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Grammostola pulchra / quirogai (Brazilian black) Care Sheet

Grammostola pulchra is also known as the Brazilian black.

Known for it's solid, velvet black coloration, longevity, hardiness and docile nature G. pulchra is one of the most popular beginner tarantulas for good reason!

For more information on Grammostola pulchra vs. quirogai CLICK HERE or scroll past the husbandry notes of this care sheet

Origin: New World. G. pulchra is native to Brazil (Uruguay,* Argentina,* see below)

Difficulty: Beginner

Type: Terrestrial

Adult Size: 5.5-7.5"+

Growth speed: Slow

Longevity: Males 6+ years, females 20-40 years

Temperament: Docile yet skittish. If agitated they may flee and/or flick urticating hairs. Bites from this species are rare.

Bite potency:  Mild

Urticating hairs: Yes

Ideal Temperature:  70 to 75°

Humidity: Medium

Interesting Fact: Currently Grammostola pulchra is our most requested tarantula! Looks, personality, hardiness, ease of care, longevity... this one has got it all! Spiderlings are slow to obtain their adult colors, but in my opinion experiencing the transformation is part of the fun of raising a tarantula. It will take a while, typically a few years, but around 3/4-1 1/4" leg-span spiderlings will typically start showing the first signs of adult coloring. After 1 1/2-2" or so the specimens adult coloring is usually more prominent. Keep in mind these are estimates and it does vary from specimens to specimen. What a joy it is to witness the transformation of an unassuming brown spiderling into a large, colorful tarantula!

Enclosure: Good ventilation is a must and safety should be a top priority when choosing and designing your tarantulas enclosure. The enclosure should not be too tall as to give the spider an opportunity to fall and injure itself. For spiderlings under about 1-1 1/4" we recommend the Terrestrial Spiderling Enclosure Kit. For specimens over 1" to about 2" we recommend the Terrestrial Juvenile Enclosure Kit. Specimens over 2" and under about 4.5 or 5" can go into a 7x7x11" complete terrestrial enclosure. Unless you're housing a large female a 8x8x14" Adult Complete Terrestrial will suffice for 2-2.5" and over specimens. As adults can sometimes grow to be over 6.5" we recommend the 10 x 10 x 20" Adult Tarantula Cage as a permeant enclosure for specimens over 4-4.5" or so. Click HERE to find out how to you measure a tarantula.

Substrate: While most adults will adopt a hide, slings often prefer to burrow. Cocofiber, vermiculite, peat moss and/or potting soil (or a mix) are all excellent substrate choices. Please make sure the substrate you choose is organic and chemical/fertilizer free. Do not use sand, pebbles, rocks or wood chips or anything else that could potentially cut or injure the tarantula.

In many cases a larger specimen would rather adopt or retrofit an existing hide than create it's own from deep substrate. Cork tubes half buried in substrate are what we use for our adult females. The specimen will excavate one side of the cork tube to it's liking. I like to think this makes the tarantula feel “at home” while minimizing the time and effort for the spider to settle in.

Spiderlings will often desire to create their own home by excavating a burrow. A tarantula with this talent and preference for tunneling is referred to as an obligate burrower. To encourage this natural behavior we recommend semi-moist substrate at least twice, and ideally three times as deep as the tarantulas DLS. Both the  Terrestrial Spiderling and Terrestrial Juvenile Enclosure Kit can be set up to encourage burrowing.

Water: Larger spiders 2” and over should be provided with a shallow water dish in order to drink. The water bowl should be rinsed our every time it is refilled. Being a scrubland species they will not require as frequent misting as an arboreal species however, I recommend keeping one corner of the enclosure lightly misted, especially if there is no water bowl.

