Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Happy Holidays and Best Wishes in 2017!

My best wishes to you and yours. As the new year begins, please note that I will primarily now be blogging at pikeygypsy.blogspot.com. Bookmark/follow over there for almost daily updates.

Even more frequent will be my image posts to Instagram. You can follow me both there and via my new Twitter at @jacobipix.

I have updated ExoticFauna.com, but until I start marketing my eBooks it remains a one-page site. My new website is MJacobi.com. Both sites will evolve during 2017. Watch my blogs and social media for announcement of 2017 eBook releases.

A few days ago I received my print copy of my newest release – Journal of the British Tarantula Society 31(3). Although I create the Journal (edit and design/layout) and also write for it, it still is always a treat to actually find the air mail envelope in the mailbox and finally hold the print issue in my hand. The current issue's cover feature article is mine and details why I believe the tiger spiders from near Kandy, Sri Lanka are P. subfusca, whereas those from the montane Nuwara Eliya region are a different species deserving a new name. Hobbyists get that backwards and now most label "highlands" as subfusca and "lowlands" as "sp. lowland" or, worse still, "bara". Incorrect. Read my article ...

I have plenty of content for the March Journal, which will be the first issue of Volume 32. Yes, thirty-two years of quality content and a publication that has progressed to be a fifty-page full-color magazine that is the finest found in arachnoculture. The sister publication, BTS Newsletter, will soon see its fourth release.

Again, best wishes for an absolutely fabulous new year. I hope you'll follow my adventures and message me during my travels. If you want to treat me to a cocktail and have me toast you with a shoutout on social media check out the Donate buttons on my websites.

Cheers, MJ

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

#140 - NEW BLOG

Hello y'all,

I've decided to keep Kiss My Big Hairy Spider going even if the page visits certainly have diminished. I think it is still a great place for me to blog about issues that are specifically arachnid related. However, yesterday I made my first post to my new blog. Pikey: Boondocking and Shunpiking; the Gypsy Life is my new home for tales from the road, both my adventures in the United States and my travels abroad. As some of you know, I am taking my field trip activity to a whole new level in 2017. I have bought a brand new truck and RV and soon will leave Chicagoland for full-time living all across America. I will be blogging almost daily as I chase reptiles, arachnids, birds and other wildlife across the beautiful United States. The plan is to spend most of January in southern Florida, return to Chicago in early February because I fly to Borneo and Langkawi, Malaysia on February 8, and then - after returning to Chicago in late February - I will head south again and make my way west along the Mexico border. Weather will dictate my path as I strive to keep the temperature range between 50 and 80ºF. By July I will be up in the Pacific Northwest where I used to live and then will head to Alaska. During my 2017 road trip I will have many adventures, but my focus will be on photographing and writing about the arachnids and reptiles of the U.S. for future eBook style projects, articles and lectures. I also will be photographing birds and other wildlife for similar use. Personally, I will also be just enjoying life and working on my music. I have rekindled my interest in songwriting after composing what I feel is the best song I have ever written in celebration of a special lady's birthday. I've created a Soundcloud channel for my music and all of my projects can be accessed through my new primary website - mjacobi.com. I will revamp exoticfauna.com as well during the coming year as it will host the eBooks I will be creating. So please check out the new website and give it a bookmark and make sure you follow the new blog. Pikey will be the place I post regularly now, but if I just want to talk about arachnids I will post here as well.

Thanks for reading, MJ

Monday, November 14, 2016


In preparation for leaving Chicagoland and living as a nomad, I have been downsizing to only the essentials. For me, this means camera gear, hiking and field gear, laptop and other devices, t-shirts, shorts and a couple acoustic guitars. Everything else is clutter. It's amazing how cluttered you can become in less than four years, especially if you live alone in a three-story house. But I'm trading it in for a 31' travel trailer.

For the past month or so I have been selling off my library via Amazon Seller, but waited until yesterday to begin advertising arachno and herpeto books. I posted on AB and created a PDF listing that is available by emailing me. Sales have been brisk already and some great stuff is gone. I thought I better let my faithful KMBHS peeps know about the book sale.

The list changes often so it is easiest if I just email the updated current list rather than post it here or make it available for download. So hit me up at m.a.jacobi@icloud.com if you are interested in seeing what reptile, amphibian and invertebrate books I have available. Tomorrow I'll add what remains of my other non-animal books and such. Cheers.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


As a secret special gift to those of you who still check on this now infrequent blog, I'd like to offer you a copy of the new BTS Newsletter. In chronicles my trip to Budapest, Hungary to lecture and also features an interview with my best mate and badass tattooist extraordinaire Mark Pennell. Plus it has a short article on tarantula feeding by Danni Sherwood with follow-up comments by yours truly. It is only available to members, but I've put it on my own server just for Kiss My Big Hairy Spider devotees.


