Range:
Southern India.  Please see specific range notes on the bottom right of this page.
Indian Ornamental
Poecilotheria regalis
These are arboreal spiders from southern India that are delicately "airbrushed" with patterns of gray, white, and black on their dorsal sides, but have brilliant yellow and black "caution" bands on the undersides of legs I and II.  Legs III and IV and the pedipalps have an alternating black and white pattern.  There are 5 to 6 white spots on a black field on the tibia, and they are the only spiders in their genus that have a distinct cream band on the ventral side of the abdomen.  Legs I are very noticably larger than legs IV.  In fact, the femora of legs I are fringed so heavily that they appear almost "cubic" in shape.
Sadly, the habitat of these and other "Pokies" is disappearing at an alarming rate, so much so that Indian Ornamentals may become very rare in the wild within a decade if human expansion continues its present course.  Captive breed 'em, folks! 

Habitat:  Most live high above the ground in woody foliage, but I've seen some younger captive individuals that spend a fair amount of time near the ground and actually move some dirt.  In India, they are found in a variety of disctinctly different habitats.  Those in the south end of the Deccan Plateau only get rain from June to October; spring is dry.  In the northeast section of their range, it gets ridiculously hot and dry in the spring, but pleasantly cool  to cold at night in the fall.  There, the rain comes in the winter.   

Size: These can get up to a leggy 6-7" in legspan. For arboreals, they put on some bulk as well.

Attitude: There are individuals of this species that are prone to biting, but most I have prefer to run.  As they are capable of lightning speed, it is a quite effective defensive manuever. Some people that have been bitten by Poecilotheria have endured some swelling and cramping, which suggests that being bitten is wisely avoided. Their speed alone makes them a "look but don't touch" display spider.

Dwelling:  This is an arboreal tarantula that needs climbing space. Siblings may live together for quite some time with no conflicts, but, in my and others' experiences, spats have arisen when one of the brood molts into a mature male.

Ideal Setup: A 2 to 5 gallon capacity container (for a single individual) with enough peat/potting soil to help retain humidity at the bottom.
Cork bark or other climbing/shelter material should be placed on a wall of the enclosure to give the spider something to hide behind and affix webbing to. Supply a water dish and lightly moisten the substrate once or twice a week or so to keep a decent amount of humidity. You may also gently mist their webbing. Though they are from sometime-humid forest, they do experience a dry season in much of their natural habitat- you may be flexible with moisture requirements, but always have a water dish. (in fact, their range is quite diverse in terms of both temperature and moisture).  Keep the temperature around 75-90 degrees F.  Clean up their food remains quickly and watch closely to prevent fungus and/or mites.

Food: Any bugs that haven't been exposed to pesticides (equivalent 4-6 crickets a week for adults), pinkie mice (my Pokies are more than willing to make a rare trip across ground for these), small lizards, etc.


Note the pale band on the opisthosoma. 
P. regalis
is the only species in Poecilotheria a "belly band" that distinct.
India map
The red areas indicate approximate locality of documented specimens according to literature. (Pocock 1900, Gravely 1915, Cheeran 1997,  Smith and Kirk 2001, Rao et. al 2004, Molur and Siliwal 2004).  The yellow areas are possible current habitat based on environmental data that correlates with known collection points.  Note the fragmentation of the range.  While it roughly corresponds edge of the dry plateau, man's effect is clear as well, given the fragmentation of primary forest, the result of clearing and hydroelectric impundments. It is obvious that P. regalis is adapatable to a variety of habitats, from the hot east-central region, to the teak farms near Mumbai, to the moist forest of the western Ghats. The only constant is the need for trees, which are unfortunately disappearing in one of the most ancient and ecologically diverse regions on Earth.
 

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