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THE SPINNERETTE

ISSUE 6

THERAPHOSA BLONDI

CARE TIPS, TAXONOMY, EXPERT ADVICE 1


happy fangsgiving!

Welcome back, Spiderlings! I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season

and had a great Thanksgiving (if you celebrated it), or how we say around here, FANGSgiving!

This issue is about a VERY big spider, and one of the most prized in the hobby - the Theraphosa blondi (and we've got some info about the Theraphosa stirmi

in here as well). This spider is highly prized in the hobby and commands respect amongst any circle regardless of expertise. Their size alone discourages many tarantula keepers (and understandably so), but any keeper of this T won't hesitate to say what great additions they are to any collection.

Big thank you to the Tarantula Heaven community for contributing photos

and The Tarantula Collective for sponsoring this issue! If you are interested in submitting feedback, being a part of future issues, or contacting me for advertising, you can do so at theavenmag@gmail.com!

Spider hugs,

Patricia, Spidey + Blinky (my tarantula babies)

Tarantulaheaven.com / Tarantula Tuesday Newsletter FOLLOW MY TARANTULA STUFF!

Questions / Comments? Feel free to email me at theavenmag@gmail.com

The cover image is credited to Gavin Pearson Copyright Š 2019 Patricia Colli


This issue is sponsored by...

TheTarantulaCollective.com

get caught in the web

Check out our website for merchandise and learn about all the other cool stuff we're doing!

THE TARANTULA COLLECTIVE: GOLIATH BIRDEATER CARE & HUSBANDRY SUBSCRIBE!


Photo credit: Emily Griffith


TABLE OF CONTENTS 06 10 12 16 22 26 32 42 44 46

Theraphosa Blondi, The Goliath Birdeater By Michael Fantus

Theraphosa Blondi Care Tips By Patricia Colli

Peculiar Cuisine

By BillieJo Champagne

Keeping T Blondis

An interview with Gavin Pearson of Valleys Tarantulas

What's For Dinner? By Cheyanne

Growing Collection: My New T Blondis By Hollie of Princess Sophie Pink

Community (tarantula photo submissions) An amazing collection from tarantula lovers like you!

Revisions: Recent Changes In The Hobby The latest in name changes and species discoveries

Upcoming Events

Upcoming tarantula conventions and expos around the world

Sources + References

A list of sources and references from articles in this issue


THERAPHOSA BLONDI, THE GOLIATH BIRDEATER

By Michael Fantus

Theraphosa blondi, also known as the “Goliath birdeater”, is a very stunning and remarkable bird spider due to its size from Brazil, French Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela. In 1804, the spider became "Mygale blondii", being categorized as part of the Theraphosa genus by Thorell in 1870. 33 years later, in 1903, “blondii” suddenly changed to “leblondi”, what is still incorrectly being used occasionally. Theraphosa blondi is well known to be the largest spider in the world, but with Heteropoda maxima (not a bird spider) and the Bolivian Pamphobeteus antinous in mind, that’s not entirely true.

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Taxonomy Scientific name: Theraphosa blondi. Subfamily: Theraphosinae. Common name: Goliath birdeater. Previous name: Theraphosa leblondi.

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She’s wanted by every hobbyist, as they’re a rare (and expensive) showpiece in every collection, but pay attention… Theraphosa stirmi is a look-alike from the same region as Theraphosa blondi. Differences are hard to spot for the unexperienced eye. Breedings are more successful and therefore Theraphosa stirmi is much cheaper than Theraphosa blondi.

Inform yourself about the differences (below) and buy your Theraphosa blondi by a confidential source.

World spider catalog Type: Terrestrial bird spider. Opportunistic burrower. Category: New world tarantula. The urticating setae of Theraphosa blondi are remarkably effective against mammals. Urticating setae: Yes, type III (abdomen). Venom: Probably mild. No valuable scientific research has been done yet. Origin: North-Brazil, French Guyana, Guyana, Suriname, South Venezuela. Body length: ≤ 10-11cm.


Photo credit: Monika Reniero7


Theraphosa blondi, cont’d

Span width: ≤ 28 cm. Growth rate: Relatively fast. Spiderlings do have a remarkable size of up to 1,5cm body length. Life expectancy: Females can live up to 25 years old. Males are given a shorter lifetime from 3-6 years. Behavior: Nervous. The spider will not hesitate to shed its urticating setae or start stridulating in an impressive threat pose. Urticating setae of Theraphosa blondi are remarkably effective against mammals, especially in the eyes and/ or inhalation. As the spider gets older, she’ll become calmer. During the day they’ll stay in their burrow. At night they’ll be visible at the entrance of their burrow.

