Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rose-Haired Tarantula

Chilean Rose-Haired Tarantulas do not call Missouri home, except maybe as someones pet; as in this case. I bought the one pictured here several weeks ago from a local pet store for $17.00. They are native to Chili and for many years were imported by the thousands to the United States. Chili ceased all importation of these spiders and now all Rose-Haired Tarantulas are from breeding stock already in the United States.  These  tarantulas are often recommended for people who wish to own a tarantula but have no experience with them. It is relatively easy to locate a breeder and often they are available at your local pet store.  They are generally gentle by nature, relatively slow moving for a spider and beautiful to look at. The cost is low in comparison to other tarantulas, mostly because of their commoniness and their hardiness in captivity.  This is the second species of tarantula that I own, the first being the Oklahoma Brown which is native to Missouri. 

These tarantulas are considered a mid-sized tarantulas with a legspan up to 5 inches. Males will usually have longer legs and furrier bodies than females. Some even claim that the males are more colorful, but this is probably not true, simply because there is so much variation in the breed. In fact the variation is so complex that many say there are three species of Rose-Haired Tarantulas, depending upon color formation.  Grammostola rosea would be the standard Rose-Haired with the black or dark brown body and pinkish colored hairs. Then there is Grammostola cala which has reddish colored hairs, and lastly is Grammostola spatulata, which has brownish colored hairs.
This is consequently one of the most difficult spiders to identify to species. There is so much speculation as to whether or not each color morph should be considered its own individual species, plus the species itself has gone through numerous name changes. 
These tarantulas are one of the easiest to keep in captivity, they  require little room and only moderate humidity levels. They like a little hide to be able to crawl into and a few crickets or grasshoppers each week. They are easy to handle, just place your hand in front of them and gently coax them onto your hand. 

 (Rosy eating her cricket)

They do stress easy so handling should be kept at a minimum. Occasionally if they are feeling particularly cranky they may flick their abdomen hairs. If there is a bald spot on their "rump" it is a pretty good indication that they have recently been stressed. If mine begins flicking hairs I leave her in peace and handle her another day. Just like us humans, they have days where they just don't feel like being messed with. Your spider won't remain bald, it will eventually shed its skin and reveal brand new beautiful hairs where previously there were none. 
Shedding is a difficult time for a tarantula. The process begins many weeks before the actual shedding. It starts by growing new skin underneath the old skin that will be shed. They may act lethargic and stop eating at this time. When they begin molting they will flip onto their back (so don't be alarmed if you see this, your spider hasn't died). From this position it will slough off its old skin, including the inside of its mouth, respiratory organs, sexual organs and stomach. So you can see where this would be an extremely trying time for the spider, but if the humidity level is correct within the enclosure all should go well and within minutes the old skin will be shed. They will be very vulnerable  at this stage. Their new skin is soft and delicate and must harden, which depending upon the size of the spider may take a couple weeks. Smaller spiders require less time to harden their skin than do larger spiders. During this time, the spider will most likely not feed. 
It takes these spiders approximately 3 to 4 years to reach their full adult size. It is at this time that they may breed in the wild. Males will begin by producing sperm webs indicating he is ready to breed. If you have a male and female in captivity you may try placing them together at this time and see if the female is receptive to his attentions. That is if you wish to have little baby tarantulas (more than 500 at a time). Males will seek out the female and tap a little dance with his legs to lure her out, he will then pounce on her and use his front legs to lift her chelicerae out of the way so he doesn't become her next meal. He can also lift her almost completely onto her hind legs from this stance allowing him access to her epigyne so he may deposit his sperm. If she is fertilized; within a few weeks she will produce an egg sac that may contain more than 500 spiderlings. Usually the male will die shortly after a successful mating, unless of course the female kills him first. 

If you have been thinking about owning a tarantula, let me recommend this docile, beautiful creature as your first foray into the world of tarantulas, you won't be disappointed.


  1. Yikes. Until I read your description of shedding skin I never thought about how difficult it might be for the animal (aside from, say, a snake having a hard time rubbing parts off). Yowsa.

  2. Frightening, good pictures.
    Good work,congratulations!
    Beautiful pictures,happy New Year!

  3. Hmmmm, pet? not sure I would say pet as interesting to watch.LOL Hope you had a good holiday.

  4. Great shots of a beautiful spider. A very informative article too.

  5. Shelley Rosie is cute in her own way. Fascinating too. Interesting about the shedding of her skin. Wonderful shots!!

    I wanted to wish you and your family a Very Happy New Year. I have loved reading your blog this year, and '09 and the pictures are always a gorgeous bonus!

  6. Bio---I know what you mean it is hard to believe that shedding their skin would be so difficult, but there are many spiders that even die during this process.

    Bandi---Thank you very much, and you have a very Happy New Year as well.

    Steve---you mean you wouldn't want to bring one of these beauties into your house as a pet? We had a great Holiday, I even got a new camera for Christmas so I can hardly wait for spring to get outside and start photographing the bugs again.

    Marvin--Thank you very much, it is good to see you around here again, its been awhile.

    Rural--Thanks so much for your kind words...I hope you and your family have a safe Happy New Year also. I'm so glad you've enjoyed your visits here, it makes writing this blog so much more enjoyable to know that people are really enjoying it and learning from it.

  7. Im investigating how such a change is made in their lives of insects as a result of global warming. Following your blog. Thank you!

  8. Hiya, came your way via Ratty and nature centre magazine. I have to admit that for no reason at all, spiders are my biggest phobia. It is totally unfounded I know and they have never given me cause to be afraid of them but I just am. Plain terrified. Your pictures are great and I do appreciate the uniqueness of a tarantula- I just don't like them very much! I am so glad we do not get spiders this size in the UK. Great post by the way.

  9. Bemused, thanks for stopping by. I can completely relate to your phobia as I too had the same phobia for most of my life. It wasn't until about 3 years at almost 40 years of age that I decided my fear was irrational, after all I love insects and spiders just aren't all that much different. So I began a mission to overcome my fear. I started forcing myself to photograph more of the ones I found, and then did research on them. The more i did this, the more I calmed down. A year and a half ago I worked up the nerve to handle a tiny jumping spider, then a crab spider, and when those situations worked out favorably I finally decided to buy a tarantula. The first I bought was the hentzi species which is native to Missouri. I heard they were gentle and I thought she would make a great program specimen for when I do school age nature programs. It took me 3 months to work up the courage to hold her. I simply could not get those fangs out of my mind. Once i finally held her I was hooked! She was so sweet and gentle. I then went out and bought another one, which I later donated to a nature center in KC. On a camping trip last October I captured a large adult male. He later died of old age. Then I bought this pink rose haired species about 6 weeks ago. She is proving to be a sweet spider too. My next one is going to be a Mexican Red-Kneed Tarantula.
    Phobia is all in our minds, and if we truly want to overcome it, it can be done. I wish you luck if you should decide it is time to face your fear. Again, thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again.