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Xenesthis immanis completely dispels the myth that all tarantulas are a boring, brown color. While the abdomen is clothed in bright pink-purple hairs, the carapace on Xenesthis immanis is even more impressive, possessing a bright metallic purple starburst pattern. Adult males can be particularly impressive, as they also develop purple femurs at maturity. A fast-growing ... Read moreXenesthis immanis / Columbian Lesserblack Tarantula Care Sheet The post Xenesthis immanis / Columbian...
Xenesthis immanis completely dispels the myth that all tarantulas are a boring, brown color.
While the abdomen is clothed in bright pink-purple hairs, the carapace on Xenesthis immanis is even more impressive, possessing a bright metallic purple starburst pattern. Adult males can be particularly impressive, as they also develop purple femurs at maturity.
A fast-growing tarantula that attains a dramatic 7-8” as adults, this is really one of the most impressive tarantulas currently available to hobbyists.
Unsurprisingly, as a result, it tends to be an eye-wateringly expensive tarantula to add to your collection. If you’ve got the readies, however, Xenesthis immanis is one spider that all serious tarantula keepers should own. And if that’s the case then read on for my Xenesthis immanis tarantula care sheet where you’ll learn exactly how I’m keeping my specimens…
As the name would suggest, the Columbian Lesserblack tarantula is a South American species. Far from being found only in Columbia, however, it may also be encountered in Peru and Venezuela. Originally described by Ausserer in 1875 it was classified initially as a Lasiodora species, which gives you some idea of the potential adult size.
In the wild Xenesthis immanis is a burrowing species. It spends most of the daylight hours hidden away underground, coming to the surface as darkness falls to catch any passing prey items.
While some specimens will happily burrow in captivity, I have found that the majority of my specimens don’t take the opportunity even when it is presented.
Xenesthis is quite a skittish species in general, and so if your specimen chooses not to burrow then they should be given a suitably-sized hide.
Like many other South American terrestrial tarantulas Xenesthis immanis not only obtains a large adult size but also grows rapidly.
A range of containers may be suitable, depending on the size of your tarantula and it’s behaviour in captivity…
Glass tanks look great and are pretty robust. If using a glass aquarium for your Colombian Lesserblack be sure to select one that offers suitable ventilation. Bespoke tarantula tanks do just this.
Perspex tanks tend to be lighter and cheaper to buy, but if you’re not careful the perspex can scratch very easily during cleaning. As a result, while they may look great to start with they can very quickly decline in quality. As with glass tanks, it is possible to build your own perspex tank very cheaply indeed if you’re on a budget.
Exo Terras make some of the best display tanks for many species of tarantula, though you’ll need to take into consideration the burrowing tendencies of this species. If your Xenesthis immanis chooses not to burrow then an Exo Terra terrarium may be ideal, coming as they do in a range of different sizes. The vented lid makes for plenty of ventilation while the front-opening doors make routine feeding and maintenance a breeze.
Faunariums are plastic “boxes” with a tight-fitting vented plastic lid. While they’re certainly not the most attractive caging option available, they tend to be cheap and cheerful while permitting excellent ventilation. They can also hold a decent depth of substrate, which is ideal for burrowing tarantula species.
I use a range of different plastic storage boxes for tarantulas in my collection, including many of my Xenesthis immanis specimens. These range from small deli cups for spiderlings and juveniles to large 9 to 15 liter tough plastic containers for larger specimens. Just be sure to modify them to permit proper air flow. I personally use an electric drill to add numerous air holes, though some keepers prefer to use a soldering iron in a well-ventilated room (be aware of fumes).
Whatever tank you opt for, be aware that you’ll likely have to rehouse your Xenesthis immanis numerous times as it grows. Ultimately, for an 8-9” tarantula, a 30cm x 30cm tank is the bare minimum for an adult specimen; as a large species an even larger tank may be welcome.
In terms of depth, if your specimen chooses to burrow then endeavour to provide a deep substrate to facilitate this.
At the time of writing I have half a dozen Xenesthis immanis specimens of varying ages and sexes. What I have found consistently is that this species seems to favour slightly cooler temperatures than many other species in my collection. They seem to thrive well at temperatures of 20 – 24 degrees Celsius (68 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit), though slightly higher temperatures are unlikely to cause any issues.
All my spiders are kept in a room where such temperatures are maintained around the clock, however if your home gets cooler then you may want to consider some form of artificial heating for your spider.
Possibly the most popular option is a heat mat, which should be attached to the outer surface of the cage, either on the side or back. Placing the heater underneath the tank is not recommended, as this can lead to overheating. A thick layer of substrate on top of a heater can result in the cage base cracking. Furthermore, tarantulas will naturally burrow down to escape overly hot conditions, which will all be in vain if the heat is actually coming from below.
If you opt to use any form of artificial heating then be sure to utilize a thermostat to carefully control temperatures, and make use of a standalone thermometer to double-check cage conditions on a regular basis.
I don’t worry too much about humidity levels with my tarantulas. My spider room sits naturally at 50-60% and this seems to work fine for all my spiders.
Personally I trickle some water onto one end of the substrate every week or two, gently letting this dry out over time before re-application. This creates a dry end and a moister end, so the spiders can choose the area that suits them best. Note that the substrate is only lightly moistened – it should not be “wet” or sodden.
In addition, be sure to maintain suitable ventilation to prevent stale air. Select either a cage with a mesh grill or add air holes yourself using an electric drill or soldering iron.
All tarantulas should have a suitably-sized water bowl once it is safe to do so. I do not provide a water bowl for tiny spiderlings due to the practicalities, but for juveniles onwards I use anything from bottle tops, to shallow jar lids, to small deli cups as water bowls for Xenesthis immanis. The water should be changed regularly to keep it fresh and the “bowl” cleaned or replaced routinely for hygiene.
Xenesthis immanis have quite simple requirements in captivity; primarily enough substrate to permit burrowing if they opt to do so, and a suitable hide as an alternative place to hide away.