8 Photo credit: William Turner

Status The Goliath birdeater is protected by CITES (Congress on The International Trade of Endangered Species).

ABOUT MICHAEL Michael Fantus’ day job is marketing in a Washington DC Association. His hobbies include fiction writing, music composition, French horn playing, redwood bonsai, and tarantulizing. He is the author of a novel, the Rage of Ganymede and the Lightning Manifesto.  (Never ask a girl her age, and I have a partner named Stefen Styrsky who works in legal services, is a published fiction and technical writer, as well as a film critic. He avoids the tarantulas).

Flip to the back to see references for this article!


Photo credit: Michael DeMarino 9


Goliath birdeater

CARE TIPS BASIC INFO Common name: Goliath birdeater. Scientific name: Theraphosa blondi. Type: New World, terrestrial but Origin: Brazil, French Guyana, opportunistic burrower. Suriname and Venezuela. Growth rate: Fast. Size: This species may attain a leg length of eleven inches.

Experience level: Advanced due to size and defensive nature. Life span: Males mature within 3-6 years, females can live up to 25 years.

APPEARANCE The Theraphosa blondi is russet brown to black, and there are distinct spines on the third and fourth pair of legs. This tarantula is most known for its size - which can be up to the size of a dinner plate! BEHAVIOR

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Attitude: Theraphosa blondi tarantulas can be nervous and skittish. This tarantula is quick to display defensive behavior whether through threat posing or kicking hairs. They tend to become more calm with age.

Defensive behavior: Theraphosa blondi will not hesitate to shed urticating setae or start stridulating in an impressive threat pose. This spider's setae is particularly irritating and painful.

Bite danger: While there has not been much research on T blondi venom, the venom of these spiders is thought to be mild. However due to their size the mechanical damage from fangs will likely be significant. Their fangs can be about one inch.

Handling: Due to its size, handling this spider is not recommended.

DIET + NUTRITION The Theraphosa blondi is a good eater and can eat several roaches or crickets each week. Due to their size, many keepers feed mice to their T blondis although this is not recommended.


Photo credit: Monika Reniero

HOUSING Substrate: Adults will need approximately 4 inches of substrate (you can use a mix of peat moss, vermiculite, coconut fiber). Decor: For Theraphosa blondi, you can place a piece of bark for a starter burrow/hide. Ventilation: Ventilation is very important to control fungus in a humid environment. Make sure there are plenty of ventilation holes on the sides of the enclosure.

Enclosure: This tarantula should be kept in a large terrestrial setup with a good amount of substrate, a starter burrow and water dish. Humidity: You can provide humidity to overflowing the water dish a little, wetting the substrate. Mike's Basic Tarantulas recommends laying two inches of small pebbles and covering them with water before adding substrate. Avoid misting.

Water: A decently sized water dish must always be present. You can overflow the water dish slightly. Temperature: This species can be comfortably kept at around 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Collection notes: This species is prized for its size.

FUN FACTS

The Theraphosa blondi tarantula is the largest and heaviest spider in the world. It is also one of a limited number of species that can audibly “hiss� (stridulation) by rubbing together specialized hairs on its legs.

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PECULIAR CUISINE

By BillieJo Champagne

The Theraphosa blondi, also referred to as the Goliath birdeater, is not a species of tarantula threatened in the wild. While it may not be threatened, it does have natural enemies such as tarantula hawk wasps, snakes, other tarantulas, and even humans. Just like other tarantulas, the Goliath birdeater is most vulnerable during the molting stage, when they are extremely fragile. During this molting stage, the tarantula can be a target to even smaller insects. These so called “heavy weights,” can weigh in at over six ounces and have a length of eleven inches across. The Goliath birdeater has been compared to a dinner plate in size. The Theraphosa blondi has three known ways of defense. They can produce a cloud of urticating hairs, possess rather large fangs that can measure larger than an inch, and also produce a hissing sound much like a

12 Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

rattlesnake or Velcro being pulled apart. This tarantula does not pose a significant threat to humans, but a bite has been described as “like driving a nail through your hand,” by Piotr Naskrecki, an entomologist and photographer. Many people either find tarantulas fascinating, interesting, or even captivating. Others look at arachnids, turn and run, even scream in terror. Individuals can even posses a fear of spiders, called arachnophobia, one of the most common phobias. Some of those who do not fear the Goliath birdeater see it as a tasty delicacy. The Goliath birdeater is considered a delicacy by some of the local tribes of South America


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons 13


14 Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


Peculiar Cuisine, cont'd such as the Piaroa and Yanomamo. They locate the Goliath birdeater near marshy, swampy areas living in deep burrows. The children of Venezuela’s Piaroa tribe hunt their own food beginning at a young age, and one of their favorite treats is the Theraphosa blondi.

