Indian Ornamental Tarantulas are arboreal spiders from southern India that are delicately “airbrushed” with patterns of gray, white, and black on their dorsal sides, but have brilliant yellow and black “caution” bands on the undersides of legs I and II.
Indian Ornamental Tarantula Care
Legs III and IV and the pedipalps have an alternating black and white pattern. There are 5 to 6 white spots on a black field on the tibia, and they are the only spiders in their genus that have a cream band on the ventral side of the abdomen.
Legs I are very noticeably larger than legs IV. In fact, the femora of legs I are fringed so heavily that they appear almost “cubic” in shape.
Sadly, the habitat of these and other “Pokies” is disappearing at an alarming rate, so much so that Indian Ornamentals may not exist in the wild within a decade if human expansion continues its present course. Captive breed ’em, folks!
Range: Southern India.
Habitat: Most live high above the ground in palms and other tropical foliage, but I’ve seen some younger captive individuals that spend a fair amount of time near the ground and may actually move some dirt.
Size: These can get up to a leggy 7″ in legspan. For arboreals, they put on some bulk as well.
Attitude: There are individuals of this species that are prone to biting, but the three I have prefer to run. As they are capable of lightning speed, it is a quite effective defensive maneuver.
Some people that have been bitten by Poecilotheria have endured some swelling and cramping, which suggests that being bitten is wisely avoided.
Their speed alone makes them a “look but don’t touch” display spider.
Dwelling: This is an arboreal tarantula that needs climbing space. Siblings may live together for quite some time with no conflicts, but, in my and others’ experiences, spats have arisen when one of the brood molts into a mature male.
Ideal Setup: A 5 to 10 gallon container (for a single individual) with enough peat/potting soil to help retain humidity at the bottom.
Cork bark or other climbing/shelter material should be placed on a wall of the enclosure to give the spider something to hide behind and affix webbing to. Supply a water dish and lightly moisten the substrate once or twice a week or so to keep a decent amount of humidity. You may also gently mist their webbing.
Though they are from a rainforest, they do experience a dry season in their natural habitat- you may be flexible with moisture requirements, but always have a water dish. . Keep the temperature around 75-80 degrees F. Clean up their food remains quickly and watch closely to prevent fungus and/or mites.
Food: Any bugs that haven’t been exposed to pesticides (3-6 crickets a week for adults), pinkie mice (my Pokies are more than willing to make a rare trip across ground for these), small lizards, etc.
Note the pale band on the opisthosoma. P. regalis is the only species in Poecilotheria with that.