Welcome to part one of a series I am working on where each time I will focus on one tarantula in my collection. The photos used are of my actual tarantulas and the information I include is based on my own experiences. Please keep in mind that my experiences may differ from yours so just because I say it here does not mean that it is set in stone. I am just sharing what works for me.
Lasiodorides striatus (pronounced Lah-sigh-oh-door-eye-dees stry-ate-us), also known as the Peruvian Orange-Stripe, is a hard to find species in the hobby. In the 90’s, when I got my female, these were often sold as Goliath Orange-Stripes on pet store dealer lists. This lead to some confusion in the pet trade as they were often purchased thinking they were actually Goliath Bird-Eating Tarantulas (Theraphosa blondi at the time). I was actually looking for a blondi and the owner of the mom and pop pet store that I went to said he could get them and this is what I ended up with. Though not a blondi it is still a very interesting and easy-to-keep species.
I have been keeping tarantulas for over 40 years and am always looking for better ways to house them. When I first started your only real choice were glass fish tanks. These were ok but heavy if you had to move them (and you have to also remember that tarantula guides from the 70’s recommended using fish gravel as a substrate adding to the weight). Next came the Critter Keepers, plastic enclosures with snap on, well-ventilated lids. I started using these and have been happy until the last few years, where the plastic used for the lids has gotten more flimsy, preventing the stacking of the enclosures. Thankfully Exo-Terrahas come up with a solution in their Breeding Boxes.
The act of molting is a usually stressful process that invertebrates go through to grow. Since they have a hard exoskeleton they literally have to break free of their old skin, revealing a new skin underneath. At the time of molting the new skin is still soft and pliable and once blood is pumped to all of the extremities, the animal becomes larger.
In the case of tarantulas this is a fascinating process. Not only do they grow larger, but any hairs that were flung off in self-defense are replaced. If a leg has broken off, this too is replaced. After a molt, the tarantula’s colors are also very bright and fresh. Unfortunately though, this is when the animal is most vulnerable as it cannot defend itself.
Having hobbies is what in many cases keeps us sane. It gives us a chance to relax and enjoy ourselves doing things that make us happy and help to forget how monotonous the real world can be. I have always been someone who has had many hobbies and they often seem to go in a cycle. Sometimes certain hobbies will be more important than others and then it will flip back again, oftentimes depending on my mood or even what time of year it is.
I have kept tarantulas since 1979 and have always had an interest in entomology. Growing up I would collect insects, mostly butterflies and moths, and I would pin them into display cases. As conservation became more important to me, so did the importance of insects being able to live out their lives in the wild. I decided that instead of capturing and displaying dead insects, I would switch and capture them on film instead. This is how my photography hobby began.
Keeping tarantulas has always been a fun hobby for me and at the time of this writing, I have 55 tarantulas in my collection representing 44 species. They are fascinating animals and though they have the potential to bite, for the most part they are calm and make excellent pets. If you receive a tarantula as an adult, housing is relatively easy. You just place it into a size-appropriate enclosure and you should be all set with the exception of an occasional cleaning. When raising spiderlings though it is a different story since as they grow they need larger enclosures.
I start all spiderlings in deli cups with lids that have ventilation holes. For terrestrial (ground dwelling)species, I use a 16 oz. cup and for arboreals (live up off of the ground, usually in trees), I use a 32 oz. cup. These containers are small enough that it will make finding prey easy but at the same time large enough that the young tarantula can burrow if it wants or in the case of an arboreal species, be able to climb vertically. There is also enough room in these containers for a small water dish and regulating humidity is relatively easy.
People are always asking me how many tarantulas I have and to be honest, I do have quite a few. What I am sharing with you today is the species list of tarantulas in my collection. In some cases I do have multiples of the same species so this list is just representative. In many cases, what I have are very young spiderlings so pictures may not be of the actual spider currently in my collection. As adult pictures of my actual animals are taken, they will replace any generic pictures used here. As more species are added, this list will be updated. Enjoy!
Acanthoscurria geniculata (Giant White Knee) – Brazil
Tarantulas, like all arachnids and insects, must shed their skin, or molt, to grow. This is because they have an exoskeleton. Since this exoskeleton is hard, the only way these invertebrates can grow is by breaking through their old skin, revealing the pliable new skin underneath. Once the shed is complete, the new and larger skin is then allowed to dry. What I present for you here is a pictorial guide to one of the world’s largest species of tarantulas, the Brazilian Salmon Pink Bird-eating Spider (Lasiodora parahybana), named for the beautiful pink hairs on this massive spider’s abdomen.
After making a bed of silk, the spider turns onto its back to start the molting process.