The Omothymus schioedtei is one of the most under-rated tarantulas within the hobby, yet these remarkable tarantulas have a shy personality, but are still capability of delivering a nasty bite.
They were first discovered in 1891 by Swedish arachnologist Tamerlan Thorell and assigned to his new genus Omothymus. In 1903 they were synopsised to the Cyriopagopus Genus by Eugène Simo. In 2014 the phylogenetic study of their evolution and DNA was relooked at, and in 2015 Andrew Smith restored them to their original Genus, the Omothymus.
There are only two species within the Omothymus genus, the schioedtei and the thorelli (similar looking just with an overall black colour yet still with those remarkable tiger patterns on its abdomen), although the Lampropelma violaceopes once belonged to the Omothymus genus at one point also.
The O. schioedtei is a typically arboreal looking tarantula, with long legs and a slim body. The abdomen of this species is covered in a tiger-like pattern giving it its common name of the Malaysian earth tiger. They have a very prominent sexual dimorphism with the females being brown while juveniles, gaining a lighter carapace and more of a black to brown colouration with hints of blues as they age. This mixed with their red hairs, you get an almost purple colouration to them as they mature.
Males will have an olive green colouration from a young age, and as they grow, the green will become more prominent. The unique tiger-like pattern on their abdomen remains on both males and females through maturity, yet slightly more visible on females.
As it was previously named Cyriopagopus schiodtei, you may find that people still call it by that name. Malaysian earth tiger is the most common name used for this species aside from its scientific name.
Location and availability
Omothymus schioedtei are from the tropical climate of Kedah, Langkawi and Penang in Malaysia. Because of deforestation, the numbers of schioedtei in the wild are dramatically falling; although they are available within the hobby. However, due to them being not particularly popular and challenging to breed, they are becoming harder to get your hands on, making them quite rare.
For females, you can expect them to live up to 15 years, slightly longer if kept cooler and fed less frequently, and as like all tarantulas, males live an exceptionally shorter life with a max lifespan being around 3-5 years.
Like most tree-dwelling Asian arboreals, they are a species that prefer a tall hide with a moist substrate. As a sling, you can keep them in a small clear deli cup, with ventilation, moist substrate, and a small stick to climb, but as like most arboreal slings, they are more likely burrow. Although they are arboreal, they are also opportunistic, meaning that they will burrow or hide in pre-made hides if their set up will allow for it.
Because of their shy nature, this is a species that you won’t see very often, and one that will only appear at night when on the search for prey. Once moulted a few times they will become a little more confident, and will soon prefer to hide in a vertical hide rather than a burrow. You should provide plenty of snug hiding places to allow them to have a stress free environment. If this isn’t offered, they will web up an area for themselves, although this is particularly stressful for the tarantula as its subjects them to being out in the open for a long time. You can also add real or artificial plants to give your tarantula more places to escape.
Due to the wet and dry season of Malaysia, where they will often get a continuous rainfall to completely dry the O. schioedtei does prefer warm and humid conditions, these should range between 25°-28°C with a humidity level around 60%-70%. Humidity levels can be kept by keeping a water dish within the enclosure and misting when needed.
Like all Asian tarantulas, the Omothymus schioedtei is a fast species with extremely toxic venom which has been reported to be one of the strongest. Although timid in nature, if provoked or threated they can bolt, and they’re not afraid to bite. They are an old world species, so they don’t possess urticating hairs. They are similar to Poecilotherias in regards to they would rather flee than fight, so to minimise the chance of getting tagged while carrying out maintenance, ensure they are plenty of places where your tarantula can escape to.
As slings, they will feed on pinhead crickets, small roaches, and Drosophila hydei. Like all other tarantulas, once they start to gain size, you can introduce mealworms and other large prey items. You should aim to feed you Omothymus schioedtei once a week, unless in pre moult or freshly moulted. If food is refused, leave it for a few hours, then take it out if there has been no interest. Remember that leaving a prey item in with your tarantula during pre-moult can cause harm and even death, as crickets have a reputation of chewing on tarantulas when they are at their most vulnerable.
The Omothymus schioedtei slings have a relatively fast-growing rate compared to others, yet as they age, this slows down slightly, although still remaining faster than most species in terms of growth rate. Pre-moult lasts around the same time as other tarantulas and can be sped up by warmer conditions. Mature tarantulas will hit around 8cm body length with a 22cm leg span, which makes it a reasonably large tarantula.
To summarise, adding an Omothymus schioedtei to your collection will bring you a lot of enjoyment. Their swiftness, colours, and temperament are exciting to view. That being said, these are an old world species, and we only recommend them to very experienced keepers due to their feisty attitude when provoked and their venom potency.