Rosehair
Grammostola rosea
These are some of the most common tarantulas sold in US petstores.  They've recently undergone a host of name changes (from Phrixotrichus auratus to P.roseus and P.spatulata) and, since there are many color variations, they still get a myriad of different "scientific" names from armchair taxonomists/wholesalers.

 Most are brownish overall (their rumps look like little kiwis) with a coppery carapace that shines like a new penny.  Others have a more brownish carapace and some are quite pinkish/red all over.

While they are phenominally hardy and easy to keep (think cactus), their fate is often a rough one in captivity.  People generally associate tarantulas with being either a tropical rainforest creature or something from some blisteringly hot desert dunes, and therefore tend to treat this species according to their assumption.  It's actually from a cool (albeit arid) region.  It and all tarantulas definitely do not need some kind of sun lamp, so tell the kid at the pet store, "No thanks".    


 

Range: Northern Chile, specifically Valparaiso and Santiago.
Habitat:  Dry scrubland
Size: Medium tarantula.  Fully grown, they're about 5" in legspan.
Attitude:  Usually very docile and slow-moving.  Their main defense seems to be slowly shrinking away, but some rare individuals can be snippity.  Just mind their moods and do not underestimate the fury of Type IV uritcating bristles.  Though they may not be "flicky,"  you'll still get them on you.  I shudder to think about how often ths species is used with exotic animal exhibitions, and thus how many schoolchildren suddenly develop unexplained "rashes".
They mate quite easily, though the female is often aggressive toward the male after the act.
Getting a mated female to produce an eggsac, however, can be difficult.  I have never been successful, though I have had gravid, wild-caught females make perfectly fertile sacs right alongside those mated in captivity, kept in the same conditions.
Dwelling: Opportunistic spiders that do burrow in the wild, or find provided shelter in nooks under stones and crevices. They may use a provided shelter in captivity, but I haven't seen that occur often.



The great variation in colors that led to many different species names. . . .


A leggy male rosehair

Here's the environment many rosehairs live in for months as they're collected, then wholesaled and retailed around for months.  Unfortunately, the hobby is not very successful with captive breeding this species, and it is very slow-growing.  Thus, adults are imported by the thousands at a low-dollar value- about the cost of a roll of toilet paper, and treated much the same.

Here's the female that came out of the cup.  She has since recovered (and is actually in the picture above, on the left).  It's amazing how an animal that needs such a minimal amount of attention could be in such a state.

Ideal Setup: Most adult rosehairs will get along swimmingly with very little.  A 2-5 gallon capacity, horizontally-oriented container with a thin layer of substrate, a shelter, and a water dish works well.  They like it dry, so don't bother moistening the substrate except upon its initial application.  Keep it cool, mid-60s to low 70s if possible.  This is not a tropical animal. 

Food: Any bugs that haven't been exposed to pesticides (2-3 crickets a week for adults).  Many rosehairs are notorious for going on great fasts for no apparent reason.  Some suspect they fast during the chilly winters in Chile (that pun had to be done, sorry), which is June through August, and may carry this trait with them to the northern hemisphere.  I have one (in the top left picture on this page) that eats one or two crickets a month, and that after not eating anything for many months.  If its rear stays plump, don't worry- it knows what it's doing.
As a side note, I have observed two Rosehairs secrete clear fluid from their mouth area as a pre-feeding response, as if they were drooling.  One was a male red phase and the other was a brown female with a coppery carapace.  They appeared healthy and continued to get along fine afterward.  They did not molt in the months following, consume more or less food or water, or do anything at all out of the ordinary.  In both instances, crickets were placed in the tarantulas' containers just prior to the drooling.


Eight Home|Site Map

1999-2016 Eight.  All rights reserved.