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Genus Phoneutria - Basics about captive care and a brief look into the different species

Discussion in 'Other Spiders & Arachnids' started by Stefan2209, Dec 23, 2006.

  1. Stefan2209

    Stefan2209 Arachnodemon Old Timer

    Hi all,

    as there are by now more than just one Phoneutria species available, at least here in Europe, i guess it´s time to go into details, regarding the differences and similarities of the different species.

    I want to give you a brief overlook here, about the genus in general and later on, a bit more detailed, about the species which are actual available here.

    Before I get into this, one thing first:

    I don´t recommend keeping of Phoneutria spec. as a “pet” at all! These are not your everyday “pet-spiders”! Phoneutria are quite toxic, this is true for all species!
    If I talk about “less toxic” later on, this doesn´t mean they´re harmless, remember! A bite of any species will at least be extremely painful and will make you wanna see your doc, if not the hospital, immediately.
    If I talk about “calmer species” here, remember, I compare this always to Phoneutria standards. Even a calm Phoneutria is much more likely to attack than a pissed of Cupiennius or such.
    If you haven´t experience with other fast hunting spiders like Heteropoda´s or Cupiennius, i´d just advise to stick with these first, before you get into Phoneutria.
    For the educated, experienced or for the folks who just can´t keep their hands off these spiders, regardless what I say, I hope to be of help with this post to make an educated decision about their species choice.


    Phoneutria are medium to extremely large semi-arboreal wandering spiders, sometimes called hunting-spiders, too. They´re distributed from south Mexico on trough central to south-america. By now, there are five species recognized, the presence of some more species is known, but they aren´t yet described. The five known species are:

    Phoneutria bahiensis (Brazil)
    Phoneutria boliviensis (Central- & South-America)
    Phoneutria fera (Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Surinam, Guyana)
    Phoneutria nigriventer (Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina)
    Phoneutria reidyi (Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Guyana)

    Phoneutria belong to the family of Ctenidae, like the genera Ancylometes and Cupiennius, too. Nevertheless, they have some kind of “freak-status” within the big family of the ctenids. Here is why:

    Together with Ancylometes, Phoneutria displays some of the largest hunting spiders of the American continent. Contrary to nearly all other researched ctenid species, Phoneutria can, at least with some species, be extremely toxic to human beings.
    Contrary to most other spiders, that are capable to put a human in life-threatening condition with their bite, Phoneutria´s are in general not too reluctant to bite.
    I won´t call them “aggressive” here, as this just wouldn´t fit in my experience as a general description. However one thing can clearly be said: if you get into the way of a Phoneutria you run a much higher probability to get an aggressive reaction, than with most other species. Note, that I say “with most other” species: i´ve personal kept another small unidentified ctenid from Peru once, that made the Phoneutria´s look like Grammostola´s by it´s behaviour…

    Phoneutria are kept as “pet-spiders” by several individuals now and have been in the past. There have since years rumours been going on, about how hard to keep these spiders and, the most important point, how impossible to raise slings were. What´s true about this?

    I´ve yet to meet a person, that´s telling me he (or she) found adult specimen hard to keep alive. Once adult, Phoneutria are extremely hardy spiders that are quite easy to satisfy in captive care.
    With slings, there were and are different opinions around. When I got into Phoneutria´s, by the end of the 90´s, there had three species been available in germany: P. keyserlingi (then a valid species by its own, now P. nigriventer), P. nigriventer and P. fera.
    As the saying went, P. keyserlingi was quite ok to raise, of course, there had been losses, but one could at least manage to keep enough alive for further breeding. P. fera was said to be quite easy to keep alive, losses all in all around 50% to be expected.
    P. nigriventer was indeed said to be next to impossible to keep alive.
    I have kept an adult WC P. fera female then, a juvi P. keyserlingi and three P. nigriventer slings. The former two species proofed to be quite easy to maintain, however, I lost all my P. nigriventer slings to no apparent reason. They had been doing fine for some weeks, eating, molting, everything was ok. Then they just stopped eating and died one after the other.

    What else to expect.

    Years passed by, since some time they are around again, many people have raised slings of P. nigriventer without too much troubles, what has changed?

    Personally, I don´t know. What I do know is, yeah, they can be raised, even from smallest sizes on. One has just to keep some simple things in mind: with offspring amounts of more than 1000 slings in one sac, losses and even very high losses, are to be expected regardless what you do.
    I´m a private keeper and breeder, so I have no need to raise some hundreds or even thousands of specimen, I go for two digit numbers just to maintain a breeding stem. If one starts out with fresh hatched slings, do yourself a favour and buy more than you want to get to adulthood. Chances are high, regardless how good you care for them, some will just not make it.
    For breeders, keep some hundreds and let them just cannibalize at each other, till you have the number left you want. Might sound cruel but you´ll be rewarded with just the strongest, biggest and fittest specimen. Those will indeed proof to be hard to kill by “wrong keeping” and can tolerate heavy fluctuations in their environmental conditions. Natural selection, so to say.

