Tarantula identification, please
First of all, you have a great website! The attached photograph is of a small tarantula that my friend fished out of her swimming pool here in southern California (Thousand Oaks in Ventura county). She thought is was probably dead (drowned) and as she was removing it, a tarantula hawk wasp appeared and began dive-bombing her and “fighting” her for it. When she brought it to me, we found it was alive, but seemed paralyzed. We theorized that either the wasp had already stung it and accidently dropped it in the pool on the way back to the nest or it was “brain damaged” from a near drowning (or both). Just for fun, we kept it and “nursed” it back to health over several months. Initially, we had to hold it on its back, pry its fangs back, and put a prey insect or worm in place, then let go and let the fangs reflexively spring back into place trapping the food item. Eventually, we just had to place the insect against the fangs and the spider was able to voluntarily grab it on its own with its fangs. With time, the spider regained its mobility and after several months was able to walk around its cage and catch a cricket on its own, but only if one crawled by it. It still seems rather slow moving (compared to the Mexican red knee tarantula we have) and its not a voracious eater, but its still alive after about 8 or 9 months. It has not molted yet and it is rather small so I don’t know if its a female or an immature male. It basically is just all black in coloration. Can you identify its genus and/or species? Thanks! Sincerely,
This is one of the most touching letters we have ever received. What a lucky California Ebony Tarantula, Aphonopelma eutylenum. We are basing that identification on a nearly identical specimen posted to BugGuide, also rescued from a swimming pool.