Avicularia avicularia, sometimes called the pinktoe tarantula, is a species of tarantula native from Costa Rica to Brazil and the southern Caribbean. This species is sometimes called the Guyana pinktoe, common pinktoe, or South American pinktoe.
The mature pinktoe tarantula has a dark-colored body and pinkish feet, hence its name. Juvenile specimens, however, have pinkish bodies and dark-colored feet. Pinktoe tarantulas undergo a reversal in their coloration as they approach adulthood at 4–5 years. They have a short lifespan, with males living 2–3 years, and females living between 6–9 years. A full grown pinktoe tarantula can grow up to six inches in length. Dimorphism has been shown in the mature stages of males and females, with males having uniformly barbed urticating hairs, while females are found only at the proximal end.
They are an ambush predator, using the silk spun as a trap and to sense movement from prey. With an enriched environment, they can display an array of behaviors such as active hunting, foraging, and even construction such as nest and tunnel building with nearby debris. The pinktoe tarantula consumes mostly insect prey and is an aggressive feeder. Some of its prey includes crickets, wax moths, grasshoppers, cockroaches and small tree frogs. They sometimes consume small lizards such as Anolis, but vertebrates usually are not a major contributor to its diet.
Being arboreal species, they require a relatively tall habitat with plenty of climbing space in captivity. Despite common belief, this species should be kept on dry substrate with a water dish to achieve adequate humidity while also giving cross ventilation. This prevents stagnant air, bacteria, and excessive humidity from forming which can be fatal.
Their first reaction when threatened is usually to run or leap away, but they may react aggressively if provoked. The defensive mechanisms of the Avicularia avicularia include type II urticating hairs (which must be transferred via direct contact, rather than kicking the hairs into the air), propelling feces toward perceived threats, adopting a threat posture, and biting. Their venom is considered mild, even compared to other new-world tarantulas. Although this species is often rumored to be communal, housing them in groups will almost inevitably lead to cannibalism over time. Females are also shown to display sexual cannibalism.
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