    It has to be stressed, that there are indeed differences in raising between the different species. From the species I got slings of in the very past, all proofed to be raisable, but problems occurred, however, in different regards with the different species.
    I will go into details, in the description of the species.

    As general rules of keeping can be said the following:

    They can tolerate temps from 10° C till 40° without taking damage. Ideal range is between 25°C and 30°C. Note, the warmer you keep them, the faster and more agile your specimen will be.

    Temperatures seem to play a quite interesting role while incubating a sac. Phoneutria sacs are said to hatch in something like 6 to 8 weeks, which is quite long for “true spiders”.
    I had a sac this summer, which had quite high temperatures here. Over the daytime hours I had temps around 40°C and with the night time hours of still some 33°C. I was extremely worried about the sac, perhaps it might dry out?
    Well, this wasn´t the case, it took another, quite unexpected effect: the sac hatched after exact 17 days. Talk about adaptive…
    The other sac built be the same female but in late fall, which means much lower temps, took 6 weeks to hatch.

    Temperatures can also be used in rather “hot situations”, e.g. if one has to catch out large specimen out of their enclosure. Such operations can sometimes even for experienced keepers be quite (errrr…) “interesting”, depending of specimen.
    Low temps can be quite useful then. I had to catch an adult P. reidyi male this fall to send him to a buddy for breeding. The spider was kept at 25°C and was quite active and nervous. He had nearly 6 inch (14cm) legspan and a big enclosure, where he had enough room to manoeuvre me out easily. Not a too nice task.
    I just put his enclosure out in the garden for some 15 minutes, where were temps around 18°C then. After that 15 minutes he was just calm as one could wish, no running, jumping, nothing.

    As a rule of thumb, one could say 80%. However, to my experience, the spiders can tolerate quite some fluctuations.
    In one single case it was apparently temporarily needed, to keep slings at a drastic lower humidity level, to make them accept prey again. As this observation was species related, I will cover this, when I go into species details.

    How to keep a Phoneutria by environmental conditions is a somewhat pointless story, to my opinion, if we don´t go through a short talk about how to keep them in a safe manner.
    Every now and then questions showed up, about the need of wearing a hazmat suite or about the need of special training, skills or such. Voices are given in nearly every country, that these spiders should only be kept by “experts” (what´s that?), scientists and so on.
    Well, I had my fair share of communication with the pro´s (scientists), but have yet to meet one who can tell me, he got specially trained to keep and maintain Phoneutria during his studies.
    So, what´s needed? To my opinion, the best answer to this question is already given by Lelle on his article about P. nigriventer:

    “….demand not much except a big dose of common sence and much respect.”

    This is it. In an ideal world, add some experience with other fast hunting spiders, but i´m the wrong guy, to advertise this too loud, as i´ve kept my first specimen with just one year of experience with tarantulas under my belt.

    What does this mean for the practical dealing with this spiders?

    They´re quite easy to keep in a safe manner, as long as you just respect them for what they are and need. They just want to be left alone. As long, as you follow this simple rule, you won´t get in any troubles with them. Just let them be.
    Most important is to give them some retreat. With next to all specimen from all species i´ve kept, this will do for a somewhat relaxed keeping. Usually you won´t see your spider during the daytime hours, it´ll just rest in its retreat.
    Coming dusk you might see it roam through its tank, coming dawn, your lady will be gone again and that´s the cycle. With this, Phoneutria are much more boring than for example Cupiennius.

    This is another point, why I take Phoneutria for bad pets for the general public. Many people seem again and again to be attracted by their “big name” and the bad rep, all for the wrong reasons. You won´t see too much from your Phoneutria if you keep it right. You won´t be the “big man” in the eyes of your silly-ass friends, as most of them won´t ever see your Phoneutria and if they do, chances are high they will be much more impressed by your tarantulas.

    More general security advices involve things, that should be clear by the “common sense” Lelle mentioned: never, never, never open the enclosure, if you don´t have to. Never ever put your bare hands into the enclosure, never. Use tweezers, foreceps. Be safe here, too. You might piss your spider off, it might someday attack the tweezers and hurt itself. Put some kind of tube (plastic, rubber) over the tweezers, so if your spider should attack the tweezers it won´t hurt itself.
    With every move you make inside the enclosure, expect to be attacked. This is mostly a very rare occurrence, but better to be prepared, than to get surprised….
    If your spider sits in its retreat and you can´t see it, perhaps a mirror might help you to watch your moves and the spiders at the same moment. I use this method since years with good results.
    If you have to do some cleaning in the tank, it might pay out, to feed the spider first. Feeding Phoneutria are quite occupied and generally don´t care too much about what´s going on around them.
    If your spider keeps sitting at a “bad” location for what you want to do in its tank, you can try to motivate it to change location by either very careful blowing at it (CAREFUL, if you blow to strong, it will go nuclear…) or touching its third leg-pair with some kind of wire.
    This manipulation is usually noticed as “minor disturbance” by the spider and won´t provoke any aggressive action. Rather it will try to avoid that disturbance by doing a few steps in moderate speed.
    I found this information in a paper from TRETZEL from 1957 and find it extremely useful.

