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Rose Hair Owners Please Read! How to REALLY take care of your G. rosea

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by Bjorgly, Jan 31, 2003.

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  1. Bjorgly

    Bjorgly Arachnodemon Old Timer

    Hi all,

    For those of you in chat, I've told you about this but this is what Stan Schultz (author of the Tarantula Keeper's Guide) sent to me on how to ACTUALLY care for a G. rosea and how we screw them up sometimes when we bring them into captivity and don't care for them like they live in the wild. It's worth the read if you own a G. rosea.

    <scroll down for the care sheet>

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2006
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  2. Bjorgly

    Bjorgly Arachnodemon Old Timer

    Ok, Here it is

    OK, thanks to Dennis' good idea to post it in sections...I will simply post it here in replies.


    Here is the caresheet Stan Schultz (author of The Tarantula Keeper's Guide) sent me for a G.rosea. Enjoy!
    The tarantula you refer to is Grammostola rosea. While everybody
    has their own favorite variations for the common name, the official
    American Arachnological Society Committee on Common Names name for them is
    "Chilean rose." Capital "Chilean," lower case "rose." The plural is
    "roses," not "rosies" although I have to admit that I sometimes use the
    latter. There is no such thing as a "rose hair" or "rosehair." Tarantulas
    have bristles, not hair. (All right, "picky picky picky." :)

    We don't know a lot about these tarantulas because few if any
    people have ever actually gone to Chile to see how they live and brought
    back believable reports. (Great vacation idea, no? Take *LOTS* of
    pictures! You wouldn't need someone to carry your bags, would you?) What's
    presented here seems to fit with what is known about them, but a lot of it
    is conjecture, not fact. It should be taken as interim wisdom until
    confirmed or corrected by new data.

    For the most part, immatures, males and females are colored much
    alike but with the males being somewhat more vibrant. They have no
    distinct or distinguishing markings.

    This species is a bit unusual among tarantulas in that is occurs naturally
    in at least three different color forms. These all possess a more or less
    uniform dark gray to black undercoat. One color form is a more or less
    uniform, drab, dark gray (sometimes called "muddy" or "grubby") with at
    most only a sprinkling of lighter beige or pinkish hairs. Another
    possesses a uniformly dense, pretty, light pink outer coat. The last is a
    beautifully intense coppery form. The adult males of this last form are

    For a while, enthusiasts thought each color form was a different species,
    even calling the copper colored form G. cala, the Chilean flame tarantula.
    However, over the last several years all of the several color forms have
    been reported to arise from the same eggsac, proving that these are all
    merely variants of the same species.

    A medium sized tarantula. Mature females will have a body length
    of up to about 7.5 centimetres (three inches) and a leg span of about
    fifteen centimetres (six inches). While the males' body is smaller the leg
    spans remain the same. Because of the numbers being exported from Chile
    the average size of the individuals currently found in the market is
    usually smaller. It is presumed that, given time and proper care, these
    will reach respectable sizes.

    Roses come from the borders of the Atacama Desert in Northern
    Chile at least as far south as Santiago. The Atacama can be one of the
    harshest environments on the planet! There are parts of it that have never
    had rain in recorded history. The temperatures there may reach 135 F (57
    C) or higher in Summer. They may experience light frosts in Winter. We
    think that the areas where roses are found aren't quite so severe. They've
    been reported from semi-desert to scrub forest areas. Apparently their
    principle source of water in nature is from the food they eat and fogs
    that drift in from the Pacific Ocean once in a while.

    Roses have not been bred in captivity often enough or kept in
    captivity long enough for us to make anything more than a wild guess at
    maximum life spans. They've only been imported in any numbers for possibly
    10 years, certainly less than 20. During that time they have only been
    bred in captivity a handful of times.

