Salmon Pink Tarantula (Lasiodora parahybana) – Housing and Care
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This page is a part of our "exotic pets series", not dedicated to fish, but to Salmon Pink Tarantula's instead! We'd love you to share your experiences at the bottom of this page!
Lasiodora parahybana are to be found in the north eastern regions of Brazil where they inhabit the forest floors. They are not natural climbers, rarely leaving the terrain and are not accomplished burrowers but often they may attempt to make small burrows in the wild. These are one of the largest of the tarantula species and can grow to an average size of 8 inches leg span with some specimens reaching a leg span of up to 10 inches. They are commonly known as the Brazilian Salmon Pink Bird Eating Tarantulas or another well known common name used is just simply the Salmon Pink Tarantula but they are the same species.
They are an extremely sought after species by tarantula keepers but these are not ideal for novices to the hobby as they do not always take kindly to handling and with fangs that can reach up to 1 inch in length with adult specimens, they will inflict a nasty bite if they wish to causing a great deal of pain to the receiver.
They are not that expensive to purchase compared to other species of tarantulas, their ease of breeding and rapid growth (spiderlings can reach a size of 6 inches in their first year), makes them very accessible to most keepers around the world. Setting up an enclosure for this tarantula is also a quite straight forward process meaning that caring for these creatures will not require a massive budget making them even more popular as well
Being a non climbing species and only a partial borrower, they tend to be on display a lot of the time, this also offers great appeal to many keepers compared to other species of tarantulas that tend to hide away a lot of the time only becoming more active in the darker hours.
The actual body size of the pink salmon tarantula should reach a size of 4-5 inches and their leg length is less compared to the body size as with other species of tarantula giving them a stocky appearance, their body colouration is a brownish, black colour and their abdomen and legs are covered with red hairs, these hairs can be ejected if the spider feels under threat which can cause an irritation to the skin.
Spiderlings hatch with a pink colouration giving rise to their common name but the abdomens on the juveniles will start to darken at a very young age.
The rest of this article will concentrate on giving you a brief guide on how to care for these spiders, including their feeding habits and also their breeding habits should you wish to undertake a breeding project.
Caring for the Brazilian pink salmon tarantula
The size of the enclosure required is dependant on the size of the specimen that you are keeping. Obviously juveniles or hatchlings will require a lot less room than adult specimens but if you are purchasing a small specimen to care for you must take into account that you will need to upgrade the size of the chosen enclosure as your spider grows. The general rule is that the length of the enclosure should be at least 2-3 times the leg span size of your spider and the width at least 1.5 – 2 times the leg span size, height is not such an important factor as your pink salmon tarantula will spend all of its time on the substrate and will never climb, the footprint of the enclosure is the important aspect to keeping these successfully. Many keepers will use an aquarium with a fitted lid, nowadays the readily available plastic containers are also being chosen and these are fine but you must drill small air holes into the lid provided. It is best to situate the enclosure away from human traffic as spiders can detect vibrations from the footsteps and always keep the enclosure away from direct sunlight as this will overheat the enclosure which will prove to be costly to your pet.
It is also important to remember that these spiders bite so placing the enclosure on a stand out of reach of small children is a good idea, children will be tempted to investigate so keep the temptation out of reach.
As with all reptile or spider enclosures the choice of substrate is also very important, with spiders the depth of the substrate should also be taken into account. With the pink salmon tarantula an adult specimen will require a depth of at least 2 inches of substrate, 3-4 inches is far more ideal. This allows your spider to burrow even though this spider does not dig deep burrows it will still show a tendency to create shallow burrows.
The substrate itself can be potting soil (ensure that it is free from fertilisers and pesticides), leaf mould or even vermiculite can also be used and this should be slightly dampened to recreate the forest floors in the natural habitat but do not completely wet the substrate, the substrate should also be pressed down slightly so that your spider does not sink into it, compressing the substrate slightly will allow your spider a firm footing. The lower level of the substrate needs to be kept damp but not wet, dripping water down the sides of the enclosure will prevent the whole of the substrate from becoming water logged and the upper surface of the substrate should remain dry.
Décor is optional apart from a suitable hide but if you wish to create a natural looking den then you can add plants, it is better to use artificial plants, lighting is not required for the tarantula so the plant growth will be limited and decaying leaves can introduce bacteria, silk or plastic plants are much more preferable and still have the same impact. Hides are important to your tarantula, these will give your spider somewhere to retreat to if it feels the need. The hides do not need to be anything fancy, I have often seen plant pots laid on their sides and partially buried in the substrate, these are ideal. There are commercially made hides that you can use if you wish or even cork bark laid on its side is more than adequate. Use hides that allow free access to your tarantula and they should be about the same size as the spider so that it feels secure when inside, if the hide is to large then the spider may not be as confident.
One other vital piece of equipment that does need to be added to the enclosure is a small water bowl, not only does this provide clean drinking water but the evaporation will increase the humidity levels inside the enclosure. The water bowl should be shallow and wide enough to prevent the tarantula from spilling it over. Your spider may not seem to drink a lot as they do get a lot of their moisture intake from their diet but if the bowl is there your spider has the choice whether to drink or not. If you use a commercial water bowl or just a jar lid placed in the enclosure, make sure that it is pressed down slightly into the substrate to provide stability.
The temperature of the enclosure does not need to be too high, if you live in a temperate climate then the average room temperature is fine and no additional heating is required, if you live in cooler climates then you may need to provide an outside heat source, if you are using a heat mat then this should be attached to the rear of the enclosure, do not place the heat mat underneath, the ideal temperature should be between 21-24 deg C (70-75 deg F), this temperature should be allowed to drop by a couple of degrees during the night hours.
Using a light bulb for display or heating is not the best option, not only do the tarantula prefer darker living conditions but the light may unsettle your spider and can also overheat the enclosure. Coloured bulbs are a better option if you are using these for raising the temperature slightly, preferably black or even a red bulb are the best options. Never leave the bulb switched on during the night, the temperature must be allowed to drop by a few degrees to replicate the natural living conditions of your spider.
Feeding the Brazilian pink salmon tarantula
In the wild the Brazilian pink salmon tarantula feeds mainly on small rodents, frogs, lizards, insects and this species of tarantula have even been known to predate on some species of snakes. You can if you wish supply a meal by using pinkie mice but if you are squeamish then you can feed your spider on an insect based diet comprising of crickets, mealworms, grasshoppers or even moths. Unlike lizards and snakes, the food does not need to be dusted with calcium supplements but it is best to gut load the food to provide extra nourishment.
The Brazilian pink salmon tarantula feeds by biting its prey with its fangs and injecting digestive juices which turns the prey into a digestible form that the spider can easily injest. This species of tarantula is not considered to be highly venomous but they do carry a mild venom that can paralyse smaller creatures ready to be eaten. They are also classed as being cannibalistic so always bear this in mind if keeping a larger specimen with a smaller one or attempting to breed these creatures and keeping the young with the parent spider.
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 Brazilian pink salmon 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 Brazilian Salmon Pink 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!