Desert Blonde Tarantula – Everything You Need to Know About Keeping This Exotic Pet

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The desert blonde tarantula or the Mexican Blonde Tarantula is an ideal pet for beginners as well as experienced tarantula keepers thanks to its relatively mild temperament.

If you are looking for tips on desert blonde tarantula care, then read on, this guide is for you.

Desert blonde tarantula facts

  • The desert blond tarantula scientific name is Aphonopelma chalcodes
  • It is known for its characteristic blonde coloring.
  • This is a New World Tarantula found in the deserts of South Arizona and North Mexico.
  • Other names for the desert blonde include Arizona blond tarantula and Mexican blond tarantula. It is also fondly addressed as Chalcodes.
  • In the wild, most spiderlings do not even reach sexual maturity as they get eaten by their manu predators.
  • The Chalcodes is often prey of a species of fly that lays its eggs on this tarantula. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae eat the chalcodes.
  • A wasp found in deserts also eats this tarantula. It injects venom and paralyzes it. Then it carries this unconscious Tarantula back to its nest for the larvae to eat.

Physical description of the Arizona blond tarantula

The Mexican blond tarantula grows very slowly to a full-size of about 5 inches or 8 to 13 cm. Its growth rate is rather slow so don’t expect fully grown desert blonde tarantula size until your spider is at least 10 years of age. Males reach maturity around 5 years and die soon after.

Both male and female spiders have beautiful golden blonde color on their carapace while their femur and abdomen is darker.

Desert blonde tarantula habitat

The natural habitat of the desert blonde tarantula is the deserts of South-Western United States and parts of Mexico. They are predominantly found in areas with saguaro cacti.

Many other tarantulas or spiders look similar to the desert blonde which makes it difficult to identify them.

This tarantula needs an arid, dry climate. It also likes to burrow in sand so look for substrate that retains shape of burrows and tunnels.

Desert blonde tarantula lifespan

One of the reasons why the Arizona desert blonde tarantula is popular as a pet for both novice and experienced hobbyists is their long life span.

Females live up to 20-25 years in captivity while males live for nearly 5-6 years.

Terrarium/Enclosure

If you have decided on keeping desert blonde tarantula as pets, then then first thing you’d need is a proper enclosure for them. Choose a tank that has more width than height for this burrowing tarantula and do provide a substrate of at least 6 inches depth so it can comfortably make its tunnels.

Make sure you keep the substrate dry and mist it just once a week. Let the substrate dry out completely. Remember: this is a desert tarantula so it favors a dry environment.  Also, they love to hide as hiding minimizes stress. So, if you can, please add some decorations in the tank that will provide adequate places for your spiders to hide.

If you have juvenile spiderlings, you could move them to a separate enclosure. Small pill boxes work great. Whichever enclosure you choose for the spiderlins, make sure that it has a short height to minimize the young spiders’ risk of falling and getting injured.

Adult spiders do well in 5-gallon tanks. An ideal temperature inside the tank is between 68 and 75 F. Note that spiderlings tend to grow faster at higher temperature.

Humidity is not too important for this arid desert-dwelling tarantula. Moreover, it does not need any heat or light as long as you can keep the temperature inside the enclosure between 65 and 75F. If your house is colder than that, then use a portable heater to warm up the enclosure.

Please keep a small shallow water dish inside the enclosure to quench your tarantula’s thirst. A tiny bottle cap or a shallow ceramic dish will do well.

Remember to clean the enclosure from time to time. A dirty, moldy enclosure can be extremely detrimental to your desert blonde’s health. Strip and change the bedding every few months.

Feel free to read our article on our recommendations for tarantula enclosures here.

Arizona desert blonde tarantula diet and feeding

Any prey of appropriate size such as roaches, worms, beetles, pre-killed crickets, and other tiny insects constitute a good diet for the Arizona desert blonde. You can feed your adult spiders one or two times a week but make sure you remove all discarded, half-eaten, or uneaten prey from the enclosure right away. Failure to do this could lead to mold formation which is harmful, even fatal for your pet.