I use coco fibre (coir) as a substrate for all my Xenesthis immanis. It is natural, hygienic, does a good job of absorbing water and looks great. I purchase it as a compressed block, then soak it before use so that it expands. Alternative options are potting compost or topsoil, if you can be sure that no chemicals have been added. Some keepers opt to combine two or more substrates to get the consistency they’re seeking.
If your Xenesthis immanis is to burrow then be sure to provide a suitable depth; ideally this should be at least the legspan of your tarantula.
As stated earlier, however, my specimens do not seem to burrow at all, even when the opportunity presents itself. As a result, it is wise to provide a physical hide.
Provide a piece of cork bark or a plastic plant pot laid on its side, into which your Xenesthis immanis can fully conceal itself. Even then, your spider will likely only use it on occasion; I find this species to be far more visible than many of the “pet holes” we tarantula-owners lovingly care for.
Xenesthis immanis can of course be sexed from sloughed moults as with other species, while the adult males possess standard palapal bulbs as well as the tibial hooks seen in many other species. However there are other techniques that can be worth knowing for this species.
Firstly, adult males change their appearance significantly upon maturity. You will notice that the femurs turn a brilliant purple color, matching the purple starburst pattern on the carapace. An adult male Xenesthis immanis really is up there as one of the most colorful and attractive tarantulas currently known in the hobby.
Long before this, however, I have noticed in my specimens that the males generally look slimmer and more leggy than the females – even at quite a young age. If you’re desperate for a female but can’t find a sexed individual try visiting a reptile expo where you can compare multiple specimens with one another. The chunkier, more “thickset” specimens are more likely to be females in my experience.
From Acanthoscurria geniculata to Lasiodora parahybana, one of the coolest things about keeping tarantulas from the tropical region of South America is their appetite. These guys always seem to be hungry and will throw themselves onto almost any food they can subdue.
The great thing about tarantulas like this is they also grow fast. This is a benefit for such an expensive tarantula; you can purchase a smaller (and therefore cheaper) specimen and watch it rapidly grow into a much, much larger spider.
Almost any standard feeder insects will be suitable. My personal preference is for a combination of locusts and roaches to vary the diet. While a once-per-week feeding is entirely suitable, this is a species with a big appetite so I feed my specimens twice a week without issue.
Remember: the more they eat, the faster they’ll grow. This can be a useful technique should you buy a pair of a similar size; feed the female more to accelerate her growth rate, giving you the best chance of the pair maturing at breeding size.
Be sure to remove any uneaten food from the cage, to prevent it stressing out your tarantula or dying and attracting mites. For such a skittish species a long pair of forceps is recommended for this task.
In terms of temperament I would Xenesthis immanis on par with Megaphobema robustum, also from Colombia. I wouldn’t call either species “defensive” or “aggressive” but they are quite skittish. Opening their cage can be enough to see them dashing out of view. Just like M. robustum they also adopt a “carapace down, abdomen up” posture when disturbed – presumably so they’re ready to kick off their urticating hairs if not left alone.
I don’t recommend that any tarantula is handled as it puts the animal at risk. While I doubt this species would attempt to bite you if you tried, I would be worried that Xenesthis immanis would be at risk of bolting away from you, falling straight off your hand.
Assuming you leave your specimen inside their cage then I wouldn’t regard this species as being particularly fast or aggressive. I would say that most tarantula keepers would have no issues maintaining this reasonably docile species. My specimens rarely if ever even try to kick off any urticating hairs from their abdomen.
Just be sure to open their cage gently and move slowly when maintaining them to prevent them bolting and you’ll be just fine.
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When I first started keeping tarantulas back in the 1990’s there were only a couple of “blue” tarantulas available – and even then only rarely. These were the Cobalt Blue (Cyriopagopus lividus – in those days known as Hapolpelma lividum) and the Greenbottle Blue (Chromatomeplam cyaneopubescens). All this has changed in recent decades, with a ... Read morePterinopelma sazimai / Brazilian Blue Tarantula Care Sheet The post Pterinopelma sazimai / Brazilian Blue Tarantula Care...
When I first started keeping tarantulas back in the 1990’s there were only a couple of “blue” tarantulas available – and even then only rarely. These were the Cobalt Blue (Cyriopagopus lividus – in those days known as Hapolpelma lividum) and the Greenbottle Blue (Chromatomeplam cyaneopubescens). All this has changed in recent decades, with a whole swathe of new blue tarantulas entering the hobby – including Pterinopelma sazimai.
Sometimes known by the common names of “Sazimai’s tarantula” or the “Brazilian Blue tarantula” this is a beautiful addition to any spider collection. To my eyes the blue is rather more subtle and muted than the more “in your face” blue spiders like the Gooty Sapphire (Poecilotheria metallica). This species really has to be seen in the right light to fully appreciate it’s coloration. Recently-moulted specimens can be particularly eye-catching, while the bright blue slowly fades between moults.
In the wrong light Pterinopelma sazimai can look quite dull and uninteresting to be totally honest. Get it right, however, and you’ll find deep blue legs, a blue carapace and rich red hairs on the abdomen. Quite stunning, and unlike pretty much every other tarantula out there.
Unlike many other species of tarantula Pterinopelma sazimai is considered a good “display” specimen by many keepers. While they can be skittish when their cage is opened, left undisturbed they will often be seen sat out in the open for long periods of time, affording an excellent view. If you’ve kept tarantulas that you rarely or never see then Pterinopelma sazimai could be a revelation!
With over a dozen specimens currently in my collection I thought it was time to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) to discuss my experiences so far. If you’re considering getting your hands on this species then read on for my Pterinopelma sazimai care sheet…
This is a moderately-sized ground-dwelling tarantula. Adults will typically reach 5-6” in legspan, though in my experience the spiderlings are absolutely miniscule. While I have large specimens in my collection I’m currently rearing a brood of tiny slings with the hopes of landing a few males.
