Where Do Tarantulas Live: Discovering Their Habitats and Lifestyles

Tarantulas are fascinating creatures that belong to the family Theraphosidae within the class of arachnids. With over 800 species of tarantulas spread across various genera, these hairy eight-legged critters can be found in many different habitats around the world.

As a tarantula enthusiast, you might be curious to know where these intriguing arachnids reside. Generally, tarantulas inhabit regions with warm climates, such as deserts, rainforests, and savannas. They often make their homes in burrows, either using their silk to line the walls or residing in natural crevices in trees and foliage.

Different species of tarantulas have diverse living preferences, which makes studying them all the more exciting. As you delve deeper into the world of these magnificent arachnids, you will uncover a wealth of knowledge about their unique habitats, behaviors, and characteristics.

Habitats of Tarantulas

Desert Dwellers

Tarantulas can be found in various habitats, but one common home for them is deserts. In the United States, these spiders are mostly found in the arid regions of the Southwest. Here, they burrow into the soil, sand, or under rocks to protect themselves from extreme temperatures and predators. An example of a desert-dwelling tarantula is the Texas brown tarantula, which is commonly found in the American Southwest, including Texas.

Desert tarantulas prefer environments that offer:

  • Dry, sandy or rocky terrain
  • Fewer trees and vegetation
  • Adequate places to burrow

Rainforest Residents

In contrast to their desert-dwelling cousins, some tarantulas make their homes in the lush rainforests of South America. These spiders, such as the pink-toed tarantula, prefer the high humidity and dense vegetation found in tropical areas. They tend to build their nests in trees, taking advantage of the abundant foliage and prey.

Rainforest tarantulas enjoy habitats with:

  • High humidity and moisture
  • Abundant vegetation
  • Plenty of trees for nesting

Subtropical Settlers

Subtropical regions, like parts of Europe and Australia, also host tarantula populations. These environments offer a mix of mild temperatures and varied terrain, which allows these spiders to build their homes in soil, under rocks, or within logs. One example of a subtropical tarantula is the Australian funnel-web tarantula, found along the eastern coast of Australia.

Subtropical tarantulas favor areas with:

  • Mild, temperate climates
  • Varied terrain (rocks, soil, and vegetation)
  • Availability of suitable hiding spots

In summary, tarantulas can be found in a range of habitats, from the deserts of the American Southwest to the tropical rainforests of South America and the subtropical climates of Europe and Australia. Their preferred homes depend on the climate, terrain, and availability of food and shelter.

Physical Characteristics

Strange Shapes and Sizes

Tarantulas come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some species have a leg span of only a few inches, while others like the Goliath Birdeater can grow over a foot in length. Their weight varies too – from a few grams up to around 100 grams for the large ones.

These spiders have an interesting anatomy: a fused head and thorax called the cephalothorax, an abdomen, and eight hairy legs. Their pedipalps, which look like a pair of short legs near the front, act as sensory organs and help with catching prey.

Colorful Creatures

Tarantulas exhibit a wide range of colors and patterns, making them visually appealing creatures. Some are brown or black, while others flaunt vibrant colors like blue, orange, or green. The tarantula’s abdomen may have contrasting hues or markings that further enhance their appearance.

One well-known aspect of tarantulas is their fangs. These massive, needle-like structures enable them to inject venom into their prey. Despite their fearsome look, tarantula bites are generally not life-threatening to humans.

Examples of Tarantula Species and Their Traits

Species Color Leg Span Unique Features
Goliath Birdeater Brown Over 1 foot The world’s heaviest tarantula
Mexican Redknee Black / Orange 5-6 inches Black legs with orange-red joints
Greenbottle Blue Blue / Green 4.5-6 inches Green-blue carapace, blue legs, orange body

Overall, tarantulas are fascinating creatures with a diverse array of physical characteristics that can be found in various sizes, shapes, and colors. Understanding their unique features and appearances helps paint a more complete picture of these intriguing arachnids.

