Chile Rose Spiders
Author: Michelle Jones
A beginners guide to Chile Rose Spiders (Grammostola Sp.)The Chile Rose spider is found in Chile and surrounding areas. It is a ground dwelling species, and is often found living in burrows. It hunts on foot and only produces a web when shedding its skin. They are mostly nocturnal but can sometimes be seen during the day.
SizeFemale Chile Roses tend to grow larger than males. Males are usually 4 inches in diameter whereas females are 5 or even 6 inches in diameter. Spiderlings are very small and under 1cm in total length.
Life SpanAgain there are differences in the life span of male and female Chile Roses. Males live for between 2 - 3 years and females between 6 - 8 years.
FeedingIn the wild Chile Roses will eat mostly insects and occasionally small rodents or their young. In captivity they can be maintained easily on a staple diet of crickets. A spiderling should be fed on one or two very small 'micro' crickets once per week. As the animal reaches a larger size, it can then have 1 or 2 small/medium crickets once per week and then as an adult have 3 or even 4 large crickets once per week. Adults may even take hoppers, locusts, and "pinky" mice. Black crickets are usually not accepted. Important If the spider does not eat the crickets within a day of them being put in its cage then remove them as there is a very real risk of the crickets attacking the Chile. It is especially important not to feed the spider after it has just shed its skin, as the skin is very soft and delicate at this stage and makes the animal very vulnerable to its food items.
SheddingChile Roses will shed their skin often as spiderlings, and as they reach adult-hood the time period between shedding will increase and an adult spider will shed its skin only once in a while. The shedding process in spiders is the most traumatic time in their lives. To shed the skin the spider first weaves a 'silk bed' and then flips onto its back on the silk bed and comes out of its skin backwards. People have often mistaken the shedding process for the animal being dead! So it is important to recognise when your spider is shedding its skin. At this time the spider must be left alone and not disturbed, any food items left in the cage should be removed and the animal should not be handled. As mentioned earlier, the skin is very soft after shedding has taken place, so again the animal should not be handled, and should preferably be left alone for a few days to recover.
HousingSmall spiderling Chile Roses can be happily housed in a small container with good ventilation and some vermiculite as substrate. Vermiculite is excellent at holding in moisture and is probably the best substrate to use for any spider, but it does need to be kept damp at all times as it can become a 'danger' to them if left dry.
Adult Chile Roses needs to be in a glass tank 18" x 12" x 12" with a ventilated but well sealed lid. Damp vermiculite should be used as a substrate and a very shallow water dish provided. Also some 'hides' made of logs, or cork bark should be provided to make the spider feel secure.
HeatingA Heat Mat is a sufficient heater for the Chile Rose spider, providing that it isn't allowed to get too hot. The temperature they are comfortable at is between 75 - 82F (24 - 28C) so it must be ensured that the environment doesn't get too hot or too cold. Heat Mats work about 10 degrees above the temperature of the room they are in, so it may be best that they are turned off on very hot summer days because the temperature can exceed 90F! When a heat mat is installed under any tank you should ensure that there is a layer of polystyrene underneath for insulation and most important of all - that there is not too much substrate above the heat mat. When placing under a cage it should be ensured that only a thin layer of vermiculite is over the area the heat mat will be heating. Too much substrate will not allow the heat to escape and so may make the heat mat get so hot that it warps the tank.
LightingLighting is not particularly important for the Chile Rose spider. However if a light is required in the tank a low wattage, coloured bulb would be best as it is less likely to disturb the spider than a normal light bulb or fluorescent light would.
MaintenanceVermiculite is relatively long lasting and all the substrate only needs to be taken out once per month and changed. Spot cleaning can be done on a weekly basis, when only the worst bits of the substrate are changed and the majority of it left in the cage. Specially made disinfectants can be used, including Arklens and other specialist reptile cleaners, although washing up liquid can be used as long as the cage is rinsed well afterwards.
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