onto your hand if held. Some hobbyists may react badly to these, but in general, most hobbyists don't react too much to Avicularia spp. hairs. Use long (12-18" forceps) to do tank maintenance. The genus Avicularia doesn't contain any species that have a medically significan't venom, but individual keepers may have some reaction to a bite. Best advice: Don't
handle. Tarantulas are not "pets", but "display animals" much like keeping fish. They don't understand nor have a need to be handled. They are venomous like many spiders, but their venom is not dangerous unless your allergic to their venom. Don't find out! Transfer your tarantula using "cup-to-tank" method. Captive breeding: Fairly easy. Adults breed easily and eggsacs are commonly produced in captivity. Captive born spiderlings are always available on the market.

Record keeping: Keep good notes such as the stock #, if any , that it was sold as, when born, molt dates, etc.

To find out more about this animal and the Tarantula Keeping hobby, I recommend the following:

Read these books: "Tarantulas and Other Arachnids" by Sam Marshall, "Keeping and Breeding Tarantulas in Captivity" by Ronald Baxter, Andreas
Tinter's "Tarantulas Today" and Stanley and Marguerite Schultz's "The Tarantula Keeper's Guide". Buy copies of WEBBINGS Invertebrate Magazine. (email: tgearhea@peganet.com) or visit www.petbugs.com/webbings Join the Southwest Florida Tarantula Society (SWFTS) contact at: (email: tgearhea@peganet.com, and the British Tarantula Society (BTS) to obtain the bi-monthly newsletter, The Journal. Join the Arachnid Mailing Lists on the internet. Copyright © 1999 by Todd Gearheart

Reprinted here with permission


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