Behaviorial Traits

Daily Life of Tarantulas

Tarantulas are nocturnal creatures, which means they are active during the night and rest during the day. They typically prefer a solitary life, staying close to their burrows and avoiding any unnecessary contact with other animals1. As for their hunting behavior, tarantulas are known for their patience and ambush techniques. Rather than spinning webs to catch prey, they rely on their powerful fangs and venom to subdue their victims1.

Mating and Reproduction

In the world of tarantulas, there’s a noticeable difference between the lifespan of a male and a female2. Males live for about 7 to 8 years, while females can live up to 20 to 25 years2. During mating season, which usually occurs in October, males embark on a dangerous journey to find a receptive female2.

Here’s a brief comparison between male and female tarantulas during mating season:

Traits Male Female
Lifespan 7-8 years 20-25 years
Mating Actively searches for a mate Waits in her burrow for a mate
Role in reproduction Delivers semen to female Stores semen, fertilizes eggs, and protects the eggsack

Once a male tarantula locates a female, he must carefully approach her, signaling his intentions through a complex series of vibrations and movements2. If the female is receptive, they’ll mate and the male will deposit his semen2. The female then stores the semen until she’s ready to fertilize her eggs2. When the time comes, she creates a silken eggsack to protect her offspring from predators1.

Diet and Predators

Predator or Prey?

Tarantulas are both predators and prey to other animals. They primarily feed on insects such as crickets and grasshoppers, but they have also been known to eat small mammals, birds, and frogs in the wild. On the other hand, tarantulas face several predators in their natural environment. Some of the more common predators include larger lizards, snakes, and birds. However, their fiercest enemy is the tarantula hawk, a large species of wasp that specializes in hunting tarantulas.

Unusual Meals

Occasionally, tarantulas may consume other spiders in their diet, including other tarantulas. They have also been known to eat centipedes and roaches. A tarantula’s diet, however, can vary depending on its habitat and the availability of potential prey.

Here is a comparison table of tarantulas’ diet and predators:

Item Prey Predator
Insects Yes No
Small mammals Yes No
Birds Yes Yes
Frogs Yes No
Lizards No Yes
Snakes No Yes
Spiders Yes No
Roaches Yes No
Centipedes Yes No
Tarantula hawk (wasp) No Yes

In summary, tarantulas are opportunistic eaters with a varied diet, while also being preyed upon by different types of animals, especially the tarantula hawk.

Tarantulas as Pets

Housing a Tarantula

Tarantulas are becoming a popular pet due to their unique appearance and interesting behavior. To house your tarantula, you’ll need a suitable terrarium. Depending on the type of tarantula, there are different requirements:

  • For a ground-dwelling species, a horizontal terrarium is ideal.
  • Arboreal species prefer vertical terrariums with branches to climb.

Young tarantulas typically require smaller enclosures, making it easier for them to find food. Additionally, your terrarium should have proper substrate, hide, and temperature control, ensuring the comfort and safety of your pet.

Health and Safety Concerns

When keeping a tarantula, it’s essential to consider their health and well-being. Be aware of the following concerns:

  • Feeding: Tarantulas eat insects or larger prey (e.g., Goliath bird-eating tarantula). Feed adults every 2-3 weeks and juveniles more frequently.
  • Molting: Tarantulas shed their exoskeleton periodically. Avoid handling your tarantula during this time, as they are more fragile.
  • Pet trade impact: Ensure you purchase your tarantula from a reputable breeder to discourage illegal or unethical pet trade practices.

Here are some precautions to be mindful of for your safety:

  • Always wash your hands after handling your tarantula or cleaning its enclosure.
  • Use caution when opening the terrarium, as tarantulas can be fast and may escape.

Remember, the key to a happy and healthy tarantula is regular care and maintenance. By being attentive to your pet’s needs, you can enjoy the fascinating world of tarantula ownership.

Dangerous or Misunderstood

Venomous Bites

Tarantulas are often seen as dangerous creatures due to their venomous bites. However, you should know that their bites are usually not harmful to humans. In most cases, a tarantula bite can be compared to a bee sting in terms of pain and severity. Symptoms may include mild pain, swelling, and redness at the bite site.

