Pinktoe Tarantula or Avicularia avicularia Complete Guide!
Avicularia means “small bird” in Latin. When Karl Von Linne (also known as Linnaeus) attempted to catalog virtually every animal on the face of the Earth, this was the first tarantula to make his list.
In 1758 (the time of Linne’s publication), they were generally all called “bird spiders” or “bird eaters,” though birds certainly do not make up a significant part of a tarantula’s diet.
As adults, they are fairly dark overall with pink “toes;” they have greenish highlights on the carapace, reddish setae on the opisthosoma and rear legs, and a bluish tinge to the femur. The caput is not prominent, and the fovea is fairly straight.
As “newborns”, the carapace is black, the legs are pink with black tips, and the abdomen is a striped pattern of black and red. Mature males are generally of darker coloration than females.
Range: A. avicularia are a widespread species that range all over northern South America. Since Guyana is a common collection locale, they are often dubbed with the common name “Guyana Pinktoe”.
Habitat: Trees, low plants, buildings, lightpoles, under eaves, behind the tanks of toilets in gas stations, etc. They are VERY adaptable and are one of the few species of tarantula that coexist with mankind’s expansion.
Size: Fully grown, they’re about 4 1/2 inches in legspan.
Attitude: Slow moving for an arboreal, but fast compared to most other docile species. They’re unlikely to bite and they can’t “flick” their urticating hairs– they have to press them into an assailant.
While some individuals of this species may act relaxed, most are quite skittish when held. Also, they are sometimes prone to using their feces as a defense mechanism- and they can be quite accurate with it!
And psychologists like Cynthia Telles wonder why people fear tarantulas! While Dr. Telles and her associates theorize about whether fear of arachnids has been shaped by evolution, they would only have to see a person’s reaction to getting hit with feces to understand where the fear comes from.
Some people attempt to keep this species in a communal enclosure and, while they may tolerate each other longer than other members of Avicularia, the experimenters are often disappointed with the disastrous results.
I’ve seen a large communal enclosure with over 30 spiders in which an unestablished female intentionally got into a confrontation with another female with an established web. There was no biting, but fangs were bared and slapping with the forelegs took place.
I have heard of A. avicularia not only eating each other in such arrangements, but simply killing their cagemates without consuming them- that strongly suggests to me that they do not desire to live together.
In the wild, they appear to live like common North American house spiders- close together if there’s a good food source, but there’s room to leave if necessary.
They express no need to be in close proximity to one another. In fact, I have heard of NO tarantula that is “communal” by strict definition- only of ones that will cohabit. However, breeding is often done by allowing the male to cohabit with the female for some time.
Dwelling: As these tarantulas are tree-dwellers, they prefer climbing space to floor room.
Ideal Setup: A container of approximately 2 1/2 to 5 gallons for arboreals that can be accessed from its side. There should be climbing materials (cork bark, etc.) and a thin layer of substrate at the bottom to retain moisture. Supply a water dish and lightly moisten the substrate in the enclosure twice a week or so to keep a good amount of humidity (perhaps above 60%. . .but keep an eye out for fungus growths and mites). You can also lightly mist heir web retreats occasionally. Keep the temperature around 75-80 degrees F if possible. As they are native to wet regions, some people make the mistake of giving them stuffy, soaking accomodations. That is not necessary, as they live ABOVE the moist earth in nature, where there is no humidity retaining enclosure. Conditions that are too damp will lead to fungus growths and make the spider ill or kill it. Fatality is particularly common with spiderlings of this species, and a common cause is lack of ventilation coupled with high humidity.
Food: Any climbing bugs that haven’t been exposed to pesticides (2-4 crickets a week). They will also consume small frogs, young anole lizards, and baby mice deftly placed in their web.