Darth Maul Tarantula (Psalmopoeus victori): Full Guide

The Darth Maul Tarantula (Psalmopoeus victori) is a New World arboreal species from Veracruz, Mexico. She has some Old World characteristics such as lacking urticating hair in her abdomen, being fast, aggressive, and having a potent venom.

It has been first described very recently (2008) as the first arboreal tarantula in Mexico and North America.

There were ongoing discussions to name her an endangered species, so it’s important to avoid getting a specimen from poachers. Her behavior and appearance don’t match any other species from the same genus, making it a highly unique spider.

If you’re considering adding the Darth maul Tarantula to your collection, here’s everything we know about them so far.

Quengsalinas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Darth Maul Tarantula Care Sheet

Species NamePsalmopoeus victori
Family NameTheraphosidae
Common NamesDarth Maul Tarantula
CategoryNew World
TypeArboreal
Native LocationMexico
Body length2 inches (5 cm)
Leg Span5.5 to 6 inches (14-15 cm)
Growth SpeedFast
Urticating HairsNo
SocialSolitary
DietInsects: primarily crickets and roaches
Temperature70 to 75 degrees °F
Humidity70 to 80%
LifespanFemale: 10 to 12 years / Male: 2 to 3 years
Experience requiredExpert
Minimum tank size5 gallons (12″ x 8″ x 8″) Vertical > Horizontal space

Darth Maul Tarantula Overview

Psalmopoeus victori is the scientific name for the famous Darth Maul Tarantula.

This particular spider is also known as the “half and half” tarantula since her coloration is easily separated between the front half and the back half of her body, legs included.

Fast and aggressive for a New World species, the Darth Maul Tarantula has a powerful venom that’s much more significant than that of other New World spiders.

Taking these traits into account, she’s not suited as a first tarantula, and only the most experienced keepers should consider handling them.

If you want this enigmatic tarantula in your collection, you must stay alert for any signs of aggression.

Appearance and Variants

The Darth Maul Tarantula shows a dark coloration all over her body, with setae in her legs which has two different tones.

She’s covered with dark grey setae with hues of green olive over her front half, including her pedipalps, cephalothorax, and the first two pairs of legs.

The rear half is covered by red/orange setae going through her abdomen and the last two pairs of legs.

This species exhibits slight sexual dimorphism that’ll be evident to experienced hobbyists. Male specimens are smaller with a darker grey tone, while females show a brighter coloration.

As is standard with tarantulas, females of this species are typically larger than males. Generally speaking, they grow to a size of about 5.5 to 6 inches when fully grown.

Price

Darth Maul Tarantulas are expensive to buy due to the fact that they were only recently discovered. Just barely introduced into the hobby, everyone is trying to add this beautiful spider to their collection.

Since demand is high, so are the prices depending on the maturity stage and gender of the spider.

An unsexed or adult male can be bought for $100 to $200 in some cases. Females are sold for around $280, and $300 but also go for up to $800 in some places.

Due to their fast-breeding process, the price is expected to decrease in the following years, so patience could be the key to avoiding spending too much on a single specimen.

Behavior and Temperament

The Darth Maul Tarantula is an arboreal species, the first one to be described among the Psalmopoeus genus. She tends to be inside tree cavities at a medium height.

Mostly reclusive, she’s usually only active at night with a small distribution zone, which means she doesn’t stray too far away from her location.

Spiderlings and juveniles tend to do some digging at first, creating a dirt curtain to get privacy. Later, as they grow and molt, they turn to a more arboreal behavior. 

Adults are aggressive and nervous. They get into a threat posture quite easily, and since they lack urticating hair, they resort to biting under short provocation.

Thanks to their strong back legs, the Darth Maul Tarantula can run extremely fast, almost instantly, to her prey, preventing any possibilities of escape by caging it between her first two pairs of legs. Once that’s done, she grabs it with her pedipalps and injects venom to immobilize the target.

The Darth Maul Tarantula’s venom is strong and painful, but as is the case with all other tarantulas, there’s not a single reported case of a human death because of its bite.

Caring for a Darth Maul Tarantula

Temperature and Humidity

Darth Maul Tarantulas reside in a rainforest climate, in Veracruz, Mexico. They’re used to high humidity ranging from 70% to 80% and temperatures between 65°F – 75°F.

These conditions are ideal for these tarantulas in captivity, but slightly higher temperatures may lead to a faster growth rate.

Substrate

Darth Maul Tarantulas need an arboreal setup, so there’s no need to worry too much about substrate.

Two to three inches for spiderlings, juveniles, and adults is more than enough; remember that they tend to dig in their early life, so that’s the only time where the substrate may be relevant.

At this time, a mixture of peat moss, topsoil, and coconut fiber will do wonders for them; retaining humidity and allowing easy burrowing.

As they get older and adopt their arboreal nature, mixtures heavier on dirt will be enough since they’ll spend most of their time climbing.

Tank setup

The Darth Maul Tarantula requires an arboreal setup. At an earlier stage, spiderlings can use a 0.15-gallon container, like a 5 oz Deli cup, with some substrate and a small twig inside for climbing.

Juveniles use 1-gallon tanks with enough substrate for some digging. Once they reach adulthood, height over width is the rule for their tanks; a 5 gallons enclosure, around 12″ x 8″ x 8″ should be enough space for them to be comfortable.

Remember to give them somewhere to climb and hide. A large piece of cork bark placed vertically in the tank is a great choice; also, having plenty of foliage goes a long way in keeping them comfortable. 

Watering

Darth Maul Tarantulas are used to humid climates, so they need their soil sprayed once a week. As for the water dish, they’ll be most comfortable if it’s superglued to the tank wall close to their hiding spot.

Diet & Feeding

The Darth Maul Tarantula has a decent appetite for an arboreal spider and should eat a diet that consists of insects.

Spiderlings can be fed a small pre-killed roach, mealworms, or small pre-killed crickets twice a week, while juveniles should get one medium-to-large cricket, mealworms, or super worms once a week.

Adults need three large crickets every two weeks or so; one or two big roaches are good too. They can go a long time without eating, so some keepers feed them once a month with more generous quantities of food.

Use the schedule that works best for you as long as you pay close attention to their behavior. If you see their abdomens shrinking, make sure to increase the frequency and portions of food they receive.

Darth Maul Tarantula Facts

  • The Darth Maul Tarantula was officially discovered in 2008 in Mexico; however, she was described recently in 2014 for the first time.
  • With a slight distribution zone of around 7 kilometers, it’s amply discussed whether it should be named an endangered species; however, since it is known her mating is fast and easy, there hasn’t been a conclusion regarding the subject.
  •  The Darth Maul Tarantula gets its name from the famous character of the same name from the Star Wars series. A character with which the spider shares its colors and its characteristic aggressive behavior.
  • Her scientific species name “victori” refers to the fact that Mexico is the country with most Tarantula species worldwide, but none of them was arboreal until this one.
  • The Psalmopoeus victori is also known as the Mexican Half and Half since her coloration changes from dark to reddish right in the middle of her body.

Final words

Darth Maul Tarantulas are brand new and exotic tarantulas. They have amazing colors and speed, and they even come with pop culture references.

A bad fit for anyone but the most experienced hobbyists, you should be prepared to deal with the dark side if you choose one as your companion. Newcomers to the hobby that are not prepared for this yet are better off starting with a more docile species such as the Mexican Red Knee or the Arizona Blonde.

However, experienced keepers will be delighted at this species’ beautiful coloration and unique behavior as well as the fact that it will be a rare addition to their collection.

Jesse A.