Skeleton Tarantula
Ephebopus murinus

These are the duckbill platypus of tarantulas!  They have forelegs that are flattened at the ends like an arboreal species, yet they prefer to burrow.  They possess the velvety and smallish rear-ends of baboon spiders, yet are indigenous to the Americas. 
The wildest feature is that they do have urticating hairs, but they're on the pedipalps! 
The leg striping is similar to a Costa Rican Zebra's (Aphonopelma seemani), but more yellowish.  Their legs are black, they have small brown abdomens, and the carapace is coffee colored or golden. 
Like most genera in the subfamily Aviculariinae (except the genus Avicularia, ironically), their forelegs are much larger than their hind legs.
 

Range: Lowland forests of Suriname, Guyana, Northern Brazil, etc.

Habitat:  Tropical forest floor

Size: Not a large tarantula.  Fully mature, they're about 4 1/2 inches in legspan.  Some females may acquire legpsans slighty over 6".  There is some question as to whether locality plays a role in size and coloration.  I have had a captive-bred female that has remained at about 5" for years.  She has had several molts in the past few years without growing a bit.  Also, I have a wild-caught female that's nearly 6" in legspan.  The larger one seems to have more vibrant color as well, except the second stripe on the tibia is almost invisible.  I am breeding both girls and time will tell if the size/color variation continues with their offspring.

Attitude:  Supposedly defensive.  Fond of either rearing up like an Old World species or flicking hairs by rubbing its pedipalps on its chelicera; however, I've noticed a GREAT amount of variability in all the individuals I've owned.  At times, any given male or female could be quite docile, perhaps almost inquisitive (if one were to anthropomorphize a spider).  At other times, they certainly make it clear that they wish to be left alone.

Dwelling: E. murinus may make well-developed burrows that employ dirt, webbing, leaves, and other detritus to build up a sort of trumpet "bell" at the mouth of a burrow, or they may adapt to ready-made hide.  Some will simply web the substrate of their entire enclosure and do no digging.  In fact, the latter is the case I've observed most often in captivity, and the former is what an acquaintance in Guyana has seen (in addition to the young living some feet off the forest floor among the base of trees).


Note the male's coloration difference.

 
   

Ideal Setup: A container that's approximately a 12" cube or rectangle with about 14" along at least one side.  Install enough peat/potting soil for digging in (fill  about 6-8 inches deep).  Supply a water dish and lightly moisten the substrate once or twice a week or so to keep to keep it from completely drying out.  Keep the temperature around 75-85 degrees F if possible. One of mine does use the shelter I gave it, but most are adept at making their own given materials (deep substrate, bark, leaves, etc.).
Food: Any bugs that haven't been exposed to pesticides (3-5 large crickets a week for adults).  My captive-bred girl is voracious and will often walk around with 4 crickets in its fangs at one time.  I have no idea why its butt is so small!
 


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