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Poecilotheria metallica is a species of tarantula. It reflects brilliant metallic blue color. This whole genus of arboreal tarantulas exhibits an intricate fractal-like pattern on the abdomen. The spider's natural habitat is primarily Southeastern India and Sri Lanka. P. metallica was first discovered in a town in central southern India called Gooty. Hence, its common name is Gooty Sapphire Ornamental Tree Spider, or simply Gooty Sapphire, or Gooty Tarantula, Metallic Tarantula, Peacock Parachute Spider, Peacock Tarantula, or Salepurgu.
The species is found in a single location, which is severely fragmented. The extent of occurrence is less than 100 km2. India: Andhra Pradesh: Reserve forest between Nandyal and Giddalur. Though the spider was first found in a railway timber yard in Gooty, its true habitat is about 15 miles to the north.
P. metallica's behavior parallels that of many arboreal spiders. In the wild the P. metallica live in holes of tall trees where they make asymmetric funnel webs. Their primary prey consists of various flying insects, which they seize in flight and paralyze. It is not unknown for the spiders of this genus to live communally when territory, i.e. number of holes per tree, is limited.
This species is desired by many tarantula enthusiasts, with adults sometimes pricing above $500 in the USA. Demand for 2-week old unsexed spiderlings at US$200 is high, and there are examples of them being sold for much more. Prices can vary in other locations, particularly Europe. Like many spiders, the gender can influence price; females live for about 12 years, 3-4 times longer than males, making them more expensive. Also females are considered to be more useful for breeding, making demand higher. They are hardy, relatively fast growing spiders that are generally fed crickets, but can take on anything from a common fruit fly when spider-lings, to a new-born (pinky) mouse or anole when adults. They measure between 6-8" in legspan when fully grown. In captivity, humid environments with temperatures between 65° to 75°F with a humidity level of 75 to 85% are preferred.
P. metallica is considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
Although there has never been a recorded Human death from any tarantula bite, this species is considered to have a medically significant bite, with venom that may cause intense pain, judging from the experience of keepers bitten by other spiders from this genus. They can move rapidly and may defend themselves when cornered, although they are more likely to attempt to scurry away than fight. Venom effects consist of a small heart rate increase followed by sweating, headache, stinging, cramping and swelling. Effects can last for sometimes one week.
- Encyclopedia of Life
- Gabriel,, R. (2002). "Notes and Observations Regarding the Bite of Poecilotheria pederseni". British Tarantula Society Journal 17 (2): 61–64. http://www.thebts.co.uk/Bite_ppederseni.htm.
- Poecilotheria metallica - Arachnoboards
- Phong's Tarantulas! - Tarantula bites
- Schmidt, G. (1988): Wie gefährlich sind Vogelspinnenbisse ? Deutsches Ärzteblatt 85 Heft 28/29(2): 1424-1425. (u. a. Infos about Poecilotheria fasciata)