Acanthoscurria geniculata (C. L. Koch, 1841), also known as “Giant whiteknee”, “Brazilian whiteknee tarantula” and “Whitebanded tarantula”, is an astonising bird spider due to its coloration, pattern and behavior from Brazil. She furiously hunts down her prey, going straight for the kill. You’ll sometimes hear people talk about Acanthoscurria transamazonica, which is being used as a synonym for the same spider. Acanthoscurria geniculata is high on many favorite-lists. Beginners sometimes confuse her with Nhandu chromatus.
I. SPECIFIC INFORMATION
Scientific name: Acanthoscurria geniculata.
Synonym: Acanthoscurria transamazonica.
Common names: Brazilian whiteknee tarantula, Giant whiteknee, Whitebanded tarantula.
Previous names: Mygale geniculata C. L. Koch, 1841, Scurria geniculata C. L. Koch, 1850, Acanthoscurria transamazonica Piza, 1972a.
Type: Terrestrial bird spider.
Category: New world tarantula. The urticating setae of Acanthoscurria geniculata are remarkably effective against mammals.
Urticating setae: Yes, type I and III (abdomen).
Venom: Probably mild. No valuable scientific research has been done yet.
Body length: ≤ 8/9cm.
Span width: ≤ 20/21cm.
Behavior: Nervous. The spider will not hesitate to shed its urticating setae in your direction. Urticating setae of Acanthoscurria geniculata are remarkably effective against mammals, especially in the eyes and/or inhalation. However a bite is the second defensive system, she’ll furiously attack any disturbance. Prey will only be rejected when in pre-molt or unstable environmental factors.
Growth rate: Fast.
Life expectancy: Females can become up to 20 years old. Males are given a shorter lifetime around 4 years.
Accessibility (1/beginner: 10/expert): 5.
II. INFORMATION FOR KEEPERS
>>>. First aid
Acanthoscurria geniculata lives in the tropical humid and warm rainforests of Brazil. Temperatures almost daily reach levels 30°C. Please be informed of the fact the spider will protect itself against the burning sun underneath tree trunks, branches, leaves and abandoned burrows. Do not overheat the terrarium.
Temperature: 25-28°C (day), 21-25°C (night).
Humidity: 70-80%. During 3 consecutive months (after mating) humidity might drop to 60-70%.
Adult: LxWxH: 30x40x25. Min. 3-5x span width in surface.
Smaller than adult: Min. 3x span width in surface.
Adult: 0,75x span width. Min. 1x span width when breeding.
Smaller than adult: Min. 0,75-1x span width.
* The spider lives in wet area. Note that cages with high humidity levels are very sensitive for mites and other parasites. Please take your precautions.
Wet season: October, November, December, January, February, March.
Dry season: June, July, August.
Warmest months: August, September.
Coldest month: June.
For more information about the local climate: Click here.
* You might like to consider an adjustment of these data with your local climate. Do not exceed minima or maxima and, if necessary, organize the year making your bird spider experience different seasons. This is very important form the moment you’d like to start breeding.
III. INFORMATION FOR BREEDERS
Mating the Acanthoscurria-genus normally runs smoothly. The females, however, have been seen both docile and very defensive towards their men.
• Only start breeding 4-6 weeks (or later) after the spider molted. If the female molts between pairing and cocoon, the eggs will remain unfertilized.
• Make sure the female is well-fed (not obese) before you introduce the male.
• Arm yourself with long greased tweezers. Seperate male and female immediately after mating.
• The spider often like to burrow themselves after pairing. Do not deprive her this opportunity in your terrarium. Provide 1x span width of substrate.
• Make humidity drop (60-70%) for 3 months after mating. Systematically raise up humidity to 80%. This will trigger the female to start making the cocoon.
• The female will start making the cocoon 4-7 months after mating, containing probably 600-1000 fertilized eggs. Cocoons with more than 1000 eggs is no rarity (source). Deprive the cocoon, when desired, 6 weeks later. Store the eggs at a humidity of 80-90% and a temperature of 25-28°C.
IV. DID YOU KNOW…
• Acanthoscurria transamazonica is a synonym Acanthoscurria geniculata?
• Despite the fact she’s pretty nervous, beginners love Acanthoscurria geniculata?
• Photography: Andreas Beier (facebookpage)