    Because the wild caught ones don't come with birth certificates we don't
    know how old they are when we get them. They may live anywhere from 10
    minutes or less to 10 years or more in our care, and I wouldn't be a bit
    surprised to hear of someone who's had one since 1980 or so that's still
    going strong. The few captive raised ones have had nowhere near enough
    time to mature, live a full life span and die of old age, so we have no
    handle on a maximum lifespan in captivity.

    As an educated guess we can bracket the probable limits of their lifespans
    at more than 10 years and less than 100 years. Reasonable guesses might be
    20 to 40 years. Beyond that, all bets are off.

    Being desert animals, one might assume that these tarantulas
    require excessively high temperatures. Not so. They're extremely sturdy
    and resilient creatures and will do quite well at normal room
    temperatures. For the most part, unless you have antifreeze in place of
    blood, any temperature at which you're comfortable will suit the tarantula
    just fine. If you have a choice, 74 to 85 F (23 to 29 C) is ideal.

    Be careful about trying to artificially raise the cage's temperature in
    the belief that the rose needs higher temperatures. There are 2 problems
    with supplying extra heat to a tarantula's cage. First, without a major
    engineering effort the heat is largely uncontrollable. If you happen to
    experience a particularly hot day and accidentally leave the cage heater
    on, you could easily come home to a strong smell of well cooked tarantula.

    Second, artificial heat sources are strong desicators. They dry the cage
    out extremely rapidly and to a very harsh degree. Roses are accustomed to
    living in a desert, but even they have limits to what they can tolerate.

    The bottom line here is that maybe a lower temperature is better than an
    artificial heat source unless you can engineer a fool proof, fail safe
    heater. Be extremely careful. You've been warned!

    NO SUNLIGHT! In fact, avoid all bright lights, but make sure that the
    tarantula can easily tell the difference between day and night. (See

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  3. Bjorgly

    Bjorgly Arachnodemon Old Timer

    Aquarium sand/gravel is generally frowned on by the tarantula
    keeping community although we have kept many species for long periods of
    time on it with few or no problems. The most telling argument is that it's
    too abrasive. In defense of aquarium gravel it must be pointed out that
    tarantulas customarily live in soil that may have a large admixture of
    gravel of all qualities in it, and these tarantulas seem to do quite well
    in spite of it. We suspect that the bias against aquarium gravel is merely
    just that: a bias. In fact it probably seldom makes a difference.

    Garden soil, on the other hand, is a strict no-no! It almost surely
    contains a heavy load of environmenticides from your and your neighbors'
    finest efforts to control bugs and weeds. The bugs and weeds have had
    generations to develop resistances to them. The tarantula hasn't. You'll
    merely kill your spider.

    The most commonly used substrates are potting soil and horticultural
    vermiculite and the debate rages on endlessly over which is better. Both
    have their advantages and their disadvantages. Recently some other
    substrates have come on the market for reptiles and have been used by
    tarantula keepers with good results. But they haven't been used long
    enough that I'd recommend them to a newbie.

    If you use potting soil, get the cheapest kind you can find. It should be
    peat based, not composted bark or other lumber byproducts. It should not
    have any additives (like fertilizers) except perhaps perlite (little
    round, crisp white balls). The small amount of perlite normally added is
    irrelevant, not a necessity, and is usually not harmful.

    If you use potting soil, start with about 2/3 of a package and add about 1
    quart (1 liter) of room temperature tap water per 4 quarts (4 liters) of
    potting soil. Mix it well. Grab a handful and squeeze it as hard as you
    can without breaking bones in your hand. When you open your hand, if the
    potting soil retains the shape of the inside of your fist quite well,
    you're about finished. If it easily falls apart, add a little more water,
    mix and test again. If it's so wet that you can squeeze water out, add
    more dry potting soil. (That's why I specified starting with only 2/3 of
    the package.) Don't become pathologically obsessed with the amount of
    moisture in the potting soil, there's a wide margin for error and it's all
    going to dry up in a few days anyway.

