Thursday, November 12, 2015


I'm going to begin working on an article for the BTS Journal about the husbandry of huntsman spiders (Sparassidae) with an emphasis on the genus Heteropoda. In fact, I think I may ask Tom Patterson and/or John Apple to co-author it with me. (Tom and/or John please email me some of your tips and tricks to and I'll put you on as co-author. Photos also welcome, preferably by email not text!). I'll write the piece, but I am happy to incorporate info shared by Tom and/or John and have them be junior authors.

But, since I've neglected this blog of late, I thought I would just give you loyal KMBHS readers some photos and a few text blurbs as a sort of preview of this upcoming article. This is exclusive to KMBHS readers and I will share nowhere else. However, I will also be posting some of the new photos to my @exoticfauna Instagram today. I've been neglecting posting there too, and have instead been focused on my @dailyhandgun Instagram.

Yesterday, I shipped out my Heteropoda lunula and H. davidbowie. Yes, I was sorry to see them go, but the truth is that I was really only raising them to get photographs. I had no intention of breeding them as I have neither the time nor the desire to feed fruit flies to a hundred or more tiny huntsman spiderlings. I've mostly stayed away from breeding true spiders for this very reason. Raising even the smallest tarantula species is so much easier than sparassids and ctenids. They require more frequent feeding and tinier food. I don't enjoy making fruit fly cultures and the task of getting the little flies and such into vials with speed demon huntsman and wandering spider babies is time consuming and frustrating.

Here is a brief glimpse into the Sparassidae focusing solely on the genus Heteropoda. There currently are an astounding 197 species in this genus! The species that is one of the most widespread is H. venatoria, which has a pantropical distribution. In fact, although the genus is Asian and Australasian in origin, this species has been introduced around the world. We believe that the spider being sold as Heteropoda "Cameroon Giant" is actually a large form of H. venatoria. H. venatoria is also the type species of Heteropoda, described by Linnaeus himself way back in 1767 but originally as Aranea venatoria. The genus Heteropoda was created 37 years later by Latrielle.

This first image is of a wild-collected specimen of Heteropoda venatoria that was sold to me as "Heteropoda sp. 'Phetchaburi'", suggesting that it was found in the Phetchaburi Province of Thailand.

Sparassids have a very distinctive appearance with two rows of four eyes and the crab-like habitus. There is perhaps no huntsman spider more spectacular than Heteropoda davidbowie. This species is known from Thailand (Yala),  Malaysia (Padang), Singapore and Indonesia (Sumatra) and was given the rock star legend's name by Jäger in 2008. Females may vary from grayish-brown to orange.  Males have a median longitudinal reddish line that runs from the eyes to the middle of the abdomen. The following spider is one of those I shipped out yesterday. It is still young, but the beginning of the reddish median dorsal markings are becoming apparent and it is likely a male.

H. davidbowie is certainly a gorgeous spider, and it's "facial makeup" is what led Peter Jäger to name it after the glamour and glitter pop star, but I think the most beautiful is Heteropoda lunula. I will miss having these around more than almost all the tarantulas I have sent away. The species was described in 1857 by Doleschall as Olios lunula. It is known from India to Vietnam, Malaysia, Java, Sumatra and Borneo. Taxonomically, it was transferred to many different genera and species over the years until Jäger reestablished called it Heteropoda lunula in 2002. The photos below will show you why it is my favorite.

Of course, as BTS North American Coordinator, and now Editor of its prestigious Journal, I would be remiss if I did not once again solicit your membership. We are putting the finishing touches on the next issue of the Journal right now and I was pleased to see the list of new members to include more Americans including at least two KMBHS readers (John Apple & Kiffnie Holt). Please consider a digital membership if you can't spring for getting the Journal by mail. Here's a link. The upcoming Journal features a major taxonomic revision that I have co-authored. That's all I can say for now ... You'll have to wait until it hits mailboxes some time in December.

My editorial reign begins in the new year and I will look to get my full feature on Sparassidae in one of the three issues of 2016. I hope you've enjoyed this sneak preview and a quick glimpse at three species of the huge genus Heteropoda.

Please remember to follow my @exoticfauna Instagram for pix and such, including spiders and herps but also my other interests like travel and food/drink and tattoos (don't worry I save the firearms for my other IG for the most part). I leave for Costa Rica in three weeks and I will be posting images daily to this account. Now is the time for you to create an Instagram account if you don't have one and give me a follow. I will follow you back. I will be documenting every step of my journey in the land of Pura Vida accompanied by my "bonus dad" Joel.

All the best, MJ

Monday, November 9, 2015





Sunday, November 1, 2015


Crikey, it's November. Just over one month until I depart for Costa Rica!

We have an extra hour of fun today. I'm glad my phone is smarter than my watch.

I am busy working on material for the next issue of the BTS Journal. I am co-authoring a paper that you will not want to miss. I can say no more. It is the last issue with my mate Peter Kirk at the helm and then I will take over as Editor in Chief and pilot it into its future.

I spoke to Chad Campbell on the phone earlier and he promised he'll get around to answering my Questions for Chad post from OVER A WEEK AGO! No biggie though ... I may or may not comment on his question about the whole decline of the western hobby thing and his insistence that there are more hobbyists. As I wrote, I've touched on this earlier and would rather just link the relevant blog entries. I'm not really interested.

I responded to a couple of comments earlier today. As KMBHS moves forward I expect my posts to be less frequent and them to mostly focus on educational material. The rant is gone and readership is down. Before I completely sail off into retirement, I would prefer to share my experiences in keeping and breeding and give those who read this some wisdom before my memory fades.

And completely off topic, I think I'll go take a nap and get ready for tonight's The Walking Dead. No spoilers, but this season has been crazy and I'm looking forward to seeing if I am right about the most shocking moment from last week.

See you next time with some mad knowledge to share ... MJ