Ornithoctonus aureotibialis von Wirth & Striffler, 2005, also known as the “Thailand golden fringe”, is a very stunning and remarkable bird spider due to its behavior and coloration from Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia. At the level of the patella the deep black femura are being seperated from the dark grey legs by a ring. On the retrolateral side of the first 2 legpairs patella and tibia possess beautiful golden/yellow hairs, which is the reason why she’s given both scientific and common name. Ornithoctonus aureotibialis was known in the hobby for a long time as Haplopelma sp. aureopilosum, after which she’s been baptized to Haplopelma chrysothrix by Schmidt & Samm in 2005. This name, however, was declared invalid (source). The subfamily of the Ornithoctoninae (known as “earth tigers”, due to the patterns on their abdomen) mostly consists burrowing bird spiders living deep underground, except for spiders of the Cyriopagopus– and Phormingochilus-genus. The spiders are very timid and occasionally visible at night.
I. SPECIFIC INFORMATION
Scientific name: Ornithoctonus aureotibialis.
Common name: Thailand golden fringe.
Previous names: Haplopelma sp. aureopilosum, Haplopelma chrysothrix Schmidt é Samm, 2005(invalid).
Type: Burrowing bird spider.
Category: Old world tarantula. Not recommended for beginning hobbyists.
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: ≤ 6cm (Males 3,5-4,5cm).
Span width: ≤ 14-16cm.
Growth rate: Slow.
Life expectancy: Females become up to 14-15 years old. Males are given a shorter lifetime of 3-4 years.
Behavior: The spider will try to flee at first. Persistent provocation can result in a bite. She’ll dig a very beautiful vertical tunnel towards her burrow deep underground, fortifying the entrance with whatever she can find a few centimeters above 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. Ornithoctonus aureotibialis can be considered a pet hole, so know what to expect when buying.
Accessibility (1/beginner, 10/expert): 7.
II. INFORMATION FOR KEEPERS
>>> First aid
Ornithoctonus aureotibialis lives in tropical warm area, with wet and dry periods. Temperatures almost daily reach levels up to 30°C, with heat waves up to 35°C during the warmest months. Please be informed of the fact the spider will protect itself against the burning sun making a burrow deep in the ground. Do not overheat the terrarium. Humidity drops significantly from November until February, compared to what’s normal for the region. 90% of total annual rainfall happens between may and october.
Temperature: 25-28°C (day), 21-25°C (night).
Humidity: 70-90%. During 4 concatenated months a year this may drop to 60-70%.
Adult: LxWxH: 20x20x50. Min. 3x span width in height.
Smaller than adult: 3x span width in height.
* The terrarium doesn’t need plenty of decoration. The real spectacle happens underground.
Adult: Min. 2x span width.
Smaller than adult: Minimal 2,5x span width.
* During rainy season (6 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: May, June, July, August, September, October.
Dry season: November, December, January, February, March.
Warmest months: March, April, May, June, July, August.
Coldest months: None. The coldest month doesn’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
Pairings with the Ornithoctonus-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. Lots of breeders have reported a very offensive male, almost raping his lady.
• 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.
• Foresee an escaping route for the male.
• Plan the pairing at the end of wet season and let the cage dry out for 2-3 months. Systematically raise up humidity.
• Arm yourself with long greased tweezers. Seperate male and female immediately after mating.
• The female will start making the cocoon 3-4 months after mating. Deprive the cocoon, when desired, 6-10 weeks later. Store the eggs at a humidity of 80-90% and a temperature of 25-29°C.
IV. DID YOU KNOW…
• “Aureotibialis” stands for “golden tibia”, referring to the gold/yellow area on the retrolateral side of the tibia of the first 2 legpairs?
• Ornithoctonus aureotibialis in their natural habitat often make burrows up to 2 meters deep?
• The tibial hooks on mature males are rather blunt projections than real hooks?
• Photography: Matthijs Tempelman