The Salmon Pink Birdeater – Latin name Lasiodora parahybana – is known as one of the largest species of spider in the world.
Reputedly just behind the three recognized Golith Birdeaters, the Salmon Pink is generally considered the fourth largest spider known to science. It is not unheard of for this species to grow to an impressive 11″ or so across the legs.
In contrast to the Goliaths, however, these tarantulas tend to be far more colourful. As the name would suggest, they clothed in rich pink hair, particularly on the abdomen, which is presented over the top of a silky, chocolatey-brown or black base.
These pink hairs are particularly noticeable in adult males, which can often look quite “fluffy” in appearance.
Both their size and colour make these a truly impressive specimen, but they can also make very easy-going pets. If you’re looking for a spider with a real “wow factor” then you may just have found it in the form of the Salmon Pink tarantula.
The Salmon Pink Birdeater is a South American spider, hailing from the Atlantic forests of north-eastern Brazil, especially in the Campina Grand area. As such this species is attuned to living in hot, humid environments.
Like many species in such habitats, these spiders tend to grow rapidly. As a result, even a spiderling, when fed well, can grow to several inches across in their first year of captivity.
What is perhaps rather surprising is that the Brazilian Amazon rain forest actually experiences a short 4-5 month dry period each year. This helps to explain why the Salmon Pink is so easy to care for in captivity, as it has evolved to cope with the wide range of different climatic conditions experienced in the wild.
While Salmon Pinks may burrow, they are certainly not the most active species known in the pet trade, and are more likely to sit out in the open than many other species. They can therefore make for an eye-catching display.
Salmon Pink Birdeaters are large spiders, so require a similarly good-sized cage. For adults, a tank measuring 18″ square should be considered a minimum. A tank measuring 24″ long by 15-18″ deep is perhaps the ideal size for such a large spider.
A range of different options exist for housing Salmon Pinks but there are a number of factors which should be taken into consideration…
Firstly, humidity should be kept in the 70-90% region, typically by regular spraying with a handheld mister. This water will evaporate over time, creating the necessary moist environment. That said, stale, stagnant air is a major issue in captivity, and it is essential that air flow is maintained. In essence your target is high humidity, but good ventilation.
This combination is best achieved with a tank that has ventilation built in, as some of the better-quality spider tanks do these days.
My personal choice is a suitably-sized Exo Terra which allows a great view of your spider, while incorporating practical elements such as variable ventilation and front-opening doors.
Combined with regular spraying you’re also going to need to artificially heat your spider tank. Here I recommend a low-wattage reptile heat mat, which can produce a comfortable temperature of around 25’C.
Note when using such a heater that only one third to one half of the tank should actually be heated. This creates pockets of warmer and colder air in the tank, and allows your Salmon Pink to choose the area most suitable for them at the time.
As many tarantulas burrow in order to escape from excessive heat, placing the heater underneath the cage may not be the best option. Instead, if possible, it is wise to attach the heater to one side of the vivarium, thus creating one warm end and one that is cooler. Your spider will still be able to burrow away from it if desirable, as they might in nature.
Salmon Pink tarantulas should have access to fresh water at all times. A shallow water bowl can be used – as sold for small rodents – which is then cleaned and refilled regularly to ensure a constant supply.
The first thing you’ll need after buying your tank and heater is some substrate.
Here there are a huge range of options, but the two most popular are chemical-free (and peat-free) potting compost or coir. Both are cheap to buy, hygienic and allow your spider to dig naturally if it so desires.
Personally I buy blocks of coir, which simply need to be soaked for 30 minutes before use. It’s a space-saving way of making sure I’ve always got some spare substrate when needed.
Salmon Pink Birdeaters can be quite timid, despite their size. As a result, I try to provide somewhere for my specimens to hide away.
Most commonly a plant pot, laid on it’s side and partially buried is used, however a range of other hides are available on the market to reptile keepers.
Besides this I would suggest adding a low-cost hygrometer and thermometer to the tank, in order to help you measure environmental conditions. Personally I use combined digital units, which come with a waterproof probe on the end of a wire.
The Exo Terras I use have cable-holes built in, so it is very easy indeed to fit such an item. I can then check on the temperature and moisture levels at any time, from outside the cage, and ensure my Salmon Pinks have the very best care.
Salmon Pink Birdeaters are a fast-growing species, but to accomplish this they need to eat regularly. Personally, when feeding up youngsters, I find that most will eat every couple of days, and some even more often! As it is impossible to overfeed a tarantula I just feed them as often as they will eat. Adults normally receive prey twice a week.
As carnivores you’ll need to feed your Salmon Pink tarantula meat. A range of insects may be bought which should be of a suitable size for your spider.
While crickets have always been a popular option in the tarantula-keeping hobby, they do have a number of weaknesses. For one, many species “sing” which I personally find quite an annoying noise! Secondly, most crickets are quite small, even as adults. Finally, crickets can harm a tarantula if you inadvertently leave one in the cage when your tarantula is moulting.
My personal preference is therefore to feed live locusts. These don’t sing, are less likely to harm a spider, get a lot bigger (ideal for larger specimens) and come in a wide range of sizes.
Some specimens may even be willing to take the occasional dead mouse as a treat, though the smell of the cage the following day is not always a pleasant one.
It is interesting to point out some research carried out in France. The scientists wanted to find out how Salmon Pink birdeaters actually located their prey. For example, was it through sound, or did they visually locate the prey?
The findings suggest that the vibrations through the earth of an insect walking by is actually the main source of information used by these spiders. In sensing such information they’re able to estimate not only how close the other animal is, but also estimate its size. Quite an impressive feat!
Salmon Pink Birdeaters are best described as reasonably docile, but quite skittish. While the typical movement of a Lasiodora is slow and careful, a startled specimen may make off at quite a pace.
If you remain calm this is a species that can be handled without too much risk of a bite, but their size can pose a problem. Firstly, handling an 11″ spider isn’t easy unless you have very large hands, and secondly note that those fangs may be an inch long so a bite is likely to be very painful indeed.
In general, as impressive a holding such a specimen on your hand might be, it is recommended not to hold tarantulas unless necessary. Despite their robotic appearance, they can be surprisingly sensitive, and handling them unnecessarily risks dropping and damaging them.
Photo by B a y L e e ‘ s 8 Legged Art