I guess nobody is interested in above as the link was wrong for two weeks until I just changed it and nobody commented or notified.... :(

#137 - Poecilotheria subfusca and P. sp. highland

Poecilotheria subfusca is from the Kandy region and "P. bara" is a junior synonym and using the name "bara" in any format is invalid. The highland spider from the alpine forests around Nuwara Eliya should be properly called P. sp. highland.

Period. End of. Full stop. Finito.

Wanna read more and learn why? Join the BTS! The December issue of the Journal of the British Tarantula Society will feature my article on the topic.


Hello again!

It's been awhile ... I hope y'all are well.

Today I sold most of the remaining 11 spiders in my possession. Hopefully my house will sell soon and I will be on the road conducting research and creating photoessays on the arachnids and other wildlife of the United States.

This blog entry is called "Assclowns" because I just made a rare login at Arachnoboards to update my final spider sale advert of my long career, and to post an ad for BTS memberships. The British pound to American dollar exchange rate is at its best since I first traveled to the U.K. ten years ago. It's a great time to take advantage of that savings!

As I scanned the ads to find my own, I noticed - with absolutely no surprise - a whole bunch of sellers who I've never ever heard of before (weekend warriors/beginners/clueless). I also noted some ridiculous price lists from some names I at least recognized (although other than Kelly Swift I would argue that all the good dealers are gone). Who is this assclown Rossi anyway? He definitely wins the award for the most ridiculous of the incredibly ridiculous. Pachistopelma rufonigrum for $250?!? I was the first American to breed them and, as far as I know, still the only. I could barely give them away at $75-90. No spiderling is worth more than $150. Ever. Typhochlaena at $750. He's smoking crack! It's probably the most exciting spider to enter arachnoculture, but again ... a baby bug isn't worth more than a hundo and a half. Pictures of rings? Assclown! He seems to be trying to surpass Patrick Kane as the sleaziest spider seller ever. Harpactira pulchripes slings @ $150?!? Again, I was the first American to breed and I sold some at that price then! I've now sold all but my original breeder female (who has been paired). If she produces slings I will sell them for fifty bucks. Wait.

I've never heard one good thing about this nobody, and everyone I have talked to has used the disparaging and often profane terms. However, there are many assclowns. Can you believe Gearheart is still out there preying on the clueless?!? Boggles the imagination doesn't it? Inland Sea? Still out there selling only the most common uninteresting species at the lowest prices, and shipping illegally via the postal service... On the first ad page alone I counted five never hear of "dealers" with fairly extensive for sale lists. It will be a new five next year. Stamp collectors come and go. Many will trade their Ts for leopard geckos.

For those of you that are serious hobbyists, and can navigate through the sludge to find the honest and honorable, I wish you the best in your new projects and hope you have great success in 2017. There is still plenty of enjoyment in the hobby if you can avoid the assclowns and arachnobored.

I could go on, but my medication is kicking in LOL. We must insulate against the assclowns by whatever means necessary. They can all KISS MY BIG HAIRY SPIDER!

Yours in rant, MJ

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Please join the BTS. Here is the Phormingochilus revision co-authored by Andrew Smith and myself that appeared in the Journal last year.


Saturday, September 24, 2016


My entries here at Kiss My Big Hairy Spider are now few and far between, but I haven't forgotten it and, at least for now, do not intend to abandon it completely. Today I thought I would just write some random paragraphs to catch up on whatever arachnid-related topics I can.

uno (1)
I presently own eleven spiders. That's remarkable and there have been few times over the past forty years I have had less. I want the number to become zero, and am hoping one of my close friends will take what remains on permanent breeding loan. I've offered them first to Jason Newland, but communicating with him is difficult at best. Chad Campbell would be my second choice. Most of the spiders are Harpactira pulchripes. One is a mature male that was one of the slings from my first ever American breeding of the species. I mated him back to his mother and have one or two young females that I will also pair him with. Sadly, my largest specimen, a wild-caught that I acquired from Germany along with the smaller female that produced the first American sac, recently died. Another recent pairing is "Monocentropus lambertoni". I put it in quotes as I am not convinced our pet trade identification is correct. The first ultimate male I had was pickled and given to African theraphosid expert Richard Gallon to contribute to his work on the species. He said he had two other males, but I don't know if he'll ever get around to it. I'll see him soon in person and pester him. After I paired the initial male to my only female she molted so it was sheer luck that the only other specimen I had was male and matured recently. I actually paired them when John Apple was staying at my house on his last visit.

kettő (2)
I thought my October 12 departure to Budapest was going to be a week long eastern European holiday hanging out with my best mates Mark & Kim Pennell and Ray & Angela Hale, but I have now been asked to be one of the lecturers. I will be presenting a revised and updated version of the "Merian's Avicularia and other Tarantulas of Suriname" that I delivered at the ATS Conference in 2014. I am really looking forward to seeing Budapest and now join fellow lecturers Andrew Smith, Ray Hale, Peter Kirk, Richard Gallon, Ray Gabriel and Peter Kirk on the podium.