Some tarantula species possess stronger venom, but even in those cases, the effects are usually manageable. However, individuals who are allergic to bee stings may experience more severe reactions to tarantula bites.

Potential Risks

While tarantula bites are generally not a significant threat to humans, there are other potential risks associated with handling or being near these spiders. Some tarantulas can be aggressive when they feel threatened, which may lead to a higher likelihood of being bitten. To reduce this risk, it’s essential to handle tarantulas gently and with care.

In addition, tarantulas possess urticating hairs on their abdomen, which they can flick at predators or perceived threats. If these hairs come into contact with your skin or eyes, they can cause irritation and itching, which may lead to more severe reactions in sensitive individuals.

In summary, tarantulas are often misunderstood creatures that are not as dangerous as they are perceived to be. Their venomous bites are usually manageable, and the potential risks can be minimized by handling them with care and taking precautions to avoid contact with their urticating hairs.

Additional Facts

Molting Mysteries

Tarantulas go through a process called molting, shedding their exoskeleton to grow. During this time, they are vulnerable to predators and environmental factors, so they usually stay hidden in their burrows. Molting also allows them to replace damaged limbs and regenerate lost ones.

Unusual Occurrences

Tarantulas are fascinating creatures with some interesting behaviors and features:

  • Silk Production: Unlike web-spinning spiders, tarantulas use silk to line their burrows and create a cocoon for their eggs.

  • Uricating Hairs: When threatened, a tarantula defends itself by flicking tiny urticating hairs at its enemies, causing irritation and deterring predators.

  • Geographic Distribution: Tarantulas can be found in a variety of climates and continents, including North and South America, Africa, Asia, and parts of southern Europe. For example, the Arkansas chocolate tarantula can be found in the U.S., while the Mexican red-knee tarantula is native to Mexico.

  • Arboreal Species: Some tarantulas, like those found in parts of Asia, are arboreal, meaning they live in trees rather than burrows.

Here’s a comparison table of some tarantula species:

Species Native Region Habitat Color
Arkansas Chocolate Tarantula United States Ground Dark Brown
Mexican Red-Knee Tarantula Mexico Ground Red and Black
Ornamental Tarantula India and Sri Lanka Arboreal Blue and White

As you can see, tarantulas are diverse creatures with a wide range of habitats, colors, and behaviors. Keep in mind though, that these extraordinary spiders are often misunderstood, so it’s essential to learn more about them to appreciate their importance in our ecosystems.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.nps.gov/articles/tarantula.htm 2 3

  2. https://www.nps.gov/band/learn/nature/upload/tarantula%20fact%20sheet.pdf 2 3 4 5 6

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Tarantula from Zambia: Ceratogyrus meridionalis

 

Subject: Is this spider dangerous?
Location: Zambia
January 28, 2016 4:23 am
Hi, we’ve been living in central Zambia in the bushy outskirts of a town for 8 months now and today was the first time I’ve seen one of these kind of spiders. It’s tarantula looking and about 2 to 3 inches at full span. We have children here too which causes me even more concern and worry if they would be tempted to approach one. Can you please tell me if they bite or are poisonous please?
Signature: Many thanks for your help

Tarantula: Ceratogyrus meridionalis
Tarantula: Ceratogyrus meridionalis

Your gorgeous Tarantula is Ceratogyrus meridionalis. which we identified on BirdSpiders.  Tarantulas are not aggressive, but they can give a painful, though not generally serious, bite if carelessly handled.  Teach your children while they are young to have respect for lower beasts.

Tarantula
Tarantula

Letter 2 – Tarantula from the Sierra Nevada Foothills

 

Tarantula, I believe
Location: Sierra Nevada foothills, northern California, at 2400 ft.
November 14, 2011 9:51 am
I found this approximately 1” spider in my bathroom last week (early November). I believe it is a Tarantula, but was amazed, as I am not sure how he got in, and we do get wet weather and occasional winter snow. I thought they were only found in hot, dry climates in California. Can you identify?
Signature: Rhonda L.

