When I noticed some chunky yellow mold forming in my P. atrichomatus‘ den, I figured it was time for this specimen to get a new home. I’m guessing that the little guy left a bolus or two down in the moist lower levels of the enclosure, which led to the break out. Now, normally I don’t freak out if I find a bit of mold in an enclosure; if kept in check, it poses no threat to the animals. I will just used a spoon to spot clean and let the affected area dry out. However, as this mold was inaccessible, and the spider would outgrown the enclosure with its next molt, a rehousing was in order.
Because my daughter, Sid, has been encouraging me to do more YouTube videos, we broke out the camera and headed out to the garage to make a rehousing/husbandry video. I’m hoping that folks that aren’t enamored with my often long-winded care blogs might find the videos a bit more accessible (and my daughter not-so-secretly hopes these vids will launch her YouTube career…).
A typical fast-growing, hardy Phormictopus species
Although I cover most of this species husbandry in the video, I’ll share a bit more in-depth info for those who don’t watch it.
I picked a trio of these guys up as 1.25″ slings from NERD back in April and, like my other Phormictopus species, they’ve proven to be voracious eaters and fast growers. The largest of the three is now pushing 3″ or so, and the other two are around 2.5″. As slings, I keep all of my Phormictopus on deep, moist substrate. All have exhibited a propensity to burrow, so I encourage the behavior. Slings are a beautiful shade of blue, and despite having burrows, most will remain visible at the entrances as they wait for prey.
As they hit the juvenile stage (about 1.75-2.5″ or so), I don’t worry much about keeping the substrate moist. At this point, they will have a larger water dish for drinking and humidity, and I’ll pour some water over the substrate every month or so, letting it dry out in between. I still give them deep substrate to burrow in, which allows the deeper portions to remain moist and maintain more humidity. However, I’ve observed that by the time they hit the 3″ mark, most will stay right on the surface and will only race to their dens when spooked.
These guys like to eat
Like Theraphosa and Pamphobeteus species, Phormictopus are great eaters and fast growers. Even though mine are kept on the cooler end at times (70-26 in the winter and 75-80 in the summer) they still grow like weeds. The size gained between molts is truly impressive, with larger specimens picking up an inch (and quite a bit of thickness) during a shed.
With that quick growth comes a healthy appetite, and my Phormictopus species gobble up crickets and roaches like they’re tic tacs. I generally feed my juvenile 3-4 crickets at time, and watching these spiders scramble to snatch them all up is incredibly entertaining. They will literally zigzag across the enclosure at startling speed as they chase down crickets.
A large, “spirited” terrestrial
Although this is a very hardy tarantula with relatively simple husbandry requirements, it might not make the best beginner T. Phormictopus species grow into rather large, quick tarantulas with plenty of attitude, which could make them quite intimidating to those used to calmer terrestrials. As slings, species in this genus tend to be more skittish than defensive.
However, with size comes attitude.
I have observed that their infamous attitudes seem to start to manifest more as they get larger. My sub-adult specimens are quite bold and wont hesitate to stand their ground or come at you when you disturb their enclosure. Although I have yet to have one flick hair, I have seen some fangs. An amazing feeding response coupled with a defensive nature can make for some heart-stopping moments with these guys. Although I’ve been fortunate in that most of my Phormictopus species tarantulas have been relatively calm, I have seen what can happen when a large specimen is spooked (or mistakes the tongs for a cricket). Personally, I love their spirited behavior, but other keepers might find it a bit off-putting.
However, for those with some experience under their belts who are interested in large, fast-growing terrestrial tarantulas, P. atrichomatus or any other Phormictopus species should not be overlooked.