This is intended to be a quick overview of some common abbreviations, acronyms, slang, and terminology used in message board communication. If you have question on some more specific terms, especially related to tarantula anatomy and biology, you should utilize the following references:
Online Dictionary of Invertebrate Zoology, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
If you have any corrections or suggestions please reply or PM me. Please no atta boy or nice job posts, only constructive comments.
I will delete responses to this thread once reviewed/incorporated in order to keep it neat and short.
50/50 split – Splitting the offspring from a breeding loan half and half between the respective owners
breeding loan – Where the owner of a mature male T “loans” the male to the owner of a female for a breeding attempt. If successful, it will result in a 50/50 split.
BL – body length – a less common way of measuring a T, from chelicerae to spinnerets.
CB – captive bred -- Although some people use CB to mean captive born which could include sacs from
WC mothers, they use CBB (captive bred & born) to distinguish spiders mated in captivity.
CH - captive hatched, usually means from wild caught mothers
CR – captive raised
crix - crickets
death curl – A dying T, upright with legs curled like a clenching fist
dessicated - dehydrated, dried up
Dyskinetic Syndrome - A normally fatal disease that affects tarantulas, extremely rare. Symptoms include jerky, spastic, or wobbly movements.
DIY - do it yourself (building your own tanks, enclosures, hides, backdrops, etc.)
FS/T - for sale or trade
genera – plural form of genus
gravid – a female with eggs, pregnant
hide – an artificial burrow or place for your tarantula to hide (wood, bark, flower pot, coconut shell etc.)
ICU - intensive care unit, a place to keep an ailing T (usually a sterile delicup with a moist paper towel)
ISO - In search of
juvie – juvenile tarantula
KK - kritter keeper
LPS – local pet store
LS/DLS – leg span/diagonal leg span – the common way of measuring a T (leg I on one side to leg IV on the other side)
LTC – long term captive, but originally wild caught
milli - millipede
nematode – A worm-like parasite that can infect tarantulas, either wild caught or fed wild caught prey. Very rare.
NW/NWS - new world/new world species (from North, Central, and South America)
OW/OWS - old world/old world species (from Africa, Asia, Australia)
pede – centipede (usually, but could also be used fo millipede)
pet hole – an obligate burrowing species, once they dig their burrow, the “hole” is about all you see of them
pinhead - very small crickets, used to feed very small spiders
pling/p’ling – pedeling – baby centipede
post-molt - Right after molting when the exoskeleton is hardening (darkening)
pre-molt – The timeframe (1 week to 2 months) prior to molting. Signs: fasting, darkened abdomen, sluggish behavior, etc.
RH – relative humidity
SADS – Sudden Avic Death Syndrome – sometimes avic slings just die suddenly for no apparent reason
scorp – scorpion
scorpling/scorp’ling – baby scorpion
sexual dimorphism – when one gender has a characteristic difference from the other (color, size, etc.)
sling/S’ling – spiderling – baby tarantula
substrate - the material that is the bottom enclosure (coconut coir, peat moss, potting soil, etc.)
T - tarantula
temp/temps - temperature
threat display – when a T rears its front legs up (and sometimes bears fangs) in defense
Theraphosid – short for Theraphosidae
- The scientific family that tarantulas belong to.
ventral sexing – Determining the sex of a T by examining the area between the booklungs.
WC - wild caught
WTB - want to buy
X.X.X (#males.#females.#unsexed) system that denotes the number and gender of species in a collection
1.0.0 one male tarantula
0.2.0 two female tarantulas
0.0.3 three unsexed tarantulas
1.2.3 G. rosea
– this means a total of 6 Grammostola rosea
: 1 male, 2 female and 3 unsexed
– Just a few of the more common terms.
boxing gloves – embolus/emboli - Enlarged, bulbous ends of the pedipalps on a mature male
exuvia/exuviae or exuvium/exuvia – The cast skin of a tarantula after a molt
palps – pedipalps - the two short leg-like appendages at the front of the tarantula. Tarantulas use them to hold prey. When a male has his ultimate molt, his sexual organs (emboli) appear at the ends of the palps.
seta/setae – Commonly called hair, due to its appearance, seta is actually a bristle.
spermathecae - term for a female tarantulas reproductive organs. They are internal and are visible on the inside of the exuvium. Finding the spermathecae in the molt is the most reliable method for sexing a tarantula as a female.
sperm web - Special web made by mature males to aid in filling the spermophores on their palps.
stridulate - Some tarantulas have stridulatory setae which make a 'hissing' sound when rubbed together to deter predators. Sounds like velcro.
UH - urts - urticating hair – urticating setae (proper term) – The barbed setae that NW tarantulas can dislodge as a defensive mechanism. It can penetrate the skin cause itching.
ventral – underside or belly of the tarantula
When writing out tarantula names, scientific names should always
be italicized, but on message boards we are often too lazy to do so.
The genus name is always
capitalized and the species name is always
lower case (ex: Aphonopelma chalcodes
You can abbreviate the genus name of a species using just the first letter with a period (ex: A. chalcodes
You can talk about an unknown or undescribed species of a genus by using sp. (species) (ex: Aphonopelma sp.
or Aphonopelma sp.
