Avicularia avicularia (Linnaeus/1758), also known as the “Common pinktoe”, “South-American pinktoe”, “Guyana pinktoe tarantula” and “Pinktoe tree spider”, is a beautiful bird spider due to its hairiness and coloration from Central- and South-America. Avicularia is without any doubt the most famous arboreal genus from South-America, with Avicularia avicularia on top. In 1758 the spider has been baptized by Linnaeus to “Aranea avicularia“, after which her name was changed in 1783 to “Aranea vestiaria” by De Geer. Since 1804 she’s been categorized to the family of bird spiders, named as “Mygale avicularia” by Latreille. If you hear people talk about “Avicularia vest(i)aria” or “Avicularia vespina” nowadays, they’re in fact having a conversation about “Avicularia avicularia“. Male and female of Avicularia avicularia resemble Avicularia rufa and the female of Avicularia hirschii by having leg IV longer than leg I. Bates (1863) observed an Avicularia avicularia specimen actively feeding on a small bird inside its webbed retreat on a tree. Inside the spider’s retreat he was able to find other small birds. Although genitalic and somatic charachters are very homogeneous along the distribution of the species, different patterns of coloration throughout the geographical distribution have been noticed. More remarkably, 1 type of female showed a variation of urticating setae.
I. SPECIFIC INFORMATION
Scientific name: Avicularia avicularia.
Common names: Common pinktoe, South-American pinktoe, Guyana pinktoe, Pinktoe tree spider.
Previous names: Avicularia vulpina Ausserer, 1871, Avicularia vestaria Hasselt, 1888.
Type: Arboreal bird spider.
Category: New world tarantula.
Urticating setae: Yes (abdomen).
Venom: Probably mild. No valuable scientific research has been done yet.
Origin: Central- and South-America, being Brazil (states of Amapá, Pará, Maranhão, Amazonas, Mato Grosso), French-Guiana, Guiana, Suriname, Trinidad, Venezuela and populations in Peru and Bolivia. Avicularia avicularia is rather rare in Western Brazil.
Body length: ≤ 6/7cm.
Span width: ≤ 13/15cm.
Growth rate: Fast.
Life expectancy: Females can become up to 12 years old. Males are given a shorter lifetime from 3-4 years.
Behavior: Avicularia avicularia is a very docile and visible bird spider. When disturbed the spider will try to flee at first. Persistant provocation can result in use of urticating setae. However they’re armed with lots of setae, type II urticating setae can’t be bombarded. In order to make use of them direct contact is necessary. Avicularia avicularia makes beautiful bag-shaped webs, camouflaged with whatever they can find nearby. Spiderlings live closer to surface, aiming for terrestrail prey. Remarkable about the Avicularia-genus is their ability to jump. Don’t be surprised if they suddenly jump on your hand while you’re cleaning leftovers. Breathe in, breathe out… As docile as they are, they probably won’t bite.
Accessibility (1/beginner, 10/expert): 2.
II. INFORMATION FOR KEEPERS
Avicularia avicularia lives in tropical warm area, with monsoon periods. Temperatures almost daily reach levels up to 30°C. Please be informed of the fact the spider will protect itself against the burning sun in tree crevices, hollow branches, leaves and buildings. F. O. Pickard-Cambridge (1896) observed that adults constructed their retreat in “almost any locality which offered a more or less vacant cylindrical space”, including hollow stumps of Açai palm, folded leaves of bananas, in the hollow center of a pineapple plant and among the palm-leaf thatch of native houses. Villa (2004) observed in areas at Tambopata district in Peru retreats of A. avicularia built on trunks and in axils of palm tree Attalea butyracea (Mutis ex L.f.) Wess. Boer and also in Heliconia psittacorum L. plant. The reproduction period in that area is in September and October (Villa 2004) (source). Do not overheat the terrarium. Rainfalls in Guiana can be short and intense. Very moist substrate from time to time is good for spiders of the Avicularia-genus, but make sure no moldproblems occur.
Temperature: 25-29°C (day), 20-25°C (night).
Humidity: A fairly constant 70-80%.
* Spray slightly once each day in stead of a lot once a week.
* Humidity may rise 4-6 consecutive months until 80-90%.
Adult: LxWxH: 20x20x50. Min. 2,5x span width in height.
Smaller than adult: 2,5x span width in height.
* The Avicularia-genus is very sensitive for a good air circulation. In order to ensure an excellent habitat, make sure there are ventilation holes in top and bottom of the terrarium. Lacking a good ventilation can have serious consequences for the spider.
Adult: 1x body length.
Smaller than adult: 1x body length.
* The spider lives in humid area. Note that cages with high humidity levels are very sensitive for mites and other parasites. Please take your precautions.
Because of the fact Avicularia avicularia lives widely spread across Central- and South-America, chosing one specific place could create a false impression. Please ensure environmental conditions as described above.
III. INFORMATION FOR BREEDERS
Caution: Because of the fact the Avicularia-genus is widely spread throughout South-America, colors and patterns of the same species may vary. Therefore distinguishing one species from the other can be a very difficult task. However people breed species with good intentions, different species have been mated plenty of times being convinced of the fact they were the same. Thoroughbred species from the Avicularia-genus are hard to find in the hobby, leaving varietal purity open for discussion. Please inform yourself about the species you’re breeding, selling its posterity only under the name when purity is garantied.
Although Avicularia avicularia is very often bred successfully in captivity, it’s no certainty whether or not the male will survive the party with his lady. The Avicularia-genus is notorious for cannibalism. Matings take place at the beginning of the rainy season.
• 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.
• Plan mating in autumn.
• Older ladies will probably create more offspring (80-175 spiderlings).
• Provide multiple hiding places in the terrarium for the man. Breeders often leave the cage open, to ensure an escape route for the male. Stay near and close the doors. As he was running for his life, you might have to search for the male afterwards.
• The female will start making the cocoon 3-4 months after mating. Deprive the cocoon, when desired, 4 weeks later. Store the eggs at a humidity of 100% and a temperature of 26-29°C.
4) DID YOU KNOW…
• The Avicularia-genus was the very first to be described by science?
• The Avicularia-genus is the most spread genus throughout the South-American continent?
• The second legpair of the Avicularia-genus is longer than the first legpair?
• Avicularia avicularia was distinguished from others of the genus by its red hairs on the abdomen and on the tibia, tarsus and metatarsus of the last legpair? This statement, however, was not confirmed in the last description.
• Avicularia avicularia variegata (F. O. P. Cambridge/1896) was considered a subspecies of Avicularia avicularia until march 2017, since when her status as subspecies was elevated so species status? (source)
• Valerio (1979) reported the presence of Avicularia avicularia in Costa Rica? After intensive studies this species turned out to be more similar to Avicularia purpurea.
• Avicularia sp. has been recorded swimming?