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Family THERAPHOSIDAE Thorell, 1870

The Family THERAPHOSIDAE counting over 1050 species and includes the largest spiders in the world, inhabiting mainly forests and grassland in America, Africa and Asia as well as Australia and Southern Europe.

These, as a rule, are the large, hairy, striking and venomous spiders which have only relatively recently been kept in captivity.

They can be divided into two greater groups - terrestrials, living in burrows (most of the species of  the Family) and tree-dwellers (arboreals - representatives of genera: Poecilotheria, Avicularia, Psalmopoeus, Tapinauchenius, Iridopelma, Pachystopelma, Phormingochilus, Stromatopelma, Heteroscodra, Encyocratella).

Several species of genus Hemirrhagus (former Spelopelma Gertsch, 1982: Spelopelminae) are cave dwellers. A few species of these small to middle-sized, long-legged tarantulas have reduced ocular tubercules or completely lack eyes, adaptations certainly consistent with their lifestyle.

All tarantulas, no matter the place they inhabit, require relatively high levels of humidity, from 55 to 85%, in captivity, but such species as Theraphosa blondi (the Goliath-tarantula) needs the increased humidity - 90-95%.

For sub-adult and adult tarantulas it is necessary to provide access to open water. A simple water bowl may be placed into the terrarium, while for spiderlings it is enough to maintain a humid substrate. Also, it is very important to prevent and avoid sluggish air (stagnant atmosphere), that can cause a tarantula to contract diseases and die. So a terrarium must have good ventilation.

As a rule, all tarantulas can be kept under a temperature range within 21-27 °C. There is no need to provide the spider with a temperature over 28 °C. It is a myth that if the species is from a tropical area it needs to be kept at a high temperature.  The specified requirements for current genera and species саn be found here.

All tarantulas lead twilight-night lifestyles, spending the day in a burrow, which they usually dig themselves. Other day refuges for them are stems of trees and other overland retreats. Arboreal species find their usual hides in tree hollows, clefts of bark, among leaves, branches of the trees and into epiphytes (bromeliads). In captivity tarantulas do require retreats though many species and individuals can be kept without them.

Longevity of tarantulas can be several decades depending on the species (as a rule the arboreals lifespans are much shorter then those of terrestrials).

Here You will find the full modern systematic of the Family THERAPHOSIDAE (author - Norman I. Platnick*) with my, and some well-known people in our hobby, additions according to the last systematical events, photos, notes and guidelines for keeping and breeding the most popular tarantula species in captivity and complete systematic tarantula bibliography.

Also you can find on my site information about tarantula biology, physiology and a lot of other tarantula related information and some problems a keeper might encounter in the hobby.


*Copyright©2023 Naturhistorisches Museum Bern. All Rights Reserved.


(c) Mikhail F. Bagaturov