In common names, country or location names are capitalized, all other names are lower case (ex: Texas tan tarantula, Costa Rican zebra tarantula, pinktoe tarantula, desert blond tarantula)
Apho/Aphos – Tarantula of the genus Aphonopelma
Avic – Tarantula of the genus Avicularia
Avic avic – Avicularia avicularia
Baboon spider – Tarantula species from Africa
Blondi - GBE - Goliath – Theraphosa blondi
(goliath birdeater tarantula)
Brachy – Tarantula of the genus Brachypelma
CRZ - Aphonopelma seemanni
(Costa Rican zebra tarantula)
curly - Brachypelma albopilosum
Ecamp - Eupalaestrus campestratus
(pink zebra beauty tarantula)
GBB - Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens
(green bottleblue tarantula)
genic - Acanthoscurria geniculata
Grammy – Tarantula of the genus Grammostola
KB - Citharischius crawshayi
(king baboon tarantula)
Lassies – Tarantulas of the genus Lasiodora
LBJ = little brown jobby – any of the plain looking brown tarantulas
OBT – Pterinochilus murinus
(Mombasa golden starburst) – also called orange baboon tarantula or orange bitey thing
Ornamental Spider - Tarantula of the genus Poecilotheria
Pokie – Tarantula of the genus Poecilotheria
Psalmo – Tarantula of the genus Psalmopoeus
PZB - Eupalaestrus campestratus
(pink zebra beauty tarantula)
rosie - Grammostola rosea
(Chilean rose tarantula)
Taps – Tarantula of the genus Tapinauchenius
versi – Avicularia versicolor
(Antilles pinktoe tarantula)
BCF - blue color form
DCF – dark color form
LCF – light color form
NCF – normal color form
RCF – red color form
TCF – typical color form
arboreal – Tarantulas that live up, off the ground, either on the walls, in the foliage, or in tube webs that they make themselves. Cage height is more important than floor space. And ample climbing structures should be provided. Example genera include Avicularia, Poecilotheria,
communal – A tendancy that a limited number of species exhibit where they tolerate other members of the same species and can be kept in groups. Very often this tendancy diminished as the spiders get older. Any attempt at keeping tarantulas communally could end in disaster and should be attempted with caution and lots of research.
obligate burrower – Tarantulas that dig their own borrows (often very deep) directly into the substrate. Often called pet holes since they usually stay hidden at the bottom of their burrow, well out of sight. They should be given a very deep substrate to give them the freedom to dig. Example species include Haplopelma lividum
(cobalt blue tarantula), Aphonopelma chalcodes
(desert blond tarantula, and Hysterocrates sp.
(Cameroon red tarantula).
opportunistic burrower – Tarantulas that take an existing structure (rock, bark, roots, etc.) and modify or dig around/under it to create their burrow. These tarantulas will often adopt an artificial burrow (flower pot, cork bark, coconut shell) in captivity. Some will not use a hide at all. Example genera include Grammostola, Brachypelma,
terrestrial - Tarantulas that live on the ground. They prefer floor space over wall-space. At a minimum the floor space should be 1.5 times the leg span wide and 2.5 times the legspan long. They can be injured from falls of a very short distance and it is recommended that the cage height above the substrate be no more than 1.5 times the legspan.
*Note* Just because a tarantula is an obligate burrower in nature, doesn’t mean that it will necessarily dig a burrow in captivity. Aphonopelma chalcodes
, for example, will do quite well in a terrestrial/opportunistic setup. You should always give your tarantulas a deep substrate so they can burrow if they choose to, but not all of them will.
Depending on what part of the world you are from, different terms are used for the same thing:
Embryo = egg
Post-embryo = pre-larva = nymph-1 = "eggs with legs"
1st Instar = larva = nymph-2 (no/little setae and looks more like a common spider than a tarantula)
2nd Instar = spiderling = nymph-3 (has setae and looks like a tiny tarantula)
Instar – the period of time in between molts. A 4th Instar spider has molted 4 times.
Use of the following terms is very subjective (ex: a T. blondi
juvenile will be much larger than an A. chalcodes
juvenile) and also varies person to person by their preference/judgment.
Spiderling (sling/S’ling)– early instar, usually no adult coloration (1/4” – 2”avg.)
Juvenile (juvie) – adult colors starting to come in (1”-3” avg.)
Sub-adult – full adult coloration, but not full size (2”-5” avg.)
Adult – near full size and capable of breeding (5”+ avg.)
MF = Mature Female - spermathecae have sclerotized (hardened and darkened, visible in the molt)
MM = Mature Male – Palpal bulbs (embolus) present and tibial spurs (hooks) present in some species
penultimate male – a male due to mature on his next molt, usually a guess based on his size
Post-ultimate male – a male who has another molt past his ultimate molt, a rare occurrence, males often get stuck in or deformed as a result of this molt
Ultimate male – a male who has had his last molt and is now mature
While not related to the hobby, here are a few terms used frequently in message board communication that a new person might not be familiar with.
AFAIK – as far as I know
AKA – also known as
ASAP – as soon as possible
BTW – by the way
FAQ – frequently asked questions
FS/T - For sale or trade
IME – in my experience
IMHO – in my humble opinion
IMO – in my opinion
ISO - In search of
J/K – just kidding
LOL – laugh out loud
OIC – oh I see
OMG – oh my gosh/goodness
OP - original post/original poster
OT – off topic
OTOH – on the other hand
ROFL – rolling on the floor laughing
TIA – thanks in advance
TY – thank you
TYVM – thank you very much
WTB - Want to buy
WTG – way to go