Feeding: Adults will eat every 6-14 days depending on the size of the spider and it's prey. Spiderlings should eat more often, every 5-10 days. Adults may be fed crickets, mealworms or roaches. Spiderlings under .75” can only eat food small enough for it to overpower. This includes pinhead crickets, flightless fruit flies & freshly hatched "pinhead" rusty red roaches. It is not advised to feed your tarantula wild-caught food. It could contain parasites or pesticides that could be fatal to your pet. Keep your tarantulas enclosure clean. food waste left in the enclosure will invite mold, mildew, mites, flies and other pests. It is advised to remove uneaten prey items after 3-12 hours. If using a feeder who will not “bother” a tarantula such as dubia roaches it is alright to leave them in the enclosure as long as they are not causing stress to the specimen. A more detailed feeding, misting & troubleshooting guide can be found here: https://jamiestarantulas.com/guides/


Grammostola pulchra vs. G. quirogai

Such instances of species confusion is more commonplace in the hobby than I would like to admit, but only with an awareness of existing problems can we better find and execute potential solutions.

Why the confusion?

When tarantulas are collected from the wild for the pet trade they are often poorly identified, improperly labeled and almost never come with specific locale information. These particular species can only be confirmed by an extremely subtle difference in the mature male or with a DNA test and these proper identification steps were not observed before specimens entered the pet trade.

So which is it?

Is it a Brazilian Black, Uruguay Black Beauty or Argentinian Black? All of these remarkably similar relatives have likely made their way into the hobby at one time or another although, nearly everything in the US hobby currently sold by dealers & pet stores come from similar bloodlines, which trace their origins to Uruguay. Whether you’re looking at obtaining a “Grammostola pulchra / Brazilian Black” or “Grammostola quirogai / Uruguay Black Beauty” it’s most likely the same spider.

Okay. So which spider is that?

There are numerous unofficial reports of three remarkably similar black species with potentially overlapping range, as well as some or all possibly residing also in Argentina. Published scientific records describe Grammostola pulchra as residing in Brazil only and Grammostola quirogai in Uruguay only. While the official data is still limited, the information available would have us assume the majority of the Grammostola pulchra / Brazilian Black who’ve been commonly traded, talked about and loved in recent years is more likely a misidentified Grammostola quirogai / Uruguay Black Beauty.

I think I can see the visual differences from photos online?

I have seen good number of specimens from different sources as well as numerous photos and would urge hobbyists to take what they see and read on the internet with a grain of salt. Depending on the settings of the camera, lighting, molt cycle of the tarantula and numerous other factors a single specimen can look surprisingly different. For example, a lighting or a flash can reflect and make it looks like a specimen has odd-colored hairs scattered throughout. Conditions can certainly play tricks on the camera lens! Don’t fall into the temptation of confirming minute to seemingly obvious differences by merely looking at a picture. Take it from someone who has literally taken tens of thousands of spider pictures this is not a reliable way to distinguish species!

Okay, then how do I tell them apart?

That is a very good question, and I wish there was a quick, easy and reliable way to tell the difference between any given Grammostola pulchra and quirogai…

…But the only way to truly distinguish the two species is to observe the spine arrangement of the mature males tibial hooks or though a DNA sequence.

How do I get a DNA test to confirm the species of my pet tarantula?

We have collected and sent off various exuviae (molts) to graduate students in hopes sequence the DNA, this would certainly help clarify things. Sadly, after numerous attempts it was discovered there is not enough genetic material in the exuviae for the machines to read. A successful DNA sequence under these circumstances would have been much more likely with a larger, recently deceased specimen.

We’d love to hear from anyone with success DNA sequencing exuviae as this would greatly assist the hobby in confirming species and to  identify and protect “pure” bloodlines.

Is it possible the “Hobby G. pulchra” is a “mutt”?

There are limited official reports of scientists attempting to pair Grammostola pulchra with Grammostola quirogai that claim none of the mismatched species were interested in each other. I hope to see more official publications on this topic soon.

When will we get updated information on this topic?

Tarantulas are a less-studied branch of etymology but thankfully there is growing interest in these amazing arthropods. Species are being described, redescribed & studied more frequently. We hope to see more official information on this and other topics soon and will update this page as we are able.

Check out what happened recently with the Mexican Red Knee. The hobby's most iconic tarantula Brachypelma smithi is now Brachypelma hamorii.

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