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Housing Cyclosternum fasciatum - Costa Rican Tiger Rump Tarantula

Resized image of Cyclosternum fasciatum - Costa Rican Tiger Rump Tarantula, 1 Resized image of Cyclosternum fasciatum - Costa Rican Tiger Rump Tarantula, 2

Brief Description

This page belongs to our "exotic pets series" articles which are not dedicated to fish, but to Costa Rican Tiger Rump Tarantula! We'd love you to share your experiences at the bottom of this page!

Introduction

Cyclosternum fasciatum are a medium sized tarantula that are found naturally in the tropical rain forests of Costa Rica and Guatemala. They are commonly referred to as the Costa Rican Tiger Rump Tarantula and this is based on their unusual marking that are found on the sternum.

Adult specimens can grow up to a size of 3.5 - 4 inches (8.9 – 10.2 cm) meaning that they can live in smaller enclosures compared to the larger species of tarantula that are available in this hobby.

They have an average leg span of approximately 4.5 inches (11.43 cm) and their sternum and legs will be covered with hairs that they can eject if they feel threatened plus they can pack a nasty bite with their fangs when attacking prey or would be attackers.

Their average life span is 10 years, this is probably slightly longer than for wild specimens as being captive the risk of predation is ruled out, there is only keeper error that can physically reduce the life span.

Their sternum is covered with markings that loosely resemble tiger stripes and these are usually pinkish in colouration with a brown/black background colouration.

This species of Tarantula is capable of climbing if it wishes to but generally they will spend most of their time on the floor of their enclosure just as they would in their wild habitat of forest floors.

The Tiger Rump tarantula is not really an ideal species for beginners to this hobby as they don’t take too kindly to handling and will eject their hairs at every opportunity, they are ideal for keepers who wish to keep an active species of Tarantula that will be on show for long periods of time in the enclosure, some keepers may even handle this species confidently but experience is required for this as dropping the Tarantula if it moves quickly or surprises you will normally lead to a mortality of your pet as they are fragile and falls are the biggest killer of captive specimens.

They are not very demanding in their needs but there are certain guidelines that you should follow and these will be covered in this article.

Setting up an enclosure for your Costa Rican Tiger Rump Tarantula

The most important factor to consider for the enclosure is the footprint of the container that you are going to use. The footprint or floor space as you probably know it as needs to be large enough to give your Tiger Rump Tarantula room to move about and also be large enough to add the required décor and water bowl. As this tarantula is capable of climbing it is probably best to have a lid on top of the enclosure but you must ensure that there are ventilation holes to allow air flow but make sure that these are not large enough to allow your spider to escape. A glass aquarium or a plastic container can be used and the size of these should be relative to the size and age of your spider, spiderlings can live in very small containers whereas adult specimens require larger ones, generally an adult specimen can be housed in a container that has a volume of 10 gallons (45.46 litres, 12.01 US gallons) but make sure that it is not to high, remember that falls can prove deadly to your pet.

The chosen substrate is also important, many keepers use a potting compost that is free from pesticides and insecticides, other choices can include vermiculite, coconut fibre, peat or even a mix of these. If using peat or potting compost then this will need to be sterilised before use, the reason for this being that these two mediums may contain mould or fungus spores as well as other creatures such as mites. The easiest method or sterilisation is to place the substrate inside a microwave oven and blasting it for a few seconds, this should eradicate any unwelcome guests into your enclosure.

The substrate will need to be kept moist but never wet, the easiest way to control this is to allow the water to slowly drip down the sides of the enclosure which lets the bottom layers of the substrate to dampen leaving the top layers relatively dry, if the substrate is too wet it will cause problems for your tarantula, a moist substrate should keep the humidity levels at the correct range, this is normally between 60-70%, any higher is not ideal but slightly lower will not cause any major problems. The addition of a water bowl will also help to increase the humidity levels as well as providing a source of moisture for your spider to injest, the tarantula will get most of its moisture intake from its food but water must also be provided just in case. This will need to be replaced on a regular basis to keep it clean and make sure that the water bowl is shallow and pushing it slightly into the substrate will ensure that it will not get toppled over. Hides must also be included in the enclosure, every now and again your Tiger Rump Tarantula may want to get away from attention and hide away for a period of time, these can be bought commercially or you can use plant pots that are partially buried into the substrate after being laid on their side, ensure that your spider can access the hide easily and make sure that it is not to much larger than the spider, if too large your tarantula may feel insecure inside there and may choose not to use it.

