The Orange Tree Spider, often better-known by its Latin name Pseudoclamoris gigas, is perhaps one of the lesser-known pet tarantulas.
All too often tarantula keepers start off with one or two “slow and steady” species ideal for the beginner – such as the Chilean Rose Hair or the Brazilian Black – and then rapidly move on to the “showier” species in the hobby. You know the ones – the Gooty Ornamentals and Greenbottle Blues. As a result, tarantulas like the Orange Tree Spider sometimes get overlooked – but this is a mistake.
As it turns out, Pseudoclamoris gigas has an awful lot going for it, and I really wish more people would consider keeping it.
My first experience of the Orange Tree Spider was buying a handful of spiderlings at a bargain price many years ago; spiderlings that rapidly grew into beautiful juveniles. While I failed to breed from my original specimens I still feel they’re a very underrated captive.
Temperament-wise this species is best-described as nervous, rather than aggressive, and so while threat postures and bites are unlikely, you’ll need to be on your toes whenever the cage is open. If you’re OK with that then you’ll find there’s a lot to enjoy with this species.
For example, in appearance alone these are stunning tarantulas. The Orange Tree Spider, as the name suggests, is a rich “foxy” orange or red in color. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll notice that the carapace is a far more subtle gray/green. These colors, combined with their thick, fluffy legs can make them very appealing indeed.
Indeed, I would argue that if you’re looking for something “a little bit different” but without the price tag of the most recently discovered species then this is definitely one to consider. Read on for our detailed Orange Tree Spider care sheet…
Wild Habitat of Pseudoclamoris gigas
The Orange Tree Spider is an arboreal (tree dwelling) species. This means that they climb well, and in their native French Guiana will rest in the holes of trees or behind loose pieces of bark. Consequently Pseudoclamoris gigas will need some vertical retreats, where they can easily run up and down.
When I say “run”, this is an important choice of words. The reason is that Pseudoclamoris gigas is fast – indeed some keepers have claimed its the fastest spider they’ve ever seen.
This is especially so for spiderlings, and means that special care must be taken when keeping this species. After all, it would be oh-so-easy to lose a tarantula that moves like greased lightning and can effortlessly run up vertical walls.
I even know someone who claims to have lost a big female for some months one summer, only to hear screams of fear when his wife found it suddenly dashing up the wall as she watched TV.
Broadly speaking then we’re looking at a tall cage, with plenty of vertical surfaces on which to climb (such as cork bark) and with a reasonably warm and humid environment to match that experienced in the tropics.
Important Taxonomic Note: Pseudoclamoris gigas used to be known as Tapinauchenius gigas until taxonomists moved it to the new genus. Subsequently if you find articles or forum posts relating to Tapinauchenius gigas then rest assured this is the same spider. I have done my best to update this article in light of this taxonomic change.
Orange Tree Spider Housing
Orange Tree Spiders are modestly-sized tarantulas, growing to around 5” or so in legspan. This means that a huge cage isn’t necessarily essential. At the same time it is important to remember that these are arboreal tarantulas, so they appreciate some vertical height that allows them to rest and hunt off the ground. That means that taller cages tend to be more effective than longer ones.
For youngsters I have successfully made use of plastic sweet jars. An electric drill is used to create some small ventilation holes before the tub is set up – with some substrate and one or more vertical hides. Such a setup seems to work quite well, though with the small opening of such a cage routine maintenance isn’t always easy.
More recently I have started to use Exo Terra Nano cages to keep my juvenile arboreal tarantulas which, whilst more expensive, look much better and are far more practical. I particularly like the way that the whole of the front opens up to allow easy access to the whole cage, while the lid can also be removed for additional assistance.
For adult and subadult Pseudoclamoris gigas I suggest a cage of at least 30cm tall – with 45cm being preferable. Remember that these can be fast moving and quite acrobatic, so a slightly larger cage can make life easier if they try to bolt up the side of the tank.
Those few extra inches your tarantula will need to run can be worth their weight in gold when it comes to giving you time to close the lid promptly.
Personally I now keep virtually all my larger tarantulas – including my Orange Tree Spider – in glass Exo Terra or ReptiZoo cages. I would suggest you opt for the 20cm x 20cm x 30cm if you’re on a budget, or the 30cm cube if not. These tanks look fantastic and, as already discussed, make accessing the interior very easy indeed.
- 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, it is possible to build your own tarantula tanks from plastic or glass, or some reptile stores also well custom-built arboreal tarantula tanks.
Heating & Temperature
French Guiana is known for its warm and humid climate.
For my spiders I like to provide a hot area and a cooler area. In the warmest area a temperature of some 24-26’C works well for most species during the daytime, though this can fall during the night as might be expected. This same setup seems to work well for my Pseudoclamoris gigas.
