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A closer look at: Avicularia minatrix

Discussion in 'Tarantula Chat' started by Storm76, Feb 22, 2016.

  1. Storm76

    Storm76 Arachnoemperor

    A closer look at...Avicularia minatrix

    Avicularia minatrix was first described by Pocock, 1903. It's the smallest species of the genus to date and hails from Venezuela where they frequent Bromeliads to establish their home in. Especially from the areas around Maracay, Venezuelas capital and the coastal regions of Caracas. From November to March it's very dry there with next to no rainy days, while April to October literally drowns the region with rain. In other words: This species is used to a long dry-period followed by an excessive rainy season.

    Like any other species of the genus, they're true arboreals that do not have any tendency to burrow in way, shape or form. It's also the only species that doesn't change their color throughout their life-cycle. Meaning, the adults look like oversized slings in a way, since they keep the very same coloration. Interestingly, there are reports out there that describe Avicularia minatrix being able to actually dive for up to 20 minutes while fleeing! I haven't found a scientific paper about this particular fact, but if you go look for it, I'm sure the interested reader will get a hint from someone on here, where to find it.

    Temperature diagram from Caracas: CLICKY

    Temperature diagram from Maracay: CLICKY

    You can find pictures from all stages of their life-cycle here: CLICKY

    How to keep

    This species likes it pretty dry, although ~75% humidity isn't that dry – it's pretty normal in my opinion for any tarantula species. That being said, an oversized waterdish and good ventilation are must-have for these, too!

    The typical setup for their cages hence apply, minus size due to them being the dwarfs of the genus an enclosure with (HxWxD) 30cmx30cmx30cm is ample of space for them. At the max 2.5-3“ of substrate (kept dry) is enough for them. Add the oversized waterdish (always full), enough pieces of corkbark and plastic (or real) plants to anchor webbing onto and you're set.

    Temperament / Toxicity
    Personally, I've housed my female in a 1 gal jar that she has lived in happily for over 2 years by now. She eats, molts and otherwise behaves just like any other Avic – with one particular exception: Avicularia minatrix is probably as secretive as Psalmopoeus irminia! They are extremely shy and vanish immediately if disturbed. Although their species name translates to „defensive“, most keepers never saw that from their specimens. My own adult female never displayed any form of defensive behavior, other than running away towards that end. I can't tell hence, how the arachonologists devised that name – it doesn't seem really fitting.

    As for toxicity...it's an Avicularia – come on! It's debatable, but that particular genus has probably the least severe venom from all the arboreal genera of tarantulas out there. Bite reports frequently described itching and a bump at the bite area with some redness – other than that: No symptoms.
    But that doesn't mean the should be treated with less respect than a more venomous species – please don't. They're very fast and agile and are gone within the blink of an eye if scared, so chances for escapes are pretty high!

    Bottom line

    Like any other Avicularia spp. minatrix are "cute little fluffballs". I emphasize the „little“ here, since adult specimens rarely ever reach over 2.75 – 3“ in diagonal-legspan. Their tendency to keep hidden for the most time makes them a bad choice for a display spider and the keeper should keep that fact in mind. Owning and keeping one of these, is like keeping "a webbed-up enclosure without being sure if there's a spider even in there still". The most I see of my female, are the toes sticking out its web-tunnel, rarely (if ever) she's out completely during the night – and that only if she's hungry after molting. A few weeks later it is back to „stick out toes, hope for prey to pass by“. So, unless one has to rehouse them, they're rarely visible - other species of the genus may be a better choice if you're looking for a display animal.

    While I personally think feeding them is no big deal, those with no experience with this kind of secret, staying mainly hidden spiders, may think of dropping prey items right into their web-tunnel. Here again – please do not! Chances are the spider will get surprised and race out the other end: Escape incoming! Instead, use either some slow-moving prey-item and put it right at the exit (while you watch it until its taken!), or hold the feeders leg with your tweezers until the little red flash races out, grabs it and vanishes right away. Personally, I use maelworms that my girl snatches up quickly after placing them at her „feeding“ spot.

    Sidenotes / Warnings / Notes of Interest:
    • Make sure good cross-ventilation is available, these seriously don't take well to stuffy air and will die quickly if exposed to such for more than a few days! That goes for slings as well as for adults.

    • One of the reasons Avicularia minatrix is rather rare and tend to be a pricy addition to any collection, is the fact that sacs from them are very tiny. Only 20-40 eggs make up the whole of a sac from these. Kinda makes them even more precious, doesn't it? So treat them nice!