Any additional décor is purely optional, if you want to create a more natural look you can add some plants, silk or plastic plants tend to be preferred as they never rot and decay, leaves that have rotted on live plants can also introduce infections to the enclosure. Whatever additional décor you choose make sure that there are no sharp edges which could injure the spider and make sure that any décor is not high enough to cause a fall to the spider if it did happen to lose its footing.

Maintenance is also important for the long term health of your Tiger Rump Tarantula, as mentioned above, the water in the water bowl will need changing at least every other day, daily is the better option. The substrate will need replacing at regular intervals and the actual enclosure will also require cleaning out at least once a month.

After feeding try to remove any dead food left in the enclosure and if feeding with live crickets it is not good practice to leave uneaten crickets wandering around the enclosure for days.

The temperature of the enclosure should be between 21 - 24°C (70 - 75°F), this temperature range is a standard room temperature in many countries but if you live in cooler climates you can attach a heat mat to the rear of the enclosure and maintain a steady temperature by means of a thermostat, during the night time the temperature should be allowed to drop by at least a couple of degrees.

Lighting is not required for you tarantula they much prefer darker lighting and bright lights can make them very nervous, a coloured bulb can be used for partial lighting if you wish.

Feeding the Tiger Rump Tarantula

Feeding these pets is not that difficult if you follow a few simple rules. The size of the food should be relative to the size of the spider, smaller specimens such as juveniles will require more regular meals but the smaller crickets etc. are generally fed to them, mature tarantulas will need less feeding times but they will accept larger foods.

In the diet you can feed the tarantulas crickets, beetles, mealworms, small earthworms, grasshoppers but when feeding live food to provide extra nourishment always gut load the food before offering it to the tarantula. For example if you feed the crickets on greens and wait for a few hours before offering them, they will have partially digested their food ready for the tarantula to absorb as well as gaining nourishment from the cricket.

Feeding juvenile tarantulas twice a week, will suffice whereas adult specimens should only require one meal a week. Do not over feed or allow uneaten prey to stay in the enclosure as this can increase the risk of infection to your spider.

The Tiger Rump Tarantula is also capable of being cannibalistic so keeping more than one specimen in the enclosure together can lead to one of the inhabitants becoming a meal, they are also capable of feeding on small lizards and rodents.

One word of warning, never attempt to feed your Tarantula by hand, all species of Tarantula carry some degree of venom, no-one is sure about the toxicity of this venom towards humans so do not take any risks, simply place the food inside the enclosure and allow your spider to find it of its own accord.

General notes

When purchasing your tarantula it is best to purchase a younger specimen that is captive bred, there are a couple of reasons for this. Younger specimens tend to adapt to their new enclosures quicker than mature specimens, if they are captive bred they also tend to be used to humans around them so the sight of us should not unsettle your spider. Each tarantula may undergo a few changes in colouration, size and behaviour as it matures, raising your tarantula from a juvenile will allow you to witness these changes and get to understand your tarantula better.

There are many reference books and websites that can give you a great deal of information about raising these creatures, some of these sites and books go into great detail, the more information that you take in prior to keeping your tarantula will give you a better start to keeping your tarantula healthy.

Tarantulas can only grow by shedding their exo-skeleton and this is commonly referred to as moulting. In the wild the tarantula is at a higher risk from predators during this process, in captivity this risk is simply not there so the moulting process should pass with no problems. The first signs of a moult approaching are normally a loss of appetite, the tarantula may appear restless and also discard a lot of the hairs from the rear of its abdomen.

The tarantula will create a small web in the form of a cradle to rest on while moulting and often the tarantula will lie on its back during the moult , this can be a worrying time for the keepers but it is a natural position for the spider. Do not attempt to disturb the tarantula during this time as it will be stressed anyway and disturbing it will make matters worse. The abdomen should split first allowing the spider to slide out of its old skeleton, fluid pumped into the legs will cause these to split away and the spider will free itself in time. The moulting can be quite quick, a matter of minutes or it can take a few hours, you will soon find out that each moult will be different.

Once moulted the tarantula will have a soft body and definitely should not be handled at this stage, it can take several days for the skin to harden, the fangs will also be soft so eating is not an option until the drying out is fully complete.

