Chilobrachys dyscolus (Simon, 1886), also known as “Asian smokey earth tiger” or “Burma chocolate brown”, is a remarkable and stunning bird spider due to its coloration and anatomy from Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam and India (source). Sometimes you’ll notice people talking about the “Vietnam blue”, which is referred to Chilobrachys dyscolus blue form, commonly known as Chilobrachys sp. blue vietnam. This specific species is native to South Vietnam. However the “chocolate” in her common name makes you think different, the spider swaps color from chocolatebrown to black (blue) post-molt. Mother Nature keeps surprising.
I. SPECIFIC INFORMATION
Scientific name: Chilobrachys dyscolus.
Subfamily: Selenocosmiinae – Chilobrachini.
Common names: Asian smokey earth tiger, Burma chocolate brown.
Previous names: Phrictus dyscolus Simon, 1886.
Variation: Chilobrachys dyscolus “blue” (Chilobrachys sp. blue Vietnam).
Type: Burrowing bird spider.
Category: Old world tarantula.
Urticating setae: No.
Venom: Probably strong. Depending the location of the bite and the amount of venom released, this might be a painful experience. However, no valuable scientific research has been done yet.
Body length: ≤ 5-6cm. Chilobrachys dyscolus is sexually dimorphic, with females being larger and heavier than males. Males are differently colored (look below).
Span width: ≤ 14cm.
Growth rate: Fast.
Life expectancy: No valuable source available, but females are expected to reach 10/12 years (source).
Behavior: Nervous, defensive and fast. The spider will try to flee at first. Persistent provocation can result in a bite. The Chilobrachys-genus is known to create beautiful webs and a tunnelsystem below the surface. At broad daylight she’ll stay deep inside her burrow, waiting for an unsuspecting prey at the entrance of her burrow at night. Chilobrachys dyscolus can be considered a pet hole, so know what to expect when buying. Mine, however, is more active and visible than bird spiders from, for example, the Haplopelma-genus.
Accessibility (1/beginner, 10/expert): 5.
II. INFORMATION FOR KEEPERS
>>> First aid
Chilobrachys dyscolus lives in tropical warm and humid area, with dry, cold and harsh winters. In june, july and august precipitation can last for hours, even days. During summer, temperatures often reach 30°C. Please be informed of the fact the spider will protect itself against the sun making a burrow deep in the ground. Do not overheat the terrarium.
Temperature: Summer 25-28°C (day), 22-25°C (night). Winter 20-22°C (day), 16-20°C (night).
Humidity: 70-80% (summer), 60-70% (winter). During monsoon, starting from April, humidty reaches unseen (and for humans unpleasant) hights.
Adult: LxWxH: 20x20x50. Min. 3x span width in heigth.
Smaller than adult: Min. 3x span width in heigth.
Adult: Min. 2x span width.
Smaller than adult: Min. 2,5x span width.
* During rainy season (3-4 months) 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: June, July, August, September, October.
Dry season: January, February, March, April, November, December.
Warmest months: June, July, August, September.
Coldest months: January, February, December.
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
Pairings with the Chilobrachys-genus don’t always run smoothly. In his quest for posterity, the male will show his presence relatively quick, luring the female out of her burrow. Leaving her castle she’ll probably react very aggressive/defensive towards the male, either looking for a next meal or a quick copulation. Nevertheless experienced breeders are able to make their females create a cocoon once a year (M. Tempelman, 2015).
• 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.
• Introduce both male and female to each other by placing both terraria next to each other a few days before mating. It is possible you notice interactions.
• Plan the pairing at the end of wet season and let the cage dry out for 2/3 months, while temperatures drop to 18/21°C. Systematically raise up temperature and humidity. This will trigger the female to start making the cocoon.
• Arm yourself with long greased tweezers. Seperate male and female immediately after mating.
• 4 months after mating (a few weeks after introducing spring), the female will start making her cocoon. Deprive the cocoon, when desired, 4-5 weeks later. Store the eggs in the incubator at 26-29°C and a humidity near to 100%. Expect 150-250 spiderlings to come out.
IV. DID YOU KNOW…
• Not all species of the Chilobrachys-genus are burrowing bird spiders? Chilobrachys huahini, for example, has been seen having an arboreal lifestyle.
• Burrowing species from the Chilobrachys-genus possess a relatively long carapace and abdomen?
• Photography: Yvonne Kindl (flickr)