    • Interestingly, multiple speciemens were found in a single Bromeliad in nature, which lead to the assumption that this is a rather semi-social species. Like with any other Avicularia spp. though – I wouldn't dare to try it! Why? Because they're way to precious and these especially are too expensive to risk a colony experiment go wrong – but suit yourself!


    Avicularia minatrix, "Aurora", ~2.75" - Close-up shot

    Avicularia minatrix, "Aurora", ~2.75" - Close-up shot - during a photoshoot when I got her, she was well-behaved!

    Avicularia minatrix, "Aurora", ~2.75" - Close-up shot - close-up of tarsal-claws

    Avicularia minatrix, "Aurora", ~2.75" - after rehouse into her new digs

    Avicularia minatrix, "Aurora", ~2.75" - the most I see of her nowadays after opening the enclosure she immediately goes "Bah, light! See ya!"

    Relevant references:

    Taxonomic references

    Avicularia minatrixPocock, 1903b: 81 (Df).
    Avicularia minatrixSmith, 1992b: 22, f. 1-8 (f).
    Avicularia minatrixTinter, 1993: 10, f. 1-3 (Dm).
    Avicularia minatrixPeters, 2003: 91, f. 366-367 (mf).
    Avicularia minatrixSchmidt, 2003l: 202, f. 577-578 (mf).


    Peters, H.-J. (2003). Tarantulas of the World: Amerika's Vogelspinnen. Published by the author, Wegberg, Germany, 328 pp. [​IMG] [​IMG] -- Show included taxa

    Pocock, R. I. (1903b). On some genera and species of South-American Aviculariidae. Annals and Magazine of Natural History (7) 11: 81-115. [​IMG] -- Show included taxa

    Schmidt, G. (2003l). Die Vogelspinnen: Eine weltweite Übersicht. Neue Brehm-Bücherei, Hohenwarsleben, 383 pp. [​IMG] -- Show included taxa

    Smith, A. M. (1992b). Redescription of the Aviculariinae species Avicularia minatrix Pocock 1903. British Tarantula Society Journal8(2): 22-26. [​IMG] -- Show included taxa

    Tinter, A. (1993). Ein Männchen von Avicularia minatrix, Pocock 1903 (Araneae: Theraphosidae: Aviculariinae). Arachnologischer Anzeiger4(3): 10-13. [​IMG] -- Show included taxa
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  2. sdsnybny

    sdsnybny Arachnogeek Arachnosupporter

    Thank you Sir! Another well done informative post in the series.
  3. viper69

    viper69 ArachnoGod Old Timer

    Storm, I had a feeling this would be your next one! I love my AF minatrix. Everything you wrote is spot on, esp the part of being heavy webbers w/toes just outside.

    I REALLY REALLY appreciate the locality info, esp the bromeliad info. That is MOST interesting!!!

    Much appreciated the PDFs and Refs..

    Just an FYI to others, if you click on the PDF links, one must be a member to obtain them.
  4. lalberts9310

    lalberts9310 Arachnoprince

    Spot on Jan. As always :shame:
  5. Smileyboy

    Smileyboy Arachnopeon

    maybe we could see a closer look at psalmopoeus langenbucheri? amazing stuff man.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2016
  6. Storm76

    Storm76 Arachnoemperor

    Aside the fact that they're the dwarfs of the Psalmopoeus genus, they can be kept pretty much like any other Psalm out there and have the same traits, too. What do you want to know? Background / locality information on them is easily found if you look for it a little on the web. The first address to go to would be WSC (World-Spider-Catalogue) and probably MCs Tarantula Biography.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  7. Storm76

    Storm76 Arachnoemperor

    I should add: In regards to these they were thought to being semi-social, but I remember Chad tried that out once and was left with 1 of 7 (correct me if I'm wrong, Chad!) housed together? So I wouldn't try it.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Travis21v4

    Travis21v4 Arachnopeon

    Everytime u write one of these and everytime i buy the sp u write a out , i will bill you 50% of the cost. Kthx lolol
    • Lollipop Lollipop x 1
  9. Storm76

    Storm76 Arachnoemperor

    Everytime you try that, you'll get (at the most!) a Lollipop on here. No one urges you to buy anything :p
  10. Travis21v4

    Travis21v4 Arachnopeon

    Lies and slander good sir! Ur the person my arachnoaddiction therapist warned me about
    • Funny Funny x 1
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