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Rose-haired Tarantula

Chilean Rose Tarantula, Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula

Rose-haired Tarantula, Grammostola rosea, Chilean Rose TarantulaGrammostola roseaPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Paddy Campbell
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Okay so I've had my rose H T for about a month. Her name is madam octa and she's about 6 months old now. Sometimes she doesn't mind me holding her but others she... (more)  Sierra Dawn

The Chilean Rose Tarantula has been an important spider for more than thirty years!

The Rose-haired Tarantula Grammostola rosea is one of the most docile and hardy spiders being kept. It is a very durable tarantula, originating from one of the driest scrub habitats in the world, the northern Atacama Desert region. The Chilean Rose Tarantula has been a standard in the pet hobby and science classrooms all across the planet.

Chilean Rose-haired Tarantulas are moderately large, stocky beauties. They have a leg span reaching about 5 inches (12.5 cm) as adults. They are colored in a dark brown to black but then covered with a coat of reddish-orange to pink hairs over the entire body. Their various common names are derived from this subtle rose casting on the hair. Common names include Rose-haired Tarantula, Chilean Rose Tarantula, Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula, Chilean Fire Tarantula and Chilean Red-haired Tarantula.

These are fascinating spiders. Chilean Rose Tarantulas are quiet and easy to care for. They have a long lifespan with females living up to about 20 years. They require very little space and are usually active in the evening and at night. Rose-haired Tarantulas are good natured and handleable, though holding them does cause them stress so is best kept to a minimum. These traits along with being commonly available and inexpensive make them an ideal species for a beginner and the advanced hobbyist as well.

For more Information on keeping Tarantulas, see:
Keeping Arachnids and Other Arthropods as Pets


Rose Hair Tarantula

Scientific NameGrammostola rosea
Syns: Grammostola cala, Phrixotrichus cala, Grammostola spatulata

Habitat: Distribution/BackgroundThe Rose-haired Tarantula Grammostola rosea was described by Walckenaer in 1837. They originate from Chile in the northern Atacama Desert region, one of the driest deserts in the world. They were thought to be a burrowing species, but current observations indicate that they hunt at night and find a sheltered area above ground to web themselves into during the day. Other common names it is known by are Chilean Rose Tarantula, Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula, Chilean Fire Tarantula, and Chilean Red-haired Tarantula.

StatusThe Grammostola rosea are not on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species.

Description The Chilean Rose-hair Tarantula is a moderately large tarantula. They reach adult size in about 3 to 4 years with about a 5" (12.5 cm) leg span. This stocky beauty is dark brown to black but is covered with a coat of reddish-orange to pink hairs over its entire body. This subtle rose casting on the hair is where the name comes from.

Mature males have longer legs and are somewhat more fuzzy in appearance. The female remains stocky and bulky throughout its life. There are reports that mature males are more brightly colored than females but they can be quite variable in color. It is estimated that in captivity males may have a lifespan of up to 6 years and females up to about 20 years.

The Rose-haired Tarantula is one of the most difficult tarantulas to determine its "correct" scientific name. Not only has it gone through many name changes, it is still under discussion whether the different color forms are different varieties of this spider, or just color morphs. There are discussions about the Grammostola rosea and Grammostola cala being anatomically different and therefore two definite, different species, but this has not been confirmed. Most sources are currently reference this spider as Grammostola rosea.

Rose-haired Tarantula or Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula, in the reddish phaseGrammostola gala - reddish phase Photo © Animal-World: Courtesy Russ Gurley
Picture of a Rose-haired Tarantula or Chilean Rose-haired TarantulaGrammostola spatulata - brown phase Photo © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough

Naming them by their color morph appears as follows:

  • Grammostola rosea - the standard
  • Grammostola cala - a reddish phase
  • Grammostola spatulata - brownish.

Food and FeedingRose-haired Tarantulas feed well on a variety of insect prey including crickets, grasshoppers, locusts, and others. They should be feed live insects once or twice a week.

HousingThe Rose-haired Tarantula thrives in a simple enclosure. Though not necessary, this Tarantula will like a scrubland type environment and will live in a shallow burrow if provided. A piece of driftwood, cork bark, or a hollow log will work well for this. Artificial or hardy live plants and other interesting decorations can also be added to the enclosure.