Larger specimens will happily burrow or hide under cork bark, while the spiderlings, in my experience, seem far less likely to burrow.
As the common name suggests, Pterinopelma sazimai hails from the Eastern highlands of Brazil. The Latin name of this spider comes from Brazilian zoologist Dr. Ivan Sazima who studied the species extensively. Despite his familiarity with Pterinopelma sazimai the species was only formally described in 2011 so is considered one of the more recent species to enter the hobby.
As Pterinopelma sazimai seems more willing than many other tarantula to sit out in the open it can be worth investing in an attractive set-up for this species. This is in contrast to many “pet hole” species (like my Hysterocrates gigas) which are rarely – if ever – seen.
A 30cm x 30cm cage is more than generous for adults of the species, and can afford lots of opportunity to properly landscape the cage. Smaller tanks can of course be used for smaller specimens.
The most crucial elements when considering housing for your Pterinopelma sazimai are:
Pterinopelma sazimai is quite a skittish species, and may dart around when you open the cage. While they’re not the fastest tarantulas around, they’re also a lot quicker than many commonly-kept species. For this reason you might want to ensure you’ve got ample room to carry out routine tank maintenance, such that if you spider bolts you’ve got enough time to safely close the cage or redirect your tarantula. A slightly larger-than-usual cage can make this a little easier as you’ll have more time to react before they get out.
In the past many people keeping species from South America assumed they needed exceptionally high humidity levels to thrive. While Pterinopelma sazimai may benefit from a gentle misting on occasion, it most certainly isn’t the case that a wet cage is suitable. Plenty of ventilation should be present to allow any moisture to gently escape, keeping the inside of the cage fresh and hygienic.
Let’s be honest; if you’re buying a beautiful tarantula like Pterinopelma sazimai then it makes sense to be able to enjoy looking at them.
Of course you should be mindful that your tarantula cannot escape from its cage. It sounds obvious, but I lose count of how often I see posts on social media and discussion forums from people whose tarantula has managed to escape. This means not just a tight-fitting lid to the container, but also being mindful of any ventilation holes. Tarantulas – particularly tiny spiderlings – are capable of squeezing through surprisingly small holes.
While almost any plastic or glass container that meets the above requirements will be suitable, it does perhaps make sense to discuss specifically what I’m using successfully for my specimens…
As mentioned previously, Pterinopelma sazimai slings are absolutely tiny so require special care. Mine are being reared in 2oz clear plastic deli cups half-filled with fine-grade coconut fibre as a substrate. Tiny ventilation have been punctured in the sides of the tubs using a needle. Each deli cup receives a light mist once every week or so, being mindful that droplets are left on the wall of the cup, so the spider can drink from them. Over time this water evaporates to prevent an overly damp environment.
My juveniles are currently housed in a range of suitably-sized plastic storage containers. These have ventilation holes added with an electric drill. In terms of floor area these are at least 3-4 times the spider’s legspan in both length and width, while providing a piece of cork bark to hide under and enough substrate to facilitate burrowing should they so choose. A bottle lid is used as a water bowl when the spiders are big enough for it to be safe.
At present I have a single adult female in my collection, though many more juveniles should reach maturity in the next 6-12 months. My adult female is kept in a 30cm x 30cm Exo Terra glass terrarium. These are some of the best-looking tarantula tanks around in my opinion, with their all-glass construction, handy front-opening doors and excellent ventilation. They’re also easy to landscape, and adding some lighting to the cage can really set off your display tank.
Like most tarantulas artificial heating will only be necessary if your home gets too cold. A temperature anywhere between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius (68 – 77 degrees Fahrenheit) will be perfectly acceptable for Pterinopelma sazimai.
If your home gets cooler than this then some form of artificial heating would be recommended. A heat pad is normally the cheapest and easiest solution; attach it to the outside of the cage, ideally on the back or side. Always use a thermostat to prevent overheating, and take regular temperature checks using a digital thermometer to satisfy yourself that the cage is warm enough.
Attaching a heat mat to the side of the cage isn’t always possible with smaller containers, such as if you’ve bought some spiderlings or a small juvenile. In these circumstances you have two alternative options. Firstly, you could place the heater under the container, though there are risks to this strategy. Make sure that only part of the cage is heated and use only minimal substrate to prevent the heater from getting too hot.
A preferable option – and the one I’ve used successfully for years – is to place your baby tarantulas into a larger container and then heat that cage. Personally I have used wooden reptile vivariums with great success. The wood construction means they retain warmth very well. A heat mat can be placed inside the vivarium at one end, with your spiderlings and juveniles being placed in individual containers inside the vivarium. Once again, however, be sure to use a thermostat to prevent overheating.
Small specimens receive a regular misting, so that they can drink from the droplets. The cage is allowed to dry out between treatments to prevent the growth of mould or mildew.
Once Pterinopelma sazimai reaches a legspan of a few inches it should be practical and safe to provide them with an open water dish. Anything from an old bottle lid to a hamster water bowl can be used. The water should be changed regularly, and the bowl scrubbed out with boiling water from time-to-time to prevent any build-up of bacteria.
I don’t worry about humidity levels for my tarantulas – some keepers seem overly worried about trying to hit exact figures but this is both impractical and unnecessary in my experience. The key is ensuring they have access to fresh water when they desire it.
Pterinopelma sazimai is a species that can lend itself to attractive tank design. From dry leaves to pieces of rotting wood to live plants you can really let your imagination run wild!
Of course, while these decor elements are a matter of personal choice, the two “standard” items for all tarantula tanks still hold true here – a suitable substrate and somewhere to hide away from view.
I use coconut fibre (coir) for almost all of my tarantulas now with great success.I am careful to give my smaller Pterinopelma sazimai specimens with finer particles so they’re still able to burrow if they choose to. Other successful options can include multipurpose potting compost or topsoil. If you opt to provide any substrate not sold specifically for exotic pets then make certain it is free from any nasty toxins or chemicals that might harm your spider. For example, try to choose compost without added fertiliser granules.