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In Northeastern South America the Goliath birdeater is prepared by singeing off the urticating hairs and roasting it in banana leaves. The local tribes find it very tasty and often describe it as having a “shrimp-like” taste, like prawns.

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Whether you regard the Goliath birdeater tarantula as an attractive arachnid, or if upon glimpsing you turn and find the closest exit, just remember there are some people who consider it delicious cuisine. I myself, would prefer Theraphosa blondi in an enclosure, with the rest of my tarantulas, versus on my dinner plate.

ABOUT BILLIEJO BillieJo Champagne is a mother of two girls, 11 and 13, who can be a handful. She attends UW-Parkside majoring in English with a minor in psychology as well as a creative writing certificate. Her love for what others close to her refer to as "creepy crawlies" began when she was young. Now she owns 5 tarantulas and has begun to pass down her interests to her youngest daughter, who loves helping out in their care, especially feeding. She doesn't have a favorite tarantula, but learning new facts about various species is something that draws her in deeper to the hobby.


KEEPING T BLONDIS

An interview with Gavin Pearson (Valleys Tarantulas)

Gavin is the tarantula keeper behind the Valleys Tarantulas YouTube channel. With experience with both the Theraphosa blondi and Theraphosa stirmi, it was wonderful to get his advice on these species! Tell us about yourself! I’m Gavin, 33 years old from the South Wales Valleys! I’m an electrical fitter by day and the runner of Valleys Tarantulas on YouTube by night. Weekends I can be found in the forests around Wales as I’m a part time game keeper and have a massive passion for country life!

How long have you been keeping tarantulas? What does your collection look like now? I’ve been keeping tarantulas and inverts just over a year now and have a massive addiction to them, well over 100 in my bedroom! What inspired you to get a Theraphosa blondi?

I personally love the Theraphosa genus and T blondi is in my opinion the largest by overall weight with the best feeding response of any tarantula I’ve seen! Are there any differences in care between the T blondi and stirmi? Have you noticed different behavioral traits?

VALLEYS TARANTULAS: THE BIGGEST TARANTULAS IN THE WORLD ( THERAPHOSA ) 16


Photo credit: Gavin Pearson 17


Keeping T Blondis, cont’d

VALLEYS TARANTULAS: GIANT TARANTULA REHOUSE!! ( T STIRMI )

Photo credit: Gavin Pearson

An example of the size they put on after each molt!


VALLEYS TARANTULAS: MOLTS MOLTS MOLTS AN THE BEAST

Have you ever been bitten by one of these spiders? No thank god I haven’t had the misfortune of being bitten by any tarantula let alone a T blondi! What’s your favorite thing about them? It has to be the sheer size they put on with each molt! What’s the most important thing you’d like to tell someone who is thinking about getting into Theraphosas?

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From personal experience there is no difference in care between any of the Theraphosa genus... you only see them when they are hungry!

Do your research before buying, they are not easy to keep. High humidity is a must for Theraphosa, they can have many problems if that isn’t correct! My favorite tarantula/s is the Theraphosa genus because of the size and mass they put on. It’s a proper tarantula and a beast of the jungle!

ABOUT GAVIN To see more from Gavin, you can check out his YouTube channel, Valleys Tarantulas or follow his Instagram page!


KIDS CORNE of the web 20


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Photo credit: Monika Reniero 21


WHAT’S FOR DINNER? By Cheyanne

The Goliath birdeater is classified as an Arachnida, belonging to the Theraphosidae family and known by the scientific name Theraphosa blondi. For now, I will just refer to it as Goliath. Goliath is native to the rain forests regions of northern South America, such as Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana, northern Brazil, and southern Venezuela. They tend to make dens and stay close to marshy, swampy areas. The Goliath is known to be the largest tarantula by mass and size, even holding a Guinness World Record. Even though the Goliath can grow as large as a newborn puppy, it is second in size to the giant Huntsman spider by leg span. This massive tarantula can grow to be as large as a dinner plate and weigh slightly less than half a pound! This is one reason I love them.

