The curly hair tarantula is a common name most often attributed to Tliltocatl albopilosus (formerly known as Brachypelma albopilosum), a dark-colored tarantula with thick, bristly hair covering its legs and the majority of its body. Although all species of tarantulas do have hair, the contrast of the lighter colored hairs and the distinct curl gives the curly hair tarantula a rather unique appearance. They are a calm, ground-dwelling, beautiful spider, and like many other tarantulas in the genus Brachypelma, curly hair tarantula care is relatively simple — perfect for those newly interested in joining the hobby of tarantula keeping.
Get to Know the Curly Hair Tarantula
The curly hair tarantula is native to both Nicaragua and Costa Rica. It is a terrestrial species often found at the bases of tree trunks, near rivers and inside the holes and dens left behind by rodents or other small animals. In the wild, they are listed as "near-threatened," with the greatest threat being habitat loss, as they are very rarely imported in this current day. Almost all of the curly hair tarantulas available in the pet trade come from captive breeding efforts, both from private and well-known keepers across the world.
The curly hair tarantula is considered average size among tarantulas, with a leg span of about 5½ inches. The females tend to live between 8 to 10 years in captivity, while males only live to be around 4 years-old or so.
Behavior & Temperament
The curly hair tarantula is docile species, which makes it a personal favorite among those who enjoy handling their spiders. As a New World tarantula, the curly hair is more likely to kick off some of the thick urticating (stinging) hairs from its abdomen as opposed to delivering a bite. Despite the term, these are not actually "hairs." It is a misnomer; only mammals possess true hairs. They are actually fine, bony extensions from the spider's exoskeleton that possess a mild toxin that can cause irritation if exposed to the skin. Because this is one of the animal’s primary defense mechanisms, they can sometimes develop a bald spot on their abdominal area due to repeated kicking. However, the "hairs" will be replenished after the next molt.
The curly hair tarantula possesses venom and the capacity to bite if it feels threatened, as do all tarantulas. The pain has been described as similar to that of a bee sting, but if you are known to be severely allergic to bees, you should be extremely cautious when handling your tarantula.
For an adult curly hair tarantula, a secure enclosure with the floor space roughly the size of a 10-gallon aquarium is more than adequate. Since tarantulas are a terrestrial species, horizontal space is always more important than height, as too high of an enclosure can result in falls and unnecessary harm to your animal. Unlike many other species, the curly hair tarantula can often be seen out and about inside its enclosure.
It is still absolutely vital to provide your tarantula with areas to hide, such as bark, wood pieces or even small pots. If given enough substrate, the curly hair tarantula will burrow, lining the outer area and the inner walls with its silk to create a home for itself. The suggested depth of bedding for the curly hair tarantula is about 3 to 4 inches. They are known to "redecorate" their enclosure, and can be spotted many times moving clumps of dirt and décor to their liking. Plastic or acrylic enclosures are better at keeping both consistent humidity and temperature levels, however some minor modifications can be made to a glass enclosure to reach these requirements as well.
For proper curly hair tarantula care, the humidity should be somewhere between 60 and 70 percent, which can easily be achieved by keeping a proper mix of substrate and a small water dish. A good mix of pesticide-free potting soil, vermiculite and sphagnum moss can help keep your humidity inside the enclosure at proper levels. When watering your curly hair, a little bit of spillover to allow just enough moisture to soak into the substrate is ideal, but the idea is to not moisten the area so much that the substrate is constantly wet. Too much humidity will stress your tarantula. Additionally, if you are unsure about the humidity levels, purchase a hygrometer as well as a temperature gauge to monitor both your temperatures and humidity levels.
Ideally, this species needs a temperature range between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This can be achieved either by keeping the room where your curly hair tarantula lives warm, or by adding a heat mat to the side or bottom of the enclosure. Be careful to monitor the heat so it doesn’t get too hot for your tarantula, and always offer a cool side of the enclosure in the event that it gets too warm for your pet.
Spot cleaning is about all the cleaning necessary for most tarantulas, with the occasional deep cleaning every six months or so if deemed necessary by the keeper. Remove discarded or uneaten food immediately to prevent mold as well as unwanted pests such as gnats.
Curly Hair Tarantula Diet
Curly hair tarantulas aren’t known to be picky eaters, as they are opportunistic feeders in the wild. In their native range, anything small enough to be overpowered by the tarantula is fair game. However, in captivity, it is important to take certain precautions when preparing the curly hair tarantula diet. Offering appropriate-sized feeders is important to reduce the risk of injuries that could be sustained during the feeding process.
Dubia roaches, mealworms, live crickets and other insects are almost all easily obtainable curly hair tarantula food that can be found at many pet stores. Offering a variety of feeder insects for curly hair tarantulas ensures that they get the proper nutrients, as does making sure that your feeders are "gut-loaded" — if they are fed well, your pet is fed well, too. A small pinky mouse can be offered as a treat, but many keepers advise against feeding your tarantulas things that are very high in calcium. Never offer your curly hair tarantula insects or any sort of small feeder from outside. This poses a danger to your pet, as the outside insects could be loaded with internal parasites as well as potentially deadly pesticides.
Most hydration is obtained through the feeding process, however, offering a small, shallow water dish, even something as small as a bottle cap, provides your pet with the option to drink if necessary. Be sure to keep the water dish clean, as it’s not uncommon for a curly hair tarantula to move its water dish (if small enough) or fill it up with debris during another redecorating session.
If you notice that your tarantula is slowing down, refusing to eat or hiding more than usual, do not be alarmed right away! It could very well be entering the somewhat lengthy process of a molt, where it will grow and shed its entire exoskeleton. You may come home and think you see two tarantulas in the enclosure, but the second one will be the molt, which will need to be removed. A knowledgeable keeper can even determine the sex of a tarantula through its molt, and some simply like to keep the molted skin as a keepsake. Regardless of what you choose to do, if you notice that your curly hair tarantula appears to be molting, remove any live feeders and keep your tarantula's water dish filled. The humidity helps with this process, as too dry of an environment could be this species' demise.
Molting slows down exponentially as the spider matures, sometimes as infrequently as once a year for mature females, or even not at all for mature males. If you notice your curly hair tarantula on its back with its legs up, this is the beginning of the molting process. However, if you see that your tarantula is sitting with its legs tucked under itself, lethargic, or if it has a shrunken and poor looking abdomen, you should seek the help of an exotics veterinarian or experienced keeper to properly diagnose your tarantula’s condition.
Keep Your Curly Hair Tarantula Healthy and Happy. Feed It Nutritious TopFlight Dubia Roaches
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