Antilles Pinktoe Tarantula
Antilles Pink-toed Tarantula, Martinique Red Tree SpiderFamily: TheraphosidaeAvicularia versicolorPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Russ Gurley
The Antilles Pink-toed Tree Spider is one of the most beautiful tarantulas kept in captivity!
The Antilles Pinktoe Tarantula is one of the most popular tree spiders. It comes from Martinique, off the coast of South America. It is highly sought after because of its gorgeous adult coloration, along with a fairly docile temperament.
Young tarantulas are a metallic steel blue-black coloring, but as adults they transform into dramatic coloration. Adults have a metallic green carapace and the abdomen is covered with red hairs. The long furry legs become swathed in reds, pinks, and browns. True to its striking adult coloration and its place of origin, it is also commonly called the Martinique Red Tree Spider.
The Antilles Pink-toed Tarantulas are naturally docile, and will live in colonies in the wild. But they are not so social in captivity, to keep them successfully for the long-term they are best housed individually. These tree spiders are very quick and agile. They are known to jump up or out, to a distance of 12 inches (30 cm) or so. They do best kept in a large, vertically oriented enclosure.
Despite their good looks the Antilles Pinktoe Tarantulas are also not as docile or as easily handled as other species of the Avicularia genus, like its well-known cousin the Pink-toed Tarantula A. avicularia. These tree spiders don't enjoy handling and should be considered display animals. This species is also a little more challenging to keep. It requires the unique combination of high humidity and lots of ventilation. This combination can be somewhat difficult to provide in captivity, to maintain these parameters requires a regular regime.
For more Information on keeping Tarantulas, see:
Keeping Arachnids and Other Arthropods as Pets
Habitat: Distribution/BackgroundThe Antilles Pinktoe Tarantula Avicularia versicolor was described by Walckenaer in 1837. They are found in Martinique, off the coast of South America. Other common names they are known by are Antilles Pink-toed Tarantula, Antilles Pink-toed Tree Spider, and Martinique Red Tree Spider.
The Avicularia genus is the most widespread group of spiders in the Americas and contains about 20 species. This genus was also the very first of the tarantulas to be described by science.
Description The Antilles Pink-toed Tree Spider is a medium sized spider, reaching about 4 1/2 - 6"(11- 15 cm). As juveniles they are a metallic steel blue-black coloring, changing to more dramatic colors as adults. Adults have a metallic green carapace, an abdomen covered with red hairs, and long furry black legs swathed in reds, pinks, and browns. As with most tarantula species, the males are thinner and have long, furry legs. A female remains bulky and less spindly as she grows.
Food and FeedingThe Antilles Pinktoe Tarantula is an aggressive feeder. It will eat a variety of insect prey including adult crickets, grasshoppers, roaches, and especially flying insects such as wax moths. In nature, they will also feed on small lizards such as Anolis species, but they are not typically fed vertebrate prey in captivity.
HousingIn the wild all the Avicularia species are primarily arboreal, They will live in human structures or on plants rather than on the ground. The Antilles Pink-toed Tree Spider should be kept in a large, vertically oriented enclosure. They need a well ventilated enclosure but with relatively high humidity. A modified aquarium with parts of the sides having screens and a screen on top works best. If the enclosure becomes too dry, the spiders will not do well.
One way to overcome the dilemma of high humidity and high ventilation is to use a deep (4 to 5") substrate of damp sand and peat moss and provide several live plants within the enclosure. These plants can be placed in the enclosure still in their pots or can be planted in the deep substrate. Live plants will not only provide excellent places for the spiders to establish homes, they will provide excellent areas for breeding and egg-laying.
Add one or two shallow water dishes and mist the entire enclosure once a day to every other day, depending on the conditions of the room in which the enclosure is located. The cage should be allowed to dry out in between mistings.
Temperature and humidity requirements:
This species will do best if you maintain the enclosure at 78° - 82° F with a humidity level of 75 - 85%.
