The Arizona Blonde Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes) is a slow-growing New World terrestrial tarantula that’s native to southern Arizona and northern Mexico. It’s known for its blonde hair, giving it a unique appearance, and docile personality, which makes it a very suitable species for beginners to the hobby.
If the Arizona Blonde caught your attention and you’re considering adding it to your collection, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’ll go over everything you need to know about this beautiful species.
Arizona Blonde Tarantula Care Sheet
|Species Name||Aphonopelma chalcodes|
|Common Names||Arizona Blonde Tarantula, Desert Blonde Tarantula|
|Body length||2.75 inches (around 7 centimeters)|
|Leg Span||6″ (~15 cm)|
|Growth Speed||Very slow|
|Diet||Crickets, roaches, mealworms. Also small mammals/lizards in the wild|
|Temperature||70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Humidity||65 to 70%|
|Lifespan||Female: 25 to 30 years / Male: 5 to 10 years|
|Minimum tank size||5 to 10 gallon, width > height|
Arizona Blonde Tarantula Overview
The Arizona Blonde Tarantula is scientifically known as the Aphonopelma chalcodes. It’s a terrestrial tarantula species that is native to northern Mexico and southern Arizona where it inhabits the deserts.
They’re a fossorial species, which means that they burrow. Their burrows can be quite large and are frequently about 1 to 2 inches in diameter. They span strands of silk along the opening to alert them when prey is nearby, which they then ambush. Their burrows offer them excellent protection from the harsh desert climate.
Appearance & Varieties
The Arizona Blonde Tarantula is most well known for its blonde hairs, also known as setae. These blond hairs might look stunning, but they’re also the spider’s first line of defense. As a New World species, the Arizona Blonde is capable of releasing these hairs when they feel threatened.
Males of this species look different from females. As is often the case in arachnids, females are larger than males, but that’s not the only difference, there’s also a difference in colors.
Males typically have black legs with a copper-colored cephalothorax and a red abdomen whereas females are typically tan in color. This makes it quite easy to determine whether your tarantula is male or female simply by looking at them, something that’s more difficult in most other species.
The Arizona Blonde Tarantula is not an expensive species. They’re quite common and popular in the hobby, which means that there are plenty of breeders that sell them.
The price does depend slightly on whether you buy a male or female, and the age of the spider you buy. Males are cheaper than females due to their shorter lifespan. Slings are more expensive than fully-grown spiders because they’re harder to raise.
An average price to shoot for when buying a sling or juvenile is below $50. Adults can be slightly more expensive, but not by all that much.
Temperament & Behavior
The Arizona Blonde Tarantula is one of the most docile tarantula species in the hobby. They’re not defensive in nature and rarely strike a threat posture. If they feel like they’re in danger, they prefer to run and hide rather than fight.
Nevertheless, if the spider is cornered and feels like it has no way out, it will attempt to defend itself. They have urticating hairs, which can they release in self-defense. These hairs are typically not dangerous to humans, but you should be careful not to get them in your eyes.
Their docile nature means that they’re a great species for beginners or first-time tarantula owners.
Additionally, the Arizona Blonde is not very shy compared to some other species. They don’t mind sitting out in the open. This, combined with their beautiful appearance, makes them very well suited as show spiders.
Spiders do not get much out of being handled. They do not crave affection or attention as some other pets do. Nevertheless, due to the Arizona Blonde’s docile nature, they do tolerate being handled fairly well. When handling them, make sure that you’re very careful.
Handling poses more risk for the spider than for the human. Their venom is not very strong, but if they get scared and decide to make a run for it, they can easily fall. Accidentally dropping them can have disastrous consequences, so it’s best to handle them close to the floor.
Caring for an Arizona Blonde Tarantula
Tarantulas are incredibly low-maintenance pets, as long as you provide them with a nice enclosure, water, and food, they’ll be capable to thrive.
Of course, there are a few important things to know to properly care for them, such as the humidity & temperature levels they require, whether they’re social spiders, and more.
The Arizona Blonde is not a particularly large species and needs an enclosure that’s around 5 to 10 gallons in size. Whereas most animals need large cages, tarantulas actually prefer smaller enclosures because they’re not very active and it’s easier for them to catch prey in smaller terrariums.
