Fringed Ornamental Tarantula (Poecilotheria ornata): Full Guide

The Fringed Ornamental Tarantula (Poecilotheria ornata) is a massive Old World arboreal spider native to Sri Lanka. Its fast movements and strong venom make it a dangerous spider that should only be kept and handled by the most experienced hobbyists. These spiders have a significant venom that can be quite threatening, even to humans.

It’s a tough spider, and yet it’s gorgeous to behold. It’s a huge spider that displays beautiful patterns over its long legs and abdomen. In the wild, she also displays a unique phenomenon where she develops a symbiotic relationship with a frog, the Ramanella nagaoi, more on that later.

If you’re considering adding this species to your collection, there is a thing or two that you should know about them. Keep reading, and you’ll be up to speed on this beautiful spider in no time. Of course, there will be plenty of pictures to give you an idea of what to expect from this beast of a spider.

Micha L. Rieser, CC BY-SA 3.0 CH, via Wikimedia Commons

Species NamePoecilotheria ornata
Family NameTheraphosidae
Common NamesFringed Ornamental Tarantula, Yellow Legged Ornamental, Ornate parachute spider, Ornate tiger spider
CategoryOld World
TypeArboreal
Native LocationSri Lanka
Body length3 inches (~8 cm)
Leg Span9.8 inches (~25 cm)
Growth SpeedFast
Urticating HairsNo
SocialSolitary
DietCrickets, roaches, mealworms. Also small birds in the wild.
Temperature75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit
Humidity65 to 75%
LifespanFemale: 12 years / Male: 3 years
Experience requiredIntermediate
Minimum tank sizeThree gallons, at least 12″ tall

Fringed Ornamental Tarantula Overview

The Poecilotheria ornata has other names besides Fringed Ornamental Tarantula. It’s also known as Ornate Parachute Spider, Yellow Legged Ornamental Tarantula, and Ornate Tiger Spider. However, since it’s most commonly referred to in the hobby as the Fringed Ornamental tarantula, or FOT, that’s what we’ll refer to it from here on out.

The Fringed Ornamental Tarantula is an arboreal spider native to Southwest Sri Lanka. It has large legs and a strong bite that lets it take out and eat birds by surprise; however, it’s happy to eat crickets in captivity.

It’s a defensive spider with dangerous venom, so it should be handled carefully. 

Appearance

source: Reddit

The Fringed Ornamental Tarantula has light and dark patterns that give her a mesmerizing look. Its carapace has a greenish-yellow tinge as a base for the pattern.

They also have reddish-brown setae over their legs. Males make the contrast with a slightly darker yellow, while females make it with a darker purplish tone.

The FOT exhibits sexual dimorphism, which makes it easier to determine whether it’s a male or female specimen. Once they grow to a size of 2.5-3 inches, it’s easy to see if they either exhibit a dark pattern over their cephalothorax or not. Those with the dark purplish pattern are females.

These spiders are extremely large and their leg span can reach a size of almost 10 inches. Since they do not have a very long lifespan they grow extremely fast to reach this size in such a short time.

Fringed Ornamental Tarantula Price

A spiderling or juvenile FOT can cost between $20 and $60, depending on where you purchase it. The cost of these spiders depends on the sex. An unsexed or adult male can be bought for as little as $60. Adults will cost anywhere from $120 to $200, with females going up to $240.

As is often the case with tarantulas, the females are quite a bit more expensive than the males. The reason for this is that females can live for up to 4 times longer.

Behavior and Temperament

source: Reddit

The Fringed Ornamental Tarantula has more reported bites than other members of the Poecilotheria species, so she’s particularly prone to biting as a defensive response.

She’s a very defensive spider, and her potent venom makes her a dangerous spider. She’ll most likely strike a threat posture before going in for a bite; however, this doesn’t happen all the time. Sometimes the FOT will attack without warning, so it’s better to stay alert at all times around her.

However, even though she’s dangerous, her first response will always be to flee instead of fighting. If she has enough places to hide and feel safe, and you approach her slowly, you should be able to deal with her safely.

Nevertheless, this is definitely not a spider for beginners and even experienced hobbyists should not handle this spider due to its significant venom and tendency to bite.

