The Antilles pinktoe tarantula, or Caribena versicolor, could just as easily be called the unicorn tarantula. These bold and brightly colored spiders are simply stunning to behold – so much so you might find yourself wondering if they are even real! Rest assured, the Antilles pinktoe tarantula is definitely a work of fact not fiction. But is this a species of tarantula that might be a good pet for you? By the time you finish reading this article, you will know if the answer to this question is yes. We’ll also share top tips for raising, caring for and handling your arachnid companion.
What Are Antilles Pinktoe Tarantulas?
The Antilles Pinktoe tarantula actually goes by several different names. For many decades, this species was classified as the Avicularia versicolor. More recently, the taxonomy changed to the Caribena versicolor.
Common names include Antilles pinktoe tarantula, Antilles pintoe tarantula, Martinique red tree spider and Martinique pink toe.
Since this tarantula species is found in Lesser Antilles, Martinique and in areas throughout the Caribbean, these different names make sense. So what exactly does this colorful tarantula look like and act like at different ages and life stages? Let’s find out now.
Antilles Pinktoe Tarantula Appearance
Young tarantulas of any species are called spiderlings or slings for short. The pinktoe tarantula spiderling is a brilliant jeweled blue color pattern on a black background. Through successful molts, this blue color gradually changes to brilliant greens, purples or reds in adulthood.
Are Antilles Pinktoe Tarantulas Venomous?
All tarantula species have venom glands and all tarantulas are capable of biting humans and injecting their venom in that way. The pain level is likened to that of a honeybee or wasp bite.
But the Antilles pinktoe tarantula’s venom is considered generally non-threatening to people. The one exception is if the venom causes an allergic reaction. This is rare but possible. Luckily, these easygoing tarantulas rarely bite their keepers.
How Big Do Pinktoe Tarantulas Get?
Antilles pinktoe tarantulas grow quite fast, typically reaching their full adult size within two years of birth.
Adult female tarantulas can easily reach five or six inches (including leg span) at maturity. Males remain smaller, typically topping out at between two and two and a half inches.
Are Antilles Pinktoe Tarantulas Good For Beginners?
First-time Antilles pinktoe tarantula keepers will be best served by getting an adult pinktoe rather than a spiderling. Adults are bigger and thus easier to feed and care for as well as more resilient to beginner keeper errors.
Antilles Pinktoe Tarantula Personality
The Antilles pinktoe tarantula is a relatively small and incredibly fast-moving tarantula especially when in the spiderling phase of life. For this reason, this tarantula species is considered to be a better observation pet than interactive pet. It is too easy to lose track of them outside their enclosure and you may never find your pet again. Overall, these tarantulas are mild mannered and entertaining to watch as pets.
Are Antilles Pinktoe Tarantulas Aggressive?
The Antilles tarantula is generally docile and more inclined to react to threats by jumping or running away and hiding than by attacking.
These tarantulas do have urticating setae, or defense hairs, but they are classified as type 2, which means the spider cannot hurl them at you. The only way you will come in contact with these irritating barbed hairs is if you accidentally touch your pet’s abdomen.
Caring For An Antilles Pinktoe Tarantula
The Antilles pinktoe tarantula is an arboreal or tree-dwelling tarantula species. So even though they live in a temperate, tropical and typically humid climate, airflow in the tree canopy creates a less humid and more ventilated microclimate. Antilles pinktoe slings or spiderlings are more terrestrial and live closer to the ground surface in their natural wild habitat. So they need places to hide and burrow just as they would in the wild.
Adult pinktoes will live higher in the tree canopy, spinning gorgeous web-bags to catch prey and conceal themselves from predators. Even though wild pinktoe tarantulas live in colonies, it is best to keep captive pinktoes in separate enclosures of at least 12 inches by 12 inches by 18 inches.
Both sub-adult and adult Antilles pinktoe tarantulas need excellent ventilation at all times to keep humidity from turning into damp. Aim for a temperature range from 68 to 82 Fahrenheit (20 to 28 Celsius) by keeping a warmer area and a cooler area inside the habitat.
Antilles Pinktoe Tarantula Lifespan
As with many tarantula species, the Antilles Pinktoe tarantula lifespan varies greatly based on gender.
While female pinktoes often live as long as 12 years, adult male pinktoes may only live two or three years. Part of the reason is because the female sometimes becomes cannibalistic during mating, but the majority of males tend to die during the adult molt.
Male vs Female Antilles Pinktoe Tarantula
You may be wondering how to tell whether your sling Antilles pinktoe tarantula is a male or a female. The trick is to wait for your spiderling to molt. You can then examine the shed skin to see whether the secondary male or female sex characteristics are developing. Look for an area of folded shed skin around the abdomen which indicates the spider is female.
Males will generally mature to have slimmer, longer legs as well as slender abdomens. Males will nearly always be smaller in size than females.
Your Pet Tarantula
There is no doubt the gorgeous Antilles pinktoe tarantula has the visual appeal as well as the personality to make these spiders popular pets around the world.
Are you considering adding a pinktoe tarantula to your family? We’d love to hear your insights and stories in the comments.
What’s Your Perfect Exotic Pet?
Not sold on the tarantula? These awesome little creatures also make great pets:
- Green bottle blue tarantula
- Pumpkin patch tarantula
- Asian forest scorpion
- Curly haired tarantula
- Gooty Sapphire Tarantula
- Hobo spider vs wolf spider
- Gwaltney-Brant et al. “Terrestrial Zootoxins.” Veterinary Toxicology (3rd Edition), 2018.
- Walckanaer, C.A. “Histoire naturelle des insectes.” Global Biodiversity Information Facility World Spider Catalog, 1837.