drei (3)
One of the eleven spiders I still have is quite remarkable. I need to photograph him soon. He is a mature male Poecilotheria smithi that matured – get this! – 2 years, three months, and 18 days ago!!! I'm considering a longevity article for an upcoming issue of the Journal of the British Tarantula Society or the BTS Newsletter.

quatre (4)
Speaking of the Journal ... The next issue, 31(3), comes out in December and my deadline for articles and other content is November 1. I will begin working on it next week.

lima (5)
I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to my Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo and Langkawi, Malaysia trip in February! I will be chasing inverts, no doubt, but hope to get some fantastic primate, bird and reptile images in Bako National Park and elsewhere.

sex (6)
As always, please keep up with my photos on Instagram at @jacobipix and my full res photography at exoticfauna.smugmug.com. My exoticfauna.com is website is now a single page, but check it out and also take a gander at my new website, mjacobi.com. The new site will tell you about my new blog that I will be starting in 2017. After the Borneo/Langkawi trip, I will be hitting the road for an American field trip with no end. I will be trying to focus as many arachnids and herps as possible, while also doing scenic photography, wildlife photography (especially birds) and much more!

Cheers, MJ

PS: FUN GAME: try to guess (without Google cheating) the languages I presented each of the numbered sections with. Hint: in some cases they relate to the content of the following paragraph; in others they definitely don't.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


John Apple does love his true spiders. And not just the active hunters that people like me admire. By that, I mean that – for the most part – the araneomorphs that interest me aren't the ones who sit in webs and snare their prey. I like saltis – jumping spiders of the family Salticidae. I like wanderers – the dangerous Phoneutria and the less lethal Cupiennius. I like huntsmen – Heteropoda, Olios and their kin. I even like wolf spiders or any spider that doesn't use silk to trap. They say poison is a woman's weapon, and men kill with spear, sword, arrow, bullet, or just their bloody hands. I guess that's how I feel about spiders. I think snaring is less "courageous" than ambushing like a theraphosid. Our man Apple likes them all, even the common things you find in your cellar. He especially like widow spiders (Latrodectus) and has even named his beloved dog "Latro".

He recently commented on one of my blog entries, but I expect that few readers of this blog who don't comment ever see the comment section. So I have taken the liberty to re-write what he posted when I asked him to convince me that widows were interesting at all. He had mentioned other "comb-footed spiders" being interesting and I challenged him to make his case even for the more "glamorous" widows, which belong to the most recognizable genus (Latrodectus) of the therids, or members of the family Theridiidae (also known as tangle-web spiders, cobweb spiders or comb-footed spiders).

Here is John's comment as slightly edited by me:

Latrodectus geometricus will make a scaffold many feet away from the lair, which is something I noticed from some Florida specimens. I was looking for the builder of the scaffold only to find a seven foot strand leading to the female L. geometricus and her lair. This was a bit of a "where is the spider?" thing I had going on, and I returned that evening and found the spider. I teased her and watched her run all the way back to the lair. Also, unlike many other Latrodectus, they will just drop out of the web and hit the ground curled up like Parasteatoda species (another comb-footed or therid genus).

Latrodectus bishopi constructs a large web that is somewhat upside down, meaning that even though there is still a bit of a scaffold below they also catch the beetles feeding on palmetto flowers. Both slings and juveniles construct a very nice normal scaffold.

Latrodectus mactans (see photo below) and L. hesperus will kick a glob of sticky webbing at you to defend the lair. My presumption here is that this is a good shrew and mouse repellent.

L. hesperus "mexicanus" is now called the harlequin widow and will be elevated to full species status. This widow maintains juvenile coloration as adults and males are larger than those of L. hesperus. They are simply stunning spiders.

Latrodectus hasseltii, the Aussie redback, is small like our northern L. various (the southern populations of L. variolus are quite large).

John lectured on true spiders at my ArachnoGathering in Tinley Park, Illinois. If you haven't watched the video on my YouTube channel click here to view.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


I'm like an STD that just lingers ... chickenpox that becomes shingles, an itch that becomes a puss-oozing boil. I just won't go the fuck away.

The 159 posts of KMBHS have 33,352 page views. That's an average of 200 per post. More recent numbers are dismal, but that's my own fault as my frequency of blogging here has diminished. By contrast, my new Triggercontrol Tactical blog has 1343 page views for 11 posts. 122 per.

I don't require a lot of feedback. I enjoy comments, but other than Apple they are few and far between. I blog for myself. I like to hear myself type. I'm a quiet guy, even anti-social, but have diarrhea of the fingers. So this has always been about me.

