The Tarantula is a type of spider or arachnid. Tarantulas are part of the scientific family Theraphosidae.
Like all spiders, the tarantula has eight legs. The legs and body are covered with hairs. Some of the hairs on their abdomen, called urticating hairs, can be thrown at an enemy to cause irritation. They help the tarantula to ward off predators.
How big to they get?
Tarantulas can vary in size depending on the species. Their body length varies from 1 to 4 inches while their leg span varies from 3 to 10 inches. The largest Tarantula, the one with the 10 inch leg span, is called the Goliath Birdeater.
Tarantulas mostly eat insects. The larger tarantulas will eat small animals such as mice, birds, frogs, and lizards. They sneak up on prey and pounce on them, envenoming their prey rather than catching it in a web like many spiders. Once the prey is caught, they secrete digestive enzymes into the prey that basically liquefies the body so the spider can eat it.
Where do Tarantulas live?
There are over 800 species of Tarantulas and they can be found all over the planet including North America, Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe. They live in many habitats from deserts to rainforests, but generally in warm environments.
Some Tarantulas live in the ground while others live in the trees. If they live in the ground, they make a burrow to live in which they line with their silk or web. If they live in trees, they make a tube tent out of their silk to live in.
Every so often Tarantulas shed their skin, or exoskeleton, in a process called molting. When they are young and growing they will molt more often. Once they are older they will molt around once a year or if they have lost a leg or some of their hair. The males rarely molt once they have become adults.
Are they venomous?
Yes, they are all venomous, but how dangerous they are to humans varies from tarantula to tarantula. Some bites are similar to a wasp sting while others have been known to make a human very sick. Many are harmless to humans and rarely bite.
Fun Facts about Tarantulas
They are becoming a popular pet.
One of their predators is the Pepsis Wasp, which has the nickname Tarantula Hawk.
Females can lay up to 2000 eggs.
Females can live up to 30 years old.
Tarantulas climb with the aid of retractable claws that are at the end of each leg.
They can re-grow lost legs through multiple moltings.
Mexican Red-kneed Tarantula Author: George Chernilevsky via Wikimedia Commons