The pumpkin patch tarantula, or Hapalopus sp. Colombia, is one of the most popular pet tarantula species. All it takes is one quick look at these brightly colored beauties and you will immediately see how they got their nickname! These little cuties look like the perfect Halloween accessory, but they are so much more than an ornamental pet. They range in size from a modest 2.5 inches to an impressive nearly 5 inches in diameter. Lifespan also varies a lot depending on if you have a male or female, ranging from 4 to 10 years between them.
Pumpkin patch tarantulas aren’t very venomous, but their barbed hairs can pack a punch if you upset them. Today we’ll get to know what pumpkin patch tarantulas look and act like, and if they’re dangerous or aggressive as arachnid companions go. We’ll also help you to decide whether this popular tarantula deserves their enthusiastic human following.
- What is a pumpkin patch tarantula?
- Pumpkin patch tarantula appearance
- Are pumpkin patch tarantulas dangerous?
- Is this a good beginner tarantula breed?
- Are pumpkin patch tarantulas aggressive?
- Tarantula care tips
- How long do pumpkin patch tarantulas live?
- Male vs female tarantulas
Entering the world of exotic pets like tarantulas for the first time can easily lead to overwhelm. Which tarantula species is the best choice? After you read this article you will know if the pumpkin patch tarantula is “the one” for you.
What Are Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas?
Pumpkin patch tarantulas are hairy spiders of the family Theraphosidae which also includes scorpions, ticks and other common arachnids, or invertebrates with jointed legs. Their formal taxonomic name, Hapalopus sp. Colombia, translates to mean simple (hapalo) foot (pus).
Pumpkin patch tarantulas are true tarantulas, a classification that relates primarily to their mouthparts and to how they defend themselves. These characteristics also place them firmly in the infraorder Mygalomorphae, one of the three major groups of modern spiders.
There are two major categories of tarantulas: old world and new world tarantulas. The pumpkin patch tarantula is considered a new world tarantula, which means their natural habitat is in the western hemisphere – in this species’ case, South America.
But what makes pumpkin patch tarantulas really unique is this spider’s eye-catching appearance, which we will discuss here next, and their lively personality, which we will discuss here later on.
Pumpkin Patch Tarantula Appearance
Even if you have never seen a pumpkin patch tarantula before, it probably won’t surprise you to learn these tiny tarantulas sport bright orange markings. Their nickname comes from the grouping of these orange markings against a dark background across the spider’s abdomen that some say look like a tiny pumpkin patch.
Are Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas Venomous?
Like all true tarantulas, pumpkin patch tarantulas are venomous. However, their venom is considered relatively harmless to humans. What isn’t so harmless is their barbed urticating hairs, or true setae.
Pumpkin patch tarantulas have these hairs on their abdomen. When a tarantula feels threatened, they will either rub off or eject and fling these barbed hairs at the threat. Each tiny hair can have multiple barbs which get lodged in the eyes or skin and cause inflammation, irritation and extreme discomfort that often requires medical treatment.
How Big Do Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas Get?
In the exotic pet trade, pumpkin patch tarantulas are bred and sold in two sizes: Klein (small) and Gros (large). Why use German designations for South American spiders, you might be wondering? The simple explanation is that the modern pumpkin patch spider trade got its start in Germany.
So let’s talk about the size difference for a moment. Hapalopus sp. Colombia (Klein) usually tops out at 2.5 to 3.1 inches (7 to 8 cm). Contrast that with Hapalopus sp. Colombia (Gros), which reportedly gets as big as 4.7 inches (12 cm).
It is also important to emphasize that females of this species nearly always grow larger than males – often by an inch or more. This holds true for both Klein and Gros pumpkin patch tarantulas.
Are Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas Good For Beginning Keepers?
Pumpkin patch tarantulas are considered to be a good choice for those new to tarantula keeping. However, this species still has exacting care and feeding requirements to remain healthy in a captive setting.
Pumpkin Patch Tarantula Personality
The pumpkin patch tarantula might look quite forbidding (in miniature) but their temperament is typically quite docile. They much prefer to retreat and hide rather than attack. But all bets are off when dinner is served. These tarantulas are definitely tiny but mighty when it comes to their enthusiastic and even aggressive feeding style.
Are Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas Aggressive?
Pumpkin patch tarantulas are not known to be aggressive unless they are feeding. However, because they are so tiny and quick, this isn’t the tarantula species to choose if you want to be able to enjoy a lot of hands-on interactions with your tarantula.
Also be aware that the pumpkin patch tarantula can be cannibalistic when housed with others of their species, especially at mating time.
Caring For a Pumpkin Patch Tarantula
The pumpkin patch tarantula hails from Colombia where the climate is generally temperate and relatively humid year-round even as the seasons change. Your pumpkin patch tarantula will fare best in a captive climate that mimics what it would find in its natural wild home.
These tarantulas like to spin webs and burrow and should have sufficient space in their enclosure to do both – at least one to two gallons for an adult male and two to four gallons for an adult female.
Aim for 60 to 70 percent humidity and a microclimate that offers warmer and cooler zones. Overall temperature should aim for 65 Fahrenheit on the cooler side and 85 Fahrenheit on the warmer side. Pumpkin patch tarantulas enjoy moist substrate like spaghnum moss and a mixture of coconut fiber, plain topsoil and vermiculite to control damp.
Pumpkin Patch Tarantula Lifespan
The pumpkin patch tarantula grows up quickly. Females often mature up to a year ahead of males of the same age. And here, gender is particularly important when it comes to longevity. Female pumpkin patch tarantulas may live up to several years longer than males of the same species.
For example, a healthy adult female pumpkin patch tarantula might live as long as 10 years. A healthy adult male, in contrast, may only live up to four years.
Male Vs Female Pumpkin Patch Tarantula
Sub-adult pumpkin patch tarantulas are referred to as “slings” or spiderlings. It is usually not possible to determine gender until after the fourth molt. Female pumpkin patch tarantula cast skins (molts) will have an extra fold in the abdominal area.
Male pumpkin patch tarantulas may have narrower abdomens, longer legs and little hooks (called tibial hooks) on their front legs. These hooks are used to neutralize the female’s fangs during mating.
Pet Tarantula Keeping
These lovely, eye-catching and vivacious dwarf tarantulas are entertaining to watch and educational to care for. Are you considering adding a pumpkin patch tarantula to your family? Please drop us a comment to share your stories.
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- Stewart, R. “Pumpkin Patch Tarantula (Hapolopus sp. Colombia) Care Sheet.” The Tarantula Collective, 2022.
- Kaderka et al. “Urticating setae of tarantulas (Araneae: Theraphosidae): Morphology, revision of typology and terminology and implications for taxonomy.” PLOS One Journal, 2019.
- Kong et al. “Tarantula Spider Toxicity.” StatPearls Publishing, 2022.
- Lapinski, W. “Tarantulas and Their Habitats.” Zoological Monographs (Springer), 2020.