    There are however some actions, that to my (and that of other breeders) experience can just performed “hot”, which means, that there is no 100% safe way that could be described here.
    Such actions are the catching of adult specimens out of very big tanks (e.g. mating tanks) or the separation of mothers from their breed.
    For such you´ll need patience, a steady eye and hand and preferably someone who can assist you and who knows, what he´s doing.
    However, for now, most guys stick to “just” keeping, so I don´t see any extreme need to further expand this topic.

    There ARE different risks, just a short run down.
    There are so-called “risk-groups” of people, when it comes to a bite. Such groups are for example very small children, very old people or general people with a predisposition for certain diseases. These people will not only be in deep trouble if bitten, this persons run a realistic chance to actually die if bitten. This may even be true, if the anti-venom is given, as a study of several hundreds bites has shown.
    There is another risk-group, that´s important for the captive-care of Phoneutria´s. The risk-groups in the keepers themselfes, I see two groups here at a specific high risk-level. First, beginners, they just can´t know what they´re dealing with until they see it for the first time. I could write a book about it and nevertheless you wouldn´t get the picture. Vice versa, two seconds confronted with a really pissed of Phoneutria will teach you more than two hours of listening.
    I speak out of own experience here, I listened to the “good, old guys” who knew what they were talking about, before I got my first Phoneutria. I WAS warned, I WAS careful. I KNEW what I was dealing with, or better, I thought so.
    Lived for six months with my Phoneutria´s and thought, I knew what they were capable of.
    I was wrong. Drastically.

    When I finally saw, what these spiders can do, I had several minutes trouble with realizing what had just happened in front of my eyes.
    When I finally realized what had happened, fear set in and I was just amazed: nothing can be so fast, it´s just impossible.

    I won´t the describe the speed here, as I don´t have the words for it and doubt, they are available in any language. Even if I had the words, it´d be wasted time, as you wouldn´t believe it.
    Don´t mind, i´m not gonna blame anyone for this, as I understand it from my experience. I was warned, so are you. Take care.

    The second risk-group among the keepers is the one I myself am in: experienced or advanced keepers. Guys who do this for quite some time and have seen “enough to know their spiders”.
    I was extremely lucky, in getting to speak with a german pro before I got hold of my first Phoneutria. That guy is more than just knowledgeable, he was keeping Phoneutria for 10 years and told me about his experiences. In his 10th year he got tagged!
    I didn´t understand that at that time, he had more experience than one could wish for, how could that happen?
    To his own words, the major-mistake was to “know his spiders”, he was just sure, that he could predict their behaviour.
    I now understand this very well, as I sometimes feel attempted to say or even worse, act, the same. This is a dangerous misconception with any spider, but can in the truest meaning of the words be a fatal one with Phoneutria.
    To give you a picture: I wrote a thread here at the boards about my experiences with the raising of the former Phoneutria fera cf Oyapok (P. reidyi) and stated often enough, that I was quite surprised, how calm these spiders were. More like Cupiennius than Phoneutria, if you disturbed them, they just ran for hide. Threat displays had been an extremely rare occurrence at all, even if you touched them directly with an object.
    I was often enough tempted to just reach into their tanks with my bare hands to do the maintenance, would have been much easier and faster. I resisted that temptation and felt dumber and dumber every time I wiggled with wires and tweezers and the spiders just stayed calm or went behind their bark pieces.
    I had kept them for nearly 6 months and was very used to them, one could say “I knew my spiders”. Had just to clean out some prey remains, my subadult male resting on the front side of his bark, sitting relaxed as usual. I “really know” my spiders and I “really know” that resting position, if they keep sitting like this, they just won´t do anything, unless one directly touches them.
    I was in a hurry and hard a time thinking, needless, all that wires and tweezers, I could have done it in just 20 seconds if I used my hand instead.
    I shrugged it off and used the tweezers. While I was cleaning up, the male rested peacefully at his bark, until he suddenly jumped at the wire and bit into it twice.
    I had never seen such behaviour with this species. Since long I had once again that strange tickling feeling at my back, that was close, that could have been easily my hand. I could now be in extreme pain going towards the hospital.
    Be warned, advanced keepers, be warned experienced guys, regardless how much you´ve seen, you haven´t seen it all until it happens.

    What´s next? Bottomline.

    I´m not going to go through that toxin topic again here, as it has lost its relevance to me. I keep all my spiders, regardless if Phoneutria or anything else, a way that I just don´t get tagged. So why caring too much about their toxin.
    I´ll give some basic info´s about some interesting facts in the detailed species accounts, though.

    The written above is based primarily on my own, personal experiences and to a lesser degree, on that of other breeders i´m in touch with.
    I explicitly welcome contributions from other keepers and breeders, even if you may have encountered other things, than I have.
    However, one word of warning: if you should try to disregard my experiences, you better show up with your very own, no “hear-sayings”, no 70 year old “was once right” tellings from BÜCHLER, no “Butantan has this and that problems”, this is just not my topic.
    My observations are based on the keeping of at least 4 different Phoneutria species and for comparison purposes, 3 different Cupiennius species, 4 different Ancylometes species and 4 different unidentified Ctenidae ssp., from South-America and Africa alike.
    My observations are no stand outs, but can be confirmed more or less by other very experienced (many with much more than I have) keepers and breeders. If you have troubles in believing something of the written above, feel free any time you like to check back with me or even better, check back with one of the other breeders.