California Tarantula

Dear Rhonda,
Even at high altitudes, much of California is arid.  It is our understanding that North American Tarantulas are in the genus
Aphonopelma.  According to BugGuide:  “The Aphonopelma of North American are poorly known. Although many species have been described few specimens can be properly identified either by using available keys or by wading through species descriptions . Most identifiable specimens belong to species found in Mexico or Central America that are easily recognized by unique color patterns, such as that of A. seemanni . Correct identification of specimens collected within the United States is often suspect since determinations must be based on the process of elimination using collection dates and locality data in combination with coloration, coxal setation, and metatarsal scopulation .”

Tarantula

So, you agree this is a Tarantula (not a Trapdoor?).  Thank you.     R. Lawrence

Yes we do, but we would always defer to a true expert.

Letter 3 – Tarantula from Cyprus

 

European Tarantula
Hello Bugman
I thought you might like to see a European Tarantula (Chaetopelma Gracile) that I found in my kitchen in North Cyprus in November 2006. The picture was taken outside while we were trying to coax it into a dustpan to relocate it to a more suitable home. I’m afraid the picture isn’t that clear as it was 6.30am and we were a bit shocked. The spider measured approx 90mm. I have only just discovered your fantastic website and it has really helped me in identifying the different creatures we find here in Cyprus. Thank you and regards.
Jo

Hi Jo,
Thanks for sending us this great photo of a European Tarantula. We have linked to an article on Chaetopelma gracile.

Letter 4 – Tarantula in Baja California, Mexico

 

Hitch-hiking tarantula
June 27, 2010
Thought you all might enjoy this photo and the story that goes with it. We spend a lot of time in Baja California Sur and a few years ago in early December, we made one of our usual 30 minute trips into town from the beach where we lived to visit a friend. At the time, we drove a big truck with high clearance, which we usually kept closed as much as possible, to keep out the elements and unwanted fauna.
You can probably imagine our surprise then, when after visiting our friend, we found this male desert tarantula (I say male, since they are the wanderers) all cozy on the passenger seat. I couldn’t believe I had just about hoisted my butt up on top of him. As we debated how to safely and gently remove him (though we like all kinds of critters, in the heat of the moment, we were wishing Jeff Corwin were around to lay hands on him), one of the gardeners just reached in, picked him up and then put him in my partner’s hand at her request. While she held him, I took photos and then they went for a little walk out into the nearby desert scrub where she released him.
We still can’t figure out how he got into the truck cab and it was kind of creepy to think about where he had been on our way to town and how long he might have been in the car. One theory about his presence was that our cat, who liked to jump into the cab or camper shell whenever we left the car open, may have brought him in as one of his pets to play (lizards on the doorstep, live mice in the shower stall, fiddler crabs in the shoes…), but then quickly lost interest in him, as he usually did.
Unfortunately, the Case of the Hitch-hiking Tarantula will always remain a mystery…but it sure has made us look twice before getting into the car!
D. Valov
Mulegé, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Tarantula

Hi D,
Thanks for the great Tarantula anecdote.  You Tarantula looks like an undescribed Aphonopelma species photographed by Rick West and posted to the Tarántulas de México website.

Letter 5 – Tarantula from Utah

 

Subject: Didn’t know Utah had spiders this size
Location: Saratoga Springs
August 9, 2016 8:23 pm
What is this? Maybe the Salt Lake Brown Terantula? Is it a poisonous spider? Saw it coming from a boulder rock wall in Saratoga Springs, Utah.
Signature: Daniel

