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Care Sheet

Thailand BlackTarantula
(Haplopelma minax)
Care in Captivity

by Todd Gearheart

Haplopelma minaxThis super aggressive and fast tarantula has been imported since the mid Œ80s and has been a common import until recent years. It is a medium-sized, velvety-black burrowing species with black chevron markings on a grayish-black abdomen. It has a whiteish-tan trim around the carapace.

This species doesn't "brown-out" prior to its next molt and will keep the nice velvety-black appearance most of the year. H. minax doesn't like to be under bright light or in the open.

It is a "secretive" tarantula that likes to stay in its burrow except for a few hours a night when it may come out to wait for prey to pass by its burrow. This is not a beginner's species as they are nervous and quick to bite.

Other names used: "Lesser Thailand black bird-eating tarantula"

Described by: Thorell 1897

Distribution: Tropical rainforests of Tenasserim or Kowkareet, Burma, NorthernThailand and Malaysia.

Size: Spiderlings emerge as 1/2" 1st instar. Adults may reach 6" in leg span and weigh 1.5 ounces or more.

Growth rate: Males take 1-2 years to mature. Females take 2-4 years. They will molt (shed their exoskeleton) 4-6 times the first year, and then molt once a year after that. Older adults can sometimes go for two years before molting.

Temperature: Keep 80-90F. They can take drops to 70F for short periods of time as long as they have a deep burrow. Keep your tarantula's enclosure away from windows, sunlight, heater¹s and air conditioning.

Humidity: 80-90%. Keep substrate slightly moist and provide a shallow water dish. Spray spiderling pill bottles once a week lightly. The substrate should NOT be "swampy" nor should it be so dry that if you were to blow on it particles would go up in the air.

Habitat type/enclosure/substrate needed: This is a burrowing, rainforest species found in deep burrows. Keep adults in 5-10 gallon tanks with 4-6" peat moss/vermiculite mix with cork bark shelter to hide under.

Spiderlings will need to be keep in pill bottles with peat moss for 1st six months, then moved to 8 and 16 ounce deli cups as they get bigger.

Make sure your adults can not "climb" up the sides of the glass tank as a drop will kill or injury them. Make sure your lid on top is secure. A good tank for adult tarantulas are "Critter Cages" with sliding and locking lids.

Food: Feed prey that is smaller than the length of the tarantulas body.

Spiderlings less than 1" leg span will need to be fed mini-meal worms (obtained from companies like Nature's Way and Grubco for cheap) and termites. You can use "pin-head" crickets, but these must be 1 week old crickets and very small as they will eat your spiderling when it tries to molt. Adults can be fed large crickets, super worms and wax worms. Make sure all insects come from non-pesticide areas. Feed spiderlings twice a
week a couple of prey items. Feed adults once a week a couple of insects and occasionally a "pinkie" mouse. They rarely go off-feed for longer than one month.

Cleaning: To keep your tarantula's tank clean and keep your animal healthy, get in the routine of feeding your tarantula one day, and then coming behind the next day and taking long tweezers and picking out any left-over prey remains. Keep the water dish (it must be shallow and wide) clean at all times. If you follow this advice, you will need to only change out your substrate (vermiculite, peat moss, sand mixture) once every six months or so. Because of the higher humidity requirements of this species, keeping a clean tank is very, very important.

Longevity: H. minax are fast growers and are somewhat short lived compared to Brachypelma spp.. Males will probably only live to be 2-4 years old while females will live over 12 years old.

Handling/Disposition/Venom: Lacking urticating hairs, H. minax makes up for it like most Old World species with a nervous, aggressive nature with a worse bite than many New World species. They are super aggressive and will bite if handled!!! Use long (12-18" forceps) to do tank maintanence.

Many in the hobby get bit by H. minax by under-estimating their speed and their habit of sitting still and then springing to life and running up an arm to bite multiple times. This is not a species for beginners!

Best advice: Don't handle. Tarantulas are not "pets", but "display animals" much like keeping fish. They don't understand nor have a need to be handled. They are venomous like many spiders, but their venom is not dangerous unless your allergic to their venom. Don't find out! Transfer your tarantula using "cup-to-tank" method.

Captive breeding: Somewhat difficult as females are usually pretty aggressive with the males and the eggsac needs a fine line of humidity. Too much -you get a fungus. Too little - it dries out. Captive born spiderlings are rarely available on the market. Eggsac offspring numbers
40-200 usually.

Record keeping: Keep good notes such as the stock #, if any , that it was sold as, when born, molt dates, etc.

To find out more about this animal and the Tarantula Keeping hobby, I recommend the following:

Read these books:

"Tarantulas and Other Arachnids" by Sam Marshall, "Keeping and Breeding Tarantulas in Captivity" by Ronald Baxter, Andreas Tinter's "Tarantulas Today" and Stanley and Marguerite Schultz's "The Tarantula Keeper's Guide".

Obtain back issues of WEBBINGS Invertebrate Magazine. (email:

Join the Southwest Florida Tarantula Society (SWFTS)
contact at: (email:, and the British Tarantula Society (BTS) to obtain the bi-monthly newsletter, The Journal.

Join the Arachnid Mailing Lists on the internet.

Copyright © 1999 by Todd Gearheart

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