Tliltocatl albopilosus / Curly Hair Tarantula Care Sheet

The Curly Hair Tarantula, Latin name Tliltocatl albopilosum, is considered one of the very best species for beginners. 

The Curly Hair tarantula is slow-moving and docile, particularly as an adult. It is therefore easily handled. 

Growing to a legspan of some 5 – 6 inches, it has only modest requirements in captivity.

The common name of this spider comes from the “fluffy” appearance it develops over time. 

The Curly Hair tarantula is typically covered in curly gold or tan-coloured hairs, over a plain brown background. While it may not be the most colourful species of tarantula in the pet trade, it does have a certain appeal with it’s unusual, “blow dried” appearance.

Read on for my full Curly Hair tarantula care sheet…

Wild Habitat of Tliltocatl albopilosus

Originally described by Valerio as recently as 1980, this Central American species may be found along the Atlantic side of Honduras, Nicaragua and northern Costa Rica.

It is considered endangered in the wild. As a result, specimens available in the pet trade are almost exclusively captive bred. Hopefully this legal protection will help with their conservation. 

Some disagreement exists within the hobby as to the true identity of the spider typically sold as the “Curly Hair Tarantula”. Specimens from different parts of Central America seem to vary widely in their appearance. Whether these are variants of one species, or are truly separate species remains to be agreed. 

The result of this taxonomic uncertainty means that you may well see additional words used to describe specimens, such as “hobby form” “Nicaragua” or “true form”. From a hobbyists perspective this shouldn’t be a concern. However, if you have plans to breed this species then it makes sense to ensure all your breeding stock confirms to one specific locality.

Important Taxonomic Update: The tarantula now being sold as “Tliltocatl albopilosus” was, not so long ago, known as Brachypelma albopilosum. A taxonomic update has not only moved this tarantula into a new genus, but has meant swapping “albopilosum” for “albopiluosus“. Consequently, should you see mentions of “Brachypelma albopilosum” or “Brachypelma albopilosus” on forums and in older books then rest assured these are the same spider.

Curly Hair Tarantula Enclosures

Curly Hair tarantulas are quite an easy species to care for in captivity, requiring only a modicum of experience to keep and even breed. As with all exotic pets, successful care begins with getting their housing right.

An adult Curly Hair tarantula should be kept in a cage of 8 inches x 8 inches (20cm x 20cm) at an absolute minimum, though I would suggest a 12 inch x 12 inch cage would be even more suitable. As terrestrial tarantulas height is less of a concern, though there should be sufficient depth in the enclosure to allow burrowing. 

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A range of plastic or glass enclosures can be suitable for Curly Hair tarantulas, so long as they offer enough ventilation to prevent the build-up of mould. Even plastic shoeboxes can be used, if ventilation holes are added using a drill or soldering iron. 

Lee's Kritter Keeper, X-Large Rectangle w/Lid(Assorted colors)
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Personally I use Exo Terra or ReptiZoo terrariums for the majority of my adult tarantulas, including my Curly Hair tarantulas. Made from glass, with front-opening doors for ease of access it makes a perfect cage for Tliltocatl albopilosus.

Curly Hair Tarantula Cage Decor

tarantula photo

Tliltocatl albopilosus can make a great first tarantula, especially for those who want a spider they can watch. Curly Hair tarantulas tend to spend more time out in the open than many other species, and can be surprisingly active, especially in the evening.

All the same, while these tarantulas seem quite comfortable in the open, it is still a good idea to provide a suitable hide for them and enough substrate for burrowing in.

A range of substrates may be used for this species, though my own personal preferences are for coconut fibre or potting compost. If you’re not planning to let your spider burrow then just an inch or so of substrate will be enough. A depth of some 6 inches or more is preferable for burrowing situations.

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Most appropriately-sized reptile hides will be suitable for Curly Hair tarantulas. Possibly the most popular option is a piece of curved cork bark, though resin reptile hides may also be used, as can plastic plant pots laid on their side and partially buried.

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Heating & Temperature

Curly Hair tarantulas like a warm environment. A temperature of around 70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 25 degrees C) works well.

Ensuring the cage is sited away from windows and sources of direct sunlight to prevent the risk of overheating in summer.

Water & Humidity

All juvenile and adult specimens should be provided with an open yet shallow water dish. Those sold for small mammals tend to work well. The water should be changed regularly, and the bowl itself sterilized in boiling water or reptile-safe detergent once a week.

For spiderlings and tiny specimens a water bowl isn’t really practical, so instead I gently mist one side of the tub, so that the tarantula can drink from the water droplets. Under these circumstances ensure the tub is allowed to dry out between mistings to prevent overly-moist conditions. 

Tliltocatl albopilosus Food & Feeding

Over the years, Curly Hair tarantulas have developed a reputation for being slow growing animals.

It has been reported that males take 8-12 moults to reach sexual maturity, while females take some 9-13. Feeding your spider on a regular basis will speed up this growth, ensuring that even a youngster soon reaches impressive proportions.