Water & Humidity
No tarantula likes a wet, sodden substrate, but the Orange Tree Spider does seem to enjoy a higher humidity than some other species. The easiest solution here is either to spray the cage once or twice a week, or to dribble some water onto the substrate where it will evaporate. Between treatments allow the cage to dry out to prevent the buildup of mould or fungus.
While arboreal tarantulas like Pseudoclamoris gigas rarely seem to use a water bowl, I still like to provide a low dish of water for all my juvenile and adult tarantulas. If you’re on a budget the lid from a bottle or jar can work well (assuming it doesn’t have any unpleasant chemicals on it). Otherwise buy a water bowl intended for small reptiles and use this.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to furnishing your chosen tarantula tank. The first of these is to keep things reasonably “cold and clinical” – just some substrate, a water bowl and a solitary hide.
This certainly saves time and money in setting up the cage, and also means that tank maintenance is easier. After all, if you can’t see your spider then you can assume confidently that it is in the cork bark.
For the rather more creative keeper, however, arboreal tarantulas like Pseudoclamoris gigas provide a great opportunity to create the feeling of a tropical rainforest.
Artificial plants can be added (I’m a big fan of the modern silk vivarium plants which look great) and all sorts of additional features can add visual interest. Just be aware that tank maintenance may prove more complex under these circumstances.
So let’s talk about basics for a moment. Firstly, you’ll want to lay some substrate on the ground, which not only looks good but helps to control humidity in the cage. Most substrates suitable for humid environments will do, including chemical-free potting compost (I like to use multipurpose compost for the texture) or reptile-safe “rainforest substrate”.
- 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
Having tested out virtually every substrate out there over the years, however, I now exclusively use coconut fibre which is cheap to buy, looks great and does a fantastic job of absorbing water. As a tree-dwelling tarantula Pseudoclamoris gigas doesn’t need much depth – just an inch or so will do.
To this add the hide. This should be a nice piece of cork bark, almost as long as your cage is tall and laid on end to mimic the trunk of a tree. Diameter is also a consideration: the cork bark should easily allow your tarantula to climb inside.
- Create a naturalistic forest look in your terrarium
- Great for use as natural hiding places or shelters
- Safe for all reptiles, amphibians and arachnids
Don’t worry if the diameter is much bigger than your Orange Tree Spider – they will normally take to these just fine and may even start to construct a silken web within. Indeed, it could be argued that providing a slightly bigger hide than is needed can be a great way to ensure the hide works for months into the future as your tarantula grows.
Feeding Orange Tree Spiders
Like so many other arboreal tarantulas, feeding Pseudoclamoris gigas can be great fun. These acrobatic spiders are quite fast growing, and have a healthy appetite to match. Throwing in a few roaches or locusts can be the start of a great viewing opportunity, as your otherwise shy tarantula comes out to hunt.
Most standard feeder insects will be taken, though take note if any insects remain uneaten some hours later. These should be removed to prevent the insects annoying your spider (especially if a moult is imminent) or from dying in an inconvenient location.
Due to the potential difficulties of retrieving uneaten livefood from the cage of an Orange Tree Spider you may want to feed this species slightly less, in order to maximize the odds of your offering being eaten.
Handling Pseudoclamoris gigas
While Pseudoclamoris gigas isn’t an aggressive spider, it’s speed and acrobatic ability mean that it probably isn’t suitable for handling. Indeed, I would argue that the careful tarantula keeper should aim to minimize any opportunities for your spider to make a break for freedom.
In cases where you need to move your Orange Tree Spider, the best method is through the judicious use of some clear plastic containers. I like to start off by placing the cage into the bath, and blocking all potential escape routes.
For example, I make sure the plug is in, I close the toilet seat and place towels along the bottom of the door. In this way, even if your Pseudoclamoris gigas runs you should be able to catch them.
Once this is done, the cage can be gently opened, and a clear plastic container placed over the top of your Orange Tree Spider. This can be more difficult than expected if your tarantula is hiding from view. Once you’ve got your spider trapped, gently slide a piece of card – or the lid – underneath to complete the seal.
Your tarantula can then be moved to their new cage. Rather than trying to coax the spider out of their tub, I simply like to place it gently into the new cage, carefully loosen the lid, and then leave the spider to come out in their own free time. Normally by the following day I can remove the now-empty tub with a long pair of forceps.
The other option – if you’re feeling brave – is to make sure that you provide your Pseudoclamoris gigas with hollow pieces of cork bark in which to rest. This is in contrast to people who just use a piece that is gently curved.
You will likely find that your tarantula rests within this cork bark, which can simply be picked up with your forceps and moved – tarantula and all – into the new cage.
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