A curved piece of cork bark, large enough for your Pterinopelma sazimai to hide beneath, is probably the most effective hide possible. Alternatively a plastic plant pot laid on it’s side and partially buried can also work well.
Pterinopelma sazimai has an impressive feeding response and unlike some other tarantulas it rarely seems to go off its food for long periods of time. A Brazilian Blue that refuses food is almost certainly either coming up to moult (a period sometimes known as “pre-moult”) or is being kept in unsuitable conditions (too cold, too wet etc.)
Pterinopelma sazimai spiderlings are tiny. I started off feeding mine on hatchling (“pinhead”) black crickets for their first few instars. As they grew, they moved onto 2nd instar crickets (a lot easier to handle!), then lastly at around a one inch legspan to suitably-sized locusts and Dubia roaches.
I feed my adult Pterinopelma sazimai once a week, while growing individuals get fed every 4-5 days. Under these circumstances they seem to take food at each feeding without delay, and grow at a moderate pace.
Pterinopelma sazimai isn’t considered an aggressive or defensive species. As yet, I have yet to experience any kind of threat posture from any of my specimens. Standard tank maintenance and feeding should therefore present very few problems even for beginners.
That said, these are quite fast and skittish so I wouldn’t advise handling them if it can be avoided. A much better idea if you need to transport your Pterinopelma sazimai is to gently coax it into a clear plastic container before sliding the lid on and attaching it firmly.
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Chilobrachys fimbriatus is an Asian species of burrowing tarantula. They are popular pets due to their attractive appearance, reasonable price and their habit of producing copious amounts of web. At the same time tarantulas from the Chilobrachys genus are also not without their warnings. They are considered to have quite potent venom when compared with ... Read moreChilobrachys fimbriatus (Indian Violet) Tarantula Care Sheet The post Chilobrachys fimbriatus (Indian Violet) Tarantula Care Sheet...
Chilobrachys fimbriatus is an Asian species of burrowing tarantula. They are popular pets due to their attractive appearance, reasonable price and their habit of producing copious amounts of web.
At the same time tarantulas from the Chilobrachys genus are also not without their warnings. They are considered to have quite potent venom when compared with many New World tarantulas. They can also be quite defensive and fast moving, meaning that they are best suited to slightly more experienced tarantula keepers.
If I’m totally honest Chilobrachys fimbriatus has never been on my “shortlist” of wanted species. However, having received a few tiny spiderlings in a mystery box some years ago I’ve really grown to love this species. What follows in this Chilobrachys fimbriatus care sheet are my own experiences of rearing this much-loved Old World tarantula…
Chilobrachys fimbriatus is often known as the Indian Violet tarantula. In truth, I don’t think this is really the most accurate common name. Unlike many other colorful tarantulas (such as Tapinauchenius violaceus or Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens) the “violet” color is so subtle as to be barely visible (at least to my eyes). Only on a perfect day with the optimal lighting is there any purplish sheen to my specimens.
However don’t go thinking that this is a typical boring, brown tarantula. Far from it. The most noticeable aspect is the rich chestnut-colored or even copper-colored abdomen, which is clothed in black stripes. This makes it look almost like a tarantula with a sixpack!
This striped abdomen is coupled with a gold or copper-colored carapace and deep brown/black legs which, if you’re very lucky, will show the violet sheen on occasion.
So while I wouldn’t term this a “colorful” tarantula, it is probably best described as “striking” in appearance.
Chilobrachys fimbriatus was first described in 1899 by the arachnologist Pocock. As the common name suggests this species hails from India.
It is a heavy webber and readily builds deep burrows. This means that a deep substrate and minimal tank decor is likely to be the order of the day, as this is a spider that will readily re-arrange a carefully-arranged cage.
As a burrowing species, Chilobrachys fimbriatus needs a cage that provides a suitable depth of substrate. I would suggest that this is at least the legspan of your specimen. Under these conditions your Indian Violet tarantula will likely dig a deep burrow, in which it will spend the majority of its time. Indeed, some people have described this species as a “pet hole” which may only be seen resting at the entrance to its burrow when hunger brings it out.
A second consideration is that this is a classic Asian Old World tarantula. That means it can be both nervous and defensive. My specimens are quick to run for cover if disturbed when they are out and about in their cages. If cornered this species may throw up a threat posture, however with minimal interference they will live out a healthy life without any real hint of “aggression”.
So while these are certainly not the most defensive tarantulas in my collection, they should be treated with respect. This can impact the choice of cage; you’ll want to ensure you can carry out routine maintenance with the minimum of fuss, and minimise the risk that your tarantula may try to run for freedom or “tag” you when you’re not paying attention. This means no fingers in the tank; use long forceps for maintenance and stay focused at all times.
A good example of suitable housing is a repurposed plastic household storage container. My preference is for those with clips on either end to secure the lid and add extra security. Drill plenty of ventilation holes in the lid and/or the top of the sides to facilitate proper air movement and add a good depth of substrate.
Try to choose a storage box where there is a decent amount of space between the top of the substrate and the lid of the container. This ensures you don’t get a nasty surprise as your Chilobrachys fimbriatus dashes up the side of the container when you open it.
Choosing a model that offers excellent visibility also makes sense for two reasons. Firstly, as this is a flighty species of tarantula you want to disturb your Chilobrachys fimbriatus as little as possible if you are to watch it. Clear sides make this much easier. Removing the lid will almost certainly result in your spider dashing down their burrow.
A second benefit of excellent visibility is it allows you to identify exactly where your spider is before you open the cage, minimising the chances of them getting out.
Critter keepers can work well too, though Exo Terras are probably only suitable for smaller specimens as it is harder to provide a generous depth of substrate.