Breeding the Tiger Rump Tarantula

Breeding this tarantula is not difficult but you do need to think carefully before undergoing this project, have you the facilities for raising the young and have you an outlet for moving on any juvenile spiders that you raise?

If you do feel that you can be successful and look after the young or move them on then the first stage of the breeding has to be sexing the tarantulas. The easiest way to sex the tarantula is to use a fresh moult. Carefully opening the abdomen area you will see 2 white areas on either side of the abdomen, above these and just below the joining of the abdomen to the carapace there is a central area that is known as the epigynal area. On the females there should be visible to the naked eye sacs that are used to store the sperm, these will not be present on a males moult.

Mature females tend to be larger and stockier than the males also, sexing is easier the more mature the specimen, with juveniles it can be very tricky. Males should also develop small hooks on their front legs, these are commonly referred to as “mating hooks”. Often the tarantula can be sexed incorrectly especially if you are new to this hobby, if in doubt seek help from an expert who know what they are looking for.

Mating takes place after a moult, as females tend to moult once a year the timing has to be spot on. The male will undergo his maturing moult where his physical appearance may change, his body will be smaller compared to his leg span and his legs may change to becoming longer and thinner. On the ends of his legs that are located near the mouth, bulbous ending will appear, these are where the sperm is stored ready for passing onto the female.

In the corner of the enclosure the male will create a hammock shaped web, this usually occurs within a couple of weeks after the mature moulting and this web is used during the mating process. Now you may find the male performing strange actions but he does have a reason for this, the male will climb underneath the web and start to rub itself against the web, he is now depositing sperm onto the web itself. The male will now climb onto the top of the web and walk all over it. He is now picking up the sperm and storing it in the sperm sacs at the end of its legs. Once stored the web will usually be dismantled and the male is now ready to mate with a suitable female of the same species.

Introducing the male to the female can be a tricky process if certain rules are not followed, it is not simply a matter of just placing them into the same enclosure. The male should be added into the females enclosure at the opposite end to where she is residing, never place the male directly next to the female. He will now start to perform to the female by drumming on the substrate and gently vibrating his abdomen, during this time he will creep closer to the female which is usually the worrying time for the keeper as the females are more than capable of killing the male spider. When he reaches the female he will rub her legs and at this time the female will go into a threatening mode raising her fangs. The male will lock her fangs with his mating hooks that were described above and lift the female to allow mating to take place.

Once mating is complete, the male is at its most dangerous position, he will very quickly release the fangs and move away from the female, at this stage the male should be removed from the enclosure for its own safety.

The female will now spend all of her time producing the egg sac and will need plenty of food to keep her strong. She will produce lots of webs and may burrow right up to the eggs being held. Once the egg sac has been produced do not offer any more feeds and definitely do not try to handle her, if she is startled or feels threatened, she will eat the egg sac.

Raising the spiderlings

The hatching time for the baby spiders varies a great deal with the shortest recorded time being 4 weeks after the egg sac has been produced, often it can take several weeks longer for the hatching to occur. The newly hatched spiders are known as “nymphs” and will be white in colour, they will not show any sign of colouration until their first moult. Spiderlings are cannibalistic so remember this when raising the young, It will be required to split the young into smaller groups as they develop.

On the longer term the spiderlings can be raised in very small plastic containers filled with a small amount of substrate that is kept moist but not wet. Individual spiderlings can even be housed in the small plastic cases that camera films are stored in.

The spiderlings can be fed on very small crickets or even maggots, every time that you feed them check for moults and remove these, the younger the spider the more rapid the moulting occurs as they do grow very quickly. They will require more feeds than adult specimens, twice a week should suffice.

As the spiderlings grow larger they will need to be re-homed into larger containers so make sure that you have these ready to create a new home for the young as required.

Please take note:-

Although the Costa Rican Tiger Rump Tarantula is not classed as highly venomous, their venom and even the hairs that cover their abdomen and legs can cause an allergic reaction to some people, handling should only be performed by experienced keepers and if you are unsure if you do have an allergy, never handle these creatures.

A fall to a tarantula is bad news, this is often the cause of mortalities to these creatures, if you do have to pick this spider aloft, never raise it too high above a safe surface just incase it does get dropped!

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