Tarantulas are cool pets all on their own. But a flashy, blue tarantula? Color us intrigued. Originally from Asia, the cobalt blue tarantula has gained popularity as an exotic pet, but owning one comes with its own set of challenges.
The cobalt blue tarantula (Haplopelma lividum) is native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia, specifically Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. They thrive in the warm, humid environment provided by these forests, where they can be found burrowed in the forest floor or hidden beneath logs and leaf litter.
The cobalt blue tarantula is an old world species, meaning it originates from the Eastern Hemisphere, and it lacks the urticating hairs - barbed, pointy hairs some tarantula species can shoot at predators - that many new world tarantulas possess as a defense mechanism.
Appearance and Size
The cobalt blue is a medium-sized species, with females typically reaching a leg span of up to 5 inches and males being slightly smaller. The most striking feature of this species is its vibrant blue coloration, which gives it its common name. This iridescent blue hue is more pronounced in females, while males tend to have a duller, more greenish-blue or grey color.
Male and female cobalt blues are indistinguishable until they reach maturity, so you may want to hold off buying one if you're looking for a striking female.
Female cobalt blue tarantulas can live between 20 to 25 years in captivity. Males tend to have a shorter lifespan, living from 5 to 10 years. In their native environment, this species can live up to 30 years.
Temperament and Behavior
Cobalt blue tarantulas are known for their reclusive and aggressive nature. They are primarily fossorial, meaning they spend most of their time underground in burrows, where they wait for prey to pass by. You won't notice them out and about wandering around their enclosure. In fact, you won't see them unless they're eating or creating a new burrow.
Handling Your Cobalt Blue Tarantula
This species is highly defensive and prone to biting when disturbed, making them unsuitable for handling. You do not want to get bitten by a cobalt blue. This could result in localized pain, swelling, and muscle cramps in humans.
Because the cobalt blue is an Old World species, their venom is much more potent than New World tarantulas.
Adults require approximately 8 inches of substrate, but if you can make it deeper, they do enjoy more to dig through. In the wild, they have been found as much as 3 feet below the surface.
Enclosure Size and Setup
Provide a secure, escape-proof enclosure with adequate ventilation. A 5- to 10-gallon terrarium with a lockable lid is recommended. Provide a deep layer of moisture-retaining substrate, such as coconut coir or a mixture of peat moss and vermiculite, to allow for burrowing. The substrate should be at least 4 to 6 inches deep.
This species is well-known for its ability to escape. It's important to thoroughly inspect the enclosure prior to bringing one home.
Conditions and Requirements
The following are this species' care requirements:
- Maintain a consistent temperature between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit
- Keep a humidity level of 70 to 80 percent
- Monitor temperatures with a thermostat and humidity with a hydrometer
A heat mat or ceramic heat emitter can be used to maintain the required temperature, while regular, daily misting can help maintain appropriate humidity levels.
Cobalt blues can bite, and their bite is painful (though typically not life-threatening), so be sure you understand how these tarantulas behave. Their enclosure needs to be secure at all times. Observe them during feeding - you'll want to do this, anyway, because it's quite cool - and make sure they can't escape.
Also, you need to address the tank substrate and clean it up regularly, preferably every two weeks, but at least once a month. Two to three times a year, you need to do a deep cleaning and change out your tarantula's substrate. The easiest way to do this is to gently coax your tarantula out of its enclosure into a secure temporary holding tank while you swap in fresh substrate and tidy up their habitat.
Diet and Feeding
This is one of the few times your cobalt blue will come out of their burrow. Feed your cobalt blue tarantula an appropriate diet of live insects, such as crickets, roaches, or mealworms. Feed juveniles twice a week and adults once a week or every two weeks. Once your tarantula has finished eating, remove any uneaten insects.
Although they're generally healthy, like other animals, the cobalt blue tarantula is prone to the following health problems:
- Dehydration: Can occur if the tarantula's habitat lacks adequate humidity or access to a water source. To prevent dehydration, provide a shallow water dish and maintain appropriate humidity levels.
- Molting problems: Cobalt blue tarantulas can experience problems in the molting process. Ensure proper temperature and humidity levels to support a successful molt, and avoid handling or disturbing your tarantula during this vulnerable time.
- Nutritional Deficiences: To minimize the risk of health issues, provide a balanced diet, clean their enclosure regularly, and monitor your tarantula's behavior and appearance for any signs of distress.
If you suspect your cobalt blue tarantula is experiencing a health problem, consult a veterinarian experienced with exotic pets for guidance and treatment.
Finding a Cobalt Blue Tarantula
Cobalt blues can sometimes be found at pet stores, but getting one from a breeder may be necessary. It can be helpful to buy an adult cobalt blue, because you'll be able to see their final color at that point.
This species can be somewhat difficult to find, so be prepared to wait. Don't jump at one just because you find it, either. You want to make sure you're getting a healthy, well-cared for cobalt blue.
Expect to pay between $50 to $100 for your cobalt blue tarantula. You may pay more from a breeder or at a reptile expo, but rest assured, it's worth it for better health.
FAQs About the Cobalt Blue Tarantula
The most commonly asked questions about the cobalt blue tarantula include:
- How toxic is their venom? Their venom is toxic enough to stun prey, but it doesn't pose a threat to humans unless they're allergic.
- How do you know when they're about to attack? They will raise their legs and show their fangs.
- How often do cobalt blue tarantulas molt? They molt every 4 to 6 months.
- Are cobalt blue tarantulas arboreal or terrestrial? They're a terrestrial arachnid that enjoys hiding in burrows.
- How good is the cobalt blue tarantula's eyesight? They have poor eyesight and rely on their receptors to understand their surroundings.
Is the Cobalt Blue Tarantula Right for You?
Due to their defensive nature, potent venom, and specific care requirements, cobalt blue tarantulas are best suited for experienced keepers who are comfortable managing aggressive species. Their striking apperance is making them more popular all the time, so if you feel confident in your abilities, consider a cobalt blue for your new pet.