    Now pack the potting soil into a pad on the bottom of the tarantula's
    cage. Pack it quite solidly. In the end you want a pad that's about 3
    centimeters (an inch or slightly more) thick. Install a water dish with
    the obligatory rock or slate chip, allow several days for the substrate
    to dry, and add one tarantula. Don't try to feed it for several days or a
    week to give it a chance to get used to its new home before it's
    stampeded by a herd of wild crickets.

    Vermiculite is even easier to use. Use only horticultural vermiculite from
    a garden shop, not insulation grade vermiculite. We suspect the insulation
    grade to be toxic and it won't absorb water at all. Moisten it slightly
    and dump about a 3 centimeter (an inch or slightly more) layer in the
    bottom of the cage. Tamp it as well as you can. (But don't expect
    miracles. The stuff is pretty fluffy.) The biggest complaint with
    vermiculite is that many otherwise terrestrial tarantulas hate
    vermiculite. When this is the case they will spend inordinate amounts of
    time (days, sometimes weeks) hanging from the cage's sides or top, seldom
    if ever coming down to earth (or vermiculite) unless forced to by fatigue,
    thirst or starvation. Even then they will very soon cover the vermiculite
    with a dense layer of silk to separate themselves from it. If this is the
    case with yours, change to potting soil in spite of all the
    recommendations for vermiculite.

    With both vermiculite and potting soil, the moisture will evaporate in a
    few days. This is good. Roses are desert creatures and excessive humidity
    is not appreciated. They will learn to get all the moisture they need from
    the water dish. They'll also get a lot from their food. Don't even think
    of misting them with a plant sprayer as some people do. This only annoys
    the tarantula.

    After you've had a couple of tarantulas for a couple of years you might
    try one of the newer substrates (Shred-a-Beast or whatever :) ), but for
    now stick with the tried and proven.

    Chilean roses pose a special problem. If they weren't so hardy
    they'd make lousy pets. The problem is this: They evolved in the southern
    hemisphere and their seasons are reversed to ours. (Here I'm assuming that
    you live in the northern hemisphere as the majority of tarantula keepers
    do.) And, they seem to have a particularly hard time adjusting to northern
    hemisphere timetables.

    Think of it this way. In the Atacama they experience seasonal fluctuations
    in temperature, water/humidity availability, day length, and food
    availability. They use one, some or all of these to entrain their annual
    cycles, to synchronize their lives with the rest of Mother Nature. Their
    species evolved in this absolutely predictable waltz of variations. Each
    individual tarantula has grown up in these conditions.

    Then somebody snatches them out their lair and ships them to the other
    side of the planet. Worse yet, we keep them in a house with
    thermostatically controlled heat. There goes any temperature clues to let
    them readjust to the new time table.

    We get up and turn the lights on every morning at 6:30 or 7:00 AM and the
    house is well lit until we turn the lights off at 10:30 or 11:00 PM. And
    this never changes regardless of what season of the year it is. We've just
    removed day length as a clue.

    Worse yet, in nature they're preprogrammed to eat as much food as
    available in preparation for the coming famine season. (There's *ALWAYS* a
    coming famine season!) During the famine season they may go hungry for
    several months before food becomes plentiful again, another seasonal clue.
    In captivity we give them all the food they'll eat and, out of instinct,
    they eat everything that we throw at them. We overfeed them thinking that
    they're starved and they don't stop eating until they're obese. Even then
    the food *STILL* keeps coming! There is no string of light meals followed
    by a few months of fasting. This destroys any food availability clues

    Lastly, in the Atacama, as dry as it is, there are dry seasons and damp
    seasons. It may not rain often, but from time to time fog banks roll in
    from the Pacific and generally moisten everything for a few hours to
    several days. And, this tends to happen seasonally. In your home its
    always bone dry, but you always keep a dish of water in the cage. Ooops!
    There goes another clue.

