Nhandu chromatus Schmidt, 2004, also known as “Brazilian red and white” or “White striped birdeater”, is a very beautiful bird spider due to its coloration and behavior from Brazil and Paraguay. With a golden brownish carapace, red hairs on the abdomen and the beautiful markings on the legs, she’s a wonderful showpiece in every collection. Beginners sometimes confuse her with Acanthoscurria geniculata. Both spiders are easily distinguished by the color on their carapaces. You’ll sometimes hear people say Nhandu chromatus is the same species as Vitalius cristatus (Mello-Leitão, 1923), renamed as Lasiodora cristata. Nhandu chromatus, however, was described as a new species in 2004, not being confirmed by the majority of arachnologists. Unless its taxon is reviewed it can be easily transfered in further revisions (source). In the “World spider catalog” you can see both spiders being categorized as different species: Nhandu chromatus, Lasiodora cristata. Nhandu chromatus is held in lots of terraria, while the real Lasiodora cristata is not available in the hobby.
I. SPECIFIC INFORMATION
Scientific name: Nhandu chromatus.
Common names: Brazilian red and white, White striped bird eater.
Previous names: Formerly mistakenly identified as “Lasiodora cristata“.
Type: Terrestrial bird spider. Opportunistic burrower.
Category: New world tarantula.
Urticating setae: Yes (abdomen). The urticating setae of Nhandu chromatus are remarkably effective against mammals.
Venom: Probably mild. No valuable scientific research has been done yet.
Body length: ≤ 6-7cm.
Span width: ≤ 17-20cm.
Behavior: Nervous. The spider will try to flee at first. She won’t hesitate to shed its urticating setae or give you an impressive threat pose. Persistent provocation can result in a bite. Urticating setae of Nhandu chromatus are remarkably effective against mammals, especially in the eyes and/or inhalation. Mine is a working class hero, moving lots of substrate once in a while.
Growth rate: Medium.
Life expectancy: Females can become up to 13-15 years old. Males are given a shorter lifetime from 3-4 years.
Accessibility (1/beginner: 10/expert): 6.
II. INFORMATION FOR KEEPERS
>>> First aid
Nhandu chromatus lives in subtropical humid area, such as forests and grasslands. Temperatures almost daily reach levels 25°C, sometimes dropping to 15°C at night. Please be informed of the fact the spider will protect itself against the sun underneath tree trunks, branches, leaves and abandoned burrows. Do not overheat the terrarium.
Temperature: 24-28°C (day), 20-24°C (night).
Adult: LxWxH: 35x30x30. Min. 3-4x span width in surface.
Smaller than adult: Min. 3x span width in surface.
Adult: 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.
* 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: December, January, February, March.
Dry season: June, July, August.
Warmest months: October, November, December, February, March.
Coldest months: June, July.
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
Nhandu chromatus is a very nervous bird spider. The slightest disturbance nearby often results in use of urticating setae and/or a threat pose. She’s not different to her male, who’s probably facing a furious lady. Nevertheless experienced hobbyists are able to breed successfully.
• 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.
• 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.
• Arm yourself with long greased tweezers. Seperate male and female immediately after mating.
• Keep temperature (20-22°C) and humidity (65-70%) fairly constant after mating. Systematically raise up temperature and humidity. This will trigger the female to start making the cocoon.
• 2-4 months after mating the female will start making her cocoon. Deprive the cocoon, when desired, 4 weeks later. Store the eggs in the incubator at 26-29°C and a humidity of 80-90%. Expect hundreds of spiderlings to come out. Cocoons with more than 1000 eggs have been observed.
IV. DID YOU KNOW…
• Vitalius cristatus (Mello-Leitão/1923), also known as Lasiodora cristata (Bertani/2001), and Nhandu chromatus are not the same spiders?
• Species of the Nhandu-genus, except for Nhandu chromatus, do possess a rather hairy carapace?
• Photography: Yvonne Kindl (flickr)