Chilobrachys fimbriatus grows to a legspan of 5-6” as adults, meaning that a cage of 30cm cubed or larger is a good starting point.
One of the things that I really like about Chilobrachys fimbriatus is just how adaptable and robust they are. They don’t seem overly sensitive to environmental conditions and as a result will thrive at a range of different temperatures.
My specimens are kept at temperatures of between 22 degrees Celsius and 26 degrees Celsius (72 – 79 degrees Fahrenheit) , though a few degrees warmer or colder is unlikely to cause them any issues.
If you end up using artificial heating to keep your Indian Violet warm on cold winter nights then remember this is a burrowing species. That means that placing a heat mat under the tank is a very bad idea; tarantulas will generally burrow down to avoid excessive heat. If in doubt, attach it to one side of the cage, and use a thermostat to avoid overheating.
Larger tarantulas should have access to a water bowl when it is safe to provide it. Bottle caps can work well for smaller specimens, while larger spiders get water bowls designed for small rodents or deli cups. As this is both a burrowing species and a heavy webber be aware that water bowls may start to disappear from view over time, meaning you either need to dig them out or – for ease – simply add another one.
Smaller specimens should receive an occasional misting with lukewarm water so they can drink the droplets. Try to direct the spray at the webbing and the sides of the cage, while avoiding contact with the spider itself.
The substrate mustn’t be wet. A little moisture won’t do your Chilobrachys fimbriatus any harm, and may even make burrowing easier. However wet, stagnant conditions should be avoided at all times.
I have always been impressed with the appetite of Chilobrachys fimbriatus. They’re fiesty tarantulas and will aggressively take down even very large feeder insects. If you’re looking for a tarantula that makes feeding time into a spectator sport then the Indian Violet should definitely be on your hotlist!
A consequence of this behaviour means that Chilobrachys fimbriatus seems to grow quite quickly. Given a suitable feeder insect once or twice a week, even a tiny spiderling will grow into an impressive juvenile by the following year. I have found it quite rewarding to see my specimens growing and maturing so rapidly.
As always, pay attention to the behavior of your tarantula. Any uneaten insects should be promptly removed, and if your Chilobrachys fimbriatus covers over the entrance to their burrow with heavy webbing then it’s likely they’re coming up to a moult.
Chilobrachys fimbriatus is considered nervous, defensive and with venom that could be of medical importance. All this means that Chilobrachys fimbriatus is not a tarantula you should consider handling.
Personally I use 30cm long stainless steel forceps for routine tank maintenance and suggest you do the same. Keep fingers well out of reach to avoid a nasty surprise.
When it comes to transferring your Indian Violet from one container to another it is a good idea to use a catch cup in a very controlled environment.
Photo by (C) TOM M.
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Heterothele villosella is a dwarf tarantula species from Tanzania. Despite lacking the bright colors of many popular pet tarantulas it has gained in popularity thanks to its fascinating lifestyle. There are many reasons why you might want to consider adding Heterothele villosella to your collection. Firstly, this is a heavy-webbing species akin to the Greenbottle ... Read moreHeterothele villosella (Tanzanian Dwarf Chestnut Baboon) Tarantula Care Sheet The post Heterothele villosella...
Heterothele villosella is a dwarf tarantula species from Tanzania. Despite lacking the bright colors of many popular pet tarantulas it has gained in popularity thanks to its fascinating lifestyle.
There are many reasons why you might want to consider adding Heterothele villosella to your collection. Firstly, this is a heavy-webbing species akin to the Greenbottle Blue or the Orange Bitey Thing. This makes for a very cool-looking display cage.
Another reason that Heterothele villosella has become so popular is that many keepers consider it “communal” like Monocentropus balfouri. While I must admit I have yet to try keeping this species communally, other keepers report success. Of course, this adds yet more potential interest to your tarantula collection.
Lastly, as a dwarf tarantula species, even adult specimens may only reach 2-3” in diagonal legspan. While some tarantula keepers may avoid Heterothele villosella thinking that it lacks “impact” with such compact dimensions, I actually think it adds another level of interest to your collection. And of course, a few specimens won’t take up too much space in your collection either.
Having reared up a load of spiderlings over the last few years I thought the time was now right to discuss my own experiences of this fascinating little tarantula. Read on for my Heterothele villosella care sheet…
First described in 1907, Heterothele villosella is neither large nor brightly-colored. Instead, this is a species where you need to look a little deeper to really appreciate their appearance. It should hardly be surprising with the common name of Tanzanian Dwarf Chestnut Baboon that this species is largely brown in coloration.
This base color is far from uniform, however. Heterothele villosella is clothed in a delicate and very intricate pattern. Furthermore, these colors seem to vary based on the lighting; many of my specimens appear as much olive green as just chestnut brown.
Adult females tend to reach a legspan of 2-3 inches, while males typically mature out slightly smaller.
I like how “different” this species is to many more commonly-kept tarantulas, though I appreciate this rather more muted appearance might encourage some keepers to select a rather more showy tarantula. Beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder.
Heterothele villosella is an Old World tarantula from Africa. Like so many other baboon spiders this species can be quite fast and skittish. This should be taken into account when choosing a suitable cage. Fortunately, I have found that this species is far more likely to retreat to its lair when startled, than to throw up a threat posture. The key is to be slow and gentle when opening the cage, and to keep your wits about you to prevent any escapees.
As with many other African tarantulas, Heterothele villosella will happily dig a deep burrow in captivity. Sadly, this can result in “pet hole” syndrome; a small, brown tarantula that is rarely, if ever, seen.
Many keepers opt instead to provide less substrate, but to include “anchor points” for webbing – pieces of cork bark, fake plants, leaf litter and the like. Under these circumstances you’ll really get to see what your Heterothele villosella is capable of. Just like a GBB, your Heterothele villosella will typically fill it’s cage with a dense matt of webbing into which it retreats. There’s no denying that this looks very cool indeed, especially with the right lighting.
