Darth Maul Tarantula (Psalmopoeus victori): Care 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 behind the famous Darth Maul Tarantula (DMT).

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.

Pretty fast and aggressive for a New World Tarantula, the DMT has a powerful venom that’s much more significant than that of other New World species.

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.

Darth Maul Tarantula Price

The DMTs are expensive due to her recent discovery. Just barely introduced into the hobby, everyone is trying to add her into their collection.

Since demand is pretty wild, so are the prices depending on their maturity stage and gender.

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 avoid 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 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 DMT can teleport 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.

A DMT’s venom is strong and painful, but as it happens with all other tarantulas, there’s not a single reported case of a human death because of a DMT bite.

Caring for a Darth Maul Tarantula

Temperature and Humidity

DMTs reside in a rainforest climate, in Veracruz, México. They’re used to high humidity ranging from 70% to 80% and temperatures between 65°F – 75°F. These conditions are ideal for DMTs in captivity, but perhaps slightly higher temperatures may lead to a faster growth rate.

Substrate

DMTs 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 turn arboreals, mixtures heavier on dirt will be enough since they’ll spend most of their time climbing.

Tank setup

The Darth Maul Tarantula uses 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

The DMTs 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 of a Darth Maul Tarantula

The Darth Maul Tarantula has a decent appetite for an arboreal spider. 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 spend 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.

Fun Facts about the Darth Maul Tarantula

  • The DMT 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 that 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 DMT shares colors and its characteristic aggressive behavior.
  • Her scientific specie “victori” refers to the fact that Mexico is the second country with most Tarantula species worldwide, but none of them was an arboreal until this one.
  • The DMT 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: Is the Darth Maul the right Tarantula for you?

The DMTs are brand new and exotic tarantulas. They have amazing colors, speed, and they even come with dark background 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.

We hope this article provided you with all the information you need to make the right choice!

Jesse A.