Top 10 tarantulas for beginners

Whether or not a bird spider in particular is a good species to begin with, will always be answered with a personal view based on experience. There are, however, a few basic principles making one choice slightly “better” than the other. Creating the “Top 10 tarantulas for beginners” list, we kept a few things in consideration, such as the bird spiders temperament, environmental factors, size, beauty, venom, visibility and (web)behavior. Some bird spiders are more expensive and/or a little bit harder to find, but you’ll certainly find the perfect choice to start the hobby with. Before you buy something, make sure you have everything prepared. Feel free to invite yourself to take a look on how the hobby works, as there are plenty of keepers prepared to show you their beautiful spiderroom. Always contact a few distributors and/or ask on different fora whether or not the price is good and the seller trustworthy. However this list is built to give you a good impression on what to expect, keep in mind that bird spiders are living creatures with different personalities. Show great respect for their way of living and provide ideal environmental factors in order to give them a good and healthy life. Create terraria suitable for their lifestyle, paying attention to every detail. Oh, and btw, be advised of the fact there is something as the “spidervirus”. It’s kind of an addiction, pushing you every time again to buy that “one last spider”. This being said, I really hope this list will help you chosing your first eight-legged friend. Success and… Welcome to the club!

Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens

Caution: Don’t start with an old world tarantula, because it is assumed they possess more potent venom than new world tarantulas. Buy a female (they live longer). In general, Brachypelma albopilosum, Brachypelma smithi and Grammostola rosea are being recommended as ideal bird spiders for beginners, due to the fact they’re docile, hardy and easy to keep. You, however, might be looking for different characteristics chosing your first tarantula pet, such as (web)behavior, growth – and/or activity rate. Therefore this list is slightly different to “traditional” advise. Please read the texts carefully to determine whether or not a bird spider is interesting for you.


10. Caribena versicolor

Antilles pinktoe. Martinique pinktoe. Martinique red tree spider.

Avicularia-versicolor-Julian-Kamzol

We’ll start with the one and only arboreal bird spider from the list. You’ll be impressed by her coloration and however they’re really defensive towards their males, the females will tolerate your presence nearby. You’ll however have to put in a little more effort in order to keep the spider happy due to its specific temperature and humidity requirements. The spider will create a silk tubular retreat, leaving it more than once a day. Since the mortality rate is significantly high amongst the little ones, it’s recommended to buy your Caribena versicolor as juvenile, or older. (© photo Julian Kamzol)

Temperature: 25-28°C (day), 20-25°C (night).

Humidity: 70-80%.

10th as well: Avicularia aviculariaAvicularia metallica.


9. Nhandu chromatus

Brazilian red and white. White striped bird eater.

Nhandu-chromatusDelightful as she is, she might be a direct attack on your peace of mind as well. This spider is considered to be the most feisty from the list, but her beauty makes it all good. Provocation will probably result in use of urticating setae, maybe followed by a threat pose, but a bite is rather the exception. However, Nhandu chromatus is very beautiful, visible most of the time and growing fast, which makes her interesting for novice keepers. She’ll eat good, giving you a spectacle every time you feed her. She likes her environment rather moist, so make sure you’re ready to put in that little more effort.

Temperature: 24-28°C (day), 20-24°C (night).

Humidity: 70-80%.

9th as well: Nhandu coloratovillosus (more nervous).


8. Lasiodora parahybana

Brazilian salmon pink.

Lasiodora-prahybanaBig, bigger, biggest… With a body length up to 9cm and a span width reaching levels up to 25cm, Lasiodora parahybana is the spider to begin with if you want to start big! Other giants, such as spiders from the Theraphosa– and the Pamphobeteus-genus, might be even bigger, but they’re much harder to keep. Don’t be surprised when you’re given a threat pose and a good dose of urticating setae by the little ones from time to time. As they get older, they’ll be more relaxed. Buy them sub-adult or older and ask the seller whether or not the species in particular is docile. (© photo César Guadarrama)

Temperature: 24-26°C (day), 21-24°C (night)

Humidity: 55-65%.

8th as well: Lasiodora difficilis (more nervous).


7. Aphonopelma bicoloratum

Mexican bloodleg tarantula.

Aphonopelma-bicoloratumBeautifully colored and very docile, Aphonopelma bicoloratum is a true showpiece in every collection. However they might sometimes react a little bit defensive in their early ages, fleeing away while kicking a few urticating setae in your direction, this behavior will disappear quickly. Native to Mexican deserts and scrublands, she prefers a rather dry environment. In Europe she’s hard to find, but you’ll find the same beauty in Brachypelma boehmei, which one is more skittish than Aphonopelma bicoloratum. (© photo Michal Litwin)

Temperature: 24-29°C (day), 21-23°C (night).