22 credit: Wikimedia Commons Photo

That was just my introduction to Goliath. The Goliath has fangs which are almost equal to a cheetah’s claw. Their fangs are approximately one and a half inches long. These fangs help the Goliath eat just about anything smaller than itself. Tarantulas use their fangs to subdue their prey and carry it into dens. Then they will devour the prey at their leisure, turning their prey’s internal organs into digestible liquids by using neurotoxins. Weird but cool! Even though they are called Goliath birdeater, they do not eat birds as frequently as their name suggests. The Goliath birdeater was named when a researcher in the 18th century


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons 23


What's For Dinner?, cont’d

named Maria Sibylla Merican, came across one consuming a hummingbird.

Prey such as birds and other vertebrates can be a difficult meal for Goliath but given the opportunity, they will take down larger prey. The Goliath has been observed taking young birds from their nests to dine on. A usual meal for the Goliath is worms, insects, small lizards found in the Amazon, pinky rats, and even bats! At the Smithsonian National Zoo, they are given a diet of cockroaches.

After getting to know the Goliath a little better and their diet, research shows that they are not the perfect hunter. Just like other tarantulas they have very poor eyesight. Using vibrations, the Goliath may use their urticating hairs or a hissing sound like the rattlesnake, to keep out of danger. The Goliath does have venom, rather large fangs, and can be very aggressive, but many people find them interesting enough to keep as pets. Someday I wish to add one to my tarantula collection I have started!

ABOUT CHEYANNE I am 11 years old, entering 6th grade and I just recently fell in love with tarantulas. My mom (who owns 4 tarantulas herself) let me pick out my first very own tarantula last month and I decided on the GBB, which I named Ceberus. (Yes, after the mythical creature.) Besides my tarantula fascination, I take lessons riding horses and belong to the show team at the stables I attend. Besides my GBB, I have a dog named Raptor (who I am attempting to train for agility tricks) and a cat named Raven. Other than tarantulas I love giraffes and llamas.

Ceberus

24 Photo Credit: Christian Sabo


Photo credit: John / Flickr 25


GROWING COLLECTION:

MY NEW T BLONDIS

By Hollie (Princess Sophie Pink)

I was very lucky and I won a breeding pair of Theraphosa blondis. When they arrived I was so so excited. They are not even full grown but they are bigger than any tarantula I have so far.

Keeping them isn't much different to other tarantulas I keep. They need more humidity so I put springtails in to stop any mold.

Photo Credit: photography_by_lissy_ / Instagram 26

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I have always wanted one just so that I can say I have the biggest tarantula in the world! When I tell my friends they are so amazed. I did an unboxing and rehousing video of them and I played it to my whole class and now I'm so popular!

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One thing that is different is that anything I do in their enclosure I ALWAYS wear gloves. The hairs that they flick are supposed to be the worst.


Photo Credit: Rachel Greenhalgh 27


My New T Blondis, cont’d

PRINCESS SOPHIE PINK: THERAPHOSA BLONDI - A DOUBLE GOLIATH REHOUSING!!!

Photo Credit: Rachel Greenhalgh


Photo Credit: Rachel Greenhalgh

Photo Credit: photography_by_lissy_ / Instagram


Photo Credit: Rachel Greenhalgh Photo Credit: photography_by_lissy_ / Instagram

Photo Credit: photography_by_lissy_ / Instagram


Photo Credit: Rachel Greenhalgh

My New T Blondis, cont’d

When my male molted, his molt was covered in his hairs. Even after my mum washed it and we thought it would be OK to handle, me and my mum had itchy hands for about 1 week. I would hate to imagine how much it would hurt and itch if they were to ever flick at me. I really love how this tarantula looks. Even though it's only brown in color it is beautiful. My male has just had a molt and he is a lot darker than the female.

When they are out in the open I just like to look at them. Because they are so big you can see all of their features in detail. The hairs on their legs. And their fangs!!! They are soooo big! When I rehoused them I was very careful. I watched lots of videos of people rehousing them first. Their enclosure is a big plastic tub and it has coco fibre substrate mixed with topsoil. I also put moss in to help with the moisture. I cut up a big plant pot to use as a hide. They are very greedy, too. The female will eat 3 big locusts at a time. I can't wait to be able to breed them. Me and my mum are doing lots of research to prepare for when they are mature. So fingers crossed!

ABOUT HOLLIE To see more from Hollie, you can check out her YouTube channel, Princess Sophie Pink or follow her Facebook page!