When I first got my spiderlings they were housed in clear plastic deli cups with tight-fitting clip-on lids. Numerous ventilation holes were added with a needle. A reasonable depth of coconut fibre was added, then I let the little slings get to work rearranging things. The speed of their redecorating was highly impressive.
While these are quite small tarantulas as adults, I still prefer a cage slightly larger than I might use for less flighty species. This not only gives me a little “wiggle room” if a specimen darts towards the open door, but it also means I’m less likely to disturb the spider when topping up water bowls or spot-cleaning the cage.
I plan to use Exo Terra Nano cages when my specimens reach adulthood, as these cages look awesome, the front-opening door makes maintenance easy yet they provide more than enough space to build a lair.
One of the really nice things about many African tarantula species is that they’re so hardy and reasonably undemanding in captivity. Heterothele villosella really follows this pattern well.
My specimens have been kept at 22-25 degrees Celsius (72-77 degrees Fahrenheit) depending on season and time of day. Under these conditions they have grown surprisingly rapidly, moulting every 2-3 months and increasing in size significantly each time.
Doing some research before writing this article, it does seem there is some disagreement about moisture levels for this species. Read enough discussion forums and you’ll eventually see some quite opposing views. All I can really do is explain what has worked for me. It may not be the only way, but my Heterothele villosella are thriving under these conditions.
The substrate is primarily kept quite dry, irrespective of specimen size. The spiderlings are misted roughly once a week with lukewarm water. Plenty of water droplets end up on the webbing, and the spiderlings seem to be able to drink from these droplets. The deli cups are allowed to almost completely dry out between applications, to prevent a stale, wet environment.
Larger specimens should of course be given an open water dish when this is practical. Bottle caps or tiny deli “sauce” pots can work well for this. As this is a small tarantula you won’t want to give it a swimming pool; we don’t want a tarantula accidentally falling into the water and not being able to get back out again so err towards more shallow containers.
Even with the provision of a water dish, however, the heavy webbing nature of this species can complicate matters. Water bowls can quickly disappear under a thick sheet of silk. Sometimes they can be extracted (using long forceps) while in other cases you may need to accept defeat and simply add a second bowl.
One of the reasons I have really fallen for the dwarf tarantula species in recent years is their modest caging requirements. This means even a handful of these smaller species can easily be added to your collection. It also means that you can go overboard with tank decor without needing a giant cage, making a fascinating and beautiful “micro-habitat” for your pet.
For Heterothele villosella probably the highest recommendation is to include anchor points that your Tanzanian Dwarf Chestnut Baboon can attach their webbing to.
Personally I only use materials bought from exotic pet suppliers, with the intention that it is parasite and chemical-free, though some keepers are perfectly happy to add elements from nature.
Bark, twigs, leaf litter and more can all be used to create an attractive display that encourages webbing.
I have been impressed with the feeding response of my Heterothele villosella. Even as tiny spiderlings these guys love to eat! Indeed, some of my specimens barely seem to go into pre-moult; greedily grabbing their prey then moulting a matter of days later.
While the adult size of this species is quite modest, this is quite rapidly achieved in my experience. My spiderlings and juveniles willingly eat twice a week, though I have a feeling they may eat even more often if presented with the opportunity. Under these conditions they seem to moult every few months, achieving quite impressive growth rates when compared to many other tarantula species.
Of course, slings will require smaller prey items initially, but I consider this quite an easy species to rear from sling stage. Therefore even if you’re not overly experienced in rearing spiderlings I doubt this species will cause you many headaches.
I started off my spiderlings with hatchling black crickets (though you could also use fruitflies, pinhead brown crickets or pre-killed prey). However my specimens very rapidly developed onto larger and more easily-handled prey items. It is very unusual that food is not quickly picked off.
Heterothele villosella is small, skittish and fast moving. If there is a weakness to keeping this species as a “pet” then it is that great care must be taken when the cage is open.
Rehousing can be a stressful experience, so get prepared. Clear as much space as possible to provide excellent access. You don’t want your Heterothele villosella disappearing under or behind a heavy piece of furniture. Keep some plastic tubs with lids on hand, so you can recapture an escaped specimen with ease. Get your paintbrush and long forceps at the ready.
To date my experience is that I wouldn’t call this an aggressive or defensive species of tarantula, but it certainly isn’t one that I’d recommend handling.
The post Heterothele villosella (Tanzanian Dwarf Chestnut Baboon) Tarantula Care Sheet appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.
Leopard gecko lighting is one of the most challenging topics when it comes to keeping these beautiful lizards. Much disagreement exists, even among experienced hobbyists. In this article we’ll examine the subject of leopard gecko lighting in depth, discussing what (if anything) they need, why they need it and the best ways to provide it. ... Read moreLeopard Gecko Lighting: Types, Pricing, Setup & More The post Leopard Gecko Lighting: Types, Pricing, Setup & More appeared first...
Leopard gecko lighting is one of the most challenging topics when it comes to keeping these beautiful lizards.
Much disagreement exists, even among experienced hobbyists.
In this article we’ll examine the subject of leopard gecko lighting in depth, discussing what (if anything) they need, why they need it and the best ways to provide it. By the end you’ll know exactly how to provide the perfect lighting for your gecko…
There are two main reasons why most pet lizards benefit from artificial lighting. Firstly, it has been shown to affect their behavior in positive ways. Lizards that have access to light during the day tend to be more active, to eat better and to be more willing to reproduce in captivity.
Lizards also require artificial lighting to build a strong skeleton. When ultraviolet light hits the skin, it starts a chemical reaction that results in the production of vitamin D. Vitamin D, in turn, is necessary to properly utilize calcium from the diet. In other words, a lack of ultraviolet light can lead to calcium deficiencies, even if it is provided in sufficient levels in the diet.