    After years of keeping, raising, breeding different species in different genera and different families, I can only state one thing clearly:

    There´re much more questions here, than I have answers.

    Over the following days and / or weeks, i´ll update and expand this thread to cover the mentioned species details.
    For 2007 it´s raising, raising and even more raising. Next to that is work with some WC´s, try to make them reproduce. Questions arised about the availability of P. fera, mainly from “wrong” persons, persons who´ve never seen such spiders and are just attracted by the “bad” name. From the persons I know of who have indeed a strong affection to the genus, such questions are in debate.

    Below a short look ahead what´s next to come, enjoy.

    Phoneutria boliviensis, adult female (WC)

    Phoneutria nigriventer, adult female (CB)

    Phoneutria reidyi, adult female (CB)


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  2. Crotalus

    Crotalus Arachnoking Old Timer

    Your comments about Butantan is less appropriate. What makes YOUR observations so much more valueble then others? There are more people then you who keep this genus and all cannot have exact the same experiences with them.
    For example, I found alot of individuals to calm down alot in captivity, while other people dont have that experience at all. Does not mean I would put them down in a article I write or think their experience is less valuable.
    Too bad you choose to do this. It really dont add anything to your othervise good article.

    Add: your comments about a spider attacking you in the terrarium makes me smile. Sorry no spider would attack unless you put your hand so close to it that the spider feels threatened or if you acctually put your hand on it.

    Good advice if it was 100% bulletproof but its not. Its been tried by several and what you get is unfortunatly a mass death at the end.

    I would think the best way (that most had success with) is few slings kept individually. Then you have more control of the temp, humidity and food.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2006
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  3. As i'm sure you know I will be purchasing some the sopiderlings you recently produced, how important is the arboreal aspect with this species? Are arboreal retreats preffered?
  4. Emanuele

    Emanuele Arachnosquire Old Timer

    Just a little note about the massive keeping of youngs. Yes, you can do it but I noticed that those who are faster to grow and eat the other, are often males. So another risk of the massive keeping is a large number of larger males.
    I prefer to do what Lelle said, chosing random specimens and keeping them separately. If one has large numbers then ok, a part of them could be kept in massive keeping and maybe sold/exchanged...
    But, of course, this is just my experience.... I found your article quite interesting and really useful.
  5. Stefan2209

    Stefan2209 Arachnodemon Old Timer


    @ Lelle

    quite ok to me, if you dislike my comment about Butantan, but i wrote it intentionally: i´m interested in comparing and sharing personal experience. As long, as nobody from Butantan will participate here, it´s just a senseless point to me:

    You could tell me here, from second hand, that Butantan has it´s problems. I don´t know about that and have to admit, I don´t care about that, too.
    Vice versa, I could answer that with the mentioned paper of TRETZEL, who did his mass-rearing work in the late 1950´s in BUTANTAN and had apparently no problems.
    Now be honest: would anybody here, including you and me, gain from such a debate? I guess not. And that´s just exactly the point why i´m not to the slightest degree interested in such conversation.

    As mentioned, I had commo with some pro´s (scientists) who were very true about their experiences with the practical aspects of keeping, quite interesting. If BUTANTAN should be interested in such conversation they´re gladly invited to participate. As long as they just don´t, I see no point to discuss their perhaps given problems.

    >What makes YOUR observations so much more valueble then others?

    Never said, mine would be, I just said, I want to compare personal experiences, not that old “hear-saying” stuff, mentioned above.

    >There are more people then you who keep this genus and all cannot have >exact the same experiences with them.

    That´s exactly the reason for writing this thread: some observations are nearly always the same, some are not. Interesting, don´t you think so?

    >For example, I found alot of individuals to calm down alot in captivity, >while other people dont have that experience at all. Does not mean I would >put them down in a article I write or think their experience is less valuable.

    That´s smart written, you talk about individuals….
    What individuals from which species and from CB´s or WC´s. The more specimen from more species, more locations you add, the more interesting this gets.
    Once again: it´s not about more or less valuable, it´s about comparing different experiences. Some will next to always be the same, some will often differ, WHY is that and what can possibly (or perhaps, if you like that better) be learned from it?

    >Add: your comments about a spider attacking you in the terrarium makes >me smile. Sorry no spider would attack unless you put your hand so close to >it that the spider feels threatened or if you acctually put your hand on it.

