(Haplopelma minax) Care in
by Todd Gearheart
aggressive and fast tarantula has been imported
since the mid 80s 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
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
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
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
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Join the Southwest Florida
Tarantula Society (SWFTS)
contact at: (email: email@example.com, and the
British Tarantula Society (BTS) to obtain the
bi-monthly newsletter, The Journal.
Join the Arachnid Mailing Lists
on the internet.
© 1999 by Todd Gearheart