A lot of people really hate spiders and I think that’s a shame. Yes, they have eight legs and eight eyes which is a little weird, some of them are deadly, and they like to put their webs up right at face level so you’ll accidentally walk straight into them. But there’s more to spiders than that. Most of them aren’t harmful at all and help keep us safe from creatures that actually are very dangerous. Their ability to weave such perfect, intricate works of art in minutes made out of stuff stronger than steel is an incredible feat. Jumping spiders possess some of the most advanced eyes in the animal kingdom and can target things with pinpoint accuracy. Plus, they’re pretty adorable:
But I’m not talking about jumping spiders or orb weavers today. I’m talking about a gigantic tree spider called the Antilles pinktoe (Avicularia versicolor). This tarantula is a popular pet because it has such beautiful colors and is relatively easy to keep.
Antilles pinktoes are native to the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean Sea where they live high in the trees in funnel webs that they spin. They seldom come down to the ground, so when kept in captivity, the height of the cage is more important than their floorspace. They also live in a very warm and humid environment and prefer temperatures in the 70s with 80% humidity and good ventilation.
Pinktoes are very quick, agile, and are very good jumpers despite the fact that they are tarantulas and not jumping spiders. They can easily leap up to a foot straight in the air or out from a perch. When hunting, they will use these skills to creep up and pounce on insects such as crickets, beetles, cockroaches, and moths. Pinktoes will sometimes even take small lizards like anoles.
Female spiders are slightly larger than the males and can grow to have a leg span of up to 6 inches across. The males are not as bulky and usually have more vivid coloration. Males only live up to 5 years whereas females can live over 10 with good care. In the wild, these spiders will group together to form colonies, but this is not the case in captivity, especially not with males and females together. That usually leads to the male being eaten.
The babies, or “sling”, are a very different color from adults, but equally as stunning. When they hatch, they are a beautiful, shimmering blue and keep this color until they start nearing adulthood.
Although very docile, these spiders don’t like to be handled much. They rarely bite and the bite is no worse than a bee sting when they do, but they also have urticating hairs as with all tarantulas. Instead of kicking them off with their back legs, however, they prefer to press them against the surface of the thing that they feel is threatening. The hairs can be very irritating and cause lots of itching and redness, so it’s best not to annoy the spider too much.
If you’ve ever felt like getting a pet spider, this is a lovely one to have. Just make sure you take good care of it because it’s definitely worth keeping around!
1.Gurley, Russ. “Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula.” Animal World. Animal-World, n.d. Web. 02 May 2015. <http://animal-world.com/encyclo/reptiles/spiders/AntillesPinktoedTreeSpider.php>.
2.Bertani, Rogerio. “Release of urticating hairs by Avicularia versicolor (Walckenaer, 1837)(Araneae, Theraphosidae).” Bull. Soc. ent. Fr 44 (2003): 29-92.