    This is difficult to answer to me:
    First, just because you´ve never seen it happen, doesn´t mean, it hasn´t happened.
    Second: I follow your statement to a certain degree, but following it down the whole road would be dangerous with this audience to my opinion.
    Me, very personally, would at least say, I don´t believe in any spider attacking without reason. Some specimen can just be extremely territorial, as soon, as you open their tank they feel threatened and will attack to defend their territory.
    If I would break this down, I could write something like “No spider will attack unless provoked”.
    Keep in mind there are just guys here, who might be interested in Phoneutria and have never seen them till now. If they have that statement in mind when they get their first specimen this might very well create a dangerous situation, as they could easily underestimate the temperament.
    Better to give a graphic account here, than to “talk things nice” or be too general.
    I´ll give you some other account here: with my long gone P. fera WC I once was attacked for just entering the room her tank was in. Was late at night, the spider room was dark and I dared to open the door and turn on the lights. This was rewarded with a P. fera that did several jumps against the door of her enclosure….
    I could now draw different conclusions from this, for example “oh dear, this species is pretty aggressive”. This would, of course, be wrong.
    I could also say: this species is just extremely territory protective. This would be right to some degree. Guess for keepers that are not that long used to Phoneutria, primarily even for keepers that aren´t actual keeping them, but plan to do so in the future, it´s more useful to give a report of things i´ve personally seen happen.

    >Good advice if it was 100% bulletproof but its not. Its been tried by several >and what you get is unfortunatly a mass death at the end.

    Once again, sorry, for your losses.
    Next to that, with my own breeding the method worked (and works right now) pretty well, other breeders reported the same.

    >I would think the best way (that most had success with) is few slings kept >individually. Then you have more control of the temp, humidity and food.

    I´m working with both ways right now, as i´ve some 80 slings of my own breed here and some 20 of P. reidyi. The P. reidyi´s have been much more by count some weeks ago, but some specimen, as usual, just didn´t make it.
    If I get the chance, through breeding, i´ll go for the first method. As I just can´t breed any species, i´ll often enough work with the second, but find it more frustrating, as it´s to some degree a waste of time, if you compare it to the breeding story.

    There´s still another point about sharing experiences: knowledge, that has to be shared with everybody.
    Think some years back, there was next to nothing to find about the captive care of any Phoneutria spec. in the internet. The situation has changed since then to some degree, at least with P. nigriventer. But, tell me, what do you know about raising and keeping of P. reidyi for an example? Do you know sources where one could read about that? Personally, I don´t. There are guys around that have that experience, sure, but they just don´t write it down, so anybody can read it.
    Think some years ahead: what, if the populations here collapse. This has happened in the past and is not too unlikely to happen again. Maybe that species will get imported someday again. If nobody will NOW talk in the open about his or her experiences that´d mean that those keepers would have to do it all from zero again. What a waste.
    Even worse, the P. boliviensis. The specimens are here since nearly 4 months, what is written about their behaviour, about differences in comparison to P. nigriventer about similarities…. Nothing. There have some pics been posted and there have been some unbased speculations about it being “deadly”. Once more, what a waste…

    I´m not gonna write it down here in detail (that´s for the species descriptions) but there are different aspects of the raising between P. nigriventer and P. reidyi. That aspects are known around here by several people, but are till now, not written down for the public.

    Merry X-Mas

  6. Stefan2209

    Stefan2209 Arachnodemon Old Timer

    Hi Chris,

    sorry, i´m really not involved in the selling, so i don´t know who will buy the specimens.

    I keep two groups with my slings: one with a terrestrial setup and one with an arboreal setup (comparison purposes). Both ways work equally. The spiders in the arboreal setups can often be found at ground level, too.

    Based on that, i´d give them arboreal setups, let them choose, what they prefer.

    Merry X-Mas

  7. Stefan2209

    Stefan2209 Arachnodemon Old Timer

    Hi Ema,

    Thanks for that post, very interesting!

    I second your experiences with faster growing specimen to turn out males, but not with Phoneutria. I know this since long from Cupiennius.

    With Phoneutria, I still can´t see a predictable rule so far, as I had mixed experiences. Had some specimen from P. nigriventer where the females were much faster, than the males from the same sac.
    Similar with P. reidyi, got me the smallest specimen from a batch and was quite confident (based on the Cupiennius thing), that they would turn out female. Wrong, had a 100% male ratio…

    Based on the relations, i´ll add Ancylometes here: Ancylometes, Cupiennius and Phoneutria are all ctenids, but Ancylometes and Phoneutria are closer related with each other, than with Cupiennius: with Ancylometes (referring to the two species from Oyapok here, the same habitat the P. reidyi is originating from) I had again mature the females faster, than the males, with the A. spec. Oyapok.
    With the A. spec. Roura, I had females and males mature at the exact same time or with very small differences.

    NOTE: this are just observations, as stated, I just can´t see any predictable rule from this.

    Nevertheless, I find this noteworthy, as it perhaps might someday explain the actual situation with the P. nigriventer around here, females everywhere but next to no males…

    Merry X-Mas

  8. Crotalus

    Crotalus Arachnoking Old Timer

    Then why even bother to bring it up? Its not relevant to your othervise good article since you choose to dismiss the info for reasons only you know.

    To gather information from all kind of sources is very much of interest and atleast that is how I try to do it when writing a article along with my personal experiences. That the source is not present here at AB is irrelevant.

    I had c:a 15 in all kind of sizes of nigriventer from a few locals in Brazil, and the behavoiur was pretty much the same - loco to start with then after a while calmed down.
    The same with any animal, some will calm down but a few never will. P. is no exception to that.

