Pterinopelma sazimai / Brazilian Blue Tarantula Care Sheet

When I first started keeping tarantulas back in the 1990’s there were only a couple of “blue” tarantulas available – and even then only rarely. These were the Cobalt Blue (Cyriopagopus lividus – in those days known as Hapolpelma lividum) and the Greenbottle Blue (Chromatomeplam cyaneopubescens). All this has changed in recent decades, with a whole swathe of new blue tarantulas entering the hobby – including Pterinopelma sazimai

Sometimes known by the common names of “Sazimai’s tarantula” or the “Brazilian Blue tarantula” this is a beautiful addition to any spider collection. To my eyes the blue is rather more subtle and muted than the more “in your face” blue spiders like the Gooty Sapphire (Poecilotheria metallica). This species really has to be seen in the right light to fully appreciate it’s coloration. Recently-moulted specimens can be particularly eye-catching, while the bright blue slowly fades between moults.

In the wrong light Pterinopelma sazimai can look quite dull and uninteresting to be totally honest. Get it right, however, and you’ll find deep blue legs, a blue carapace and rich red hairs on the abdomen. Quite stunning, and unlike pretty much every other tarantula out there.

Unlike many other species of tarantula Pterinopelma sazimai is considered a good “display” specimen by many keepers. While they can be skittish when their cage is opened, left undisturbed they will often be seen sat out in the open for long periods of time, affording an excellent view. If you’ve kept tarantulas that you rarely or never see then Pterinopelma sazimai could be a revelation!   

With over a dozen specimens currently in my collection I thought it was time to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) to discuss my experiences so far. If you’re considering getting your hands on this species then read on for my Pterinopelma sazimai care sheet…

Wild Habitat

This is a moderately-sized ground-dwelling tarantula. Adults will typically reach 5-6” in legspan, though in my experience the spiderlings are absolutely miniscule. While I have large specimens in my collection I’m currently rearing a brood of tiny slings with the hopes of landing a few males. 

Larger specimens will happily burrow or hide under cork bark, while the spiderlings, in my experience, seem far less likely to burrow. 

As the common name suggests, Pterinopelma sazimai hails from the Eastern highlands of Brazil. The Latin name of this spider comes from Brazilian zoologist Dr. Ivan Sazima who studied the species extensively. Despite his familiarity with Pterinopelma sazimai the species was only formally described in 2011 so is considered one of the more recent species to enter the hobby. 

Cages & Housing

As Pterinopelma sazimai seems more willing than many other tarantula to sit out in the open it can be worth investing in an attractive set-up for this species. This is in contrast to many “pet hole” species (like my Hysterocrates gigas) which are rarely – if ever – seen. 

A 30cm x 30cm cage is more than generous for adults of the species, and can afford lots of opportunity to properly landscape the cage. Smaller tanks can of course be used for smaller specimens. 

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The most crucial elements when considering housing for your Pterinopelma sazimai are:

Skittishness

Pterinopelma sazimai is quite a skittish species, and may dart around when you open the cage. While they’re not the fastest tarantulas around, they’re also a lot quicker than many commonly-kept species. For this reason you might want to ensure you’ve got ample room to carry out routine tank maintenance, such that if you spider bolts you’ve got enough time to safely close the cage or redirect your tarantula. A slightly larger-than-usual cage can make this a little easier as you’ll have more time to react before they get out. 

Excellent Ventilation

In the past many people keeping species from South America assumed they needed exceptionally high humidity levels to thrive. While Pterinopelma sazimai may benefit from a gentle misting on occasion, it most certainly isn’t the case that a wet cage is suitable. Plenty of ventilation should be present to allow any moisture to gently escape, keeping the inside of the cage fresh and hygienic. 

Visibility

Let’s be honest; if you’re buying a beautiful tarantula like Pterinopelma sazimai then it makes sense to be able to enjoy looking at them.

Security

Of course you should be mindful that your tarantula cannot escape from its cage. It sounds obvious, but I lose count of how often I see posts on social media and discussion forums from people whose tarantula has managed to escape. This means not just a tight-fitting lid to the container, but also being mindful of any ventilation holes. Tarantulas – particularly tiny spiderlings – are capable of squeezing through surprisingly small holes. 

While almost any plastic or glass container that meets the above requirements will be suitable, it does perhaps make sense to discuss specifically what I’m using successfully for my specimens…

Pterinopelma sazimai Spiderlings

As mentioned previously, Pterinopelma sazimai slings are absolutely tiny so require special care. Mine are being reared in 2oz clear plastic deli cups half-filled with fine-grade coconut fibre as a substrate. Tiny ventilation have been punctured in the sides of the tubs using a needle. Each deli cup receives a light mist once every week or so, being mindful that droplets are left on the wall of the cup, so the spider can drink from them. Over time this water evaporates to prevent an overly damp environment. 