Caring for a Fringed Ornamental Tarantula

Temperature and Humidity

The Fringed Ornamental Tarantula lives in a hot and humid climate. Temperatures in her native territory range from 70°F to 90°F. In captivity, this spider does well in temperatures between 75°F and 85°F. The humidity should be around 65% to 75%.

It’s also very important to ensure that there is enough ventilation in the enclosure.

Substrate

The Fringed Ornamental Tarantula doesn’t spend time on the floor and does not burrow. She doesn’t need deep soil, so one inch of substrate is enough for spiderlings and younglings, while two inches are enough for adults.

The substrate can be dirt, but a mixture with peat moss will help retain the humidity; this creates a similar atmosphere to this specie’s natural habitat.

Tank

The Fringed Ornamental Tarantula is an arboreal spider; as such, she requires an enclosure taller than wide and long.

Juveniles should be in tanks of at least two gallons. Due to their size and the speed of their movements, adults should always be in large enclosures of at least ten gallons.

You should add a vertical cork bark piece to allow them to climb. Other possible decoration pieces for the FOT include sphagnum moss, artificial plants, and any decorative elements that may provide hiding places.

As long as the FOT has enough places to hide and retreat, it’s less likely for her to attack. Tanks must also have safety lids since these spiders are prone to trying to escape when they see a chance.

Watering

The Fringed Ornamental Tarantula is used to a rainy climate, so it doesn’t hurt to water its substrate every now and then.

She doesn’t spend much time on the ground, but it’s still advisable to keep the substrate moist at all times.

Additionally, you should keep a water dish inside the tank at all times and refill it constantly. This water dish could be superglued to the bark to make it easier for the FOT to drink.

Social

The Fringed Ornamental is not a tarantula that can live communally with other spiders. While they do form a symbiotic relationship with the Ramanella naganoi frog, this is only because both species benefit from it. They do not benefit from living with other tarantulas, so don’t house two of them together. In the wild, they only meet to breed, which is also how it should be in captivity.

Molting

Molting, the process of shedding the exoskeleton to make way for a bigger one, is a process that every tarantula goes through many times in their lives. However, because the P. Ornata is such a fast-growing spider, they molt quite frequently. When your tarantula is molting, try to not disturb them as this is quite a stressful time for them.

Diet & Feeding

source: Reddit

The Fringed Ornamental Tarantula has a healthy appetite that matches her large size.

Spiderlings should eat a baby cricket twice a week. Make sure to pre-kill the cricket if you see the FOT struggling with it.

Don’t feed the spiderlings right after a molt until at least five days have happened to give the fangs time to harden.

Juveniles should be fed one or two medium crickets every four to seven days. Wait five to seven days after a juvenile has molted to resume feeding them.

Adults can feed on small lizards or rodents, but it’s safer to feed them six to ten large crickets or two to three B. dubia roaches, every ten to fifteen days.

Wait for at least ten days after a molt to resume feeding the adult FOT.

Health & Lifespan

The Fringed Ornamental Tarantula is a relatively hardy species. In captivity, they can easily live their full lifespan which is about 12 years for females and around 3 years for males.

The only things that can threaten them in their enclosure are mold, mites, and parasites. To prevent those, make sure not to feed them wild-caught insects, clean their cage frequently, and give them fresh water frequently.

Fun Facts About the Fringed Ornamental Tarantula

  • Its genus name Poecilotheria ornata comes from the Greek word “Poikilos,” which means spotted, and “Therios,” which means wild beast.
  • It develops a symbiotic relationship with the Ramanella naganoi. This tiny frog eats small insects and parasites that may threaten the FOT’s offspring. In return, the FOT eats all possible predators the Ramanella naganoi may face.
  • Victims of this tarantula’s bite claim to experience side effects of the venom weeks and even months after it happened. It manifests as sore muscles, stiff joints, and other issues. To avoid this, do not handle the spider!

Final words: Is the Fringed Ornamental the right tarantula for you?

If you’re new to the tarantula hobby, do not even consider getting the Fringed Ornamental as your first tarantula. They might look cool with their large size, but they can be extremely difficult spiders. Instead, you’re much better off going with a more docile species such as the Mexican Red Rump, Pumpkin Patch, or Antilles Pink Toe.

The Fringed Ornamental Tarantula really lives up to the name Poecilotheria. She’s a dangerous beast that should only be considered by experienced hobbyists. However, she’s a stunning spider and welcome addition to most tarantula collections.

Jesse A.