Also, if your tarantula is molting (we will cover desert blonde tarantula molting later in detail), then avoid feeding it. A large cricket could easily harm a delicate and vulnerable tarantula when it is molting.

Do note that this species of tarantulas is known to go without food for prolonged periods: days, weeks, and even months, especially as the weather turns cooler. This is completely normal.

Temperament

Often people want to know: can desert blonde tarantulas act aggressive? The answer is no. They are a docile and mild-mannered tarantula species. However, Nature has created each creature in its own unique way. Moreover, your pet’s temperament can also depend on other parameters: local conditions, the care it receives, etc.

Although your tarantula might appear calm and relaxed, it may not take being handled too well. Also, being a New World Tarantula, they tend to send out painful urticating hairs which can cause swelling, pain, and redness on human skin. So, be careful when you handle it.

Is desert blonde tarantula bite painful?

Yes, like all tarantula bites, the desert blonde tarantula bite can sting like a bee’s. Its venom is not poisonous or fatal but it can cause pain, itching, swelling, and throbbing in the stung region.

Breeding the desert blonde tarantula

Breeding the desert blonde tarantula is a tricky aspect. This is due to the fact that you need to separate the male and female immediately after copulation takes place. Failure to do so can cause your desert blonde tarantula female to eat the male. Cannibalism is very common in the species.

To successfully breed your tarantula, you will need to add a mature desert blonde tarantula male in the female tarantula’s enclosure. If the female allows it, the male will hold the female with its tibial hooks and inject his sperm into her.

Female tarantula will lay eggs inside an egg sac. You can separate the sac out and place it in an incubator. When time comes, you will also have to cut the sac open. It is a good idea to separate the slings to prevent further cannibalism.

Desert blonde tarantula price

 You can easily get the desert blonde tarantula on sale for a price lower than other exotic tarantulas brought from other countries. This is because the demand for this US-based tarantula is much lower.

In pet shops, you can find this tarantula for about $20 to $30.

Molting

Your mature tarantula will molt once a year upon maturity. There are many distinct physical and behavioral changes in the tarantula before, during, and after molting.

First of all, your Tarantula will stop moving. It will remain motionless to conserve its energy for the molt. It might even stop eating for several weeks to one month before it molts.

Next, your pet will lose its blonde hairs in areas where the exoskeleton will break off. Furthermore, its abdomen might appear darker. Some tarantulas lay upside down during the molting process which can take anywhere between 15 minutes to a few days.

Do not handle or feed your tarantula while it is molting. In fact, western desert tarantula handling should be completely avoided completely during and for at least a week after the molting. Also, remove the discarded exoskeleton as well as any large prey from the enclosure to keep your vulnerable spider safe post-molting.

FAQs on Desert Blonde Tarantula

Are Arizona desert blonde tarantulas good for beginners?

Yes, being docile and of a mild-temperament, the Arizona western desert blonde tarantula makes a great pet for novice as well as experienced T-keepers.

How fast do Arizona desert blonde tarantulas grow?

This is a slow-growing tarantula that reaches its full size only after about 10 years. Males mature by 5 years but might die off soon after.

Are desert blonde tarantulas venomous?

Yes, the desert blonde tarantula has venom but it is not fatal like it is the case with most New World tarantulas. At the most, the desert blonde tarantula bite can cause redness, swelling, and some pain – more like a bee’s sting.

How big do Arizona desert blonde tarantulas get?

A fully grown desert blonde tarantula has a leg span of 5 inches. Males are leggier than the females.

Conclusion

The desert blonde tarantula or chalcodes likes a hot, desert-like environment. It does not need too much water and prefers a dry substrate in its enclosure.

Thanks to its mild-temperament, the chalcodes is fairly easy to keep as pet. However, it could still bite or send urticating hairs which are sharp, prickly, and itchy. So always take care during handling.

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