Tarantula
Tarantula

Dear Daniel,
This is a Tarantula in the genus
Aphonopelma and BugGuide led us to this quote from the Journal of Arachnology:  “The Aphonopelma of North American are poorly known. Although many species have been described few specimens can be properly identified either by using available keys or by wading through species descriptions. Most identifiable specimens belong to species found in Mexico or Central America that are easily recognized by unique color patterns, such as that of A. seemanni. Correct identification of specimens collected within the United States is often suspect since determinations must be based on the process of elimination using collection dates and locality data in combination with coloration, coxal setation, and metatarsal scopulation.”  BugGuide does list Utah sightings in August and September.  We searched Salt Lake Brown Tarantula and found a posting in our own archives with the subject Salt Lake City Brown Tarantula, which was not a name, but rather a subject line for the posting, and we also found a Salt Lake County Brown Tarantula identified as Aphonopelma iodius on the Natural History Museum of Utah site where it states:  “The teddy bear of the desert, these harmless fuzzy darlings live much longer than you might think — up to 25 years for a female and about half that for a male!  Tarantulas aren’t the fastest runners.  Their primary defense is the irritating hairs on their abdomens.  When chased or frightened, they can use a back leg to brush these hairs into the eyes or mouth of a predator.   In the late summer, you’re likely to see tarantulas wandering in the foothills.  They aren’t migrating. They are mature males looking for females, with little interest in food or their own safety…just mating.”  We were going to try to link to the species on BugGuide and see if we could get additional information, but alas, BugGuide currently seems to be experiencing technical difficulties.

Letter 6 – Tarantula from Costa Rica

 

tarantula in costa rica?
Fri, Jan 16, 2009 at 3:00 PM
hi there,
we found this one taking refuge from the rain last night in our room near san isidro, costa rica… wondering if you can tell us what it is and whether it’s f or m?
thanks so much!
kyla
san isidro, costa rica

Unknown Tarantula from Costa Rica
Unknown Tarantula from Costa Rica

Hi Kyla,
After searching the images on the Tarantula Photo Gallery Website, we don’t feel that we have the necessary skills to provide you with an accurate identification. There are not enough similarities to make the Costa Rican Tigerump , Cyclosternum fasciatum, a definite positive ID. We couldn’t find a satisfactory match on the Gallery of Tarantulas webpage, but there are several species from Venezuala and Costa Rica named Suntigers. The dark diamond pattern between the red markings on your specimen is very distinctive, and doesn’t match anything we can find. After 45 minutes of unsuccessful searching, the best we can do is to post your image and hope an Arachnophile has the answers to your questions.

Update: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 10:52:56 -0800 (PST)
Hi, Daniel:
I suspect the ornate tarantula from Costa Rica is a juvenile specimen, in which case there is no telling what gender it is.  Males do not get their secondary sexual characteristics until their final molt into adulthood.  Many species can be quite colorful as immatures, while being rather “dull” in color as adults.  Not sure if anyone will be able to conclude the identification if it ‘is’ a baby.
Eric

Letter 7 – Tarantula from Puerto Rico

 

Tarantula from Puerto Rico
Fantastic! Thanks so much! We’re getting a kick from seeing all this stuff appear on your site. Eric’s not going to commit to Pepsis formosa or Pepsis thisbe, eh? Since we’ve gotten this detailed, though, we DID find and photograph a tarantula on Vieques. Wanna get down to the genus level on this one? Might it serve as Pepsis prey? (Coinage is for scale, not for commerce) This is such a hoot!
Jim & Sandy
NYC
P.S. That’s Sandy to youse. Nancy is a former girlfriend. Sandy’s the one I married 17 years ago…

Hi Again Jim and Sandy,
We hope posting your latest submission on St. Valentine’s Day will get us out of the doghouse for accidentally crediting a recent submission to an ex-girlfriend rather than your wife. Though we don’t know what genus this Tarantula belongs to, we are confident a reader will eventually write in with the correct answer. It could be the prey of the Tarantula Hawk you sent previously.

Update: (02/15/2007)
About the Tarantula from Puerto Rico
Dear Daniel and Lisa,
Hi guys! As I have said before, I am not at all a spider expert, but I looked online, and I would say that the tarantula from P.R. is a Cyrtopholis species, because of the pretty lighter rings between each segment of the legs. This looks superficially like the Common Puerto Rican tarantula, Cyrtopholis portoricae, see:
http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/caribbean/wildlife-facts/2006/wildlife-facts-september-2006.shtml
But, if you look carefully at Jim and Sandy’s image, it seems that many of the segments of the legs have attractive longitudinal or diagonal stripes too, in which case I would assume that this spider is likely to be Cyrtopholis bartholomei instead:
http://www.kingsnake.com/westindian/cyrtopholisbartholomaei1.JPG
Best, Susan