But feedback does encourage, and I just got some praise that was all I needed to post again, not even an hour after a post that may have seemed like a farewell. The person with the kind words saw my post about the blog on Instagram despite following only six people and having no posts or followers of his own. He commented that he doesn't typically read blogs, but "KMBHS blog is kick ass, whether you are talking about tarantulas or going on rants it's just an awesome read". Cheers mate. Just for you, Cody, I will post something–on topic–here.

Here is some SPIDER Talk: This is a special blog version of the article I co-authored with Tom Patterson for the Journal of the British Tarantula Society 31(1). I'll add only a few of the articles images here and only my own. Thus, the figure numbers in the original article are irrelevant for this version and have been deleted. Only BTS Members with access to the print Journal or PDF version can enjoy the many beautiful photos Tom and I shared with this article.

I'll remind you that this is just one example of the quality content that our BTS publications enjoy, and urge you once more to consider membership. If money is tight just get a digital membership and download the Journals and Newsletters as PDF.

By the way, you can download an abridged list of my publications here.

Huntsman Spiders of the genus Heteropoda (Sparassidae) in Captivity

Text and images by Michael Jacobi & Tom Patterson


Who doesn’t love spiders that can seemingly teleport? In the blink of an eye, most keepers of huntsman spiders have had the experience of a blurry streak of spider vacating its enclosure and appearing seconds later in the opposite corner of the room or beyond. Human reflexes are no match for containing the flurry of a spirited spider at hyper speed. Who isn’t enchanted by the myriad of colours and patterns adorning the crab-like resting pose of many sparassids? One was even named after superstar David Bowie due to having facial makeup that would make the king of glam rock blush. The popular name for these spiders itself conjures images of a master marauder. Huntsman. Stalker, assailant, attacker. Those whose arachnocultural pursuits tend towards the predatory tarantula spiders may find spiders that snare their prey in silken traps less appealing, but the fast and efficient assault of the huntsman spider is certain to captivate.

The family Sparassidae Bertkau, 1872 consists of 85 genera. This article will limit itself to Heteropoda Latreille, 1804, which contains an astonishing 197 species (World Spider Catalog, 2015), and a tome could be devoted to this genus alone. However, Heteropoda isn’t even the largest genus of Sparassidae. Its cousin, Olios, is found worldwide and currently is home to 244 species. The evolutionary success of the huntsman spiders is astounding.

Heteropoda is Asian and Australasian in distribution, but the cosmotropical H. venatoria has been introduced elsewhere. We believe that the spider marketed as “Heteropoda sp. Cameroon Giant” is a large form of H. venatoria. The genus does not naturally occur in Africa. In the United States, H. venatoria populations are succeeding in subtropical areas of Florida, Texas, and California, and in some coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina. Three species currently listed as Heteropoda (World Spider Catalog, 2015) from South America (two from Colombia and one from Peru) are certainly misidentified and misplaced. One of the Colombian species, H. camelia, has already been treated as misplaced by Jäger, 2014.

Clearly tackling a genus so diverse and extensive is a daunting task. In this article we wish to just highlight a handful of Heteropoda species and undescribed forms that we have worked with in captivity and treat you to some stunning images that illustrate the beauty of these huntsman spiders. We will provide some tips and tricks helpful in maintaining and breeding these amazing spiders in the terrarium while providing some brief comments on their natural history.

Natural History Notes

With such a large genus occurring from Afghanistan through the Indian subcontinent, Asia, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Borneo, Australasia, the Pacific Islands and beyond, it is no surprise that Heteropoda fills many niches from caves to rainforest canopy. Throughout its tropical distribution it has acquired a number of vernacular names, and, in English, they are sometimes referred to as crab spiders (not to be confused with the “real” crab spiders of the family Thomisidae) due to their crab-like habitus, and also as cane spiders, banana spiders and, of course, huntsman spiders. They are active predators that possess potent venom that is effective against their prey (in addition to insects they are known to consume scorpions and even bats), but none are thought to be dangerous to humans. Among their interesting traits at least one species has the ability to produce sound without the stridulatory organs used in some theraphosid spiders (Rovner, 1980). During its courtship behaviour, a male Heteropoda venatoria can create a faintly audible buzz or hum by the vibration of its long legs while its feet (tarsi) remain in contact with the substrate.

Challenges in Husbandry

The biggest hurdle to overcome when maintaining Heteropoda and other sparassids is their blinding speed and how quickly a disturbance can initiate a flight response that results in an escaped spider. There are some recommended protocols that should be used to contain their apparent “teleportation”. An adult that is housed in a spacious and well-planted natural terrarium should be able to be offered food and have routine maintenance tasks performed without any difficulty. You just have to ensure that you gently open the terrarium and keep disturbance to a minimum. However, spiderlings and juveniles that are being reared in smaller containers like vials or gallon jars present the greater problem. The senior author always, without fail, opens these containers only inside of a large tub that acts as a secondary containment enclosure should the spider launch itself to freedom. More often than not, this larger tub is placed on the floor of a shower stall that has white walls. The shower stall now acts as a third level of containment. Of course, catch cups or jars are always at the ready, as are paintbrushes and rubber-tipped forceps that can be used to direct the spider’s route of travel. Whenever possible the containment vessels should be white, smooth and free of crevices or hiding places. The white background is essential for quickly finding escapees before they “teleport” meters away. We cannot stress enough how a single distraction that breaks eye contact and a huntsman spider can, presto, vanish. All escape routes must be eliminated or managed.

