Scientific Name: Aphonopelma chalcodes
Common Names: Arizona Blonde | Western Desert Tarantula | Desert Blonde | Arizona Desert Blonde
Aphonopelma chalcodes is a wonderful but rarely seen Tarantula in South Africa. Common to Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern California (Southwestern USA) this species has been a staple to tarantula hobbyists in the USA for many years. The term “blonde” lends itself very well to the coloration of this species, it’s “blonde” carapace and light colored bristles/hairs over it’s darkly colored legs and abdomen look fantastic. It’s upper legs or femurs are mostly a dark ash color but are much lighter from the patella/knees down to it’s feet/tarsi. If you look closely, you will also notice some even lighter vertical striping down the entire length of their legs ending with a darker “V” pattern on their tarsi/feet.
The Arizona Blonde is a fantastic beginner species, they have a very tolerant and docile nature overall. When photographing this specimen, it was almost easy to pose her because she would only move the legs we gently nudged in order to get her to stand the way we wanted. There was not skittish behaviour, hair flicking or bolting at all and she is a freshly molted female. Freshly molted tarantulas can be bit nervous but the lady in these photos was just amazing to work with. There have been reports of a few specific specimens being a bit feisty so as always get to know your specific tarantula.
Unfortunately or fortunately depending on who you ask, these tarantulas grow extremely slowly, gaining very little size between molts and taking what seems like a lifetime to become adults. They eat well and will take food at least once or twice a week as adults but also have a tendency to fast during colder periods. Some specimens will actually refuse food completely and stay hidden in their burrows during winter. This species is very much a burrower but it lives a terrestrial as well, especially in captivity where temperature fluctuations are not as extreme as out in the wild. Creating a nice starter burrow or providing it with a tunnel of sorts to start it’s own burrowing effort might be appreciated by your Desert Blonde Tarantula.
If you can get your hands on this species, it’s worth jumping at the opportunity. They are often overlooked but wonderful species to own and do very well in enclosures kept at simple room temperatures and humidity.