Theraphosa blondi

Theraphosa blondi

Theraphosa blondi (Latreille, 1804), also known as the “Goliath birdeater”, is a very stunning and remarkable bird spider due to its size from Brazil, French Guiana, Suriname and Venezuela. In 1804 the spider became “Mygale blondii“, being categorized as part of the Theraphosa-genus by Thorell in 1870. 33 years later, in 1903, “blondii” suddenly changed in “leblondi”, what is still incorrectly being used occasionally. Theraphosa blondi is well known to be the largest spider in the world, but with Heteropoda maxima (not a bird spider) and the Bolivian Pamphobeteus antinous in mind that’s not entirely true. She’s wanted by every hobbyist, as they’re a rare (and expensive) showpiece in every collection, but pay attention… Theraphosa stirmi is a look-alike from the same region as Theraphosa blondi. Differences are hard to spot for the unexperienced eye. Breedings are more successful and therefore Theraphosa stirmi is much cheaper than Theraphosa blondi. Inform yourself about the differences (below) and buy your Theraphosa blondi by a confidential source.


I. SPECIFIC INFORMATION

Scientific name: Theraphosa blondi.

Subfamily: Theraphosinae.

Common name: Goliath birdeater.

Previous nameTheraphosa leblondi.

World spider catalog

Type: Terrestrial bird spider. Opportunistic burrower.

Category: New world tarantula. The urticating setae of Theraphosa blondi are remarkably effective against mammals.

Urticating setae: Yes, type III (abdomen).

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

Origin: North-Brazil, French GuianaGuiana, Suriname, South-Venezuela.

Body length: ≤ 10-11cm.

Span width: ≤ 28 cm.

Growth rate: Relatively fast. Spiderlings do have a remarkable size of up to 1,5cm body length.

Life expectancy: Females can become up to 25 years old. Males are given a shorter lifetime from 3-6 years.

Behavior: Nervous. The spider will not hesitate to shed its urticating setae or start stridulating in an impressive threat pose. Urticating setae of Theraphosa blondi are remarkably effective against mammals, especially in the eyes and/or inhalation. As the spider gets older, she’ll become calmer. During the day they’ll stay in their burrow. At night they’ll be visible at the entrance of their burrow.

Accessibility (1/beginner: 10/expert): 7.


II. INFORMATION FOR KEEPERS

>>> First aid

Theraphosa blondi lives in tropical humid and warm area, in the primary tropical rainforests of South-America. Temperatures almost daily reach levels up to 30°C with very high humidity, but… Because of the fact the area she lives in is very dense, with high trees and lots of vegetation, light and warmth is not passing through properly. Therefore environmental temperatures are a few degrees lower than above the trees. Burrows, with depths up to 1,5m, are often being built on slopes in montaneous area, trying to create a rather cool and humid environment. Please do not make the common mistake, providing wet substrate in an overheated terrarium.

Environmental conditions

Temperature: 18-22°C (day), 18-20°C (night).

Humidity: 80-85%+.

* When kept too dry, Theraphosa stirmi might experience (fatal) problems during molt. Perfect environmental factors are crucial for survival.

* When kept too wet with poor ventilation, fatal fungus might start to grow on the spider. Spray the tank once (sometimes twice) a day.

* Males are often kept a few degrees lower than females (max. 20°C).

Terrarium

Adult: LxWxH: 60x40x40. Min. surface 4-5x span width.

Smaller than adult: Min. surface 4x span width.

* To control high humidity levels, you might like to use real plants in the terrarium and add rounded gravel at the bottom, filled up with water. This is important for both welfare and survival of the spider. Note that cages with high humidity levels are very sensitive for mites and other parasites. Please take your precautions.

Substrate

Adult: 0,75-1x span width.

Smaller than adult: Min. 0,75-1x span width.

* The spider is an opportunistic burrower. Do not deprive her this opportunity in your terrarium.

* Because of the fact the spider’s abdomen can become very large, every fall can be fatal. Therefore it’s recommended to reduce height and the opportunities to climb. Do not give more than 20 cm of free space between ceiling and substrate.

Climate

Please read carefully the introduction underneath “Information for keepers”.

Wet season: April, May, June, July, August, November, December, January.

Dry season: None.

Warmest months: October, November.

Coldest months: None. Temperatures often reach 30°C, and higher.

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.


Differences in the Theraphosa-genus (Anatomy)

Theraphosa blondi

• Setae on the patella and below.

• Setae on the bottom side of the femura.

• Chelicerae and fangs are relatively “short”. As a result the carapace is flatter.

• Mature males lack tibial hooks.

• Spiderlings and juveniles have brown tarsi.

• Spiderlings have dark palps.

• …

Theraphosa stirmi

• No setae on the patella.

• No setae on the bottom side of the femura.

• Chelicerae and fangs are relatively “big”. As a result the carapace is less “flat” than the Theraphosa blondi.

• Mature males lack tibial hooks.

• Spiderlings and juveniles have 4 blonde/pink tarsi.

• Spiderlings have dark palps.

• …

Theraphosa apophysis

• Much more setae, especially on the bottom side of the legs.

• In general a pink-/reddish hue.

• Mature males possess tibial hooks.

• Spiderlings and juveniles have 8 blonde/pink tarsi.

• Spiderlings have blond-/pink(er) palps.

• …

Differences within the genus Theraphosa


III. INFORMATION FOR BREEDERS

Pairing a Theraphosa blondi does not always run smoothly, even though the man serving as diner for the female is rather the exception. Nevertheless the female can react very defensive towards the male’s presence. Don’t put them together without staying close. Most things go wrong because of too high temperatures. The spider will eat the eggsac or the eggsac starts rotting. High humidity, however, very good ventilation and deep substrate (for a large burrow) is crucial for success.

• 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. The exception makes the rule, but… Fatter females produce smaller posterity.

• Keep temperatures between 16-18°C for 4-5 weeks after mating. Let the cage semi-dry out (but keep spraying once a day, as low humidity is not healthy for Theraphosa blondi).

• Trigger the lady 4-5 weeks after mating by moistening the substrate, raising up humidity (by spraying, 85%+) and temperature (18-22°C).

• 6-7 weeks after the cocoon was made, 50 spiderlings might show up. Don’t deprive the cocoon, unless necessary.

• Make sure you leave the female in perfect conditions undisturbed after a successful mating.


IV. DID YOU KNOW… 

• Theraphosa blondi is being named after the copperplate of Maria Sibylla Merian from 1705?

• Mama Theraphosa blondi is taking care of her posterity for quiet a long time?

• Theraphosa blondi can be found in the Guiness book of world records as “world’s largest spider” (Venezuela, 1965 and 1998, 28cm, 170g)?

• The diet of a Theraphosa blondi can differ from other bird spiders due to her size? In their natural habitat it’s not uncommon they eat a frog, lizard, bat, rat… Hobbyists sometimes feed them small rodents, such as mices. Don’t exaggerate this, because an unbalanced diet will make your spider obese and unhealthy.


V. LITERATURE

Life history of Goliath birdeaters – Theraphosa apophysis and Theraphosa blondi (Araneae, Theraphosidae, Theraphosinae).

Laboratory culture techniques for the Goliath tarantula Theraphosa blondi (Latreille, 1804) and the Mexican red knee tarantula, Brachypelma smithi (Araneae, Theraphosidae).


VI. COPYRIGHT

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

• Photography: Michael Wesemann (website) / Samuel Spreuwers (website, facebookpage) / Tobias Brucki (facebookpage)

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