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Genus Theraphosa Thorell, 1870

Genus status. Includes genus Pseudotheraphosa Tinter, 1991 by R. Bertani in 2001. Old name - Mygale. In 2010 the Genus was completed up to date by the third species - Theraphosa stirmi Rudloff & Weinmann, 2010* known in hobby as Burgundy goliath bird eater.

Type species – Theraphosa blondi (Latreille, 1804).

Genus Theraphosa is nominative taxon of subfamily Theraphosinae and differs from other representatives of genuses of subfamily Theraphosinae by male genitalia morphology (bulbs).

Characterized by the following features: the tibial spur of male is absent (at Th. blondi) or presented (at Th. apophysis) and the presence of stridulating setaes on coxa of leg I (at Th. apophysis).

The genus is presented by two species which, is really a giants amongst tarantulas of the World – reaches close to 30 сm in leg span and 12-14 сm in body length (hence the name - "goliath tarantulas").

Under the nonvalidated information (mostly from animal dealers) more bigger specimens of this species are known. The Goliath tarantula Th. blondi includes in Guiness Record's book as a biggest spider of the World fauna (the dated specimen caught in Venezuela in 1999 reaches 28 сm in leg span). There are also available information that specimens of Th. apophysis are known even exceeding in leg span of the Th. blondi, however this are documentary not confirmed.

An old species in hobby but still extremely seldom breds in captivity. The young spiders distributed in trade, as a rule, are got from wild females. The eggsac (cocoon), in which female intertwines an urticating hairs, large enough, but rare contains more than 100 eggs. However, young tarantulas emerge rather large, reaching 1,5 сm in leg span, have very good appetite and, at creation of optimum conditions, surprisingly quickly grow up.

Longevity presumably makes up to 18 years. Males and females reaching maturity, as a rule, simultaneously - at 3 years old (Marshall & Yetz, 1993). The absolut record of lifespan is counted 20 years for Theraphosa blondi specimen lived in Stratford Butterfly farm, UK (2006).

In a nature they occupy damp lawland rainforests where live in deep burrows up to meter in length.

Have very good appetite and, according to the size, can cope with the adult mouse. In Rick West's movie "The tarantula!" shown the moment of adult Goliath tarantula Th. blondi eats a snake.

Both species of the genus Theraphosa are very nervous, aggressive and flick a whole "clouds" of urticating hairs from abdomen being disturbed. Those bristles, perhaps, one of the most dangerous among tarantulas and also are capable to cause the strongest itch of human integuments (skin), and having got on a mucous membrane of a nasopharynx - its strongest irritation, allergic reaction and even a difficulty of breath.

Both species are similar colored and have patronizing colouring of various shades of brown color (soon after molt a tarantula Th. blondi can be unicolored jet-black with red striping of legs). To approach of a moult general colouring, as a rule, becomes light (at Th. blondi to bilious-orange). Hairs, covering the body of this tarantulas, are short and also create impression of velvetiness (plush) of a body.

Keeping conditions. One of the main conditions of successful keeping of Goliath tarantulas - correctly equipped terrarium. It must be enough spacious with the established water bowl for a drink and provided with very good ventilation. Both species can be kept in the same conditions.

As both species of Goliath tarantulas are regularly subject of dehydration, it is necessary to provide them a high humidity, for what the presence of a sufficient layer of a substratum which should be constantly moistened, and regular spraying is expedient.

Always remember! Low humidity and absence of access to water within several days together with the high keeping temperatures for these giants may be fatal - cause dehydration and the subsequent death! (herewith a death may come through significant enough time interval).

In a terrarium are not inclined to digging and may kept with presence or without retreat (depending on individuality, herewith Th. apophysis in general more nervous spider).

Disturbing, these aggressive tarantulas rais up their front and emit a loud "hissing" sounds. They demand a very respective attitude.

Not a beginners tarantulas.

Distribution. Both species inhabiting humid rainforested territories in South America and known from the Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana, herewith the species Th. apophysis has rather limited areal strictly in Southern Venezuela.


Common name



Biology, status

Keeping conditions

, 1804)

Goliath tarantula

Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana



Photo Vlad Elbakyan © 2003

Photo A. Labunsky © 2004


Photo Graem Wright © 2004

  It is not bred in captivity.
   Deservedly occupies the central place in amateur's collections.

   It is advisable not to disturb it, because as Th. apophysis and tarantulas of close related genera Xenesthis has a pathological propensity to flick hairs herewith the view of bald abdomen is rather modest

  Must be kept on a moistened substratum under the increased humidity 85-90% and temperature around 23-26°С.
  Also access to open water is necessary.
  At the presence of sufficient level of ventilation, as against the majority of tarantulas of fauna of the World, a long time is capable to bear "swampness" of substratum

apophysis (Tinter, 1991)

Pinkfooted goliath tarantula




Photo Evgeny Yu. Rogov © 2003


Photo Peter Pastor © 2004

   Former known as Pseudotheraphosa apophysis.
   One of the most expensive tarantulas in the hobby.
  Rare species, last several years is restrict for export by Venezuelan legislation.
   Juvenil tarantulas have typical colouration which gives a tarantula its name (see photo).

Sometimes bred in captivity

  Must be kept in similar conditions as Th. blondi. The only humidity is no need to be increase so high as for Th. blondi and may consists 75-85%, temperature about 24-27°С.
A water bowl also is required