Photo Credit: Rachel Greenhalgh


In this section we highlight tarantula owners from around the world and share their experiences. To make a submission, email theavenmag@gmail.com!

tarantula

COMMU 32


Photo credit: Pixabay

a

UNITY 33


Unsexed Pterinochilus Murinus "Venom" 34 Photo credit: Kim Gonzalez


Unsexed Pterinochilus Murinus "Venom" Photo credit: Kim Gonzalez 35


Avicularia metallica "Orion" Photo credit: Kim Gonzalez


Hetescodra maculata "Hete" Photo credit: Michelle Tutty


Hetescodra maculata "Hete" Photo credit: Michelle Tutty


Photo credit: Zak Agar


WEAR YOUR LOVE FOR TS On YOUR SLEEVE!

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Do you sell tarantulas, feeders, enclosures and other tarantula items? Email theavenmag@gmail.com if you’re interested in purchasing ad space! 41


REVISIONS RECENT CHANGES IN THE HOBBY Systematic revision of Brachypelma genus! In the beginning of November, the tarantula hobby was stunned when the Brachypelma genus was split in two. Basically the "red-legged" species and albiceps stayed in Brachypelma genus and the "red rumped" species became a newly created genus, Tliltocatl (and basically no one knows how to pronounce this!). In short, Brachypelma now consists of B. albiceps, B. auratum, B. baumgarteni, B.

Brachypelma smithi Photo credit: Pixabay

boehmei, B. emilia, B. hamorii, B. klaasi and B. smithi. Tliltocatl consists of T. albopilosum, T. epicureanum, T. kahlenbergi, T. sabulosum, T. schroederi, T. vagans, and T. verdezi. This is something that EVERYONE is going to have to get used to, as the Brachypelma genus contained so many popular and highly sought after tarantulas.


Tlitlocatl vagans Photo credit:Pixabay


UPCOMING EVENTS UPCOMING 2019-2020 GLOBAL EXPOS WITH TARANTULAS EUROPE DATE

EVENT

LOCATION

December 14 2019

Terraristika Trade Show

Hamm, Germany

May 17 2020

35th British Tarantula Society Exhibition

Warwick, United Kingdom

Photo 44 credit: Christian Sabo


UNITED STATES DATE

EVENT

LOCATION

December 1

Show Me Reptile & Exotics Show

Bridgeton, MO

December 7

Kentucky Reptile Expo

Lexington, KY

December 8

Cin City Reptile Show

West Chester, OH

December 14

Show Me Reptile & Exotics Show

Springfield, MO

January 11-12

Reptilian Nation Expo

Las Vegas, NV

January 12

Show Me Reptile & Exotics Show

Janesville, WI

January 18-19

Repticon Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City, OK

February 1-2

Repticon Columbia

Columbia, SC

Photo credit: John / Flickr 45


REFERENCES Theraphosa blondi, the Goliath BirdEater Author: Michael Fantus Jovan, Dennis, Kj, & Kenneth. (2019, May 1). Theraphosa blondi. Retrieved November 13, 2019, from https:// www.theraphosidae.be/en/theraphosa-blondi/. Trevor T. Zachariah, Mark A. Mitchell, Clare M. Guichard and Rimme S. Singh Zachariah, T., Mitchell, M., & Singh, R. (2007, June). Hemolymph Biochemistry Reference Ranges for WildCaught Goliath Birdeater Spiders (Theraphosa blondi) and Chilean Rose Spiders (Grammostola rosea).

Photo credit: Bernard Dupont 46


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons 47


til next time! Thank you for supporting The Spinnerette - this is the 6th digital magazine and it means so much that you all continue to support it! I'm now a year into this magazine and your words of encouragement and interest are what helps me keep it going.

If you have any feedback about how this magazine could be improved or things you’d like to see this magazine cover, please feel free to email me at theavenmag@gmail.com. You can also email me if you’d like to submit something to the magazine or pitch an idea for a future issue! As always, you can find me on Facebook in my tarantula group, or subscribe to my Patreon to see more behind the scenes content about this magazine and my life with my tarantulas.

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Profile for The Spinnerette - Tarantula + Spider Magazine

The Spinnerette, Issue 6: Theraphosa blondi  

A tarantula magazine centered all around the Goliath birdeater tarantula PLUS great enclosure inspiration and upcoming expos!

The Spinnerette, Issue 6: Theraphosa blondi  

A tarantula magazine centered all around the Goliath birdeater tarantula PLUS great enclosure inspiration and upcoming expos!