Those looking for a large, gorgeous, fast growing display tarantula need look no further.
For my birthday last year, my wonderful wife brought me out to a local exotic pet store to do some tarantula shopping. Among the acquisitions I made that day was an A. brocklehursti, or Brazilian Black and White, sling. At the time, I had been looking for an A. geniculata, and this species, with its similar coloration and thinner leg banding, would fit that spot nicely. Since then, my little guy has quickly become one of my favorites.
From the sunny tropics of Brazil
When I first began looking at A. geniculata and A. brocklehursti as species I might want to acquire, I was worried about whether or not I would be able to suitably provide the heat and humidity a species from Brazil would likely need. However, now that I’ve kept this species for some time, I realize that my apprehensions, although well-intentioned, might have been unwarranted.
This is a species that can benefit from a bit of extra humidity, so I made sure to use an enclosure set up that would allow for me to better control these levels. Until it was about 2.5″, I kept my A. brocklehursti in a 2.5 quart Sterilite stackable container repurposed to serve as a tarantula enclosure (at about 3″ now, I keep it in the 7.2 quart version). These containers are secure and can be custom vented to control the level of airflow and prevent fast evaporation.
For substrate, I use a mixture of coco fiber, peat moss, and a bit of vermiculite to hold some moisture (about 40/40/20). Before I fill the enclosure up with substrate, I put a 1/2 layer of vermiculite on the bottom and pour in some water to make it nice and moist. I then pack my main substrate mixture on top of it. This allows for a moist layer of sub on the bottom that won’t mold and that will provide a bit of extra humidity as it slowly evaporates.
Although my T was provided with deep enough substrate to permit burrowing, mine never constructed a burrow even as a sling. It did do some excavating, moving sub around its enclosure, but it has always been content to sit on the surface in full view.
I provide a water bowl for my specimen, but it loves to fill it full of substrate the first opportunity it gets. Once a month, I will sprinkle water on one side of the substrate (think downpour) and let it percolate down to the bottom. This area usually dries in a couple days, keeping the top dry and the lower levels moist. This keeps the humidity level in the enclosure a bit higher.
I do not, however, obsess over the humidity by any stretch of the imagination. There is no humidity gauge in the enclosure, and I sometimes allow the cage to completely dry out before “making it rain” again. Although I think that they appreciate some extra humidity, the species is quite adaptable and can live comfortably in drier environments if provided with a water dish.
Make no mistake, this is a species that will thrive in higher temperatures. That being said, they are a hearty species that will also do quite well in lower temperature ranges. My A. brocklehursti is kept at 72º-77º in the colder winter months and 76º-84º in the warmer summer months. During this time, it has molted thrice, and I’m guessing that its fourth molt is imminent. Even in the lower temperatures ranges, it has always been active and has continued to eat well. I never let the temps dip below 70, however, and I always keep it in the warmer side of the room.
A fast-growing eating machine
This tarantula is widely recognized for having a fast growth rate, but it’s important to note that lower temps will also mean a lower metabolism. Although my specimen is lively and eating very well, a specimen kept at higher temperatures throughout the year will likely experience faster growth rates. With consistent temps in the 80s, some keepers report this species growing 3-4 inches in a year. This is a larger T, with a max size normally between 7 and 8″ with some individuals reaching 9″, so keepers need to be prepared to correctly house a specimen this size.
This species is known for having a voracious appetite, and My A. brocklehursti is no exception. Prey items last a matter of seconds when dropped into its enclosure, as it snaps them up with amazing speed and ferocity. It also eats a lot; as a 1.5″ sling, it would easily wrestle and subdue medium crickets twice a week (or, quite frankly, as much as I would feed it). This is one of the few Ts I keep that also ate right up to a few days before a molt. That’s impressive.
My A. brocklehursti is about 3″ now, and it eats two or three large crickets a week. It has yet to refuse a meal.
A bold but not necessarily aggressive T
As a sling, my brock was quite skittish, sprinting around its enclosure at the slightest disturbance. It has become calmer now that it has put on some size and will usually just sit calmly when I open up its cage. It has never shown me a threat pose. However, there are reports out there of this species being feisty, and some are very prone to kicking hairs.
It is important to note that this genus has a reputation for having some of the most potent and irritating urticating hairs of all of the New World tarantulas. Although I have never been haired, I take great care to not get any on me when I perform maintenance. Also, although its venom is not known to be potent, this large T could easily do some serious mechanical damage with its fangs if it should bite. I would not recommend holding this T.
A note about A. brocklehursti and A. geniculata:
These two species look very similar, and there are many instances when one is confused with another. Brocks are generally recognized by thinner leg banding than their cousins, however.
Recently, taxonomists have determined that both the “pet trade” form of A. brocklehursti and A. geniculata are both color varients of the same species, and that the pet trade A. brocklehursti is actually now A. geniculata narrow band. They also contend that the true “A. brocklehursti” is now actually “A. theraphosoides.”
Confused? So are a a lot of people.
It may be a while before this is all sorted out and the change is “official” and widely accepted. However, if you own this species, you’ll want to keep an eye on how the taxonomy, and its scientific name, might change.
A beast of a display tarantula
With a max size of around 8″, this striking and heavy-bodied T is not shy and would make an amazing display tarantula for any collection. A hearty species with an amazing appetite, I would recommend a keeper start with a sling so that she/he can enjoy watching the growth while observing the animal’s temperament as it matures.