Calcium has a huge number of uses in the body. For example, it is important for muscle contraction. It allows blood to clot properly after injury. Equally importantly, calcium is the key building block of the skeleton.
This means that lizards kept without a suitable light source can suffer from weak bones, skeletal deformities and/or they may lose the use of their limbs. This group of symptoms are often referred to as “metabolic bone disease” by vets, sometimes shortened to MBD.
The important lesson here is that it’s not just visible light that lizards need; it’s also the invisible ultraviolet waves that are just as important. There are different types of ultraviolet light, and it is UVB which has been shown to be of greatest importance for reptile keepers.
Reptile keepers can’t agree on whether leopard geckos need a UV light. There are two schools of thought:
Some reptile keepers claim that leopard geckos are nocturnal. If they’re only awake during the night, and spend their days hidden away in burrows, then they wouldn’t naturally come into contact with UV light in the wild. As a result, UV light is unnecessary for them to stay healthy in captivity.
Other keepers point out that leopard geckos tend to be active early in the morning and later on in the day – a lifestyle known as “crepuscular”. These keepers therefore contend that leopard geckos in the wild would have access to UV light on occasion, so it should be provided to pet geckos.
Who is right?
Well, sad to say, but this is all a matter of opinion.
Under these circumstances I tend to favour the option that seems to have the least risk for my animals, even if I end up providing something they don’t actually need. Better to do too much than not enough in my book.
While UV light may not be absolutely essential for leopard geckos I think it is good practise to provide it (just in case).
Whether you believe that leopard geckos are nocturnal or crepuscular, one thing we can all agree on is that an obvious day/night cycle is beneficial for most animals. Whatever the lifestyle of leopard geckos, a total lack of darkness can lead to stress.
It is a good idea to turn off your leopard gecko light at night, to allow your pet to move around at night as it naturally would in the wild.
Ultraviolet lights for reptiles come in a range of strengths, with some producing a higher intensity of UV light than others. This is often defined as a percentage. So, a 5% bulb gives off more UVB than a 2% bulb for example.
It is common to match the light intensity of a reptile’s natural habitat to the UV output of a bulb. Desert species might benefit from the higher intensity of a 5% bulb, while those residing in forests, where the light is more diffused, would normally be given a lower strength bulb.
While leopard geckos are desert lizards, they spend most of the daylight hours hidden away from direct sunlight, emerging only as the sun dips low in the sky. The general recommendation, therefore, is a 2% UVB bulb.
The following tips can be useful for properly installing and using lighting in your leopard gecko tank…
Leopard geckos can have sensitive eyes and skin, which doesn’t benefit from too much light. Think of it like you getting stuck on a sunny beach all day without any shade or sunscreen. It might be nice for a short while, but by the end of the day you might be in quite such a good mood!
If you opt to provide lighting in your gecko cage then ensure your pet can safely escape from it whenever they desire. The use of reptile hides can be handy, as can artificial plants and other decor items that create shady areas. In this way your leopard gecko can choose the area that suits them best.
UV bulbs stop producing beneficial wavelengths over time. Even though the light may look fine to the human eye, the UVB being produced declines. Most bulb manufacturers recommend changing the light every 6-12 months, so consider making a note of when you installed the light.
UV light doesn’t travel too far. The further your lizard is from the bulb the less they will benefit. If you’re going to install lighting for your leopard gecko then try to minimize the space between the bulb and the cage floor. If necessary, cage decor can be used to build up an area under the bulb as a basking spot.
Even sun-loving animals need a natural cycle of light and darkness. Turn off all lights at night to facilitate this. That even includes “night lights” that are sometimes sold to reptile keepers who want to watch their nocturnal pets moving around.
Lastly, all the UV light in the world won’t prevent skeletal problems if your pet lizard isn’t getting enough calcium in their diet. It can be a good idea to supplement your leopard gecko’s food with a good quality calcium powder to ensure a sufficient intake.
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Corn snakes and ball pythons are two of the most popular pet snakes. They’re both great pets, but they have a lot in common with each other. This can make it difficult to decide on which one is best for you. In this article we’ll try and help you make that decision. Over the years ... Read moreCorn Snake or Ball Python: What’s the Best Pet Snake? The post Corn Snake or Ball Python: What’s the Best Pet Snake? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...
Corn snakes and ball pythons are two of the most popular pet snakes. They’re both great pets, but they have a lot in common with each other. This can make it difficult to decide on which one is best for you. In this article we’ll try and help you make that decision.
Over the years I’ve kept numerous specimens of both species, so in this article I want to provide a personal insight into my own experiences. Hopefully by the end you’ll have a better understanding of corn snakes versus ball pythons…
Corn snakes and ball pythons are both well established in the reptile hobby. They’re captive bred regularly and as a result of selective breeding they can be found in a huge range of different colors and patterns. These color variations are typically referred to as “morphs”.
There is an almost limitless range of morphs available, though I would argue that ball pythons are more commonly bred these days, making many morphs easy to source.
I don’t think one can really say that corn snakes or ball pythons are “better” in this regard, but it might be worth looking at all the different morphs of both species to see if anything particularly stands out to you. Be aware, however, that you may have to temper your enthusiasm, as some of the rarer morphs can be very expensive indeed.
Corn snakes and ball pythons are both capable of growing to a similar adult length. This is typically somewhere in the 4-5’ margin, with females often being slightly larger than the males. While this may sound like a big snake, in reality these are quite modest dimensions, making both species easy to accommodate at home.
The key difference is that ball pythons are considerably more “thickset” and “chunky” in appearance. Personally I find this quite appealing, particularly when compared to the thinner and more slight appearance of a corn snake. In short, I feel that ball pythons look a little more impressive.
All the same, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so you may disagree with me on the appeal of a chunky snake.
Ball pythons tend to be very relaxed and chilled out in my experience. Even snakes that haven’t been handled in months will typically sit calmly and passively in their cage as you change their water or spot clean the vivarium. I have only ever had one specimen try to strike at me, and that was when I was trying to feed it, making it largely my own fault for not paying enough attention.