Another difficulty presented in raising young Heteropoda is that they require small food that is provided more often than tarantula keepers are accustomed to. Spiderlings should be fed almost daily with several times each week being a minimum frequency. Newly hatched (pinhead) crickets are preferred as these can be gut-loaded with quality feed for maximum nutrition value before being offered as prey. Flightless fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster and then the larger D. hydei) can be used, and they certainly are easy and economical to culture. However, if they are cultured using “old school” potato flake and powdered sugar mixes they provide minimal nutrition to their predators. Modern fruit fly media used by dart frog keepers is preferred, and the best media is very nutritious and, thus, the flies are healthy meals for your spiders. We also recommend dusting the flies with a supplement. This serves two purposes: at the minimum it limits fly movement so they are easier for you to contain during feeding and easier for the spiders to immediately capture, and it may even provide increased nutritional value. The latter is debatable, and perhaps doubtful based on how spiders feed, but it certainly can’t hurt. The senior author uses Repashy SuperVite micro-fine vitamin supplement as do other sparassid keepers and breeders (e.g., Frank Somma, pers. comm.). The fruit fly media used is Josh’s Frogs special blend, but we are sure there is similar vitamin-packed fly media available in the UK and Europe.

Frank Somma (pers. comm.) has successfully raised Heteropoda spiderlings communally in an enclosure that includes a small fruit fly culture that has a hole that allows the flies to escape so that the baby huntsman spiders can feed at will. Cannibalisation will be experienced in any group enclosures, but this will reduce the number of weak spiderlings and, with food being abundant, a method like Frank’s will result in vigorous young that grow quickly.

An additional difficulty is that young sparassids often require elevated humidity that would be ill advised for most tarantula species. Stagnant, wet conditions will kill tarantulas and sparassids alike, but whereas we preach “ventilate, ventilate, ventilate!” and feel that poor ventilation kills most tarantula spiderlings, we are known to raise Heteropoda spiderlings in large vials without any ventilation. The senior author has used 50-dram clear styrene vials (inside height: 4.25 in or 10.8 cm; inside diameter: 1.875 in or 4.763 cm) without any ventilation holes in the lids to raise baby huntsman spiders. This prevents fruit fly prey from escaping and keeps in essential moisture. However, feeding every other day ensures that there is plenty of fresh air exchange (and more frequent openings of the vial may be performed as necessary) and a careful balance is achieved between “too wet” and “too dry” This is the result of experience and frequent attention to the moisture cycle.

Sparassid Enclosures

Young huntsman spiders are easily raised in a series of progressively larger cups familiar to all arachnoculturists. An adult huntsman spider can be housed in a vertically oriented 10-gallon aquarium with a polycarbonate front. What would have been the top opening is now the front-facing opening, and this is typically covered a clear acrylic or polycarbonate panel that is hinged at the bottom third and has one or more screen vents set into round holes. This style of terrarium is popular among dart frog keepers and readily adaptable to arachnoculture. They also will fare well in translucent plastic storage containers that have been appropriately ventilated. A very simple and effective enclosure can be created with one of these inexpensive containers with the addition of some damp substrate and a piece of cork bark. The addition of a length of silk or plastic plant may be aesthetically pleasing, but the easier you make it for your huntsman spider to hide the greater your chance of not knowing where it is when you take off the lid to offer food. Remember that whole teleportation thing?

An Overview of Courtship, Mating and Reproduction

Sparassid spiders typically have a lengthy courtship and the male is rarely attacked after mating. In fact, many huntsman spiders are found to live together in large colonies. The female Heteropoda sp. produces a flat, oval egg sac of white papery silk containing up to 200 eggs. Some large females, particularly in captivity, may produce even larger sacs. She then places it under bark or a rock and stands guard over it, without eating, for about three weeks. Some species instead protectively carry their egg sac beneath their bodies (e.g., H. venatoria). When nesting or guarding her egg sac the female can be quite aggressive, and will often rear up in a threat/defensive display if provoked.

Notes on Breeding

A simple breeding arena (aka “chamber”) can be created from a large storage container that includes a large slab of cork bark to create a “dance floor” for the mating pair and has enough room to place the female’s enclosure, or perhaps that of both male and female. The senior author uses a similar technique to pair Poecilotheria and other tarantula spiders.