Since this is a terrestrial species, their enclosure needs to be longer than it is high. It should be at least 3 times as long as their leg span, so if you have an adult with a leg span of 6 inches, give it an enclosure that’s at least 18 inches long.
These tarantulas do create their own burrows, but it’s good to provide them with a hide to give them more options. Further decorations for their enclosure can include artificial plants and some natural rocks.
Since the Arizona Blonde Tarantula has a tendency to burrow substrate is quite important. Make sure that they have a layer of substrate that’s at least 5 to 6 inches deep to ensure that they can fully burrow.
Good materials to use for the substrate include coco fiber, vermiculite, peat moss, potting soil, or a mix of these.
Since these spiders are native to a desert environment you do not need to keep the substrate wet at all times but you can simulate natural rainfall by wettening the substrate every week or so.
Temperature & Humidity
As desert dwellers, the Arizona Blonde is quite capable of handling temperature shifts. Deserts get cold at night and warm during the day, so these spiders are not super sensitive to temperature. However, ideal temperatures for them are in the 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit range.
For most people, this is room temperature, which makes it very easy to get it right.
Humidity-wise, 60 to 70% is great, but lower humidity will not bother them all that much. Deserts can get very dry, so they’re well adapted to dealing with low-humidity situations.
Some tarantulas are capable of communal living, but not the Arizona Blonde. Even though they’re quite docile with humans, they should not be housed with another tarantula, not even one of the same species. They can be quite territorial and cannibalism is not unheard of when they encroach on each other’s territory.
In the wild, they live in separate burrows and they only meet one another when it’s time to breed. The same rule should be applied in captivity.
The Arizona Blonde Tarantula is a very slow-growing species. They live for up to 30 years and only grow to a maximum size of 6 inches. Because they grow so slow, they will molt less frequently than faster-growing species.
Nevertheless, they will still molt. Typically, they will refuse to eat and drink a few days before a molt to make the process easier. During a molt, it’s important that you avoid disturbing your eight-legged friend to avoid stressing them out even further.
After a molt, you need to wait several days before feeding them to give their fangs time to harden.
Feeding your Arizona Blonde Tarantula
As slings, they should be fed pre-killed tiny crickets, flightless fruit flies, or cricket legs twice a week. Once they grow into juveniles, you can feed them 1 or 2 medium crickets every week. Adults can eat 2 or 3 large crickets every week.
Do not worry if your tarantula refuses to eat when winter approaches. It’s common behavior in this species and they can go for long periods of time without eating.
Health & Lifespan
The Arizona Blonde is a hardy and long-living tarantula. In captivity, there’s not much that can prevent them from living out their full natural lifespan. The main things to keep an eye on are mites, mold, and parasites.
To avoid these problems, clean their substrate and keep their tank clean, avoid mold growth, and do not give them wild-caught insects.
Another thing that can often end their life prematurely is falling. If you do decide to handle them, be very careful not to drop them.
Breeding the Arizona Blonde Tarantula
Before attempting to breed the Arizona Blonde, make sure that the female is well-fed as this increases her receptiveness to breeding and reduces the chances of her eating the male once the breeding has been completed. Secondly, make sure that the female has recently molted. If she molts while she’s carrying eggs, the eggs will not be viable.
If those conditions are met, place the male in the female’s enclosure and let nature run its course. Do keep an eye on them, if the female tries to eat the male separates them immediately.
If the breeding is successful the female will lay the egg sac which contains hundreds of eggs.
Note: Breeding is not something that should be attempted by just anyone. Tarantulas can lay many eggs at a time which can result in many spiders being born. These can be very difficult to find good homes for, so be responsible and leave the breeding to professionals!
Quick Facts about Arizona Blonde Tarantulas
- Male Aphonopelma chalcodes often die after mating. This can happen as a result of the female eating them, or because they get eaten by a predator when leaving her burrow.
- They are nocturnal and most active at night.
- Females can lay hundreds of eggs.
The Arizona Blonde Tarantula is a beautiful species with a docile temperament and easy-going nature. This makes them very suitable for first-time tarantula owners as well as people who already have some experience in the hobby. They’re low-maintenance and their care requirements are fairly simple, which makes them easy to care for.
If you’re looking for a great show tarantula to add to your collection, you cannot go wrong with the Arizona Blonde!
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