    Why some have a mass extinction of slings and some raise them, and some raise them to juveniles and then they die - is not easy to answer.
    I suspect a few factors though, so next time I get hold of some (I was gonna get some here but they arrived DOA) I will try the few individuals method.

    I dont really understand your fear of no one talking about their experiences
    People do but maybe not just here. Personal contacts are sometimes to be prefered and often used.

  9. Stefan2209

    Stefan2209 Arachnodemon Old Timer


    >Then why even bother to bring it up? Its not relevant to your othervise >good article since you choose to dismiss the info for reasons only you know.

    >To gather information from all kind of sources is very much of interest and >atleast that is how I try to do it when writing a article along with my >personal experiences. That the source is not present here at AB is irrelevant.

    You´re comparing apples to pineapples here to my opinion: I really don´t believe Butantan having troubles with raising just a handful of P. nigriventer.
    I believe indeed, that it might, under economical aspects (e.g. manpower), be tricky to raise a sufficient amount of slings to adulthood to have enough spiders for a sufficient venom yield.
    However, who cares about that? Butantan has apparently found ways to overcome this, through working with adult wildcaught specimen that are used for this purpose.

    I´m talking about raising a limited amount of spiders for breeding purposes here.

    Furthermore, i´m mainly interested in what you could call “other Phoneutria spec.”, aside from P. nigriventer, as there´s already much info about P. nigriventer available.
    Where´s that content when it comes to one of the other species?

    >I had c:a 15 in all kind of sizes of nigriventer from a few locals in Brazil, >and the behavoiur was pretty much the same - loco to start with then after >a while calmed down.
    >The same with any animal, some will calm down but a few never will. P. is >no exception to that.

    You take that for granted just because you´ve seen it with 15 specimen from the very same location?
    I´m actually living with more than 100 Phoneutria spec. and wouldn´t dare to jump to definite conclusions from just that limited observations.
    Things are often enough not that simple, if you just add enough references, see your own comment above about that matter. While this true for “academical accounts”, like written notes, this is even more true, if you work with living subjects.

    It´s not that tricky to keep a spider and have a look at it from time, but this gets a completely different topic if you want to get some kind of understanding, about what you see.
    There are very common misconceptions about several species in several genera, just because people “know” a single bit about one species or about one particular specimen and think, based of that “knowledge”, every other species within that genus or even every specimen within the species would behave the same.

    >Why some have a mass extinction of slings and some raise them, and >some raise them to juveniles and then they die - is not easy to answer.
    >I suspect a few factors though, so next time I get hold of some (I was >gonna get some here but they arrived DOA) I will try the few individuals >method.

    Who had a mass extinction of slings with the latest breeds, that was not intentionally triggered?
    Raised them to juvi´s and then they died? Guess you talk about P. nigriventer here? I had some kind of “problem” with juvi P. nigriventer from the last batch, they just stopped eating. However, it´s not the point to me, WHY they stop eating, the interesting fact is about what to do to make them accept prey again and that task was solved.
    Uhh, DOA´s? Ordered slings? Better go for adults next time, if you want them send. Only safe way to get slings to Canada would involve personal transport to my opinion.

    >I dont really understand your fear of no one talking about their >experiences
    >People do but maybe not just here. Personal contacts are sometimes to be >prefered and often used.

    My fear about that matter is based on experience, too. I´ve seen it once happen, it might easily happen again, what a waste.
    Sure, there are personal contacts and as this is ever increasing, I find it much more useful to just write that info, that is otherwise given to a limited amount of people, to a public source.
    I have a full-time job, i´ve got some hundred spiders here and some other hobbies, too, and i´m just more and more tired to answer every question about spiders in personal communication. So I just prefer to write it down once and that´s it.
    Next to that, if everybody would do this with just one single species he has kept, we would have by now a really giant database of infosheets of many, many spiders. Guess, just for interested beginners this would make many things much easier.

    How about you? If I remember this right, you stated you´ve once kept an Oligoctenus spec., why not write something about that particular species?


  10. Crotalus

    Crotalus Arachnoking Old Timer

    They didnt breed them for venom, since they go out and catch the animals they need for venom in the wild. This was purely out of curiosity I guess

    I know the guy that collected my animals, and no he is not a member here, so yes I know where they were collected.
    And I wasnt concluding anything, it was just a observation.

    I ordered slings to see if the theory of few animals would make it easier to raise them successfully. I guess the guy packed them poorly.

