Poecilotheria subfusca

Poecilotheria subfusca

Poecilotheria subfusca Pocock, 1895, also known as “Ivory ornamental” and sometimes wrongfully named as “Poecilotheria bara“, is a beautiful arboreal bird spider from Sri Lanka. Another species resembling Poecilotheria subfusca is known in the hobby as Poecilotheria sp. lowland. This one lives at lower altitude and grows remarkably larger than Poecilotheria subfusca highland. Where some suspect both are different forms of the same species, others believe the lowland-form is probably Poecilotheria bara as described by Chamberlin in 1917. In the world of science, however, logical explanations need proof and we firmly believe few scientists are working hard to solve this grey zone about the spp.. The Poecilotheria-genus is well-equiped with distinctive colors and patterns. 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!”

Following information is about Poecilotheria subfusca, known in the hobby as the “highland”-form. This info will be updated from the moment taxonomists are giving a clear view on the grey zone as described above.


Scientific name: Poecilotheria subfusca.

Subfamily: Selenocosmiinae – Poecilotheriini.

Common name: Ivory ornamental.

Previous names: Scurria fasciata Ausserer, 1871, Poecilotheria uniformis Strand, 1913, Poecilotheria bara Chamberlin, 1917.

World spider catalog

Type: Arboreal bird spider.

Category: Old world tarantula.

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. 

Origin: South-Central Sri Lanka (Poecilotheria subfuscaNuwara Eliya (found at 6000+ feet above sea level), Poecilotheria sp. lowland: Kandy (around 1500-1600 feet above sea level) and Matale).

Body length: ≤ 6-7 cm. Poecilotheria sp. lowland grows remarkably larger than Poecilotheria subfusca highland.

Span width: ≤ 14-17 cm. Poecilotheria subfusca is sexually dimorphic, with females being larger and heavier than males.

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. The species will create a assymetric tunnelweb, being mostly visible at night. Interesting is the fact Poecilotheria subfusca can be kept communal. Provide a correct amount of food in order to prevent cannibalism. Don’t put them together when they were once separated.

Growth rate: Fast.

Life expectancy: Females become up to 11-12 years old. Exceptions become 15 years old. Males are given a shorter lifetime of 3-4 years.

Accessibility (1/beginner: 10/expert): 8.


>>> First aid

Poecilotheria subfusca lives in tropical humid area, only reaching maximum temperatures of 25°C. This is rather “cold” for species of the Poecilotheria-genus. The highland-form, however, has to fight even lower temperatures, with maxima around 21°C during the day and 10-14°C by night. Afternoon fogs are not uncommon and overnight lows may reach freezing. Rainfalls can be short and intense. Very moist substrate from time to time is good for spiders of the Poecilotheria-genus.

Environmental conditions

Poecilotheria subfusca highland

Temperature: 20-22°C (day), 16-17°C (night) during 9 consequtive months. 25-27°C (day), 22-23°C (night) during 3 consequtive months.

Humidity: 80-90%.


Temperature: 20-24°C (day), 18-20°C (night) during 9 consequtive months. 25-28°C (day), 22-23°C (night) during 3 consequtive months.

Humidity: 80-90%.


Adult: LxBxH: 20x20x40. 3x span width in height.

Smaller than adult: 3x span width in height.


Adult: 1x body length.

Smaller than adult: 1x body length.

* Keep substrate moist.

* 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.


Poecilotheria subfusca highland

In the mountain areas, such as Nuwara Eliya, temperatures usually get 10°C lower than on the coast. During the day temperatures rarely get higher than 23°C, dropping down even more at night to 10-14°C (source). Nevertheless, try to provide environmental factors as subscribed above.

Poecilotheria sp. lowland

Wet season: March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December.

Dry season: None.

Warmest month: April.

Coldest month: January.

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.

Differences between Poecilotheria subfusca highland and sp. lowland

NOTE: These differences are used in the hobby to distinguish one species from the other. It remains a subjective view, as Poecilotheria “sp.” lowland never had a valuable taxonomical description. We’ve added those differences to inform you about what’s going on in the hobby, but don’t take this for granted.