In light of this, a good rule of thumb would be twice-weekly feeding for youngsters, migrating to once a week for adults. All the same, it is wise to use this only as a guide, and to adapt it based on your spider’s behaviour.

If your tarantula always seems to be hungry, and lunges onto it’s food instantly, then feeding larger prey items, or offering them more frequently might be advisable. The opposite is also true; a spider that pays very little attention to food that has been put in their cage can have their feeding schedule reduced to accommodate this.

Note that like all tarantulas, Curly Hairs will cease feeding some time before a moult. Live feeder insects should not be left in the cage with a moulting tarantula as they can cause issues.

Should your spider refuse food several times in a row then it is likely that a moult is approaching. Under these circumstances it can be wise to hold off feeding until the moult has been successfully completed.

All the standard feeder insects are suitable for Tliltocatl albopilosus. They will eat, among other things, crickets, locusts, roaches and mealworms. The feeder insects should be selected based on the size of your tarantula; most Curly Hairs will readily take insects up to their own body length.

Larger specimens can of course be given a number of smaller insects instead, depending on personal preference and local supplies.

Handling & Temperament

Tliltocatl albopilosus is one of the best tarantulas for handling. It is docile and slow-moving, a very rarely shows its fangs or tries to bite, which means that even children can handle this species safely (with appropriate supervision).

Note, however, that Curly Hair tarantulas do possess the potentially irritating urticating hairs. In truth, it seems that it is less likely to kick off these hairs than many other species, but all the same it pays to take precautions.

Your Curly Hair can be gently coaxed onto a flat hand and lifted gently out of their cage. Here you should aim to keep them at arms reach to avoid the risk of urticating hairs getting into the face.

Many Curly Hairs are so relaxed that they will just sit there calmly on the hand – barely even walking. Once safely replaced in their cage, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly for the sake of hygiene.

Photos c/o wwarby & davidricardoabrenica

Richard Adams

14 thoughts on “Tliltocatl albopilosus / Curly Hair Tarantula Care Sheet”

  1. Thanks for the info. My 9 yr old son went to reptile show with his grandma and came home with a curly hair tarantula. I’m less than thrilled as I’m not a fan of spiders or insects in general. He’s been reading a lot and learning how to care for it. Wish us luck!

    Reply
  2. I just got a juvenile curly hair!! I’m so excited – would she/he be ok in a 10 gallon plastic tank with mesh locking top? it will have one hide, another smaller hide, two decorations, and a water dish – I got coconut substrate- the guy at the pet store took it out but it was FAST – now I’m afraid to hold it – will she slow down as she gets older?

    Reply
  3. Hi my 18 year old son has a Mexican red knee tarantula our first spider and we wish to get another what would you recommend as we want a docile not aggressive and slow moving plus prefer a ground dweller not a burrower

    Reply
    • Hi Alison – well Curly Hair tarantulas are a great option – and reasonably simple to care for. Either great options could include Mexican Red Legs (Brachypelma emilia), Greenbottle Blues or many of the Grammastola species (Grammastola pulchra or G.pulchripes are two strong contenders).

      Reply
  4. I was wondering, what is the best way to buy a tarantula? Should I do it online and if so what’s the best site? Or should I just buy one from Petco or PetSmart?

    Reply
    • Hi Jeffrey – This is a great question! Personally I’d recommend staying away from the big pet store chains. The advice given out is so often incorrect. You’re likely much better off going to a breeder – either buying online or at a reptile expo. These individuals have lots more knowledge and will be able to put you on the right path from the start. I’m not based in the US, so I have no personal first-hand experience of the company, but I know Fear Not Tarantulas (https://fearnottarantulas.com/) has an excellent reputation so I’d probably start my search there in your situation.

      Reply
  5. My T. albopilosus just molted the 4th of August. She has sealed her burrow like she’s ready for another molt. When I bought her in July she was in premolt. I’m just trying to understand if it’s normal for them to molt so quickly. Honestly I can’t find anything on it. I’m stumped.

    Reply
    • Hi Anje – You left your commend in 31st of August, saying your T albopilosus last moulted on 4th of August. I’d be very surprised if your spider was trying to moult again just a matter of weeks after the first moult. I’m currently rearing 30 or so specimens of this species and even the tiny ones are only molting every 3 months or so. Personally so long as you’ve got the conditions right (temperature, water available etc.) then I wouldn’t worry too much. Sometimes a tarantula will web up their burrow just as a protection mechanism – I have a H pulchripes that webs itself into it’s cork bark every time it’s been out. It’s only the disappearing food and the spilled water that let’s me know she’s been out again…

      Reply
  6. My curly haired tarantula has 2 large light bald spot on its abdomen ,not accepting crickets since I put them in last week,not molted since last year ,should I take the crickets out

    Reply
    • Hi Michael – Yes I’d definitely recommend taking the crickets out if they’re not being eaten. I only leave live food in with my spiders overnight. Anything uneaten is removed the next morning. A tarantula that hasn’t moulted in a year and is refusing food is likely to be coming up the molt. Keep an eye on that bald patch you mention – it’ll turn black a few weeks before the spider actually molts. This is the next skin forming underneath the old.

      Reply

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