    One spider is not much to write about.
    However it was damn pretty

  11. Emanuele

    Emanuele Arachnosquire Old Timer

    Hi all!
    Yesterday I was feeding my Phoneutria and I noticed an interesting thing, never noticed before with - for example - Cupiennius.
    I'm keeping them in 5x5x6 cm cilindrical containers with peat moss as substrate and a top with small holes.
    I had in these last days some dead ones (a total of five) and all of them had molting problems, mostly with difficulties at the legs level. The ones which didn't die during molt died after some days with one or two "curly" leg.
    So yesterday I was checking the status of the other ones and I noticed that some of them (fortunately a few), the ones which were in more humid containers, had the last tarsi with a whitish and "humid" appearance, like they were dirt. I'll check with microscope for better understanding, but I think it could be a sort of mycosis which attacks the spiders in too humid environment (and I assure you, I'm not keeping them like Ancylometes!! I have experience rearing Cupiennius, Lycosa and so on..).
    So I decided to do some "upgrade" of the little tanks, adding a strip of package paper (I don't know the real english name, it's the paper used to make the packages and the shipping boxes), rolled to do an arch inside the container, to help the spiders climb easily and stay away from the ground.
    I think they risk to be infected above all after shedding, when they're still soft and the mycoses can attack the soft chitin.
    I'll let you know if I'll be right.
    If you have any comment about it, you'll be welcome!
  12. Stefan2209

    Stefan2209 Arachnodemon Old Timer

    Hi Ema,

    sorry to hear about that!

    This happened to which species?

    I raised P. reidyi at 100% moisture level without ever experiencing such problems.

    However, i had once and again troubles with molt, which is to my experience based on a combination of substrate and moisture levels. With several tanks and containers i had to do a complete change of the substrate to get rid of the problem.
    Molt and fungus, too, can kill even juvi specimen quite fast, which is not only true for Phoneutria.

    However, take care of that packaging stuff: i have seen a buddy using this and it molted even faster than the substrate did...

    If nothing else should help out, try the following: rehouse the spiders to completely new containers and keep the moisture level low (around 50%) for a beginning. You´ll have to observe the spiders very careful, but this has worked for me even with very ill looking and behaving specimen.

    To my experience, at least P. nigriventer and the P. spec. Paraguay can be raised at rather low humidity levels, without any ill effects. Some buddies, who i trust, reported the same about raising of P. reidyi.

    Fingers crossed!



    P.S. You are sure, that those white dots don´t belong there? Just asking, because both, P. reidyi and P. spec. Paraguay, develop some whitish markings at the tips of their legs when they grow.
    Haven´t seen such markings in the P. nigriventer Sao Paolo form, though....
  13. Maybrick

    Maybrick Arachnopeon

    Hi, here is a older picture of a young P. nigriventer, did you mean white spots like these? (Stefan, if you mean these spots or markings, then they was displayed on P. nigriventer, too ;-))

    So, heres my little experience with raising P. nigriventer:
    The spiders, that I have raised as spiderlings (they are not fully grown now, but I think the risk of dying is behind them) and survived, have been kept in containers with nearly 100% moisture and also with lower humidity. So the survival of these specimen have not been directed through moisture conditions.

    Attached Files:

  14. Emanuele

    Emanuele Arachnosquire Old Timer

    Thank you all, no I mean another type of whitish appearance... I'll try to photograph it to show you...
    Anyway, I had the same problem with three species (reidyi, nigriventer and sp. Paraguay).
    But it's not a "great" problem, only a few losses...
  15. Stefan2209

    Stefan2209 Arachnodemon Old Timer

    Hey Marco,

    thanks for sharing that pic, apparently i missed that dots indeed (and not only me, guess i have to do some talking with some guys...).

    Quite interesting, as my (bigger) specimen don´t show these dots anymore. Should be interesting to observe if these spots will remain in the P. spec. Paraguay specimen when they grow bigger.
    The Ancylometes species from Oyapok show such markings, too, and keep them to adulthood. Guess i´ll take a closer look at the different adult P. reidyi´s to see, if the dots are still prominent there.


  16. Stefan2209

    Stefan2209 Arachnodemon Old Timer

    P. boliviensis - Species Description

    Hi there,

    here we go with

    Phoneutria boliviensis (F. O. P.-Cambridge, 1897) Central, South America

    Before I get into details, note that the size given here is the size of the biggest specimen i´ve actually seen myself. Size of other specimen may differ, smaller as much as bigger can not be ruled out so far.

    P. boliviensis is one of the smaller Phoneutria species and it´s the one with the biggest geographical distribution.
    Despite the wide distribution, this species had, until very recently, been a very rare sight in captive care. Not much is known about possibly given special needs or such.
    2006 saw the introduction of several specimen of this species to germany, females and males alike. Since very recently there are now offsprings available, too.

    Size and Looks
    The species is rather small with some 3cm bodies (a tad over 2”) and some 8 – 10cm (approx. 4”) legspans. Overall colour is light brown – grey with some dots at the abdomen. As with many Phoneutria species there are stripes at the feelers and the chelicerae are coloured in a deep red. However, the famous stripe at the carapace is lacking in the species or at least in the specimen that showed up here. The leg undersides are coloured in bright yellow which makes threat displays a quite interesting sight.

    Despite Cupiennius ssp., that can reach similar legspans in several species, P. boliviensis is of much heavier build and is looking more bulky.

    Sexual dimorphism is given in this species, but not too pronounced. Males show very similar markings and colours but are of minimal lighter build and show some longer legs in comparison to the bodies.

    There seems to be one marking that is prominent in both sexes and might be an easy clue to identify this species by mere looking at it: the face, quite unique for Phoneutria. The face of P. boliviensis appears to be black under normal daylight (in the pics, that are taken with flash, you can see it´s indeed of a very dark red) and shows some very bright stripes at the outer sites.

