The Brazilian Black tarantula, Grammostola pulchra, is one of my favourite tarantula species of all.
While the Brazilian Black tarantula may not be as “showy” and brightly coloured as some other species are, this tarantula has a classy, subtle beauty about it.
Clothed in velvet black hairs it looks sleek and glossy, especially after a fresh moult. The general body shape is chunky and thick-set, giving it a sturdy appearance overall; quite different to how leggy many tarantulas are.
Then there’s the temperament of Grammostola pulchra. In my experience this is one of the friendliest species of tarantula available. I’ve never known one bite; they’re placid enough to be the perfect species if you’re looking for something to handle safely.
They’re also slow-moving, which makes handling easier. Adult males and females achieve a similar size of around 6 inches making them a mid-range species, though adult females are far chunkier than males.
If there are downsides to this species then they would be the overall cost, and the speed of growth. The Brazilian Black tarantula doesn’t do anything in a hurry; their speed of movement is slow, and their growth rate is slow.
As Brazilian Black tarantulas take a long time to mature, this impacts the cost of any resultant spiderlings. As a result, you’ll need deep pockets if buying a larger specimen. Alternatively, purchase one or two spiderlings and be patient as they grow.
If you’re considering getting your first Brazilian Black tarantula then read on for my detailed care sheet revealing everything you need to know…
As the common name would suggest, Grammostola pulchra hails mainly from Brazil, though it may also be found in northern Uruguay.
This species was originally described in 1921 by Mello-Leitão, the latin name “pulchra” meaning “fine” – a hat-tip to the fine “crushed-velvet” look of the hairs on this species.
Little is truly known about the Brazilian Black in the wild, though we do know that the species is ground dwelling. While it may attempt to build burrows in nature, it seems more likely that it will adopt a similar mentality to some other Grammostola tarantulas, taking refuge where it can under rocks, logs and vegetation.
In captivity the species seems happy to sit in a hide all day, but less likely to try and build a burrow than many other species.
Enclosures for Brazilian Black Tarantulas
An adult Brazilian Black tarantula requires an enclosure of around 12 inches by 10 inches (30cm x 20cm), though of course bigger is generally better. As a terrestrial species, enclosure height is of less importance.
The enclosure should permit suitable ventilation, as Grammostola pulchra often does better in a dry enclosure with a slightly lower humidity than many other species.
At its most basic a Kritter Keeper can be used, though these can prove challenging to heat properly in winter due to the extreme level of ventilation they provide.
- 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
Alternatively a range of plastic containers intended for household use – such as plastic cake tubs or Really Useful Boxes – may be used effectively if suitable ventilation holes are added.
I think the best-looking enclosure on the market are Exo Terra ir ReptiZoo terrariums. These glass tanks look fantastic and allow you to create a very realistic “mini world” within.
- Features with full view glass, this small 8 gallon glass terrarium is convenient for feeding and having fun with your reptile or small animal pets.
- Compact and flat-packed design mini reptile tank with top opening to prevent escape and easy feeding. With a transparent PVC tray in the bottom for holding water and substrate
- The full screen top ventilation with thinner mesh wire allows more UVA UVB and infrared heat penetration.
Three elements should be included in your Brazilian Black enclosure before you consider the other aspect of landscaping.
The first of these are hides. At least one should be provided, but two or more is better. Traditionally, spider keepers have used pieces of curved cork bark, and this still works well to this day. Alternatively a plant pot, laid on it’s side and partially buried is also suitable.
The second critical element is some form of substrate to line the base of the cage. These days I almost exclusively use coconut fibre substrate for my tarantulas. The material itself is light and fluffy, and absorbs plenty of water. This makes it ideal for moderating humidity in your tarantula’s tank.
- 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
Other suitable substrate options can include topsoil or potting compost, though always check it is free from any chemicals.
The Brazilian Black tarantula is a burrowing species, though many specimens don’t try to dig a hole in captivity. To facilitate this it can be a good idea to add a greater depth of substrate than you might for other species. Some 4 – 8 inches or so tends to work well, and allows your spider a fair amount of digging activity if it so desires.
Finally, juvenile and adult tarantulas should be provided with a water dish so that they can drink whenever they wish.
Grammostola pulchra Heating & Temperature
Experts recommend that the Brazilian Black is kept at a temperature of around 18-25’C.
Many keepers find that this matches the ambient temperature in their home, in which case no artificial heating is required. If, however, the temperature drops, you may need to consider some artificial heating. This is most easily provided by heating one end of the tank with a heat mat, attached to the side of the cage.
The heated end should ideally reach the 25’C mark, while the unheated end remains cooler.
Heat mat manufacturers recommend that all heat mats should be used with a suitable thermostat.
Water & Humidity
A water bowl should always be available for juvenile and adult specimens. For spiderlings, I gently mist one side of the tub with a houseplant mister, so they can drink droplets from the sides.
An ideal humidity for this species sits at around 60-70% – perhaps rather lower than many more “tropical” species like the Salmon Pink Birdeater. A dry cage with a water bowl therefore tends to work well.
Care should be taken to avoid a “soggy” cage, which can lead to health problems. Good ventilation should be maintained at all times to avoid this.
Feeding Grammostola pulchra
The Brazilian Black is a slow-growing and long-lived species. While some topical tarantulas may eat almost daily, and achieve adult dimensions in little over a year, Grammostola pulchra is altogether more sluggish in its appetite and growth. Spiderlings and youngsters can be fed twice a week, while an adult specimen will be fine on weekly feedings.
Brazilian Black tarantulas will happily eat any live insects that it can subdue, which normally means anything up the the overall body length of your spider.
Crickets have long been the go-to source of insect prey for tarantulas. Sadly, crickets can cause problems if left in the cage, so other feeder insects have gained in popularity. Locusts, cockroaches and mealworms can all be suitable alternatives. I now only use crickets for tiny hatchling tarantulas, where pinhead crickets are about the only thing small enough for them to eat.
Be sure to remove any uneaten food the day after feeding to prevent your spider getting stressed.
Lastly, just as with other tarantulas, your Brazilian Black will stop eating before a molt, and resume some weeks afterward.
Handling the Brazilian Black Tarantula
As mentioned earlier, the Brazilian Black tarantula is slow and is very docile, making it ideal for keepers who want to hold their pet. Thanks to their even temperament, most specimens can be gently scooped up, or nudged gently onto a flat hand.
Be aware that this spider does have urticating hairs like some other species, and that these can cause irritation in some circumstances. That said, the Brazilian Black tarantula seems less likely to kick these off than many other species; my specimens rarely if ever end up with a bald rump from kicking off these hairs, in stark contrast to some other species.
All the general tarantula-handling rules apply here. Hold the spider low over a soft surface, so that a fall won’t harm your spider. Remain gentle and calm throughout. Keep your face well away from the spider so that urticating hairs cannot get into your eyes if they are kicked off. And be certain to thoroughly wash your hands – ideally in a reptile-safe hand wash or gel – after handling.
Following these basic rules the tarantula keeper can enjoy handling this species regularly. It can also be an excellent species for introducing others to tarantulas, and for allowing formerly arachnophobic individuals to handle their very first tarantula.
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