Curlyhair tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum)

Also known as: curly-hair tarantula
Synonyms: Brachypelma albopilosa, Euathlus albopilosa
GenusBrachypelma (1)
SizeLeg span: 14.5 cm (2)

The curlyhair tarantula is listed on Appendix II of CITES (1).

The curlyhair tarantula is a plump-bodied spider, covered with dark brown to black hair. It has a golden-bronze sheen due to longer gold hairs that cover the whole body, which are particularly dense on the hind legs (3). Males are often a lighter bronze colour than females (2).

The range of the curlyhair tarantula stretches along the Atlantic side of Honduras, Nicaragua and north-eastern Costa Rica (2) (4).

A burrowing species, the curlyhair tarantula is found in tropical rainforest regions, either around the base of large trees, near rivers, or in patches of cleared rainforest (2) (4).

Receptive females will allow a male to mate, usually during the rainy season, resulting in the making of an egg sac and the laying of 300 to 500 eggs several weeks later (4). The egg sac is incubated for about seven to eight weeks at 24 to 27 degrees Celsius, after which pale-coloured young emerge and cluster together. The spiderlings develop quickly, moulting again over the next couple of weeks, by which time they disperse to live independent lives. Unreceptive females are likely to be aggressive towards approaching males and may try to kill and eat them (2) (4).

Primarily a nocturnal, opportunistic ambusher, the curlyhair tarantula preys on insects and small vertebrates. An area on the end of each leg is sensitive to smell, taste and vibration, and is used to detect prey. The tarantula holds its prey with its pedipalps (front limbs) and injects it with venom delivered via two hollow fangs. This venom has a double purpose, paralysing the prey, as well as beginning digestion. Once the venom has acted the tarantula is able to suck up the proteins and fats of its prey, leaving just a small ball of undigested body parts (2) (4).

This usually docile tarantula will kick hairs off the abdomen with its hind legs when threatened, which cause blindness if they hit the eyes of a predator and can also cause a rash on the skin (4).

The largest threat to the curlyhair tarantula is now habitat loss (4). Once captured in large numbers for the international pet trade, the curlyhair tarantula is now bred in captivity worldwide and relatively few are caught in the wild (2).

Listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the curlyhair tarantula can now only be traded internationally according to quotas and with trade permits (1).

Authenticated (25/03/08) by Rick West.

  1. CITES (April, 2008)
  2. Baxter, R.N. (1993) Keeping and Breeding Tarantulas. Chudleigh Publishing, Ilford, Essex.
  3. Eight: A site about tarantulas (April, 2005)
  4. West, R. (2008) Pers. comm.