    There are two things, that make P. boliviensis a quite interesting species for the “pet-spider keeper”-community:

    P. boliviensis is not known to have ever killed a human being. Due to statements from Dr. Günter Schmidt in a newspaper interview it´s even unlikely of being capable to kill even a very small child. Quite interesting…
    I did some internet recherché but couldn´t find any hard data verifying this. To my surprise I didn´t find any bite reports either. There had been some studies about how often accidents in Costa Rica occur with this species, but there had been no detailed descriptions of the effects of the bites. I chose Costa Rica as a country to do this recherché, as there is only P. boliviensis around out of the genus, so that mis-ID´ed spiders wouldn´t cause any wrong results. After months of searching the net without finding what I was looking for, I gave up and headed for a different approach: I mailed several universities over there and some privates, which had an interest in invertebrates and just inquired about what they would know about this spider and the effects of a bite from it.
    Most universities and privates just didn´t answer, however, I got exact two replies. One from an university, which told me, that there wouldn´t be any studies of bite effects available, as there would be just no “public interest” in such, as most people who´d get bitten by this spiders wouldn´t even go to the doctors. Strange.
    One private answered too, he couldn´t answer any of my questions, but he inquired instead, why someone in Germany would be so interested in this species, as to his knowledge nobody in Costa Rica would care too much about them. Strange, too.

    Finally I stumbled upon a paper comparing the composition of the toxins of different Phoneutria species, P. boliviensis and P. nigriventer within. The study showed that the PhTx1 fraction within the whole toxin is just very weak pronounced in P. boliviensis, which might indeed be the explanation why these spiders lack the capability to injure a human as bad as P. nigriventer can in worst cases.
    Don´t get me wrong: a bite will at least be extremely painful, no matter what.

    If anyone out there has a clue where to get hold of detailed medical reports of P. boliviensis bites, i´d be highly interested. I´ve got only one here, that just says “minor effects”, but doesn´t go into details.

    Another interesting fact is, that P. boliviensis is in comparison to P. nigriventer quite calm. Not calm as in Cupiennius but still a whole lot calmer than the famous P. nigriventer. One has to be quite rude with the spiders to make them angry.
    Note the pics, the very last pic may make you think the spider is in thread display, which is NOT the case. The pics were taken during feeding. The pictured specimen sat in a bad spot for such activity as it was sitting direct in front of the door of its enclosure. I touched it with a fine paint brush to make it move to some other spot, to just no avail. No aggressive reaction, no running, nothing. The spider just got interested in the paint brush and touched it with its legs. Even massive manipulation didn´t yield the wanted result. No threat display either (common with P. nigriventer), no bites (common in P. nigriventer, too), only result was an apparently quite confused spider.
    The last pic resulted through massive touching of the spiders front legs, the raised legs were just an attempt to flee the paint brush.
    Same was true for rehousing the spiders, quite easy going.

    Guess this could be very interesting to people who are interested in keeping Phoneutria but just won´t start with the “hottest” species. P. boliviensis is an ideal choice here, as it´s a “real” Phoneutria, but is just not as defensive or even skittish as P. nigriventer.
    Behaviour is generally the same with both sexes, with the males being a bit more skittish and nervous, than the females.

    There is perhaps a third point, that needs verifying:

    Since years, Ancylometes bogotensis is regularly bred in Germany and across Europe without any problems. Raising slings of this species is just a pleasure, keep them warm, keep them cold, keep them very moist or rather dry, they will just live and grow, no matter what. If one looks at the geographical distribution of this species, this is not too surprising, as A. bogotensis is in fact that Ancylometes species with the biggest distribution.
    Other Ancylometes species have proofed to be much more difficult to raise and to breed, possibly because they need more specialized environmental conditions.
    It is just a thought, but now at least a thought that can be verified:
    With the extreme wide distribution of P. boliviensis, could it possibly be that this species will proof similar easy to raise as the A. bogotensis? It´s found through very different locations, so one might think, this species just can´t be too sensitive…

    I don´t know the answer to that question, but i´m pretty confident, time will make sure.


    Phoneutria boliviensis, adult female

    Will post pics of a male later.

    Next species to be portrayed is P. nigriventer, watch out.


    • Like Like x 3
  17. Thanks again Stefan. It really is a joy reading your posts (the other posts too). :clap:
    The beautiful pics are nice endings too. I wish that all species would be "explained" that way in their own caresheets as you can never read enough about interesting species. Looking forward to next ones :)
  18. death66

    death66 Arachnosquire Old Timer

    thanks very much for this! I can't wait for more, I feel like a kid waiting for christmas!
  19. Maybrick

    Maybrick Arachnopeon

    Hi Stefan,
    you already know my opinion about this thread: Really nice :clap:
    ...so keep on doing this.

    I think, at the moment this picture still fits in this nice thread ;-):

    Attached Files:

  20. Maybrick

    Maybrick Arachnopeon

    Update :)

    Attached Files:

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    • Award Award x 1
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