Corn snakes, while far from aggressive, tend to be just a little more highly strung in my experience. They’re a little more likely to slink off to safety when you open their cage. I have also come across a few specimens in the past that could be described as somewhat defensive, that would regularly try to strike when I carried out tank maintenance. That said, these specimens have been few and far between, so I don’t think it should be a “deal breaker”.
Overall I would say that both species tend to have a decent temperament, though in my experience ball pythons tend to be a little more relaxed.
One of the reasons why corn snakes and ball pythons have become so popular is that they can both be safely and easily handled. Bites are very rare, and neither snake is particularly fast-moving.
Ball pythons are almost like a pet rock. Once you get them out of their cage they will often just sit almost motionless in your hands, meaning that they’re easy for anyone to handle. Even if they do start moving it tends to be a slow, steady, deliberate plod. A ball python can be a good option for less experienced keepers and/or supervised children for this reason.
Corn snakes, on the whole, tend to be a little more active. They can require a little more effort to handle safely, as they’re more regularly on the move. This is hardly an issue for most people, and for some keepers might actually make holding a corn snake more satisfying than the more “passive” experience of handling a ball python.
In general, while both snakes are perfectly handable, I feel that ball pythons are the easier species to hold all things being considered.
Ball pythons and corn snakes are both carnivorous; this means you’ll need to feed them some kind of animal prey. Typically this means rodents of varying sizes; tiny “pinkies” (newborn mice) for hatchling corn snakes, up to quite sizable rats for larger ball pythons.
While the food items don’t really differ much between corn snakes and ball pythons, one key difference is their feeding response. While all snakes will go off their food for a few weeks before they shed their skin, ball pythons have been known to stop eating for much longer periods of time.
Some ball pythons may go off their food for months on end, particularly over the winter months. So long as your snake appears healthy and isn’t losing significant weight then this shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
All the same, some first-time ball python owners find this a nerve-wracking experience the first time it happens, resulting in numerous forum visits and social media posts. In almost all cases your python will begin eating again in the future as though nothing had ever happened.
In contrast, corn snakes rarely fast for any period of time.
While fasting is relatively normal in ball pythons, corn snakes probably win out here as they avoid the potential anguish that a period of fasting can cause to the owner.
Let’s be honest; snakes typically aren’t the most exciting of pets to sit and watch. They tend to spend much of their time hiding away from view, and even when they are on display they often sit motionless for hours at a time. All the same, it’s a topic worthy of consideration if you want to sit and enjoy your pet exploring their cage.
Here I have found that corn snakes tend to be the more enjoyable of the two to watch. They’re more likely to be active during the daylight hours, and tend to be more active, exploring their cage in depth.
While ball pythons will come out to explore to a degree, they’re nocturnal which means this will normally only happen after darkness falls. What’s more they seem to be less inquisitive and will spend the majority of their time hidden away from view.
Overall if you want a snake that you can watch then the corn snake is probably the better option in my opinion. That said, neither of these are really the best pet snake to watch. If you really want to be able to sit on your sofa and see a snake going about their daily routine then there are much better options available than either of these species – most notably garter snakes – which are active during the day.
Ball pythons and corn snakes are both reasonably undemanding in terms of their care. You’ll need a suitably-sized vivarium, some substrate, a water bowl and hide, and a warm basking spot for your pet. While their care can differ in subtle ways – such as the way in which some people provide a higher humidity for ball pythons – neither is really any more difficult to keep fit and healthy.
That said, we need to ensure that we’re comparing captive-bred specimens here. In the past, wild caught specimens were sometimes available to hobbyists, and these could be far more challenging to look after. They would sometimes come in with parasites, they would be unused to human contact, and could show signs of aggression. I would strongly suggest you avoid any wild caught specimen of either species and always go for captive bred stock.
In terms of their care requirements I therefore consider this to be a dead-heat, with both species tying neck-and-neck for pole position.
Ball pythons and corn snakes are both bred by hobbyists in huge numbers each year. The laws of supply and demand mean that prices have come down quite a bit over the last few decades. Wild-type morphs of both species can be easily found and cheaply purchased. Rarer morphs can understandably be far more expensive, with some “designer” ball pythons costing thousands of dollars.
Assuming you don’t want the very latest color morph then prices and availability tend to be comparable, though you’ll probably come across a far wider range of ball python color morphs than you will of corn snakes.
Either way, most decent reptile stores will have at least a few specimens of each for you to choose between. A reptile expo will have many times that, and can be a fantastic way to encounter a huge number of specimens bred by experienced keepers.
The lifespan of a corn snake or ball python can of course be affected by a huge range of different factors, and even specimens from the same clutch may achieve different lifespans. That said, we do have some “ballpark” figures for how long both species should live.
On average a corn snake will live for around 15 years, though some specimens may reach 20 years or more.
A ball python can live considerably longer, reaching an age of 25-30 years. Again, some specimens have been known to live even longer, with some examples reaching 40 years of age.
There are two important takeaways here. Firstly, either species of snake should be considered a long-term commitment. Don’t consider bringing one home as a pet unless you’re confident that you’ll be happy caring for your snake for many decades to come.
The second conclusion is that ball pythons tend to live a lot longer than corn snakes. Perhaps for this reason the corn snake actually has the upper hand, as it means less commitment overall.
Let’s get one thing straight before we conclude this guide: both corn snakes and ball pythons can make fantastic pet snakes. Neither of them is necessarily “better” than the other, and your final decision will really come down to your personal circumstances.
That said, let’s try to bring together all the points made so far, into one conclusive checklist.
A ball python may be the best snake for you if…
A corn snake may be the best snake for you if…
If you’ve got any questions or experiences about this topic then please feel free to use the comments section below so we can all learn from you.
The post Corn Snake or Ball Python: What’s the Best Pet Snake? appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.
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