The Brazilian black and white is a cousin of the Brazilian red and white birdeater. Their key differences are their color, temperament, and maximum size. The Brazilian black and white can grow up to 16 centimeters, while the red and white, up to 17. However, the Brazilian black and white may also be capable of eating birds due to their massive adult size.
They are naturally found in the tropical forests of Northern Brazil. Moreover, the Brazilian forests have relatively high humidity, which might be comparable to the humidity here in the Philippines. However, the temperature in Brazilian forests is just about 22 to 25 degrees Celsius, lower than the temperatures we experience in the Philippines.
Brazilian black and white tarantulas can be found in other parts of Brazil. There are dry habitats with relatively low humidity and seasonal rainfall that they can also thrive in. However, in Southern Brazil where there’s higher elevation, the temperature can drop to about 18 degrees Celsius.
At first glance, you might notice some similarities with the Nhandu chromatus (Brazilian red and white birdeater) and Nhandu coloratovillosus (Brazilian black and white), which isn’t very surprising since they are somehow related. One key difference is their temperament. Brazilian black and white tarantulas are slightly more aggressive in captivity. It is more likely for them to kick their urticating hairs or display a defensive pose when they feel threatened. However, there have been no recorded bite reports from this species.
They are opportunistic burrowers. However, when a deep substrate is not provided, they can adapt but might create more webs than usual. In addition, the Brazilian black and white is also an ambush predator that prefers to sit and wait for their prey to be within striking range than chase their prey around their enclosure.
They eat various insects. Their venom increases their success rate as it paralyzes their prey while they slowly digest the juices.
Some members of the Nhandu genus have been recorded to eat birds – that is how some of them got their names. The Brazilian black and white is capable of hunting small birds due to their massive adult size and potent venom.
The Brazilian black and white is a stunning tarantula who isn’t very shy. You may often see them in their enclosures since they are an opportunistic burrowers. In addition, they can easily thrive in the Philippines due to their tropical and subtropical natural habitats.
Getting to know the Brazilian Black and White
There are very few studies about the Nhandu coloratovillosus, which is why there is very limited information about them. Kael of Gorby Exotics has cared for one for about eight years and he shares with us his experience about this exceptional tarantula.
What are the traits of Brazilian black and white that you like the most?
Kael: [I like] their compactness and good coloration.
Are they picky eaters?
K: [They eat] mostly crickets and dubia roaches. No, they’re not picky eaters; thus, they [don’t] stop eating unless [they’re about to] molt.
Have you ever experienced the urticating hair defense mechanism of Brazilian black and white?
K: One of the worst I’ve ever experienced in terms of itchiness.
Do they adapt well to Philippine climate?
K: Yes, and [they] can live a long time with proper care, based on experience.
What are the other differences between Nhandu coloratovillosus and Nhandu chromatus?
K: N. coloratovillosus is more compact. The color, especially of the legs, are really different. They are more aggressive than their cousin.
Are they difficult to care for?
K: They are not hard to keep, [just like] other common tarantulas. [On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most difficult, they would be a 5.]
Any tips for anyone who wants to care for a Brazilian black and white tarantula?
K: Some [may not be aware] that the Brazilian black and white has color variants (red, white or natural, or mixed.)
The red color form is common in females. The hairs are more reddish compared to males, and [they have] more compact bodies. [The white variant] is common in males.
I have notices that male slings and juveniles have more whitish hairs on the legs and have fewer red ones. [I believe] sexual dimorphism is possible, but there are no significant studies to prove this.
My female Nhandu coloratovillosus is now approximately 8 years old. I got her… when she was still a juvenile. She still possesses agility and aggressiveness. The only thing I haven’t tried was to handle her.
[Do not] handle them. Handling them is not advised because anytime, they might flick towards you and go straight to your eyes.
This appeared in Animal Scene magazine March 2020 issue.