Lasiodora parahybana

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Brazilian salmon pink bird-eating tarantula
Lasiodora parahybana 2009 G03.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Infraorder: Mygalomorphae
Family: Theraphosidae
Genus: Lasiodora
Species: L. parahybana
Binomial name
Lasiodora parahybana

Lasiodora parahybana, the Brazilian salmon pink bird-eating tarantula, also simply known as the salmon pink or LP, is a tarantula from north-eastern Brazil and considered to be the third largest tarantula in the world (behind Theraphosa blondi and Theraphosa apophysis; however, the largest spider in terms of leg-span is the giant huntsman spider).

It was discovered and described in 1917 by Cândido Firmino de Mello-Leitão,[1] in Paraíba, where the tarantula is endemic.[2] They are popular pets in the tarantula hobby due to their large size and readiness to breed. They are also considered to be 'docile'.

Description[edit]

The salmon pink bird-eater can attain a leg size of up to 11 inches; especially in males as their legs are longer than the female’s. However, females can weigh more than 100 grams.[3] Females are often bulky: they have a large body size in comparison to their legs, whereas males tend to be slender in body size. Mature males will also have tibial hooks on the front pair of legs; these hook back a female’s fangs during mating.

They are widely considered by pet traders to be an aesthetically pleasing tarantula species; they are a uniform black colour, and once mature, have pink-red hairs along the legs, chelicerae and abdomen, with colours tending to be more vibrant in males.

L. parahybana are endemic to Brazil in the Atlantic forest region of the country; they are known from one area near Campina Grande.[3]

Behaviour[edit]

When threatened, the tarantula will raise its legs in the air, as well as the front of its body, in order to deter predators. If the attacker continues to attack, the tarantula will bite. The Brazilian salmon pink tarantula is capable of delivering a painful bite. They are known to bite only when provoked, and even then, this is a last resort. Bites from an L. parahybana are mechanically dangerous; fangs can be up to an inch long. Some sites claim that a bite from a salmon pink is similar to that of a cat.[4] However, rather than biting, they choose to flick urticating hairs from a patch on their abdomen; these hairs are covered in barbs which irritate the skin and put off potential predators. These hairs are extremely irritating; in the hobby, they are considered to be one of the more painful hair types. Hairs that get into the eyes can cause blindness.

In the wild, the tarantulas inhabit the forest floor, where they stay in hiding places such as leaf litter, inside logs, or in burrows, or out in the open. They are ambush predators, lying in wait and striking prey as it comes close, and quickly injecting venom to subdue it. They do not spin webs.[3] In the wild, a salmon pink will feed mainly on large insects, and occasionally amphibians and small reptiles. Although they are called bird-eating spiders, there is very little evidence to suggest they actually catch and eat birds.

Due to their exoskeleton and method of growth, salmon pinks, like many invertebrates, regularly moult out of their old skin (ecdysis). Like most tarantulas, they will lie on their back and force themselves out of their old skin. During this time, they are at risk of predation. A tarantula will stop eating a few days before this process.

Breeding[edit]

During the breeding season, males will deposit sperm from their abdomen onto a webbed mat, also known as a sperm web. They will then “soak” up the sperm with its pedipalps and find a female. When a female is located, the two trade signals in order to establish species, and to discover if the female is receptive. The male will push a female back with his front two legs, using the tibial hooks to push the fangs back in order to prevent being over-powered and eaten by the female. He will then insert his pedipalp into the epigastric furrow on the female’s abdomen and empties his pedipalp. He repeats this with the other pedipalp.[5][6]

Once mating is over, the male will unhook his front legs from the female and run. Females have a tendency to give chase for a short while; males who are too slow are at risk of being eaten in order to sustain the future embryos.

In captivity[edit]

Brazilian salmon pink tarantulas are very popular in captivity; this is for a number of reasons. Their appearance, both in size and color, makes them desirable. Their willingness to sit out in the open also makes them popular. They are also a cheaper option than a T. blondi; L. parahybana reproduces in large numbers to the point that the price of spiderlings drops dramatically.[5]

L. parahybana is also praised in the tarantula trade for their ease of handling compared to other tarantula species. However, the merits of handling them is still debated, especially taking into account the size and power of the fangs when handling. They also possess urticating hairs on the rear of the abdomen which they kick into the air using their rear legs if they feel threatened or agitated. The hairs are extremely irritating to the skin and can rarely cause blindness if they get into the eye. Handling can also be dangerous to the tarantula - with terrestrial species such as L. parahybana, because they are so heavily bodied, a fall of more than a few inches can rupture the abdomen and severely injure or kill the tarantula.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Taxon details Lasiodora parahybana Mello-Leitão, 1917", World Spider Catalog, Natural History Museum Bern, retrieved 27 April 2018 
  2. ^ [1], Biotropics.
  3. ^ a b c [2], Arkive.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-03-14. Retrieved 2014-03-11. , SpiderDiaries.
  5. ^ a b The Tarantula Keeper's Guide.
  6. ^ Biology of Spiders.

Further reading[edit]

  • Schultz, S., Schultz, M. (2009) The Tarantula Keeper's Guide. New York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
  • Foelix, R. (2011) Biology of Spiders. New York: Oxford University Press