The concept behind a breeding chamber is to provide a large and neutral area for the introduction of males and females. A large storage tub can easily contain both a cereal container style enclosure housing a female and a gallon jar holding a male. Both lids can be left on for a few days and the pair will become aware of each other via pheromones and, in the case of theraphosids, by courtship tapping. For sparassid spiders the junior author uses the procedure described here.

Once the female’s enclosure is placed in the breeding chamber the male is “gently” introduced.  In most cases, the lid is left on the female’s enclosure until the male has found a place within the chamber to settle down and get comfortable. This reduces the risk of a nervous male bolting right into an unsuspecting female’s container and eliciting a feeding response from her. Once the male has become accustomed to the breeding chamber and found a place to rest, the lid of the female’s enclosure is carefully removed and the lid that covers the breeding chamber is securely fastened. Copulation is rarely observed, and males generally don't begin courtship ritual until the room has been dark for some time. The following day the male is removed and placed back into his enclosure. Experience has shown that a single night of cohabitation will result in mating and multiple pairings are unnecessary.  

Females are heavily fed during the weeks after mating to prepare them for egg sac production. About three weeks after the female produces her sac, her enclosure is moved into a larger airtight container in anticipation of a couple hundred fast-moving huntsman spiderlings escaping the airs of the adult female’s enclosure. On some occasions, the sac is pulled and incubated in a 32 oz. (one liter) cup with some damp peat moss or coco fiber on the bottom. Once the spiderlings hatch and are ready to be separated, rehousing them into individual vials still needs to be done over a larger bin with a tight fitting lid, as the babies will start to scatter once the lid of the incubator cup is removed. Only as many spiderlings as can be reasonably cared for are separated into vials. Others are traded to breeder friends or offered for sale. Any remaining spiderlings are left in the incubator cup to cull each other, and then the largest and strongest surviving ones are eventually separated from there. That may sound cruel, but is the reality of hatching hundreds to thousands baby sparassids each year. Raising spiderlings of huntsman or wandering spiders is more time consuming and labor intensive than raising young tarantulas. They require more frequent feedings, require more caution during feeding to prevent escapes and demand small prey that presents its own problems.

Some Popular Species

Heteropoda boiei (Doleschall, 1859)
This is a giant species of Heteropoda with females reaching a body length of 37 mm [1.5 in]. Known from Singapore, Malaysia, Sumatra, Java and Brunei, it is largely arboreal and normally found on rainforest tree trunks.

Heteropoda davidbowie Jäger, 2008
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.

Heteropoda davidbowie, penultimate male

Heteropoda lunula (Doleschall, 1857)
As splendid and spectacular as H. davidbowie is, it could be argued that no Heteropoda species is more gorgeous than H. lunula. Doleschall described the species as Olios lunula in 1857. 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.

Heteropoda lunula

Heteropoda tetrica Thorell, 1897
This species is primarily a creature of the forest floor, but can also be found at the bottom of tree trunks and among low branches. It is a large species that is widespread in Southeast Asia. It is highly variable in appearance, but is popularly known as the “Black Jaw Huntsman” due to its black chelicerae. This species varies greatly in both size and colour and pattern from one locality to another (Euseman and Jäger, 2009). For example, the spider recently known in arachnoculture as Heteropoda sp. “Borneo yellow” is, in fact, H. tetrica.

Heteropoda venatoria (Linnaeus, 1767)
This pantropical species is for many arachnoculturist’s the first introduction to the world of huntsman spider husbandry. It is often found in homes and barns throughout its range, but also can be found in gardens and on tree trunks. Females have a white band across their clypeus (face) and carry their flat disc-shaped egg sac under the body.

Heteropoda venatoria, adult female - Phetchaburi, Thailand

A number of “new species” have recently arrived in arachnocultural collections. These include the “Malaysian Burgundy” and “Sumatra Violet”. All of the above species and new forms are being bred in captivity and becoming increasingly more available. Additionally, other sparassid taxa are increasingly kept and bred. For example, the Cameroon, Africa species Barylestis scutatus has become established in American and European breeding collections.


There is a great allure to these swift and diverse predators. If you’re drawn to tarantula keeping because of their ambush hunting, you’ll be fascinated by the stealthy habits of the huntsman spiders and their warp speed attacks. They don’t share the longevity of theraphosid spiders and most live only two or three years. However brief it is, a huntsman spider’s lifetime offers wonders for those who observe, and beauty for those who look.

There’s even a species called Heteropoda jacobii Strand, 1911. However, since the senior author wasn’t born for another fifty-plus years and his Transylvanian father’s name was spelled “Jakobi” until he reached America, this spider honours some other bloke of no relation. Since this precludes a Heteropoda ever being named after him, Michael hopes to discover a new Olios species instead.


The authors wish to thank their mutual friends John Apple and Frank Somma for information sharing, provided specimens, and breeding loans of many true spiders including the sparassids covered in this article. Both gentlemen were interviewed for contributions to this article.


