Poecilotheria ornata Pocock, 1899, also known as “Fringed ornamental tarantula”, is a wonderful bird spider due to its behavior and size from Sri Lanka. The Poecilotheria-genus is well-equiped with distinctive colors and patterns, although Poecilotheria ornata is easily distinguished from the others by its size. Together with Poecilotheria rufilata she’s the biggest of the genus. Intriguing about the genus is their typical resting pose. With the first two leg pairs forward, the last two leg pairs backward and an angry look, they’re sending a clear message: “Don’t come too close!”
I. SPECIFIC INFORMATION
Scientific name: Poecilotheria ornata.
Subfamily: Selenocosmiinae – Poecilotheriini.
Common name: Fringed ornamental.
Previous names: /
Type: Arboreal bird spider.
Category: Old world tarantula. Not recommended for beginning hobbyists.
Urticating setae: No.
Venom: Depending the location of the bite and the amount of venom released, this might be a painful experience. More info, see V. Literature.
Body length: ≤ 7-8cm.
Span width: ≤ 25cm.
Growth rate: Fast.
Life expectancy: Females become up to 11-12 years old. Males are given a shorter lifetime of 3 years. The spider probably won’t get this old in the wild.
Behavior: The Poecilotheria-genus is known to be as beautiful as potentially dangerous. The spider will try to flee at first. Persistent provocation can result in a bite. The bites are very painful and can result in hospitalization. Poecilotheria ornata is notorious to bite faster than any other species of the genus. Click here for a video report.
Accessibility (1/beginner, 10/expert): 10.
II. INFORMATION FOR KEEPERS
>>> First aid
Poecilotheria ornata lives in tropical humid and warm area. Temperatures almost daily reach levels up to 30°C, with heat waves up to 34°C. Please be informed of the fact the spider will protect itself against the burning sun in tree crevices, hollow branches, leaves and buildings. Rainfalls can be short and intense. Very moist substrate from time to time is good for spiders of the Poecilotheria-genus, but make sure no moldproblems occur.
Temperature: 25-30°C (day), 20-22°C (night).
Humidity: 70-80%. Bring down temperatures (22-24°C) when raising up humidity (85-90%) from time to time.
Adult: LxWxH: 20x20x50. 2,5-3x span width in height.
Smaller than adult: 2,5x span width in height.
Adult: 0,5x body length.
Smaller than adult: 1x body length.
* The spider lives in humid area. Note that cages with high humidity levels are very sensitive for mites and other parasites. Please take your precautions.
Wet season: All year long.
Dry season: Even in “dry” periods there is a lot of precipitation.
Warmest months: February, March, April, May, June, July, August. Avarage temperature in Ratnapura is in between 27-34°C.
Coldest month: January. The coldest month don’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.
How can I distinguish Poecilotheria spp. ventrally?
III. INFORMATION FOR BREEDERS
Mating the Poecilotheria-genus normally runs smoothly. Male and female are sometimes kept together for several weeks. Cannibalism, however, might happen in these circumstances.
• 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.
• Provide hiding places for the male.
• Plan the pairing at the end of wet season and let the cage dry out for 4/6 weeks, while temperatures drop to 22/23°C. Systematically raise up temperature and humidity. This will trigger the female to start making the cocoon.
• Don’t leave the male with the female if she’s acting agressive towards his presence. Try again a few days later, after you fed the female. After a good reception by the female several hobbyists cover the terrarium with black cloth, not disturbing them anymore for 1 month.
• The female will start making the cocoon 4-6 weeks after mating (sometimes it takes more time). Deprive the cocoon, when desired, 4 weeks later. Store the eggs at a humidity of 80-90% and a temperature of 25-29°C.
IV. DID YOU KNOW…
• The name “Poecilotheria” is derived from the Greek “poikilos” (spotted) and “therion” (wild beast). You’re being warned (source).
• People talk about “poecies” in the hobby, referring to species from the Poecilotheria-genus?
• Patrick Meyer (website)