Pinktoe Tarantulas in Costa Rica Yes!
I would like to share a letter I received from one of my readers who has a 60 pet Tarantulas. And he is taking a trip to Costa Rica soon, and will be looking for Tarantulas there.
Hi, I came upon your blog because I’m a tarantula collector who’s also making a trip to Costa Rica soon. I liked your post and thought you might be interested in more tarantula info.
There are a good many species of tarantula that live in Costa Rica. Many of them are quite pretty (from a tarantula person’s point of view) and, as “New World” tarantulas, are fairly docile. Species in Costa Rica include the Costa Rican Zebra (A. seemani), Costa Rican Tiger Rump (C. fasciata), and the Pinktoe (A. avicularia), which are arboreal tarantulas, likely the ones you’ve heard are found in banana plants. Pinktoes are actually extremely docile, compared to some other tarantulas (though they still should not necessarily be handled in the wild by inexperienced people). You can Google pictures of them if you like.
You are correct that no tarantulas are deadly- no one in recorded history has ever died from a tarantula’s venom. Depending on the species, various levels of pain can be experienced from a “wet” (with venom- tarantulas don’t alway inject venom when they bite) bite, ranging from a little worse than a bee sting (localized swelling and numbness) to serious muscle spasms, sweating and heart palpitations.
Tarantulas don’t urinate, though. Their biology requires them to conserve as much water as they can since they rarely drink and often go weeks without eating- other insects, very, very small animals, where they also get much of their water. For waste, they expel a guanine-based material that comes out looking like a white paste. It’s basically white, pasty poop with a very small amount of water mixed in. They only do this rarely- again, conserving their resources. As far as I can tell, tarantula poop doesn’t irritate the skin at all.
Similarly, since they only eat other creatures (except for on the rarest of occasions when tarantula keepers have reported them eating something like a grape), which they detect as prey via vibrations (tarantulas’ eyes don’t see images, only the presence or absence of light) it is unlikely the tarantula was going after crumbs in your home. It is possible it was coming inside to get warmer. There is also a possibility that your tarantula was a mature male, since they rarely leave their homes- they’re not big wanderers, except for mature males- however, if the spider was only an inch across, this is unlikely.
“New World” tarantulas do flick hairs, as you saw in the NYT article. I had a similar experience to that man when I touched my eye after working with my tarantulas and got a urticating hair in it, though I did not need surgery. However, that New World tarantulas flick hairs also makes them more docile, as flicking is their first line of defense- when they feel threatened, they don’t have to resort to biting as their only option.
Lastly, unfortunately, the Cobalt Blue Tarantula (H. lividum) doesn’t live in the Americas, but in southeast Asia. They are beautiful in the correct lighting and also plentiful in the tarantula hobby. They are not handleable, though- definitely one of the meaner species of tarantula. They are an “Old World” species and don’t have urticating hairs. They also rarely seen by their owners because they are what’s called an “obligate burrower”- they spend almost all of their time in their burrow.
If you ever wanted to keep a tarantula as a pet, look for something in the Brachypelma or Grammostola genus. They are docile, easy to maintain and often quite beautiful.
Thanks for the post! I’m really looking forward to our Costa Rica trip.
P.S. The black Costa Rica tarantula in the photo above is a pinktoe.
Zebras are not only animals found living in Africa but also spiders which are found living in western Guanacaste region of Costa Rica . It’s called the Zebra Tarantula and lives burrowed underground.