Temperature and humidity requirements:

This species will do best if you maintain the enclosure at 78° to 82° F. The humidity is best kept at between 60 to 80%. This can be accomplished by including and occasionally misting some sphagnum moss or orchid bark.

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 The Rose-haired Tarantula is usually active in the evening or night. They are not compatible with other spiders, even their own species, so they should be housed singly. They may be okay for a short period of time, but eventually one spider will kill the other.

Handling This is one of the most docile species available in captive collections, easily handleable, and make wonderful pets. They may rear up when agitated and will even occasionally flick urticating hairs. After a short display, they will beat a hasty retreat or more commonly will simply walk away.

High-strung specimens will often show a dark bald patch on their abdomens from flicking away urticating hairs. Once they settle into captivity, this flicking rarely occurs and with a molt the bald patch is cleaned up and the coating of reds, oranges, browns, and pinks is restored.

You can carefully pick up these tarantulas by cupping them gently with the legs folded under their bodies. Another, gentler method is to simply place a hand out flat in front of them and gently prod the tarantula's abdomen, forcing it to walk onto the hand. As they walk, simply place the other hand in front and have the spider walk across your hands.

Reproduction Rose-haired Tarantulas have been bred in captivity for many years. Mature males have longer legs and are somewhat more fuzzy in appearance. The females seem to benefit from a cooling period of a couple of months prior to mating.

Once a mature male is produced, and he makes a sperm web, he should be introduced into the female's enclosure. He will approach the female's shelter cautiously, tapping and vibrating his legs. The female will be "lured" out of her burrow or shelter and the male will typically lunge forward to use his hooks to hold the female's chelicerae and to push her into an almost upright position to give himself access to the female's epigyne for mating. The male will insert either the left pedipalp, right pedipalp, or both alternately into the female's epigyne and inject the fertilizing fluid into this area.

If fertilized, the female will produce an egg sac in the following weeks. This species produces large egg sacs, usually containing in excess of 500 babies. A mature male can be introduced to multiple females or can be reintroduced to a female to enhance the possibilities of a successful pairing. Typically, the male will die in the weeks following a successful mating.

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.

  • Molting
    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 Rose-haired Tarantulas are becoming more and more common as captive-hatched specimens.

For years the only specimens available were imported (and imported by the thousands). Now that Chile no longer exports animals, most Rose-hairs are captive-produced animals. Fortunately, females can produce 300 to 500 spiderlings per egg sac so only a few captive breedings can supply dozens of hobbyists with this wonderful pet spider.

References

Author: Russ Gurley, Clarice Brough CRS
Lastest Animal Stories on Rose-haired Tarantula

Sierra Dawn - 2014-03-10
Okay so I've had my rose H T for about a month. Her name is madam octa and she's about 6 months old now. Sometimes she doesn't mind me holding her but others she freaks out. One thing I have noticed is she responds very quickly to my voice. If I sit by the cage and softly call out 'giiiiirly' she will face me and start moving towards me trying to go through the glass to get to me. I take her out and put her on my bed but she doesn't move much.  At first she would crawl all over me and sit and when I would place my hand out in front of her she wouldn't care at all and just slowly and calmly move up and over it. Now she moves away from my hand and gets very startled and curls up. I can't see why. I don't have loud noises or sudden movements. I wait for her to get comfortable before I start touching her. It confuses me on how to get her used to me. I have wanted her for so long I just want her to feel comfortable. Also her humidity and temp in her cage is good and she eats and drinks. I've noticed she cleans her mandibles a lot too. Help with advice on handling her please?

  • Jasmine Brough Hinesley - 2014-03-13
    Hmm. Maybe she is getting close to molting? Or something else in her environment may be off which is just causing her to be feel more uncomfortable with things. Does she have a good place to hide? Or maybe you are just catching her at her 'off times'. All tarantulas have times when they are more irritable and just like to be left alone. I would just keep trying and hopefully she will warm up to you again.
  • Laura - 2014-03-28
    I have had our rose hair since 2003 and just recently she has had green spots show up on her back and abdomen. Any idea of what causes this?
Reply
B.Kelly - 2008-12-22
As this is likely to be the spider people purchase if they wish for a handleable pet, here's a few tips. Firstly, by far the easiest way to pick up a Tarantula is to put your open palm in front of it and carefully coral it onto your hand with a paintbrush. Take it slowly, place your hand in the tank in front of the spider (but at a distance) and gauge it's reaction, if it looks aggressive, give up now. If the spider reacts calmly or not at all it's likely safe to gently prod it and let it walk onto your hand. Make sure your movements are slow and that you do not breathe on the spider - sudden movements and the sudden gust of breath can frighten the spider, either causing a bite or a scared spider that jumps and falls from your hand (anything over 1-2 feet drop can prove easily fatal). Do not attempt to handle your spider if it recently shed as it will be very fragile until the new carapace hardens and also may be more defensive than usual as a result.
Just remember to take it slowly and carefully and your spider should be fine with being handled.

