Red slate ornamental
Red slate ornamental tarantula is also known as Travancore slate-red, Rufus parachute spider or Reddish parachute spider.It is one of the biggest members of this species. It has been listed endangered due to its habitat destruction and smuggling for the pet trade. The exotic subtle green and red tinge colour scheme makes them stand out among traditional Indian Ornamental. It is a beautiful spider to invest in but not recommended for beginners due to its speed, toxin and aggressiveness.
Red slate ornamental belongs to the genus Poecilotheria. The scientific name for Red slate ornamental is Poecilotheria rufilata. Poecilotheria is commonly called ornamental tarantulas because of their speed, toxin and vivid colour patterns in comparison to other tarantulas. Poecilotheria rufilata looks similar to Poecilotheria regalis and Poecilotheria ornate.
This species is Indian endemic, found within a small area of around 5000 square kilometres in South Western Ghats of India. This species is classified as endangered due to such small geographical distribution and continued habitat destruction.
Preferred natural habitat
Being an arboreal spider Poecilotheria rufilata dwells on trees and hides under barks.
Preferred food in the wild
Poecilotheria rufilata is the only tarantula reported feasting on a bat in the wild. However, the main food of this species is insects which it attacks by injecting toxic venom from its hiding place. Most of these insects are harmful to crops therefore Poecilotheria rufilata plays an important role in the ecosystem.
From sling to adult Poecilotheria rufilata are skittish, flighty and lightning fast. So you have to be very careful during shifting or maintenance as they can escape very easily. They are aggressive and can bite in self-defence if provoked. They have big fangs and the bites can be extremely painful. Their venom is significantly toxic and a serious bite could result in hospitalization. Often when several siblings are kept together they end up eating each other so better kept separately. However, there are mixed views about keeping this species together.
Most often Poecilotheria rufilata is considered nocturnal as they like to hide during the day time and come out at dusk.
Feeding as a pet
Red slate ornamental tarantula can be fed live crickets, grasshopper or flying insects such as moths. Any uneaten food should be immediately removed from the enclosure.
Life span both male and female
The female Poecilotheria rufilata lives longer than males up to 12 years whereas male Poecilotheria rufilata has a life span of 2-3 years.
Pet enclosure type
Poecilotheria rufilata tarantula grows large so they require a vertical enclosure with an arboreal setup. The terrarium should be at least 4 times as tall as your spider’s size. The temperature in the pet enclosure should be maintained between 24°C -26°C and the recommended humidity level is 65-75%. You might need heat lamps, thermostats and heat mats to provide an adequate hot temperature.
Pet enclosure habitat layout
The enclosure of the Red slate ornamental tarantula should be equipped with a branch to climb upon and a hollow cork bark to hide under. Make sure the branches are fixed properly so they don’t fall when the tarantula climbs onto them. You can even keep the live plants in the enclosure which help best for providing an area for breeding and egg-laying. You need to place a customary dish of 2inches diameter with water inside. They don’t like wet places and do well in the dry substrate so moist the substrate only once a month and mist it weekly. The substrate in the closure should be 10cm to 15 cm deep.
Mating / reproducing
The female should be well fed before introducing them to males as they sometimes end up eating the male Poecilotheria rufilata. The reproduction rate of Red slate ornamental tarantula is quite low, nearly 150 eggs per yearly egg sac .
The Poecilotheria rufilata is a fast growing spider and can reach a leg span of up to 9 inches. With a proper diet, they can reach maturity within 18-24months.
Despite the aesthetic value, Red slate ornamental tarantula is not suggested for beginner hobbyists. Serious individual and government actions are required to improve its habitat quality to save this species from extinction.