    The result is that this species more than almost any other gets really
    confused about what season of the year it is. Because we've removed all
    their clues they don't know when to start eating again once they get too
    fat and stop. Neither do they know when it should be time to molt. They
    may go 2 years or more without eating or molting, before they finally pick
    up the few very subtle clues available to synchronize with the local

    If this happens to your rose you should try to supply the missing clues.
    Keep it in a warm place in Summer and a cool place in Winter. Try to keep
    it in a room where artificial lighting isn't used very much so it can see
    a normal change in day length. Don't feed it all it will eat when you get
    it. Four to 6 crickets all at once, repeated *ONLY* every 2 weeks is more
    than enough. If it stops eating for an extended period of time, don't
    worry. Offer it a few crickets every 2 or 3 weeks. If it doesn't eat them,
    remove the crickets after several days and try again two or three weeks
    later. When it does begin to eat again, give your rose *ONLY* 4 to 6
    crickets every 2 weeks regardless of how hungry you think it might be.

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  4. Bjorgly

    Bjorgly Arachnodemon Old Timer

    Handling is the other subject that incites riots among tarantula
    keepers. Should you or shouldn't you? When should you? When shouldn't you?
    Which ones can be handled? Which can't? And it goes on and on and on...

    :) Yeah, I know I'm
    pushing my own book, but the whole reason I wrote it was to help people
    like you. The royalties don't even pay for the crickets!]

    Read pages 136 through 142 of THE TARANTULA KEEPER'S GUIDE, 2ND EDITION
    (Barron's Educational Series, Hauppauge, NY) for some pointers, the "dos"
    and the "don'ts."

    About 1 out of every 1,000 roses bites and the bite causes swelling and
    intense pain for several hours to a day. Nobody has yet lost life or limb
    over such a bite, however. If your rose begins to rear back and raises its
    front legs in a threatening posture as you try to pick her up, maybe you
    should label it a look-but-don't-touch pet or take it back to the pet shop
    for another one. The other 999 out of 1,000 will make perfect hand pets if
    you follow the basic rules.

    For a long time enthusiasts were puzzled by roses' apparently
    unwillingness to burrow in a cage. It was thought that they might be
    vagabonds in nature, seldom if ever actually living in a formal burrow.
    However, recently Dr. G. B. Edwards (Curator: Arachnida & Myriapoda
    Florida State Collection of Arthropods, FDACS, Division of Plant Industry)
    on a trip to Santiago Chile, examined Chilean rose tarantulas in large
    numbers living in burrows some 45 centimetres (18 inches) deep. Now we
    know: Their apparent reluctance to dig a burrow in captivity is apparently
    an artifact of being captive, not a "natural" life style.

    The general experience in the hobby is that they neither require a burrow
    nor use one. When given the chance we've seen them use a coconut shell as
    a place to hide, but all of ours have firmly rejected burrows when they
    have been offered. This is supported by the experience of many other
    keepers. Installing a coconut shell or a plastic aquarium plant that
    drapes over to produce a darkened cave-like space might be appreciated,
    however. It may decide that's a good place to hide. Otherwise, don't worry
    about it.

    :) Yeah, I know I'm
    pushing my own book, but the whole reason I wrote it was to help people
    like you. The royalties don't even pay for the crickets!]

    We strongly recommend that you read a good book on tarantulas. You
    can get copies of the GUIDE, mentioned above, Sam Marshall's TARANTULAS
    AND OTHER ARACHNIDS and several others at your local public library. The
    2 mentioned here are both rated quite highly by the American Tarantula
    Society. If you like them you can get your own copies from many pet shops,
    at almost any bookstore by special order, and from amazon.com and
    barnesandnoble.com and other webstores.

    Now, perhaps you can appreciate your little buddy for the marvel that it
    really is.

    If you would like to keep a copy of this on your computer I can still E-mail it to anyone who would like it.

    Last edited: Jan 31, 2003
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  5. Buspirone

    Buspirone Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Stan Shultz has the information on his website as well as updated information for his book,"The Tarantula Keeper's Guide" and a comprehensive index that actually helps you find the info you are looking for in the book.

    Stan Shultz's Website
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