Humidity: 55-65%.

6th as well: Aphonopelma chalcodes, Brachypelma boehmei (more nervous).


6. Acanthoscurria geniculata

Brazilian whiteknee tarantula. Giant whiteknee. Whitebanded tarantula.

Acanthoscurria-geniculataShe’s beautiful, big, fast, colorful, visible, active and… Always hungry! Acanthoscurria geniculata does not only eat and grow as fast as Nhandu chromatus, she looks quiet similar as well. However she is not really docile, she appears in this list because of her hunting behavior. She strikes on her prey as fast as lightning, furiously going for the kill. Acanthoscurria geniculata is a true spectacle in her appearance and behavior, but keep a little distance. As furious as she goes for the kill, you won’t notice her flicking lots of urticating setae.

Temperature: 25-28°C (day), 21-25°C (night).

Humidity: 70-80%.

6th as well: Acanthoscurria chacoana, Brachypelma vagans (more nervous).


5. Brachypelma smithi

Mexican red-kneed tarantula. Mexican red knee.

Brachypelma-smithiBrachypelma smithi is by far the most classic bird spider from the list. She made her entry in the hobby in the 70’s and is commonly seen in movies to scare people. She’s big, docile, beautifully colored and hardy, preferring a rather dry environment. They are, however, slow growing and not the best eaters, which can make you worry once in a while. Females can become up to 25 years old (and older), while their studs are given 10 years to live. Plenty of keepers proudly own an adult Brachypelma smithi, caring for her since they were young. They’re stunning in every way, but in my experience more sensitive to stress than being said. (© photo Leon Kirkbride)

Temperature: 25-28°C (day), 21-25°C (night).

Humidity: 50-60%.

5th as well: Brachypelma emilia.


4. Eupalaestrus campestratus

Pink zebra beauty tarantula. PZB. 

Eupalaestrus campestratus
If the name left you thinking about a shiny stone, you were closer than you might have expected. Eupalaestrus campestratus is a “pet rock”, beautiful in its simplicity and armed with an unlimited amount of passitivity. The chances of watching her showing a threat pose or flicking urticating setae, is nihil. They’re however very slow growers, which might become boring in time. Buy her when she’s bigger, if you’re able to find one. (© photo Dick Culbert)

Temperature: 24-26°C (day), 20-24°C (night).

Humidity: 65-70%.

4th as well: Brachypelma albopilosum, Euathlus sp. red (dwarf species).


3. Grammostola rosea

Chilean rose. 

Grammostola-roseaIn my opinion by far one of the most underestimated bird spiders in the hobby, due to its neutral coloration. The use of the name, Grammostola rosea, remains to be questioned, but if you’re looking foor her you’ll easily find her in the hobby named as such, or Grammostola porteri.  Compared with the spider, we’re the weaker life form, as she’s very adaptable to different circumstances and temperatures. Sad but true she’s growing slow and, however she’s docile overall, notorious for her moodswings… for months!

Temperature: 22-27°C (day), 20-22°C (night).

Humidity: 40-55%.

3th as well: Phrixotrichus scrofa.


2. Grammostola pulchra

Brazilian black.

Grammostola pulchraBehold the new black! Grammostola pulchra is a wonderful and docile deep black giant and unbelievably stunning right after her molt. At younger ages she’ll create a burrow underneath the surface, while her parents fear nothing, spending most of the time out in the open. Females can become up to 20 years old (and older), while their studs are given 8 years to live, which is very old for male bird spiders. They are a true showpiece, lovely in every possible way! Sad but true, they’re hard to find and rather expensive. (© photo Leon Kirkbride)

Temperature: 22-25°C (day), 18-22°C (night).

Humidity: 60-70%.

2nd as well: Grammostola pulchripes.


1. Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens

Greenbottle blue. GBB. 

Chromatopelma-cyaneopubescensIt goes without saying that this medium-sized bird spider makes many human heartbeats reach unseen levels with its breathtaking beauty. Even the little ones will stun you flashing their beauty. Native to the harsh and dry deserts in Northern Venezuela, she’s very hardy in captivity and a great choice for beginning hobbyists. Although she’s not the most docile species from the list, she’ll make everything good showing her beauty all day long and creating wonderful webs. Provide an interior with lots of anchor points, leave the substrate dry and provide a water dish. As a reward she will fill up the terrarium with lots of silk. This species is active and fascinating, our highly recommended, the one and only, true number one!

Temperature: 25-28°C (day), 23-25°C (night).

Humidity: 40-50%.