The Brazilian Black Tarantula is native to South America, coming from the grasslands of Brazil and Uruguay. Its scientific name is Grammostola pulchra. They grow about 5-6” in leg span, and occasionally a female reaches 8”. The Brazilian Blacks are docile in nature and impressive in their looks, being completely black, with occasional grey hairs on legs. They are of the same genus of the Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula, but are slightly larger and more active. They are solitary, and are predominately nocturnal.
The Brazilian Black is considered a slow grower; it can reach up to 4” in the first year of its life, but continues slowly throughout the rest. The females live up to 20 years, which is much longer than the males, who live 5-7 years.
Never house more than a single tarantula in one enclosure, to avoid cannibalism and fighting.
The Brazilian Black does well in a 10 gallon aquarium/terrarium. A good rule of thumb for deciding which enclosure size to get is, the length and width of the enclosure should be 2-3 times the leg span; round enclosures should have a diameter 3 times the leg span. Always use a very strong secure lid, as tarantulas can use their fangs to bite through tough materials such as: plastic, nylon, and aluminum mesh. Do not over-do the size of their enclosure as too large of a space can make a tarantula feel vulnerable.
There are no special lighting requirements for this tarantula, however, it is always very important to make sure your tarantula gets a regular day/night schedule to keep its biological rhythms on track. A base of 8 hours a day of light is good, and when it's night for your spider, make sure it is dark. Never place the enclosure in direct sunlight. The lighting of whatever room your tarantula is placed in, is generally enough.
Temperatures fluctuate drastically in the wild, so do not panic if your tarantula's enclosure isn't at a steady temperature. These spiders seem to do best at temperatures between 75° and 85° Fahrenheit. Generally, room temperature is good enough for them. To help your tarantula understand a good day/night schedule it's good to make the enclosure slightly cooler at night than you do during the day (an adjustment of a few degrees is fine). In a few cases an under the tank heater is needed. (It is best that these are actually stuck to the backside of the enclosure, rather than under it, to avoid death) When using these you must always ensure they are on a thermometer, and will not overheat, or you could end up with a dead pet. The use of an in the tank thermometer is also necessary, do not just guess the temperature of the enclosure, as it can lead to problems. (PLEASE ALWAYS USE EXTRA CAUTION WITH THESE AND MAKE SURE YOU SHUT THE HEATER OFF WHEN THE ROOM IS WARM ENOUGH SO YOU DO NOT COOK YOUR TARANTULA.)
The substrate you use for your Brazilian Black should be completely organic (meaning it's all natural and contains absolutely no chemicals) Substrate such as peat moss, peat humus, ground coco fiber, bed-a-beast, and orchid bark can all be used. The substrate should be no less than 4” deep, and even up to 6”, as this species generally likes to burrow. A piece of cork bark, half a clay pot, small coconut shell, or something similar should be placed in the enclosure to give your tarantula a starting place to burrow. Other enclosure décor isn't needed, but if you choose to use it, ensure that it is securely placed in the bottom of you tank, before adding substrate. This is just in case your spider chooses to burrow under one of them, the decoration doesn't move and crush your pet, injuring it or even killing it.
A shallow, wide water dish should always be present in your tarantula's enclosure. All tarantula's receive most of their water through their prey, but for full health, the addition of water is needed. Putting cotton or filter wadding, equal to the size of the tarantula's body in the water dish is also very helpful. The spider will then climb on to the cotton or filter wadding and drink through the base of its fangs. Always use chlorine-free water for your tarantula. Washing of the water dish is also necessary, and should be done anytime the bowl feels slimy, or there seems to be any oily substance on the top of your water. Do not use soap, simply use warm water and scrub it with a brand new toothbrush, or washcloth, that's never had soap or toothpaste on it. (The cotton, or filter wadding isn't essential.)
Humidity levels for this spider should be between 75-80%. Keeping the substrate moist, and using a water dish is generally enough to provide sufficient humidity, but you can measure your humidity level with a hygrometer. Letting the humidity fall too much can cause serious health problems for tarantulas, so ensure you take the proper precautions not to let it drop, drastically. Of course there are always fluctuations in nature, and that is where tarantulas come from, so a completely constant level isn't necessary.
Brazilian Blacks will eat crickets, roaches, mealworms, and grasshoppers. Be sure the prey item is not larger than the overall body size (prosoma) of the tarantula. The Brazilian Black Tarantula should be fed between 3-8 prey items per month. It is best to feed them every two weeks, alternating prey items to ensure they get a varied diet with different vitamins. Overfeeding is a big problem when it comes to the keeping of tarantulas and many people believe they should feed their tarantulas every week, however, this is not the case. Most tarantulas will eat all that is provided to them because they are storing for fasts. In the wild there are times when food isn't available, so they will eat all they can, when they can, in case they have to starve for a few months. It is not uncommon for the Brazilian Blacks to go on fasts, if this happens, don't panic. If this happens to you simply offer 1 food item, once a week until your tarantula is eating again, then resume normal feeding schedule. (Allow the cricket [or whatever you're using] to stay in the tarantula's enclosure for 24 hours before removing.)
Always gut-load your tarantula's food. Gut-load the food 48 hours before feeding to the tarantula. Gut-loading is where you feed the crickets (or whatever you're feeding at the time) food. This can be achieved through commercial cricket food. Always supply a water source for your food, as well. Supplying them with oranges is a good way to do this, as placing a water dish in will only lead to drowning and the spread of bacteria.
Tarantulas are generally a pet best for just looking at and not holding. This is because they are still a spider and can, and sometimes will bite, and although not very venomous can cause severe pain, swelling and muscles spasms for a few hours up to a few days. They are also very fragile pets, and a drop of even a few inches high can crack their exoskeleton.
However, there may come a time when you need to handle your Brazilian Black Tarantula, and if that time should come, you need to know how to do it properly.
When handling your Brazilian Black, always wear gloves and sunglasses, or safety glasses, as their hairs can cause painful irritations to the handler's eyes and skin, if the spider should feel threatened. Lift the tarantula gently, with its legs folded under its body. Always be careful not to drop it.
Helping your Tarantula to Understand the Seasons
There are a few simple ways to help your tarantula understand the seasons and have a proper day and night schedule. When it is winter, make the spider's enclosure a few degrees cooler than you would in the summer. During the day, make sure the enclosure receives lighting, and when it's night, ensure the enclosure is dark. Also, lowering the enclosures temperature a few degrees at night is okay.
Their bite is mildly toxic and is similar to that of a bee sting.
Their muscles bend the legs but blood pressure is responsible for extending the legs. A leg that is curled under may indicate a dehydrated or sick spider.
Tarantulas will molt (the process of shedding the exoskeleton) up to 20 times before maturity. Each molt may take a day or two.
They use their abdominal hairs as a means of defense by scraping them off with their legs. The hairs are very irritating and can cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals.
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