These Skeleton Tarantulas or Ephebopus murinus are the duckbill platypus of tarantulas! They have forelegs that are flattened at the ends like an arboreal species, yet they prefer to burrow. They possess the velvety and smallish rear-ends of baboon spiders, yet are indigenous to the Americas.
Skeleton Tarantula or Ephebopus Murinus Care
The wildest feature is that they do have urticating hairs, but they’re on the pedipalps!
The leg striping is similar to a Costa Rican Zebra’s (Aphonopelma seemani), but more yellowish. Their legs are black, they have small brown abdomens, and the carapace is coffee colored or golden.
Like most genera in the subfamily Aviculariinae (except the genus Avicularia, ironically), their forelegs are much larger than their hind legs.
Range: Lowland forests of Surinam, Guyana, Northern Brazil, etc.
Habitat: Tropical forest floor.
Size: Not a large tarantula. Fully mature, they’re about 4 1/2 inches in legspan. Some females may acquire legpsans slighty over 6″. There is some question as to whether locality plays a role in size and coloration. I have had a captive-bred female that remained less than 5″ for years. Molt after molt, year after year, she didn’t grow a bit. Also, I have have had wild-caught females (recent imports after 2004) that are nearly 6″ in legspan. The larger ones seem to have more vibrant color as well, except the second stripe on the tibia is almost invisible.
Attitude: Supposedly defensive. Fond of either rearing up like an Old World species or flicking hairs by rubbing its pedipalps on its chelicera; however, the captive-bred female that lives with me is usually a sweetheart. I still give her plenty of space and privacy, though she never shows signs of skittishness.
I also have a large, wild-caught female that exhibits both docility one day and the snippiness of a Haplopelma lividum the next. She’ll strike repeatedly at the air for merely opening her enclosure during her “bad moods”.
I once had a wild-caught mature male was extremely defensive initially and readily reared up with fangs unsheathed. He became tractable over time. Other males I’ve had have simply been skittish.
Dwelling: Skeletons may make well-developed burrows that employ dirt, webbing, leaves, and other detritus, or they may adapt to ready-made hide. Most will simply web the substrate of their entire enclosure and do no digging.
Ideal Setup: A 2-5 gallon container with enough peat/potting soil for digging in (fill it at least 4-5 inches deep). Supply a water dish and lightly moisten the substrate once or twice a week or so to keep a good amount of humidity. Keep the temperature around 75-85 degrees F if possible.
Food: Any bugs that haven’t been exposed to pesticides (equivalent of 3-5 crickets a week for adults). My captive-bred girl is voracious and will often walk around with 4 crickets in its fangs at one time.