Written By Vanessa Sarges
Beginner Species Information – What makes a species suitable for people just entering the hobby? For this list, we are taking into consideration the following factors:
- Ease of care and husbandry.
- A wider margin of error in husbandry.
- Growth rates.
- Availability in Canada specifically.
There are several genera that contain a number of species suitable for both beginners and people with more experience. These include Aphonopelma, Avicularia, Brachypelma, Euathlus, Eupalaestrus and Grammostola. Unfortunately, these genera do have slower growth rates on average but do contain species with growth rates considered more on the medium end. Temperaments are taken on a per species basis, but individuals can vary with a normally tolerant species containing individuals who are far less tolerant than average. For our purpose, we are only going to touch on the very basic requirements so people can get an idea of what species that they need to do further research on. Please do as much research as possible and feel free to contact us with any questions.TerrestrialThese species require more ground space than height. They can be kept on all standard hobby substrates like coco fiber and peat moss. All of these species can burrow to certain degrees, so they should be provided with enough substrate for them to burrow if desired. Any substrates used need to be safe for invertebrates and should not contain any chemicals or additives. The substrate depth should be such that the tarantula cannot be injured in a fall. The space between the substrate and the top of the enclosure should be only 1.5X the length of the tarantula. All should be given a water dish and a hide. In the case of tiny spiderlings, water can be trickled down the side or a piece of damp sphagnum moss can be added for them to drink from. Nothing should be added to the dish – no sponges! A hide should always be provided to avoid the tarantula bolting out of the enclosure when startled.Aphonopelma – chalcodes, hentzi, anax. These species can be kept on the drier side with a water dish always. They are slow-growing, but extremely long-lived with females lifespans in the 30’s. They are generally more tolerant, but individuals can vary. They can fast, especially over the winter months. Availability can be scarce in Canada for these species and they can be costly when available. The average adult size is around the 5” mark with males being smaller at maturity.Tliltocatl (formerly Brachypelma) albopilosum, vagans and Brachypelma boehmei, emilia, hamorii, klaasi. These species can be kept on the drier side with a water dish only that can be overflowed a bit in the drier months. They are fairly slow growing, with Tliltocatl albopilosum and vagans being a bit more of a medium growth rate. Tliltocatl albopilosum does appreciate a bit more humidity than other species in this genus and their water dish should be overflowed regularly and left to dry out. They can fast, but don’t do it as much as other species. Tliltocatl albopilosum is the perfect species for a first-time tarantula. The species in this genus are usually very tolerant but can be quick to kick hairs. The exception is vagans, who can be a bit more defensive than the other species. The average adult size is around 5” with males being smaller at maturity. Some species can be a bit scarce, due to breeding difficulties, and can be costly when available. The females are very long lived, easily living into their 20’s and even into their 30’s.Euathlus – parvulus and Homoeomma chilensis. This is a very slow growing genus and contains tarantulas that remain on the smaller side of around 4” full grown. Males are smaller at maturity. They can be kept on the drier side, but their water dish can be overflowed in the drier months. They can fast during the winter months for long periods. Euathlus sp. Red tends to be extremely tolerant with very few reports of any defensive behaviour. Females can live to be around 20 years or longer.Eupalaestrus campestratus. This is a species that can be kept on the drier side with a water dish always. The water dish can be overflowed in the drier months. This is a slower growing species that reaches an adult size of between 5-6”. They do tend to be tolerant, but many have reported that their individuals are more skittish and can be defensive on occasion. Females can live into their 20’s. Grammostola – porteri, pulchra, pulchripes, rosea. These species can be kept on the drier side with a water dish always. They can be extremely slow growing with the exception of pulchripes who has a more medium growth rate. They can fast, with porteri and rosea often going for many months without food. Adults range in sizes from 5”-7”, with pulchripes being the largest species suitable for beginners. The cost can vary and some species in this genus can be very expensive due to difficulties in breeding. This genus is known for some of the most tolerant species, but individual temperaments vary greatly. Also, reports from keepers that temperaments change from moult to moult is extremely common. Most of these species can have females living well into their 20’s.ArborealThese species require more height than ground space. They can be kept on all standard hobby substrates like coco fiber and peat moss. Any substrates used need to be safe for invertebrates and should not contain any chemicals or additives. All should be given a water dish and a vertical hide. In the case of tiny spiderlings, water can be trickled down the side or a piece of damp sphagnum moss can be added for them to drink from. Nothing should be added to the dish – no sponges! Avicularia – avicularia, Metallica. These species have a much narrower margin of error than the terrestrial species listed above – especially as spiderlings. New people in the hobby should consider getting a juvenile or an adult Avicularia instead of a spiderling for their very first experience, although more research and better preparation makes it easier to raise them as spiderlings. These species are from more tropical areas and should be provided with a wide water dish or two that are overflowed regularly. They require a great deal of ventilation to avoid stagnant air issues. They require more room overall than the terrestrial species above. They have much higher growth rates than the terrestrials above but have shorter lifespans. Females can live to around 12 years old. They do not tend to fast unless they are about to moult. They have normally tolerant temperaments, but they are very fast and can jump a fair distance. The information above is only the tip of the iceberg and should be used to get a general idea of what species are appropriate for brand new people to the hobby. As with any animal, research should be done and the information is readily available online. These animals are a long term commitment, which has to be taken into account. They are also banned in certain areas, so please be aware of your local by-laws.