Poecilotheria subfusca highland

• Darker color. It is being assumed the darker color helps the spider to retain warmth.

• Black padding in the pattern on the abdomen.

Poecilotheria sp. lowland

• Lighter color.

• The pattern on the abdomen is not filled up.

How can I distinguish Poecilotheria spp. ventrally?

Click here or on the photo for higher resolution. Click here for a similar picture, with Poecilotheria rajaei.

Poecilotheria spp. ventral

© mygale.de | poeci1.de


Contrary to other species of the Poecilotheria-genus, breeding Poecilotheria subfusca is rather “difficult”. In order to be successful it is very important to pay attention to the environmental factors of their natural habitat, being colder and more humid than other species of the genus. Captive-bred species don’t always require a cold and harsh winter, but it’s advised. Poecilotheria subfusca is notorious to wait a long time before making the cocoon. Males go out in search of their ladies in autumn. After a harsh winter, at the beginning of spring, Poecilotheria subfusca starts making her cocoon. Breeding reports show periods of 2-6 and in some cases even 9 months before the female started working on her cocoon.

• 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. They’ll probably eat more after mating.

• Provide hiding places for the male.

• Bring male and female together in autumn, keep both temperature and humidity stable for 2 months (spray often), and start simulating a winter (6-8 weeks, 13-15°C, low humidity) 2 months after mating. Don’t feed often and provide only 2-3 hours light per day.

• In some cases breeders bring male and female together again right after winter.

• Systematically raise up temperature and humidity after winter. This might trigger the female to start making the cocoon.

• The female will start making the cocoon 5-9 months after mating. Deprive the cocoon, when desired, 5 weeks later. Store the eggs (60-110) at a humidity of 90-100% and a temperature of 22-24°C.


• 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?

• The use of “Poecilotheria bara” is taxonomically incorrect?

Poecilotheria bara was essentially a very large female specimen of what is supposed to be Poecilotheria subfusca (source)?

Poecilotheria bara became a junior synonym of Poecilotheria subfusca due to the fact Chamberlin had not studied any of the holotypes before writing his new species description (source)?

• Breeding projects with Poecilotheria subfusca are only successful when being given cool and humid environmental factors?


Pharmacological analysis of Poecilotheria spider venoms in mice provides clues for human treatment (2017).

• A verified spider bite and a review of the literature confirm Indian ornamental tree spiders (Poecilotheria species) as underestimated theraphosids of medical importance.

The genus Poecilotheria: Its habbits, history and species.

Tales from the field. in search of my favorite spider (Michael Jacobi).

The first US breedings of Poecilotheria subfusca, 1895, with notes on pre- and post-breeding conditions.


• Text: Dennis Van Vlierberghe (facebookgroup and –page)

• Photography: Julian Kamzol (website, flickr)

• Patrick Meyer (website)

4 thoughts on “Poecilotheria subfusca

  1. Hey!!!! very nice, and informative loving the translated site. Hope u guys are doing well don’t forget to email me and I’m thinking u should add a thing to your page about food what to feed them and also caring for spiderlings would benifit your readers immensely .

  2. Hey Nick. We’re very happy to know you like the translations. Everything for our international friends! 🙂 Thanks for the hints btw. Some of those answers might be found in the informative pages in the sidebar 😉 Kind regards.

  3. Information for Keepers : i keep my subfuscas at night never colder than 18 °C , warm summer nights 25 °C.
    You have seen thati have 3 subfusca sacs at the Moment ?! All build with 25 °C. Also all other sacs are made by more than 20 °C.
    You have to keep them cooler than other P.spp but my opinion ca. 15 °C is too cold. Just for a few weeks but no need.
    Top Portrait by the way.


    1. Hey Poeci1. Thanks a lot for this import. I’ll soon make some changes on the page.
      Congratulations on the successful breedings! 🙂 May I ask you what your breeding cycle looks like? Do you simulate a “harsh” winter? Are there significant differences breeding both spiders?
      Kind regards.

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