Hi LA and D,
Looks like Susan is on to something. She may be more or a spider expert than she thinks. Our tarantula’s legs do have those longitudinal stripes, in very much the same patterns on the same leg segments as the Cyrtopholis bartholomei in her second link. There’s a color difference, though. Might that just be like a horse having a chestnut coat rather than a bay? Here’s another angle of ours, that shows the striping pattern:
Jim and Sandy

Letter 8 – Tarantula from Dominican Republic

 

For your site
Here is a tarantula from the Dominican Republic taken this past November. He was about six inches in length and we saw him on a sidewalk at night. I think his designs are beautiful!
Julie Ferwerda

Hi Julie,
Thanks for sending us your beautiful Dominican Tarantula.

Update: (01/06/2006)
ID on the Dominican Tarantula?
Hi Daniel and Lisa Anne,
I don’t in any way claim to be a spider expert, but the Dominican tarantula from 01/05/2007? I think it’s the same species as the one from Nevis whose picture I sent you 10/05/2006, in other words: Acanthoscurria antillensis Pocock, 1903. There a nice picture of one at:
http://www.spidy.goliathus.com/english/acanthoscurria-antillensis-id269.html
Very best to you,
Susan J. Hewitt

Wow Susan,
That was fast. Thanks for the information.

Update: (02/05/2007)
About ‘Donkey Spider from West Indies’
Hi again Daniel and Lisa Ann,
I was interested to see the Giant Crab Spider or Banana Spider (Olios sp.) from St. Kitts; images which R. Fields sent in on 1/25/2007. I vacation on Nevis each year and St. Kitts is the sister island, only 2 miles away. English names are notoriously unreliable, but I believe that the creature which is usually referred to on St. Kitts and Nevis as the ‘Donkey Spider’ is the Antillean Tarantula, (Acanthoscurria antillensis), which is furry and colored like a donkey. The image of the one I found on Nevis is on your Spider Page 8, listed as ‘Caribbean Tarantula (10/05/2006)’ and described as a Donkey Spider. On the same page there is an image of what is probably the same species, ‘Tarantula from Dominican Republic (01/05/2007)’. I believe that on St. Kitts and Nevis, the giant crab spider (Olios sp. of the Sparassidae) is usually called a ‘Banana Spider’ or a “Yellow Spider”. Of course the two species are not at all closely related, but they are the two biggest spiders on those islands, they both only come out at night, and so I suppose some people might confuse them one with the other. They both can bite if you hassle them enough, but neither is dangerous to people. Best,
Susan J. Hewitt

Letter 9 – Tarantula from Arizona

 

Subject: What specie is it?
Location: Southern Arizona
October 6, 2013 2:47 pm
Hi, I’m just asking what is this tarantula.
I was looking some pictures of tarantulas here, so I supposed it is a genus Aphonopelma but I’d like more exactly, so, if you can answer me I would appreciate it. Thank you!
PD: it is a young tarantula (I think so).
Signature: Angel

Tarantula
Tarantula

Hi Angel,
We will post your photo of this Arizona Tarantula in the hopes that someone with more experience can help you identify the species.

Letter 10 – Tarantula found Dead!!!

 

Subject: what kind of spider is this?
Location: east bay area 94509
March 3, 2014 1:50 pm
Hi. We found this spider dead in our garage this am and we have never seen anything like it. I would imagine he was at least as big as a 50 cent piece when alive, if not bigger. I really just want to make sure he’s not poisonous because we have small children.
Signature: jaimie

Dead Tarantula
Dead Tarantula

Hi Jaimie,
This is a Tarantula, and they do have venom.  Teach your children to respect Tarantulas since they live in your area.  The bite of a North American Tarantula might be painful and result in local swelling and tenderness, but it is not considered especially dangerous to humans.  Tarantulas really need to be provoked to bite, and there is little chance of that happening with this dead Tarantula.  More of a threat is the irritation caused by the utricating hairs.

Letter 11 – Tarantula found Dead in West Indies

 

Subject: St. Kitts and nevis tarantula
Location: St. Kitts and Nevis West Indies
October 14, 2013 10:54 am
Hey there. Found this in my garden at home on nevis Island Antilles. It was already dead but was big. Hairy. Wolf like long hair.
Signature: Ryan

What Killed the Tarantula???
What Killed the Tarantula???

Hi Ryan,
This is one impressive Tarantula.  We wonder what killed it.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to identify the species.  Do you ever see living Tarantulas in the West Indies???

Dead Tarantula
Dead Tarantula

No I haven’t yet,  but I’ve only lived here for the past month.  There have been articles in the paper of people in basseterre, St.  Kitts finding upwards of 10 inside their house.  Alive.  People speculate it was because of a grassy field being excavated close to these homes and the spiders were forced out.  I believe mine may have died from unpredictable high amounts of rainfall.  It was found in a spot that may have flooded fast. To fast for the Spider to get away without drowning. But that is only my guess.

 

Letter 12 – Tarantula from Brazil

 

Huge unknown insect from Brazil
Fri, Jan 16, 2009 at 3:18 AM
Thanks for identification, and here are the spider pics. Imagine this making
a run for inside you house. This is not one of the spiders I would want to
swallow in my sleep. Part of the fun of living somewhere like brazil is all
of the new things you see everyday (that and the pretty girls in bikinis)
Dave
Florianopolis, Brazil

Tarantula
Tarantula

Thanks for sending us your Tarantula image Dave. We are posting the image of you with the Tarantula for scale. Regarding your comment about swallowing the Tarantula, we heard in the past from entomophagy  expert David Gracer that Tarantulas are edible once the stinging hairs are singed off.  Finally, we always thought swimsuits were optional in Brazil.

Tarantula with Dave for scale
Tarantula with Dave for scale

Letter 13 – Tarantula from Brazil

 

Subject:  Spider
Geographic location of the bug:  Ilhabela,SP – Brazil
Date: 10/03/2017
Time: 10:43 PM EDT
Whats that spider?
How you want your letter signed:  Antonio Prado

Tarantula

Dear Antonio,
This is a Tarantula.

Letter 14 – Tarantula from Costa Rica

 

bathroom tarantula
Sun, May 10, 2009 at 8:28 PM
Hi there
First I have to say I love your site, it has served me very well! For the past two years I’ve been living in Costa Rica and this site has provided me with so much help identifying the seemingly infinite supply of new and interesting critters I encounter.
But today I have a new one and I can’t seem to get the answer for sure. The other day just before getting in the shower my pareja found this tarantula escaping from the tub. He trapped it under the trash bin and called me down to check it out…
It’s really only about 4 inches long, maybe 5 or 6 with its legs extended. Its furry and a bit skittish when approached, but generally seems pretty docile.
We live in a mountainous suburban region outside of a major city, but the area is mostly forest. I dug up some dirt from the garden and have the spider in a terrarium with some water. I tossed a beetle in there yesterday and it was gone in a few hours. I’ve never kept a spider as a pet before but this thing is pretty big and interesting. We’ll see how long it takes before I have to put it outside to keep my (human) relationship!
What do you say, can you identify it? Mostly I want to know if it prefers to burrow in the ground or hang from the trees.
Thanks and keep up the good work!
Josh in Costa Rica
Costa Rica

Unknown Tarantula
Unknown Tarantula

Hi Josh,
We hope our readership, which contains some Tarantula aficionados, is able to assist in the identification of this impressive creature, so we are posting it as unidentified.

Letter 15 – Tarantula from Ecuador

 

Pamphobeteus- Ecuador
Location: Lives in Ecuador
January 1, 2011 6:39 pm
i just thought i would show the true beauty of the tarantula world. this is my male Pamphobeteus species from Ecuador. i have yet to find an actual common name from a book, but many people call them a South Ecuador Pampho. Tarantulas make the greatest pets. This one looks even better in person!
Signature: Zach

Tarantula: Pamphobeteus species

Dear Zach,
That is some beautiful Tarantula.  The lavender color on the legs is stunning.  Are these Tarantulas being bred in captivity or are they all wild captures?  We are also curious why you would choose a male instead of a female because we are under the impression that the female spiders live longer.  The description of
Pamphobeteus antinous on Giant Spiders is “Pocock, 1903 Peru, Bolivia  A very large and robust species from the rainforest areas of Bolivia. The femora of the legs have a bright blue colouration, especially apparent in mature males. Not that common in collections” and the description of Pamphobeteus ornatus is “Mature males are particularly striking being coloured with purple/pink to the legs and a starburst of colour to the carapace. Females remain dark brown to black.”  In our opinion, of the two, the description of Pamphobeteus ornatus seems quite accurate because of the starburst of color on the carapace.

