The Brazilian black tarantula (Grammostola pulchra) is a gorgeous spider, getting its common name from its beautiful, velvety black color. They are a hefty, docile species of tarantula that is highly sought after sometimes for its color alone. They are native to parts of Brazil and Uruguay, but they are also bred in captivity. However, due to their slow growth rate, they can be somewhat hard to track down. This is usually because the spiderlings are snatched up quickly by enthusiasts and breeders alike. A favorite among many, some people have affectionately referred to the Brazilian black tarantula as "the black lab of tarantulas."
Black Tarantula Basics
This tarantula's habitat is in the grassland areas of Brazil and Uruguay. In captivity, the black tarantula requires a slightly more arid environment compared to the other tarantulas in its genus, as well as good ventilation. Grammostola pulchra is a terrestrial species of opportunistic burrowers, which should be reflected in the habitat provided by their keeper.
Brazilian black tarantulas are medium-sized and stout, with the ability to reach up to 8 inches when fully grown, though somewhere between 6 to 7 inches is common. The females in this species can live upwards of 20 years, while the males have a shorter lifespan with an average between 6 and 8 years.
Behavior & Temperament
The Brazilian black tarantula is very calm and docile. Sometimes described as never doing much of anything in a hurry (including growing), they are excellent candidates for handling if one should choose to handle their tarantula. They are very slow-moving, and seldom do they flick the urticating hairs off of their rump, but it is important to still take precautions when handling this spider. Be careful to not be overly excited, so as to not startle your black tarantula. They do have fangs and venom, and most will use them if they feel it is necessary. Like many of the New World species, the Brazilian black tarantula doesn't possess an extremely potent venom; if one is allergic to bees or wasps, handling of these spiders is not recommended.
Take care to not hold the tarantula close to your face, either. On the off chance that the Brazilian black tarantula was to kick hairs to defend itself, getting those hairs in your eyes or inhaling them could be potentially harmful. The reaction typically varies from person to person, anywhere from a mild itch to a full-bodied rash.
Ideally, the enclosure for any tarantula should be 2-3 times its leg span. Being that Brazilian black tarantulas are a terrestrial species, length and width are far more important than height. Too high of an enclosure can result in falls that can damage or kill your Brazilian black. Terrariums, aquariums or plastic/acrylic enclosures work best, but it is important to keep your tarantula's home well ventilated. Cross ventilation is more important than ventilation from the top. This can be achieved by putting holes on the sides of the enclosure.
The Brazilian black tarantula is an opportunistic burrower, and if given the proper amount of substrate, it may dig. However, 4 inches of bedding is the recommended minimum depth for your Brazilian black. Chemical-free potting soil or ground coco fiber makes for an excellent substrate. The humidity levels for this species are quite low in comparison to others, but allowing for a range of between 60 and 75 percent is fine. This can be achieved by adding a water bowl to the terrarium. Misting the side of the enclosure allows for your spiderlings to drink and stay hydrated. It is rarely necessary for adults.
Providing hiding areas for your tarantula is important for its wellbeing. Some keepers choose to decorate their enclosures with artificial plants and pieces of wood or cork bark to create hiding areas.
In the wild, the Brazilian black tarantula lives in a habitat with temperatures that fluctuate anywhere from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, the temperature for your tarantula should be somewhere between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, however, many keepers have found that their tarantulas do quite well at room temperature. If you keep your home too cool and feel that it's necessary to add a heat source, a heat mat on the side or bottom of the enclosure will do fine. However, monitor the temperatures closely with a thermostat and always allow for a cool side for your tarantula to retreat to if necessary.
A proper diet is a cornerstone of Grammostola pulchra care. The Brazilian black tarantula is an enthusiastic eater and will readily take any prey item that it can overpower. For younger tarantulas, smaller food items such as pinhead crickets are a good option. Captive-bred locusts, dubia roaches, mealworms and live crickets can all be used as part of a varied diet for your Brazilian black tarantula. Some smaller vertebrates such as pinky mice or even lizards are also options, though they should not be offered on a regular basis. Some argue that prey with too high of calcium can cause molting issues. Never offer your tarantula anything that has been caught from outside. Doing so can potentially expose your spider to pesticides or parasites, which can ultimately kill it.
An important part of any invertebrate's life cycle, molting is necessary for growth. When it is a spiderling, you may notice that your tarantula will begin to darken before it molts. Refusing to eat is one of the most common signs of an upcoming molt, as well as your spider becoming slightly lethargic and hiding. Don't initially get worried if you notice any of these signs in your Brazilian black tarantula. You may find its discarded molt not long after.
However, if you notice that your tarantula is looking weak, has a shrunken or deflated-looking abdomen, or is sitting with its legs tucked beneath it, this could be a sign of illness. Seek the advice from either a veterinarian with knowledge of invertebrates or even the help of an experienced keeper.
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