Other common names: Giant Crab Spider, Banana Spider
Scientific name: Heteropoda venatoria
This large spider is active and interesting enough to keep even the most jaded arachnid owner enthused. Huntsman Spiders are, however, quite aggressive, and best left to experienced adult keepers. While their venom is not considered especially toxic to humans, bites are painful and the possibility of allergic reactions must be considered.
The Huntsman Spider is native to southern India and Sri Lanka, but has spread to tropical and sub-tropical regions worldwide as a stowaway (sometimes in banana shipments, as one common name implies). In the USA, it is established in several southeastern states and California.
Huntsman Spiders are often found in homes, garages and greenhouses, as well as forests, brushy scrub, orchards, and parks. Their time is spent above-ground, on tree trunks, rock faces, and building walls.
Appearance / health:
The 2.2 – 2.8 cm (0.8 – 1.1 in) body is flattened, brown in color, and bears a yellow (female) or cream (male) band around the edge. The brown, black-spotted legs span a distance of 7 – 12 cm (3 – 5 in). The chelicerae (jaws or “fangs”) are noticeably-large.
Well-cared-for females may live to 2+ years of age; males usually expire at age 8-12 months. Huntsman Spiders are quite hardy if kept warm and somewhat moist.
Behavior / temperament:
Huntsman spiders are active hunters, doing so by day and night.
Although not considered to be dangerously venomous, they are fast and aggressive, and will not hesitate to bite; central nervous system reactions have been reported on rare occasions. They do not “calm down” over time and should never be handled.
These arboreal spiders need flat surfaces, such as cork bark, on which to move about…position cork bark slabs near the glass, so that the spiders will remain visible when using the reverse side of the bark as a shelter. Gallon jars and glass or plastic terrariums can be used, but be sure that the enclosure can be quickly serviced, as Huntsman Spiders are incredibly fast and jump surprisingly-well.
Huntsman Spiders should be maintained at 77-85 F and provided daily misting, with cypress mulch or top soil used as a substrate.
Pets should be offered a varied diet including roaches, locusts, crickets, mealworms and wild caught moths, katydids and grasshoppers.
Written by Frank Indiviglio