Originally described in 1837, Caribena versicolor is the thing of legends; it’s not uncommon for new tarantula enthusiasts to quickly add it to their “bucket list” of species they want to keep – and for good reason.
There can be few who would deny that Caribena versicolor is truly one of the most beautiful tarantulas known to science. As youngsters, they start off a rich, deep blue.
With time, as they mature, they develop the adult coloration; the metallic blue/green carapace and rich plum-colored abdomen. Add to this the fact that C.versicolor is a very “fluffy” tarantula and grows to a healthy 5″ of so in legspan and its little wonder that so many tarantula fanatics go weak at the knees when they see one.
If you’re considering purchasing your first Caribena versicolor and are looking for advice then read on for the ultimate care sheet on keeping this species in captivity…
Wild Habitat of Caribena versicolor
Martinique Pink Toes are known for being one of the more difficult species to keep.
Stories abound of high mortality rates, especially among youngsters, so this species should ideally be seen an an intermediate to advanced species, rather than one suitable for the beginner.
That said, an examination of their wild habitat may serve to offer some tips as to why so many keepers struggle to rear this species successfully in captivity.
One of the most critical elements to keeping tarantulas successfully in captivity is an understanding of their wild environment. Many tarantula species have evolved over millennia to perfectly adapt to a specific way of life, so by understanding their wild habits we can more accurately attempt to replicate these in captivity.
Caribena versicolor is found in a number of close-lying Caribbean islands, namely Guadeloupe, Dominica and Martinique. A search of the scientific literature reports that on Martinique this spider may be found around Mont Pelee (Martinique’s highest point) and Pitons du Carbet though it is likely these spiders are far more widespread.
Martinique’s climate is notable for its stability. Annual temperatures rarely deviate more than a few degrees from the average, sitting at around 82-82’F (28’C). It is interesting to note that this is considerably higher than the temperatures that most tarantula care sheets advise, and may suggest that a warmer captive environment might lead to improved husbandry results.
Humidity is also relatively stable, sitting at between 80% and 90% around the year, with mild seasonal fluctuations. While rainfall may occur at any time of the year, the island is occasionally lashed by cyclones.
This provides a good initial guide to the environmental conditions required by Caribena versicolor in captivity; a warm and humid environment but with suitable ventilation to prevent stagnant air and mould growth.
Caribena versicolor Caging
Caribena versicolor is a tree-dwelling (arboreal) tarantula and so will likely spend most of it’s time off the ground.
To accommodate this lifestyle in captivity requires a tall cage with suitable climbing material. Personally I use glass terrariums for adults of this species. These are ideal cages as they allow for excellent ventilation and visibility.
- Front opening door with locking latch for easy cleaning or feeding your reptile
- Compact design mini tank with escape-proof door locks to prevent escape
- The full screen top ventilation allows UVB and infrared penetration
Alternatively a range of other arboreal tarantula cages may be utilized, such as large plastic sweet jars or all-glass tarantula tanks.
- Rectangular Kritter Keepers have self-locking lids with hinged viewer/ feeder windows
- Capacity: 5.90 GAlarge. Size: 15 3/4-inch large by 9 3/8-inch width by 12 1/2-inch height
- Kritter Keepers have well-ventilated lids in assorted colors
Water & Humidity
One of the challenges when it comes to Caribena versicolor is that they are quite sensitive when it comes to moisture and ventilation. The #1 reason for a dead specimen of this species is misunderstanding these requirements.
Put simply, excellent ventilation is required at all times. Most experts recommend “cross ventilation” – which is to say adding ventilation holes not just in the top of the container, but also around the sides too. This prevents a stale, stagnant environment.
While Caribena versicolor spends most of its time off the ground – so is unlikely to drink from a water bowl – it is a good policy to keep one present as an insurance policy. This should be shallow to prevent drowning (a jam-jar lid works well) and the water changed regularly to prevent bacterial growth.
There are two key elements that you’ll want in order to furnish your Caribena versicolor cage. The first of these is a suitable substrate and the second is a place for your spider to hide and build its’ web.
Personally I tend to use compacted coir as a substrate for my Pink Toes and find it works really. It is excellent at retaining moisture, looks great and is easy to buy online. Of course, there are alternative tarantula substrates that can be used.
- ECO-FRIENDLY ORGANIC and 100% BIODEGRADABLE unlike some reptile substrates that are contributing to deforestation and then go to the landfill
- INCREASES HUMIDITY for animals that need moderate to high humidity
- ABSORBENT composition allows it to soak up messes and odors, leaving a cleaner habitat for your pet
In terms of hides you’re going to want to install at least one (ideally two) vertical pieces of cork bark, leaning up against the back wall of the cage. This bark is lightweight and environmentally-friendly.
- Safe for all reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids (i.e. tarantulas).
- Can be easily cut to any desired length or shape
- All natural green" product"
By placing a number of such items into the cage your spider will be able to pick and choose, selecting the one that is best for them.
While these are the essentials, feel free to go a little wild. These are awesome-looking spiders from tropical Caribbean jungles so if you want to you can really go to town and create a mini rainforest in your home. Adding artificial plants and moss, for example, can create an awesome-looking habitat to really show off your stunning new spider!
Feeding Caribena versicolor
Like many tropical arboreal tarantulas Caribena versicolor are reasonably fast-growing tarantulas.
This impacts their diet, meaning they’ll often eat much more frequently than slower-growing species like Brachypelma spp.
In reality its very difficult to overfeed these spiders so feel free to offer them food as often as they will take it. In spiderlings this is often every day or two, while adults may eat a couple of times a week.
Over time you’ll get used to how much – and how often – they eat and can set a schedule around this.
Handling Caribena versicolor
Like most of the pink toe tarantulas, C.versicolor is an incredibly docile tarantula. This can make it suitable for handling if you have the nerve. Before you do so, however, there are a few factors that you should take into account.
Firstly, while the Antilles Pink Toe is reasonably slow when it is just calmly walking about, if surprised or scared it can take off at quite a pace – or even jump. That means that if you’re going to handle your pink toe you’ll want to make sure that you stay nice and calm at all times to avoid startling your pet.
Secondly, as with all tarantulas, its important to remember that falling from a height can be very dangerous. Stories exist of spiders falling, and either limbs getting damaged or the abdomen splitting.
Therefore if you plan to handle any tarantula you need to be certain that if the worst happens and your tarantula does jump or fall that it won’t get hurt. My preference here is to only handle tarantulas over a bed – that way the soft duvet beneath will help break any fall.
Thirdly note that studies suggest that Caribena versicolor is one of the only member of its genus to be able to actually flick urticating hairs.
If you need to move your tarantula for some reason (such as for cleaning) and you’d rather not risk physically handling it, these spiders can normally be coaxed gently into a plastic container using a pen to direct things.
Caribena versicolor Pictures
We have collected together some of the best Caribena versicolor photos we could find onto a dedicated Pinterest board. Feel free to click any photo below to see it full-size – and please feel free to follow us on Pinterest for more exotic pet pictures: