-> PHONEUTRIA NIGRIVENTER ::.
by Lelle Pettersson
Brazilian wandering spider, (Phoneutria nigriventer, Keyserling 1891) in terrarium
The genus Phoneutria, Perty 1833, wandering spiders.
belong to the family Ctenidae where Phoneutria is one of around 40 genus
and the only one knowned that have a venom potent enough to be a danger
P. bahiensis, Simó & Brescovit, 2001
is endemic to a small area in the state Bahia in Brazil.
this species in the southern and southeast of Brazil and in parts of northern
Argentina. In other parts of South America such as Uruguay and Argentina
its indroduced by fruit shipments and most likely in Paraguay which also
are mentioned as a distribution area in the literature (pers. corr. C.
The most famous species is Phoneutria fera that in popular literature been dubbed as the most venomous spider in the world. Its open for debate if that is truly the case but fact is they got a very potent neurotoxin, just as nigriventer have. Most people that are bitten by a member of this family is bitten by a nigriventer, mostly because the species appear in heavily populated areas like Sao Paolo and Rio de Janiero while P. fera are found for most part in the Amazon region where the poulation is less dense.
on Phoneutria venom is done on nigriventer and some believe that bites
that been refered as fera bites most likely are in reality misidentified
nigriventer bites and envenomations (pers. corr. Rogerio Bertani, Butantan
So how dangerous
are nigriventer? Deaths have occured and during the years 1926-1996 14
fatalities happened. Nowadays there are a good working serum available
in Brazil that are produced on Butantan Institute in Sao Paulo.
State Sao Paulo
.773 bites per year / 1 fatality
in 2320 bites
Serum was used in 3,3% of the cases.
effects after a bite is intense local pain and swelling in the bite area,
followed by serious systematic effects like irregular heart rythm, stoppage
of the coagulare effects in the blood, priapism, lung edema and vomiting.
In the terrarium.
years of keeping tarantulas and other spiders I finally got hold of the
wandering spider Phoneutria nigriventer. I obtained a number of
juveniles and one large adult female. After I had the fullglass terrarium,
that measured 30x30x30 cm, set up for the adult I was about to open the
plastic box where she was shipped in.
need for a additional heat source for these spiders - a normal swedish
room temperature (around 20c) is sufficiant. But if the female lays a
eggsack one should increase the temperature a few degrees. The interior
can be a few slabs of cork bark leaned against the walls, a few centimeters
of peat as substrate and a few dry roots or sticks which makes the set
up looks nicer. All other decoration is really unnecessery and dry leaves
on the bottom really looks nice and decorative but its quite unsuitable
because the spider are blending in so well that you have no idea really
where its at when you are about to change the water dish or do other work
inside the cage. This is one spider you dont want leaping up your arm!
Besides the obvious difficulties in transfering this species they are quite problem free in captivity. They eat most of what is offered such as crickets, roaches, and even pinkies. The juveniles I kept was also very easy to care for. They grew quite fast and reach sexual maturity in a year. Small newly hatched out spiderlings are quite the opposite - they are extremely hard to keep (more on this further down).
Mating and breeding.
After I got
two males I was about to try mating my two adult females.
11th 2004 I tried to mate nigriventer, acctually two pair of the species.
Despite these are fast and nervous spiders the introduction went easier
then expected. After I introduced the males to each female I watched holding
my breath in suspence in what was gonna happen. I had fed the females
alot before (as normally been done with all spider females before introducing
After 5 minutes or so the first male started to carefully drum his pedipalps. After a while he started to move slowly, and then stopped. He then started to move his abdomen up and down and I thought he was spinning silk but I didnt notice any silk - maybe it was part of the courting? Slowly he moved towards the female and she towards him. When he felt her legs touch his pedipalps he ran away and hid behind the cork bark. Not a good start...
went by and I introduced the male no 2 to female no 2. I went out to get
a cold drink and suddenly I hear a sound like all hells breaking loose
in the cage and female 1 and male 1 are engaged in close combat where
the male lost. I didnt see him enter the embolus, but she apparently subdued
him and had a meal.
the 29th 2004 I observed a eggsack layed by female number 2. Saucer shaped
and 3-4cm in diameter. She guarded it constantly by keeping it between
her pedipalps and the first legpair.
eggsack is layed by the same female on July 8th. It hatched August 2nd
and the number of spiderlings were pretty much the same as the first eggsack.
Under: no giants
are nice and interesting spiders to keep in captivity, if you have a long
experience in keeping fast and aggressive spiders. If not its better to
stay away from these genus because of the dangerous venom. They are easy
to care for and demand not much except a big dose of common sence and
Miguel & Brescovit, D. Antonio,
This article have been published in Swedens Herpetological
Society magazine Snoken no 1/2005 p. 17-21
Minax Tarantulas 2000-2006