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Doleschall, L. 1857. Bijdrage tot de Kenntis der Arachniden van den Indischen Archipel. Natuurkundig Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsch-Indie 13: 339-434.

Doleschall, L. 1859. Tweede Bijdrage tot de Kenntis der Arachniden van den Indischen Archipel. Acta Societatis Scientiarum Indica-Neerlandica 5: 1-60.

Eusemann, P. & P. Jäger. 2009. Heteropoda tetrica Thorell, 1897 – variation and biogeography, with emphasis on copulatory organs (Araneae: Sparassidae). Contrib. Nat. Hist. 12: 499–516.

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Strand, E. 1911. Spinnentiere aus Neu-Guinea (Opiliones, Psechridae und Clubionidae) gesammelt von Dr. Schlaginhaufen. Abhandlungen und Berichte des Königlich-Zoologischen und Anthropologisch-Ethnografischen Museums zu Dresden 13(5): 1-16.

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It's been awhile and I don't know where to begin. I s'pose I should start as close to "on topic" as possible and talk spider, and then meander, circumambulate and deviate as I digress and circumlocute and ramble. I wish not to write of kissing, and I'd rather not repulse you with discussions of my big and hairy. That leaves us with "spider".


Journal of the BTS 31(2)
The only recent occurrences that lend themselves to spider talk are the just released Volume 31 and Number 2 of the Journal of the British Tarantula Society. Although I proofread and edited the three issues of Volume 30, and unofficially took over with 30(3), it wasn't until 31(1) at the beginning of this year that I was the official Editor. One of my terms of taking over the editorship was that I also would take over the design and layout, but we had overflow from 30(3) and 31(1) came to me partially typeset. It thus had some flavor of my predecessor. With the issue that landed on UK doormats and in their quaint little letterboxes last week before spreading to Europe and beyond, including arrival in my mailbox on Tuesday afternoon, we finally have an issue that is all me. Of course, it is mine only by design, typeset and rewrite. I have the authors Ray Gabriel, Eddy Hijmensen, my dear mates Guy Tansley (article on Costa Rican honeymoon tarantula hunting) and Chad Campbell (centerfold pictorial), my Hungarian friends Maria and the two Laszlos (husband "Laci" and brother "Dudu"), and a closing piece by Sherwood, Longhorn and Kirby to thank for the content. For those of you who are not members please consider joining. Thanks to Brexit the UK pound is low against the dollar and membership is as cheap as it ever will be for Americans. Do it. For those of you who have yet to renew: what the hell are you waiting for? A personal invitation? Consider this it.

My last post had my list of stragglers as I try to finally sell ALL remaining tarantulas. The experience hasn't been great. It has been a reminder of the part of peddling critters all my life that sucked. I enjoyed my charges, and found births and hatchings rewarding. It wasn't all bad, and almost everything related to the creatures themselves was wonderful. That's what kept me going. It's the people that always suck. It has been no different of late. The necessity of logging into Arachnoboards reminded me quickly. As I have bemoaned before, ad nauseum, spider buyers are particularly vexatious. One guy asked for a lower price on what would only be a $150 purchase. It took me a day and a half to get back to him as I had to recall my asking price and had been away a bit for my birthday week. Two days later he said he had spent the money, and was disappointed that he couldn't take advantage of my great offer. Dude, if you don't have a spare $150 you shouldn't be buying fucking bugs. Another asked for a payment plan on a more expensive spider. Where most write brusque, semi-literate inquiries, his was well-worded and polite. I agreed. Never heard from him again. Been there, done that, already have far too many fucking t-shirts. So, we plod on. If any of you want a steal on any spiders I give special blog reader discounts and extra special pick up in person discounts.

That's the end of my spider talk. Perhaps forever. Or not. ;)

You see this blog seems to have come to an end, but I do have arachnid projects in the works that may keep this going. We are at number #131, plus the original 15 of 2008. There were more than 113 posts in 2015; the heyday of Kiss My Big Hairy Spider. This will be the 30th of 2016. Yeah, I know, the numbers don't add up. There were some with part A and part B, etc.

I recently dispatched my The Tarantula Bibliography and the online version of Arachnoculture into the discarded planetary dust of cyberspace. TTB is gone forever, but some day I may compile all seven issues of Arachnoculture into an e-Book. The Tarantula Bibliography had been loads of work over 11 years or so, but I gave little thought to ceasing publishing it. I can't be bothered. I also vaporized my fourth incarnation of the cesspool wasteland that is Faffbook. It was created only for a business page and then obliterated forever thanks to some nonsense related to The British Tarantula Society. I will never log in again, have deactivated again, and Facebook and the biting gnats that live there can Kiss My Big Hairy Spider. Fuck Facebook too; with its ridiculous rules, policies, censorship, content theft and invasive politics.

My ExoticFauna.com now stands as a single web page that honors my past work and leads people to my photography at SmugMug and Instagram. The latter is a better way for me to connect. Although a devotee of the written word, my photos and brief descriptions and hashtags speak volumes about my life and its pursuits.