Pterinopelma sazimai Juveniles

My juveniles are currently housed in a range of suitably-sized plastic storage containers. These have ventilation holes added with an electric drill. In terms of floor area these are at least 3-4 times the spider’s legspan in both length and width, while providing a piece of cork bark to hide under and enough substrate to facilitate burrowing should they so choose. A bottle lid is used as a water bowl when the spiders are big enough for it to be safe. 

Pterinopelma sazimai Adults 

At present I have a single adult female in my collection, though many more juveniles should reach maturity in the next 6-12 months. My adult female is kept in a 30cm x 30cm Exo Terra glass terrarium. These are some of the best-looking tarantula tanks around in my opinion, with their all-glass construction, handy front-opening doors and excellent ventilation. They’re also easy to landscape, and adding some lighting to the cage can really set off your display tank. 

Heating & Temperature

Like most tarantulas artificial heating will only be necessary if your home gets too cold. A temperature anywhere between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius (68 – 77 degrees Fahrenheit) will be perfectly acceptable for Pterinopelma sazimai

If your home gets cooler than this then some form of artificial heating would be recommended. A heat pad is normally the cheapest and easiest solution; attach it to the outside of the cage, ideally on the back or side. Always use a thermostat to prevent overheating, and take regular temperature checks using a digital thermometer to satisfy yourself that the cage is warm enough. 

Attaching a heat mat to the side of the cage isn’t always possible with smaller containers, such as if you’ve bought some spiderlings or a small juvenile. In these circumstances you have two alternative options. Firstly, you could place the heater under the container, though there are risks to this strategy. Make sure that only part of the cage is heated and use only minimal substrate to prevent the heater from getting too hot.

A preferable option – and the one I’ve used successfully for years – is to place your baby tarantulas into a larger container and then heat that cage. Personally I have used wooden reptile vivariums with great success. The wood construction means they retain warmth very well. A heat mat can be placed inside the vivarium at one end, with your spiderlings and juveniles being placed in individual containers inside the vivarium. Once again, however, be sure to use a thermostat to prevent overheating.  

Water & Humidity

Small specimens receive a regular misting, so that they can drink from the droplets. The cage is allowed to dry out between treatments to prevent the growth of mould or mildew. 

Once Pterinopelma sazimai reaches a legspan of a few inches it should be practical and safe to provide them with an open water dish. Anything from an old bottle lid to a hamster water bowl can be used. The water should be changed regularly, and the bowl scrubbed out with boiling water from time-to-time to prevent any build-up of bacteria. 

I don’t worry about humidity levels for my tarantulas – some keepers seem overly worried about trying to hit exact figures but this is both impractical and unnecessary in my experience. The key is ensuring they have access to fresh water when they desire it. 

Tank Decor

Pterinopelma sazimai is a species that can lend itself to attractive tank design. From dry leaves to pieces of rotting wood to live plants you can really let your imagination run wild! 

Of course, while these decor elements are a matter of personal choice, the two “standard” items for all tarantula tanks still hold true here – a suitable substrate and somewhere to hide away from view.

Substrate

I use coconut fibre (coir) for almost all of my tarantulas now with great success.I am careful to give my smaller Pterinopelma sazimai specimens with finer particles so they’re still able to burrow if they choose to.

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Other successful options can include multipurpose potting compost or topsoil. If you opt to provide any substrate not sold specifically for exotic pets then make certain it is free from any nasty toxins or chemicals that might harm your spider. For example, try to choose compost without added fertiliser granules. 

Hides

A curved piece of cork bark, large enough for your Pterinopelma sazimai to hide beneath, is probably the most effective hide possible. Alternatively a plastic plant pot laid on it’s side and partially buried can also work well. 

Food & Feeding

Pterinopelma sazimai has an impressive feeding response and unlike some other tarantulas it rarely seems to go off its food for long periods of time. A Brazilian Blue that refuses food is almost certainly either coming up to moult (a period sometimes known as “pre-moult”) or is being kept in unsuitable conditions (too cold, too wet etc.)

Pterinopelma sazimai spiderlings are tiny. I started off feeding mine on hatchling (“pinhead”) black crickets for their first few instars. As they grew, they moved onto 2nd instar crickets (a lot easier to handle!), then lastly at around a one inch legspan to suitably-sized locusts and Dubia roaches. 

I feed my adult Pterinopelma sazimai once a week, while growing individuals get fed every 4-5 days. Under these circumstances they seem to take food at each feeding without delay, and grow at a moderate pace.

Handling & Temperament

Pterinopelma sazimai isn’t considered an aggressive or defensive species. As yet, I have yet to experience any kind of threat posture from any of my specimens. Standard tank maintenance and feeding should therefore present very few problems even for beginners. 

That said, these are quite fast and skittish so I wouldn’t advise handling them if it can be avoided. A much better idea if you need to transport your Pterinopelma sazimai is to gently coax it into a clear plastic container before sliding the lid on and attaching it firmly.

Richard Adams

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