Cage CareA good habit to get into is cleaning up any uneaten prey items the day after feeding your tarantula as decaying organic matter commonly attracts mites, fungus, mold and other potentially harmful organisms into the enclosure. If your pet has recently molted, remove uneaten prey items immediately. Newly molted tarantulas are vulnerable until their exoskeletons hardens.
Behavior In their natural setting, most of the Avicularia spiders will live in colonies. Though this is true for the Antilles Pinktoe Tarantula as well, they are not so social In captivity. Though there have been short term successes keeping them with others of the same species, they are best housed individually.
Handling Antilles Pinktoe Tarantula, though generally docile, are quite a bit more high-strung and nervous than the more common Pink-toed Tarantula A. avicularia. They seem to jump more frequently and I know of several bites from this species. (All were inconsequential and only localized swelling was noticed.) These spider don't enjoy handling and should be considered display animals. They should only being handled and prodded when you are cleaning their enclosures or when they are being bred.
Reproduction The males of the Antilles Pink-toed Tree Spider or Martinique Red Tree Spider are equipped with hooks on his first pair of legs. These hooks are used to grapple with the female's fangs during courtship and mating.
An adult male should be carefully introduced into the female's enclosure after he has produced a sperm web. The male can be protected with a piece of cardboard or other tool if he is to be used for further breeding attempts. Once mating occurs, the female should be fed more heavily and with a variety of prey items. The spiderlings will require close attention and will need an environment with good ventilation and adequate humidity to rear them successfully.
Diseases: Ailments/TreatmentsTarantulas are generally quite hardy and adaptable if they are provided with the right environment. A few signs that may indicate that your pet is not acting or feeling normal are a loss of appetite, lethargy, looking overly skinny, or pacing the enclosure.
A tarantula on its back is probably not sick. Most tarantula species flip onto their backs during molting. Though this is a very stressful and delicate time for tarantulas, if the humidity and warmth levels are correct, they will molt their exoskeleton, roll over, harden up, and within a week or two be ready for their next meals.
One of the most common reasons for your pet to demonstrate unusual behavior is due to a molting period. As they outgrow their existing skin all tarantulas regularly go through an extensive molt, shedding their entire skin as well as the linings of their mouth, respiratory organs, stomach and sexual organs.
The process starts well before the actual molt. For several weeks prior to shedding they will be growing a new skin under their old one. During this time it is not unusual for a tarantula to get quite lethargic and even stop eating. There may also be lots of web spinning activity as they prepare to molt.
When they begin to molt, they lay on their backs with their legs up in the air looking as if they are dead. Be sure not to disturb your tarantula when you see this. The shedding process goes quickly and smoothly as long the environment has adequate humidity.
Once they have shed, their new skin is pale and very soft. The amount of time it takes for your pet to fully recover and be back to eating well will vary from a day or so up to several weeks depending on its size. Smaller spiders recover much quicker than larger ones.
- Other Problems
Other problems are usually the result of some type of environmental stress. There may be a drop in the temperature of the enclosure, there may be parasites, or the tarantula may just not be comfortable with the depth of its hiding place. These things can be easily adjusted or changed, or you can try moving your pet to a new enclosure.
Availability The Antilles Pinktoe Tarantulas are being bred in some numbers in Europe and sporadically by US breeders. As one of the most beautiful and most popular species, the spiderlings sell quickly when they are available. Due to their popularity, most spider dealers tend to keep them in stock most of the time.
- Animal-World Resources: Reptiles, Amphibians, and Land Invertebrates
- Russ Gurley, Tarantulas and Scorpions in Captivity, Living Art Pub, Serpent's Tale NHBD , 2005
- Samuel D. Marshall, Tarantulas and Other Arachnids, Barron's Educational Series; 2nd edition 2001
- Russ Gurley, Color Guide to Tarantulas of the World I, Living Art Publishing 1994
- Philippe de Vosjoli, Arachnomannia, General Care and Maintenance of Tarantulas & Scorpion, Advanced Vivarium Systems, 1991
- John G. Browning, Tarantulas. T.F.H Publications, 1989