The Desert Blonde Tarantula, also known as Western Desert Tarantula, Arizona Blond Tarantula, Mexican Blonde Tarantula, and Aphonopelma chalcodes is a tarantula species commonly found in the American desert. Its common name, “blond tarantula,” refers to the carapace, which is covered in white, pale hairs that contrasts with its dark legs and abdomen. It is less costly and easier to obtain compared to other exotic tarantula species. With its docile temperament, the Desert Blond Tarantula makes a fascinating spider pet for hobbyists. If you want to learn more about this species, make sure to read further!
The Desert Blonde Tarantula was first described in 1940 by American biologist Ralph Vary Chamberlin. In the wild, it is usually found in saguaro-dominated plant communities. Their habitats experience two major wet seasons during summer and winter. Although this spider species can thrive in dry conditions, it can appreciate a more humid environment. It experiences high-temperature levels during the summer, and low temperatures during the winter. To veer away from extreme temperatures, the Desert Blonde Tarantula would retreat in its self-made burrow.
Characteristics of a Desert Blonde Tarantula
Average size: 5 to 6 inches
Average life span: Males live 5 to 10 years, while females live 24 to 30 years
It is a large-bodied tarantula—a female has a uniform tan color, while a male has copper cephalothorax and reddish abdomen. Desert Blonde Tarantulas are terrestrial, burrowing creatures that dig long burrows as large as 1 to 2 inches in diameter; they produce a silk-like thread to cover the burrow’s entrance. The silk does not only trap prey, but it also aids in reinforcing the burrow. Most of the time, Desert Blonde Tarantulas remain in the open and are fascinating to watch as they climb and dig. At night, they hunt for prey.
As with all tarantulas, Desert Blonde Tarantulas throw off urticating hairs when threatened. These hairs contain venom, which can cause mild pain and redness. They are considered as “look only” pets that can tolerate gentle handling.
Caring for a Desert Blonde Tarantula
Most Desert Blonde Tarantula pets are wild-caught and not bred in captivity. Males can only breed once in a lifetime. If you want to breed your pet, you will need to place mature male and female in a single tank. After breeding, you have to separate thee two immediately. Once the female produces an egg sack, remove it after a month and place it on a different enclosure.
A small tank (5 to 10 gallon) would be suitable for a single Desert Blonde Tarantula. Remember that the enclosure’s width should be three times wider than the tarantula’s leg span. Prevent buying tall tanks with wire mesh tops as the desert blondes climb and can be injured when it falls from a jostled lid. As for the substrate, provide three or more inches of soil, vermiculite, or peat moss. Provide a hideout for your pet. A piece of wood, cork bark, or half of a clay flower pot is ideal.
When it comes to temperature levels, an ambient day temperature of about 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit would work well. As for the humidity level, keep it between 65 and 70%. Use a thermometer and hygrometer to measure the respective levels. Since Desert Blonde Tarantulas are endemic to dry areas, they can tolerate dryer air. If the temperature drops, your spider pet will need additional heating. To achieve this, provide heating strips or pads underneath half of the enclosure to create a temperature grading. Since Desert Blonde Tarantulas are nocturnal in nature, they won’t need any special lighting.
Provide a shallow water dish containing clear, clean, and chlorine-free water is a must. Avoid deep water dishes because they create a drowning hazard for your pet. Just like other tarantula species, Desert Blonde Tarantulas feed on live crickets and other large insects. Make sure that the prey is gut-loaded and pesticide-free. Adult Desert Blonde Tarantulas eat once or twice a week, whereas spiderlings should be fed more often. Feeding appropriately requires keeping pet crickets alongside your pet. Ensure you are providing the crickets with an appropriate diet to increase your pet’s nutrient intake. For more diet information, you may visit a local veterinarian.