Caribena versicolor

Avicularia versicolor

Caribena versicolor (Walckenaer, 1837), also known as the “Martinique pinktoe tarantula”, “Antilles pinktoe tarantula” and “Martinique red tree spider”, is a very stunning bird spider due to its coloration from Martinique. The spider belonged to the genus Avicularia for a long time, which is without any doubt the most famous arboreal genus from South-America, with Avicularia avicularia on top. Females and males differ from those of all Aviculariinae genera by having type II urticating setae longer (more than 1 mm long) and slender. Caribena versicolor is considered to be one of the most beautiful showpieces in the hobby. In 1787 Fabricius described her as “Aranea hirtipes“, being named as “Mygale hirtipes” in 1836 and “Mygale versicolor” by Walckenaer in 1837. Since her name change by Simon in 1892 “Avicularia versicolor” is an established value. Hobbyists will often name her as such, but since march 2017 Caribena versicolor is the only correct name for the species. Avicularia rutilans is considered to be a junior synonym of Caribena versicolor. Holotype species of Caribena versicolor is considered to be lost.


I. SPECIFIC INFORMATION

Scientific name: Caribena versicolor.

Synonym: Avicularia rutilans.

Subfamily: Aviculariinae.

Common names: Antilles pinktoe, Martinique pinktoe, Martinique red tree spider.

Previous names: Aranea hirtipes (Fabricius, 1787), Mygale hirtipes (Koch, 1836a), Mygale versicolor (Walckenaer, 1837), Avicularia versicolor (Simon 1892a).

World spider catalog

Type: Arboreal bird spider.

Category: New world tarantula.

Urticating setae: Yes (abdomen).

Venom: Probably mild. No valuable scientific research has been done yet.

OriginCaribbeanMartinique. Contrasting with Walckenaer’s description (Walckenaer 1837), this species is not found on Guadeloupe Island. Occurance of the species in Cuba is doubtful (source).

Body length: ≤ 5-6cm.

Span width: ≤ 13-15cm.

Growth rate: Fast.

Life expectancy: Females can become up to 12 years old. Males are given a shorter lifetime from 2-3 years.

Behavior: Caribena versicolor is a 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. Caribena versicolor makes beautiful bag-shaped webs, camouflaged with whatever they can find nearby. Spiderlings live closer to surface, aiming for terrestrail prey. 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): 3.


II. INFORMATION FOR KEEPERS

>>> First aid

Caribena versicolor lives in tropical warm area, with monsoon periods. Temperatures almost daily reach levels up to 28°C. Please be informed of the fact the spider will protect itself against the burning sun in tree crevices, hollow branches, leaves and buildings. Caribena versicolor prefers mesophyll forests, building its retreat in Bromeliacea leaves (read about Pachistopelma rufonigrum), between tree branches, inside bamboo trunks, over tree trunks and also within human constructions (Maréchal et al. 2009). Do not overheat the terrarium. During spring rainfalls can be short and intense, but remember the spiders live high in the trees. Rainfalls last longer during autumn. 

Environmental conditions

Temperature: 24-27°C (day), 20-24°C (night).

Humidity: A fairly constant 70%.

* Don’t exagerate in humidity. It’s better to mist one side of the cage slightly in stead of making the cage too humid for a longer period of time. Damp enclosures are killers.

* IMPORTANT: Death rates are quite high amongst the spiderlings if kept too humid. Ensure good crossventilation, good temperatures, rather dry (or slightly moist) substrate and mist one side of the enclosure every now and then. Damp enclosures are killers. A water bowl can be helpful, but misting as described should do the job.

0.0.1 Caribena versicolor

Terrarium

Adult: LxWxH: 20x20x40. Min. 2,5x span width in height.

Smaller than adult: 2,5x span width in height.

* Caribena versicolor demands good crossventilation. 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 (and fatal) consequences for the spider. Damp enclosures are killers.

Substrate

Adult: 1x body length.

Smaller than adult: 1x body length.

* Keep substate rather dry (or slightly moist). Ensure access to water by misting the enclosure every now and then (every 3-4 days). Damp enclosures are killers.

Climate

Wet season: All year long.

Dry season: None.

Warmest months: All year long. In general, temperatures reach up to 28/31°C.

Coldest months: None. The coldest months don’t differ that much from the other months.

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

Although Caribena versicolor is very often bred successfully in captivity, it’s not certain the male will survive the party with his lady. The reproductive period is in March and eggsac eclosion is in may and june.

• 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 runs for his life, you might have to search for the male afterwards.

• The female will start making the cocoon 3-6 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.

Video.


IV. DID YOU KNOW… 

• Spiderlings of Caribena versicolor are bright blue with a black treetrunk pattern on the abdomen?

• Death rates are high amongst the spiderlings if kept too moist? Keep your spiderlings on rather dry (or slightly moist) substrate in a box with lots of cross ventilation. Spray one side of the enclosure every now and then (3-4 days). Damp enclosures are killers. A water bowl can be helpful, but spraying as described should do the job.   

• “Caribena” is derived from “from Carribean” and is considered feminine in gender?

• On avarage, males are slightly more brightly colored than females?

• Adult males of Caribena versicolor do not possess tibial hooks on the first leg pair?

• Avicularia rutilans is considered to be a junior synonym of Caribena versicolor?

• The type series consists of two different species: one aviculariine  and the other a theraphosine? The syntype series is considered lost and a neotype is established in order to preserve the name’s stability and its usage.

• Two color forms are known, one with specimens having leg and palp hairs in bright red and the other with specimens with darker hairs on legs and palps (source).


V. LITERATURE

Taxonomical revision & cladistic analysis of Avicularia Lamarck 1818 (Araneae, Theraphosidae, Aviculariinae) with description of 3 new genera.

Taxonomical revision & cladistic analysis of Avicularia Lamarck 1818 (Araneae, Theraphosidae, Aviculariinae).

Some notes on breeding Caribena versicolor (British Tarantula Society).


VI. COPYRIGHT

• Text: Dennis Van Vlierberghe (facebookgroup and –page)

• Photography: Julian Kamzol (website, flickr)

1 thought on “Caribena versicolor

  1. I just found this page, looking around for more guides, pretty nice keep it up.

    i love how you repeat the warning “damp enclosures are killers”, common mistake from new keepers.

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