3 Year Member
- this one will be on Poecilotheria, or the ornamental/tiger spiders. Poecilotheria, or "pokies", are one of the more popular OW arboreal genera, probably due to their colors, patterns and size. they have a reputation for potent venom, skittishness, and defensiveness. while i think their reputation is over hyped, that is no excuse for carelessness. they do have venom and wont hesitate to use it. this thread will go in depth on care and other tips for the Poecilotheria genus. hope this helps some one..
1) background info- Poecilotheria are native to India and Sri Lanka. they commonly live in trees, much like how owls are usually depicted as. the adult females range in size from about 6", for the metallicas, up to around 9" fro the rufilata and possibly the ornata. males have much less color and are generally very ugly compared to females. it is possible IME, to tell the sex of immature specimens without a molt or checking the underside. im not sure if all species are like this, but P vittata show signs of sexual dimorphism. my 4" male is no where near as vividly colored as my females were at that size. the whole genus has potent venom compared to most tarantulas, there are videos of peoples bite reactions on youtube if youre interested. they are quite skittish as well, they are very fast and wont hesitate to use that speed. they can be defensive and temperament varies from spider to spider, but none of mine are particularly defensive. they wont hesitate to throw a threat posture, but seem to mostly rely on their patterns to hide from predators. they will usually hold still when i disturb their cages. no reason to be complacent however..
2) Humidity- Poecilotheria are quite tolerant of dryer cages, but are more commonly kept a little more humid. i never let my cages to dry out completely, and make sure to have a decent sized water dish as well. i overflow the dish once a week or so to keep the humidity a little higher. as slings, i keep them very similarly to Psalmopoeus, which i highly recommend raising and owning before tackling a genus with the venom of Poecilotheria. for 3/4" slings up to 3" or so, i prefer to use a 32oz deli cup. i add a few inches of moist substrate, usually a mix of peat moss and eco earth, a cork slab against what i decide to be the back of the cage, a water dish, and youre good to go. if no cork is available, natural wood found outdoors is fine. i like to heat the "wild caught" wood in a oven for a half hour or so, to kill off any bacteria that might harm the spider. i do have more mold issues with natural wood however...
3)Ventilation-Poecilotheria are not like Avicularia, who need high ventilation to survive. they do live in more humid cages though, and good ventilation should be installed to help prevent mold. i do a row or two around the top of the deli cup and a few in the lid. for larger cages i try to keep the same general system.
4) Rehousing- this is where problems come in for new pokie keepers and those who dont have the experience they should when they acquire their first pokie. pokies are very quick and can near teleport up your arms onto your back or head, or just bolt across the room. they prefer to stay still and let their camouflage protect them, but when that fails, the only options are flee or fight. they tend to flee but wont hesitate to throw a threat posture and start striking. i use a 32oz deli for pokie above 3" and a 16oz for pokies under 3". (as a catch cup) i use a straw to prod.
5) Set up- Pokies are similar to Psalmopoeus in their set ups as well. they generally adopt a hide a bit closer to the ground and will even burrow. dont let this fool you, as they are definitely arboreal. they will use the more vertical part of their cage extensively. i like a few inches of semi moist substrate, a piece of cork bark or chunk of natural wood that can easily conceal the spider completely, and a water dish.
6) feeding- Poecilotheria are usually great eaters, they wont hesitate to take larger prey even as slings. (within reason of course) i dont like to tong feed my pokies, even with long tongs with soft ends. they are fast spiders and can run up tongs. you can never be too sure on their reaction.
7) temperatures- i keep my Poecilotheria at the same temps as the rest of my spiders. there is some stuff going around about P subfusca highland and P rufilata preferring lower temperatures, but they seem to do just fine at the normal 70-78 i have my room at. Poecilotheria are from a fairly tropical area, and if anything, temps should be a little higher than normal.
8) Handling- i dont know if i really even have to go over this one. handling tolerant NW species is bad enough, handling OW arboreals with much worse venom is just stupid. there is no gain to handling. the spider doesnt like it and may bite. if its too tempting, maybe try a different pet. people who do handle Poecilotheria are doing it to wither impress their friends, are just plain ignorant, or just dumb. if a pokie bolts during a rehouse onto your hands, thats different.
All in all, Poecilotheria are a great genus for the experienced hobbyist. they have very unique patterns and have some great colors as well. they are a little on the reclusive side but i see all of mine out multiple times a day. they have good feeding responses and are fast growers. they generally get very large and are just a joy to keep.
She's molted since then.
(rufilata and stirata.)