Equipment for keeping a Goliath Bird Eating Spider
Housing: Fer-Plast H43 Geo Flat Plastic Tank or 24" x 12" x 12" aquarium
Heating: Royce Heat Mat 67x 12” Place under half the tank. Habistat mat stat thermostat to make sure it does not over heat
Substrate: Orchid Bark with moss covering to keep the humidity up.
Décor: Bark Cave small, medium to large Keep some damp moss in this
The Goliath Bird-eating Spider is one of the world’s largest species of spider. Its impressive size makes it a popular species in most collections. Unfortunately, it is rarely bred. Most specimens that are available are imported from the wild. Though captive bread spiderlings are now appearing on the market. This hairy coffee-coloured tarantula is unmistakable. The sheer size of this spider definitely attracts attention but it is not the friendliest critter. The Goliath Bird-eating Spider is aggressive and will attack. It is a solitary animal and needs to be housed alone. Being a big bulky burrow-dweller, it should be offered a large enclosure with deep, damp substrate. Although this setup allows minimal interaction by the keeper, it does provide the proper conditions for keeping this giant of the spider world healthy. They can be observed at night under a red light as they explore their enclosure for food. Distribution:
The largest species of tarantula in the world, the Goliath Tarantula (Theraphosa blondi) and the Pink-footed Goliath Tarantula (T. apophysis) are found in Venezuela, Suriname, French Guyana, and Brazil. They are burrowing species. The largest species in the world live in the ground and not in trees (or house rafters). Their extreme size and bulk prevents them from climbing well. The large species in Trinidad, living in trees (and house rafters) is probably an Avicularia species. They are large and fuzzy, but nowhere near the size of their giant cousins.
This hairy coffee-coloured spider is truly unmistakable. The Goliath Bird-eating Spider is large and very stocky with a broad carapace, thick legs, and a large abdomen. It is a terrestrial species and has evolved to this large, heavy body type living in the humid burrows of the tropical forests of South America. The leg span is usually up to about 10" (25 cm) but can be up to 12" (30.5 cm).
Though the male and female are very similar, a mature male will be more slender and long-legged. They mature at about 10 years and can live for up to 25 years.
Care and Feeding:
There is a tendency by keepers to feed their large, aggressive species lots of defrost mice. We suggest feeding the Goliath Bird-eating Spider a diverse diet consisting of adult crickets, locusts and only occasional feedings (once or twice a month) of mice. This variety more closely mirrors the diet of this tarantula in nature and will keep them healthy.
As a very large species, the Goliath Bird-eating Spider should be kept in a large enclosure. Use at least a 30-gallon terrarium or the largest plastic sweater box. A substrate of peat moss or cypress mulch works well. A large shelter should be offered in the form of a cork bark “cave” or a half-buried clay pot.
Though they are found in humid tropical forest areas, in captivity it is best to maintain them on the dry side and spray them once or twice a week. A large diameter flat dish with fresh water should be available at all times.
This species can be maintained at about at 78° to 82° F with a moderate humidity level. Social Behaviour/Activities:
The Goliath Bird-eating Spiders are very aggressive and best housed singly. They are quick and nervous. They make a hissing noise if they feel threatened by rubbing the bristles on their legs. It can be heard up to 15 feet away. They will also rear up to fling their abdominal hairs and will try to bite when stressed.
This species is aggressive / defensive and should not be handled under any circumstances. Its uticating hairs are some of the most irritating of all spiders and its bite can cause damage from the size of the fangs. We suggest using a paint brush or other tool to corral the Goliath Bird-eater when moving it from enclosure to enclosure for cleaning, maintenance, or for breeding attempts.
Mature males are slender and long-legged compared to females and they have no tibial hooks for mating. For successful reproduction, females should be established in a large terrarium with at least 10-12” of substrate. A burrow can be started for them and the females will quickly finish this work and establish a deep burrow in the enclosure. This deep, secure burrow may be the first important step to successfully breeding this species.
Adult males should be carefully introduced into the female’s enclosure after he has produced a sperm web. The male can be protected with a piece of cardboard or other tool if he is to be used for further breeding attempts.
Once mating occurs, the female should be fed more heavily with a variety of prey items. The Goliath Bird-eater Spider will lay about 50 eggs that hatch in six to seven weeks. The spiderlings will stay in the nest until their first moult, and then be on their own.
Tarantulas are generally quite hardy and adaptable if they are provided with the right environment. A few signs that may indicate that your pet is not acting or feeling normal are a loss of appetite, lethargy, looking overly skinny, or pacing the enclosure.
(A tarantula on its back is probably NOT sick. Most tarantula species flip onto their backs during moulting. Though this is a very stressful and delicate time for tarantulas, if the humidity and warmth levels are correct, they will moult their exoskeleton, roll over, harden up, and within a week or two be ready for their next meals.)
Moulting: One of the most common reasons for your pet to demonstrate unusual behaviour is due to a moulting period. As they outgrow their existing skin all tarantulas regularly go through an extensive moult, shedding their entire skin as well as the linings of their mouth, respiratory organs, stomach and sexual organs.
The process starts well before the actual moult. For several weeks prior to shedding they will be growing a new skin under their old one. During this time it is not unusual for a tarantula to get quite lethargic and even stop eating. There may also be lots of web spinning activity as they prepare to moult.
When they begin to moult, they lay on their backs with their legs up in the air looking as if they are dead. Be sure not to disturb your tarantula when you see this. The shedding process goes quickly and smoothly as long the environment has adequate humidity.
Once they have shed, their new skin is pale and very soft. The amount of time it takes for your pet to fully recover and be back to eating well will vary from a day or so up to several weeks depending on its size. Smaller spiders recover much quicker than larger ones. Other Problems: Other problems are usually the result of some type of environmental stress. There may be a drop in the temperature of the enclosure, there may be parasites, or the tarantula may just not be comfortable with the depth of its hiding place. These things can be easily adjusted or changed, or you can try moving your pet to a new enclosure.