Do I have any KMBHS posts left in me? Well, my work for the BTS will run at least through this membership year and perhaps beyond. If I stick to the Journal and Newsletter and keep my nose out things like membership, FB, website and such, I may carry on. That is, if I isolate myself from the membership and deal only with the authors and photographers, and I leave the politics of the society and the other swine diarrhea to the Brits, I see no reason to abandon the fine Journal. If there is one thing I have learned of late, it's that I am decidedly American – a stereotype even: alpha male, aggro, type A, impatient, unyielding. The Brits are very British. I have some great friendships within the BTS that I will not endanger. Thus, I choose to distance myself from the running of the organization. I'll keep my opinions to myself. One twat on FB had the nerve to suggest that an American is running the BTS. What a laugh. But I won't tarnish the Brit society with my American personality any longer. I'll do my editorial duty as promised, for at least the two issues of the Journal that remain in this membership year. I make no promises for continued attendance at the Lectures and Exhibition, although the former is likely because 1) my best mates and second family are there in Bristol, 2) Bristol is my lovely home away from whatever passes for home here and 3) it is a great time and the best chance to interact with the upper echelon of the arachnocultural world. The Exhibition is less desirable to me because 1) I don't keep, trade or buy spiders anymore, 2) it is fucking work and who wants to spend thousands to spend the day missing the event and 3) I'd rather just see the larger group of people at the Lectures and have any supplemental UK trips just be about spending time with my Bristolian friends and family or the Hales of Polegate.

So, I suppose I will occasionally post here when I have something to say about my BTS publications or my field trips. I have little left to say about arachnoculture. But who will read a blog that has four posts a year? And who does anyway? I'm averaging less than 40 view for my last handful of posts. This thing may have run its course. Then again, I have more field work than just my annual exotic field trips in me. Soon I may spend a lot of time chasing arachnids and herps in the U.S. That would drive content now wouldn't it?

The truth is that I am, first and foremost, a writer. I love blogging. I have created a second blog for my new business, but that hasn't been enjoyable and I haven't been prolific. The nice thing about KMBHS is that I never gave a fuck about marketing myself. I didn't avoid offending; I went out of my way to provoke, antagonize, and anger. I called a fucktard a fucktard, without pulling my punch or worrying about professional image. I can't do that elsewhere. However, I don't need to incite to write. It's been fun, but I must move on.

To that end, I have created yet another blog. I'm hoping some of my KMBHS readers will end up following it and enjoying my stories. I have begun to write for it, but I am not ready to post and launch. All I'll say is that it will be dedicated to my exotic and domestic travel. @jacobipix on Instagram is a much better way of following my photos, but it will have photos in every post and bring you with me as my journeys continue. More on that to come ...

Chad and I at Indeed Brewing Company, Northeast (Minneapolis)
In closing, I'd like to say that my 52nd birthday has come and gone with little fanfare just as I like it. I had one dinner with my sister, brother-in-law and stepfather two days beforehand, and another dinner with my stepfather alone on the day itself (August 5). The following day I drove up to Minneapolis to see my bud Chad. I picked up the 420mm lens (300 + 1.4x teleconverter) I had bought from him and we chased ospreys and Cooper's Hawk. With beer. After that adventure we had an early pub dinner and then started a Northeast brewpub tour starting with Sociable Cider Werks where his new gal pal works. I had a Stout Apple cider that, tbh, was tough to finish. I'm not a cider guy. We then hit my favorite MN brewery Indeed and met up with his friend Javi. Unfortunately, they had sold out of the Derailed Imperial Double Dangerous Chocolate Nitro Whiskey Queen Milk Stout (D.I.D.D.C.N.W.Q.M.S) that I love so much. We pushed on to Able, back to Indeed and then had a nightcap at Dangerous Man where I capped off the night with a delicious Peanut Butter Porter. I could go for one of those right now ... I had drank my share of whiskey the day before for my birthday and then woke at 5 a.m. to drive the 5 1/2 hours to Minnie so I was exhausted. I was actually surprised I made it to last call – midnight at Dangerous Man. I dropped Chad back off at Sociable to hook up with April and made my way back to my hotel. At daybreak I was on my way home.

Pix from Minnie are, of course, on my Instagram. It's the best social media. Just do it. I also have posted photos I took this morning at Chain O'Lakes State Park. I sleep very bizarre hours and was out of bed at 3 a.m. I could have sat in the dark pulling my pud, but decided to instead grab my camera bag and watched the sunrise over the wetland prairie of northern Illinois.

Day breaks on the wetland prairie at Chain O'Lakes State Park

All the best, MJ

PS: Don't forget my Free Movie offer from KMBHS #128. While you're at my YouTube channel you can watch other vids like my 95-minute instructional film, Tarantulas in the Terrarium.