Avicularia minatrix
Some notes on husbandry, Breeding & Rearing
By Ray Gabriel


During April and May 1998 I received six specimens of Avicularia minatrix from friends in Holland and Germany. In total, four males, one mature male and one sub-adult male.


Housing
All specimens were housed identically in large plastic sweet jars, with a three inch layer of moss peat and vertmiculite mix and a vertical piece of cork bark wedged against the corner by a horizontal piece. A clump of sphagnum moss was also included to aid humidity. Within ten days,all specimens had substantial tubular webs between the cork bark and the sweet j ar corner. The mature male did not construct a tube-web, but made a sperm web on the first night ( l 6 May l 998). All specimens were offered size 3 black crickets and, with the exception of female # 3, all fed straight away.


Moulting and mating
The following table shows the moulting, male introduction ( 1 ), removal (2) and deaths.

Female #1 Female #2 Female #3 Female #4
Moulted in post Moulted 20/5/98
Male I 19/5/98 Male I 23/5/98 Male I 27/5/98 Male I 8/6/98
Male R 23/5/98 Male R 27/5/98 Male R 8/6/98 Male R 15/6/98
Moulted 17/7/98 Died 19/8/98 Died 20/7/98
Male I 8/8/98
Male R 15/8/98


Male died 29/8/98 of natural causes (exhaustion probably). I cannot explain why the two females died - old age?


When I introduced the male to Female # l on l 9/5/98 he immediately started drumming but with no response from the female. Later that evening, at about 12.30a.m. it was discovered that the male was making a sperm web. The male was left overnight with Female # 1 and being alive the next day I decided to leave him for a couple of days so he had the chance to multiple-mate each female.


The male was lent to Linda Bowes who did not use him, but instead passed onto myself her two adult females, both of which had moulted 6/6/98. Only one female was mated, on 26/8.98 - I say mated; the male was left with the female but was found dead three days later.


No matings were observed with any female.


Egg-sac production
On 8/8/98 females # 1 and #2 were re-housed into glass tanks, 6 x 6 x 12 inches, which were ventilated on one side, manufactured by Custom Aquaria. The tanks were set up in the same way as the sweet jars, but with a living plant (ivy) in place of the moss.


It was while I was removing Female # 1 that I discovered the eggsac. Cursing my stupidity I opted for artificial incubation in case the female ate the eggsac after my intrusion. After re-housing the female ate a couple of black crickets and the female; the male was re-introduced on 15/8/98 and removed 26/8/98.


The eggsac was opened and found to have a number of "eggs with legs". It was laid on a hammock of kitchen paper, over a bed of wet peat moss and temperatures maintained around 78C with around 84% humidity. The whole set-up was in a small-sized "Pet Pal", with a sealed lid, giving minimal ventilation.


Development
8/8/98 Eggs with legs.
14/8/98 First nymphs appear outside eggsac.

17/8/98 All nymphs outside eggsac.
26/8/98 Two nymphs darkening. 29/8/98 All nyrnphs almost black. 1 /9/98 Four spiderlings.
3/9/98 All spiderlings moulted.
5/9/98 Thirty-seven spiderlings re-housed and counted.


Rearing Young
During July 1998 I received four spiderlings from my good friend Torsten Finke in Germany. Following previous recommendations from Arjan de Weger I housed the above four spiderlings in the following manner:-
A cylindrical tub measuring 15cm tall by 10/11 cm diameter, a 5cm layer of peat and vermiculite substrate was added along with some plastic plants and finally two pieces of cork bark were added, placed vertically one against the other so that a dark crevice was produced. The idea behind this was that the spiderlings would use this to hide in (one out of ten spiderlings have used the bark). A piece of net curtain was placed over the top and held there with a rubber band. One of the first spiderlings died in the moult, but the other three are doing well and webbing nicely.


minatrix.jpg (19005 bytes)


The jars were then placed in my Avicularia rearing cabinet, which is a 24 x 15 x 18 inch vivarium with sliding glass doors and an Activa Tru-Lite tube bulb for lighting. A heat-mat is thermostatically regulated to give a background temperature of 74F, and a large jar of water is also placed in the vivarium to keep humidity high. During the day, humidity is 35-40% with a temperatures of 85-90F. At night the humidity rises to 90% with a distinct temperature drop. So far I have had 100% success with eleven different species of Avicularia rearing them this way. I have also found that if an Avicularia spiderling does not produce any web and refrains from feeding for the first two weeks, it dies. Spiderlings are fed bi-weekly and the opposite side of the container to the web is sprayed when needed.


I would like to thank the following people; Thomas Ezendam, Arjan de Weger and Torsten Finke for supplying my breeding stock and for their ideas and advice. Also, Linda Bowes for allowing me to use her adult females to breed with.