Avicularia avicularia is an arboreal species commonly referred to as the pinktoe tarantula. They are quite hairy, with a dark color and pink tips on their feet — hence the name — making them a rather attractive sort of spider. Their general ease of keep has led them to become one of the more popular species for first-time tarantula keepers looking to stray away from the norm of terrestrial species. Read on to learn more about this interesting animal.
Introduction to the Pinktoe Tarantula
Found in the wild from Costa Rica to Brazil and even some parts of the southern Caribbean, Avicularia avicularia is also referred to as the Guyana pinktoe, and sometimes the common pinktoe tarantula. It has a rather short lifespan compared to other tarantulas, averaging between 7 to 12 years, with females typically living longer than males. Although some keepers have had success keeping this species communally, it is highly recommended to house your tarantulas separately, simply because cannibalism between tarantulas is almost inevitable, especially with individuals living within close proximity of each other.
Pinktoes are medium-sized tarantulas, with the ability to grow upwards of 6 inches. However, they average a leg span between 4 and 5 inches.
Behavior & Temperament
The pink-toed tarantula can be skittish, moving quickly and even flicking hairs if startled. However, most would not necessarily consider them to be an aggressive species. They can be slow-moving one moment and then randomly dart off and jump the next. Bites are somewhat uncommon, and even for a New World species, the pinktoe's venom is quite mild. In addition to flicking off the urticating hairs, pinktoes also have another rather comical line of defense. They are notorious "poop-shooters" and will squirt feces at whatever disturbs them. This is fairly common with all Avicularia species, but most of the time it is simply the keeper who winds up on the receiving end of the pinktoe's odd antics. They are still considered rather handleable tarantulas but do tend to jump and run randomly, much as they would do in the treetops in their native habitats. In captivity, this behavior could potentially end with hazardous falls for your spider.
As with all species of tarantulas, if they possess a mouth, they do have the capability to deliver a bite. The bites are similar to bee stings, so anyone with a known allergic reaction to stings should probably avoid handling their tarantula.
Pinktoes are arboreal tarantulas that require height as opposed to surface area when it comes to an enclosure. There are many online tutorials illustrating the ease of converting a 10-gallon aquarium into proper arboreal enclosures for an adult pinktoe tarantula, but there are also just as many places to skip the hassle and purchase an appropriate enclosure. Plastic enclosures are best for keeping the humidity in order, but with some modifications, glass terrariums also work well. Ventilation is key for this species because poorly ventilated enclosures with muggy, humid conditions can kill your pet. Too wet of a substrate can also attract mites and mold.
Many keepers have found that front- or side-opening enclosures work best for arboreal species for many reasons. Opening from the top not only disturbs your pink-toed tarantula, but it also makes it easier for the spider to escape when startled. Since this species likes to climb, the pink-toed tarantula often makes its "hidey-hole" area near the top of the terrarium, sometimes out of a web, and between the plants or behind the décor inside. Lots of foliage up top is vital, due to this species' need for cover. Some keeps also offer tubes of cork bark for their pinktoe tarantula, mounted at angles inside the terrariums.
These species thrive best with humidity levels between 75 and 85 percent, which can be achieved through misting (with care to not mist your tarantula) or with a substrate that will absorb excess moisture. A small water dish is also suggested, not only for the humidity, but also because your pinktoe tarantula may drink from it.
Since Avicularia avicularia is not a terrestrial species, the substrate for your tarantula could be something as simple as sphagnum moss, coconut fiber or organic and pesticide-free potting soil. The depth is not nearly as important as it is when dealing with burrowing species, so anywhere from an inch or two will be sufficient. Measure the enclosure's humidity with a hygrometer, and use a temperature gauge or thermostat to monitor its inside temperature. The pinktoe tarantula does well in temperature ranges from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which can be achieved by keeping the room warm, or by placing a heat mat or heat tape beneath the enclosure. Take care to not house your pinktoe's enclosure by a window, especially one without proper curtains. The added heat from the sun could potentially harm or even kill your spider.
Pinktoe Tarantula Diet
In the wild, the pink-toed tarantula feeds on a variety of prey: mostly small invertebrates but also smaller vertebrates such as lizards and frogs. In captivity, however, offering your pet the properly sized feeder is important for its wellbeing. There are many options for pink-toe tarantula food, most of which are easily found in pet stores. If a keeper wants to take on the task themselves, feeder insects for the pinktoe tarantula can be bred in your home. Live crickets, Dubia roaches and mealworms are some of the most common feeders available for purchase. Make sure that all feeders are gut-loaded before feeding them to your tarantula. The better the nutrition that goes into your feeders, the better the nutrition that goes into your pinktoe. Dubia roaches for a pink-toed tarantula is always a great option.
Shaking a few crickets or roaches into the terrarium is usually enough to put your pinktoe on the hunt. Always remember to remove any remaining live feeders once your tarantula is done eating — or if they show no interest in eating at all. Spot-clean the enclosure as necessary by removing leftover food boluses.
Molting is an important part of the growth process when it comes to invertebrates such as tarantulas, and with the pink-toed tarantula, you'll notice a drastic change between spiderlings and mature adults as they grow. Pinktoe spiderlings hatch pink with black little toes, and as they mature their coloration does a complete reversal, turning dark with the pink toes that they're known for. Molting can be a lengthy process, but as long as your husbandry is correct, your pinktoe should have no issues during the process.
Typical signs of an upcoming molt usually are refusal to eat and lethargy. Generally, the pinktoe tarantula will molt in the privacy of its hide, and you'll find the discarded skin somewhere on the bottom of the enclosure, if not webbed up inside the spider's home. However, if you notice that your pinktoe is losing weight, is hiding in a corner tucked in all day, or has a shrunken abdomen, this may be a sign of illness. Consult with a veterinarian with knowledge of invertebrates, or seek out the advice of an experienced keeper.