Reply
Genny Floyed - 2009-08-14
I have had my baby (ok so she's 5) for quite a while. Yes when I first got her she was bratty but can you blame her? Now 5 years later she is a cuddler! Loves to be held.
I disagree with those who say it would be a bad first pet tarantula. If you read up on the breed you will know how to handle them and when to give them their space. Just like all pets sometimes they don't want to be bothered. But if treated properly the rose hair is a wonderful tarantula to have. It takes patience to get the spider acclimated to you handling it. You can't expect to get it home and immediately start handling it. It took Kiwi a good year to fully be ok with being outside her home and being handled.
I do however do not recommend any tarantula for children. Most lack the patience it takes to get the spider comfortable being held.
Also .... I have NEVER been bitten... :-)

  • Gabrielle Coulter - 2010-12-20
    Well I'm 12 an I just got my tarantula yesterday and she is very sweet and it likes to be held by her owner but she goes crazy when someone else tries to hold her. I'm a little worried that she might bite someone :P...
  • Cristina Rodriguez - 2011-07-07
    I got my husbands his (Tilly) for Valentines Day :) She doesn't mind being handled, even walks all over my five yr old boy! Best pet ever.
  • Anonymous - 2013-12-11
    Sorry, NO spider likes to be handled. None. They tolerate it to different degrees but unless you have one that spoke to you or comes when you call it...
  • Olivia Brebes - 2014-01-08
    Umm Hi I'm just a little worried because I got my Rose-Hair yesterday, (Rosie!) and I don't really know her yet, so I don't know how she will act if I touch her or pick her up. Should I risk it and try it? I don't want her to bite me, or be uncomfortable please reply! Thank you!
Reply
Paulette - 2013-07-16
We've had our Chilean Rose Hair for about a year now. She just had her first molt. When we got her she looked a bit rough, had a bald spot on her abdomen and was very tentative. Now she has a lovely web nest, eats voraciously and since her molt looks more beautiful than ever. She has entertained children at my kid's school and was quite a good sport about it. Very docile animal despite her rather large fangs. Keeping her well-fed has its advantages. I must say, she seems quite content to be left alone and handled sporadically, but shows no aggression when handled. Yes, after her molt she has been more energetic. Her leg span and body size cover the palm of my hand so I would say she is at about three inches in size! I cannot imagine what she will be like at 6 inches. That will be an utterly MASSIVE tarantula! I look forward to seeing it though.

Reply
Greenmanbacchus - 2008-01-27
Chilean Rose Tarantulas are indeed wonderful pets!
I only have 150 words to use...wanna learn something?
1. G. cala does exist, but not in the pet hobby, it is
a different tarantula than G. rosea. ( Rick West)
2.The current (2008) correct taxon for the Chilean Rose
is Grammostola rosea. The other scientific names no longer apply.
3. The correct common name for G. rosea is not Rose Hair, it is
The Chilean Rose ( Stan Shultz, co-author of 'The Tarantula Keepers Guide") Btw, this book is a must-have for all tarantula lovers!
Do a search for The American Tarantula Society Headquarters and join their message board. You'll really like it. Enjoy your tarantulas!

Greenmanbacchus

Reply
Marc Frick - 2007-05-11
I have owned rose hair Tarantula's for over 14 years. First, as far as handling, I recommend a person putting the hand in the tank first, check your Tarantula's response, then gently nudging from behind, urge the tarantula to your hand. 'Rosies' can vary much in their behaviour. avoid loud noises in the area, any violent movements, etc. when handling any Tararantula. Any fall from even 2 feet could be fatal to a tarantula

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