As a matter of fact i have a female too. i honestly don’t have a clue on if they are bred in captivity. i ordered the female from a dealer and i found the male in a local pet shop that always have a great selection of exotic animals and Tarantulas. The females do live longer as you stated, but from what i have read, the females will stay a more brown color and wont develop the purple coloring on the legs (my female is still small at the moment so i don’t know for sure). As soon as i saw this one in the store and saw the purple.. i couldn’t turn it down. i don’t think any collector could. it’s simply gorgeous.

Letter 16 – Tarantula from Ecuador

 

Subject:  tarantula
Geographic location of the bug:  Ecuadoran andes 30 miles west of Quito
Date: 04/02/2018
Time: 01:37 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  On a birding tour of Ecuador we found this beauty in the road. It’s about 4-5″ long. Any idea on Species?
How you want your letter signed:  BirderKate

Tarantula

Dear BirderKate,
Your individual resembles this FlickR image identified as being a member of the genus
Pamphobeteus.  We suspect the arachnophiles in our readership may write in with a confirmation or correction.

Letter 17 – Tarantula from Utah

 

Subject:  Tarantula
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern utah, desert area
Date: 10/20/2017
Time: 06:36 PM EDT
My dad came across this spider at the mine where he works. It was on a piece of machinery.
How you want your letter signed:  Up to you

Tarantula

This is indeed a Tarantula.  The only species reported from Utah on BugGuide is Aphonopelma iodius.

Tarantula

Letter 18 – Tarantula Identification Requested

 

Subject: What type of tarantula could this be ?
Location: Bought it in Australia but could be from another country.
July 6, 2016 10:33 am
I know it’s a tarantula but just wondering if you could give me an idea on what type! I bought it from a pet store and forgotten what it’s called !!!
Signature: Adrian

Tarantula, we presume
Tarantula, we presume

Dear Adrian,
With all due respect, accuracy in proper identifications is tremendously aided by knowing the location of the sighting.  Pet stores purchase creatures from all over the world.  Furthermore, the highest quality images are incredibly helpful for proper identifications.  Your dark, blurry, low resolution image is not ideal for a proper identification.  We are not able to assist you at this time.

Letter 19 – Tarantula in Mexico

 

Subject: Huge spider
Location: Akumal near the beach and next to the jungle
March 11, 2017 7:28 pm
Found this in our bedroom tonight in Akumal, Mexico after a rainy day.
Signature: Lisa

Tarantula

Dear Lisa,
This sure looks like a Tarantula to us.

Letter 20 – Tarantula in Mount Washington

 

Ed. Note:  From our personal email account.

Subject:  Tarantula in Mount Washington
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
October 23, 2016
Daniel,
Can you ID this spider from this photo? S/he was not seeming well when Mark saw her – in a glass bowl on the porch, where she must have fallen 🙁
S/he’s much livlier since we gave her water and tiny crickets…Poor thing, I have no idea how long s/he was there.
Julian and I both think s/he looks more like a tarantula than a trapdoor spider.
c.

Tarantula
Tarantula

Dear Clare,
We agree with you and Julian that this is a Tarantula, and we are happy to hear it is recovering considering it looks dead in your image.  Female Tarantulas are reluctant to leave their burrows, and the males, which do not live as long, seek mates when the first rains of the season occur, much like related Trapdoor Spiders.  According to Charles Hogue in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin:  “Local hill residents are sometimes shocked to find a giant hairy spider crawling about their pations on a late summer’s eve.  Few Angelenos realize that tarantulas are permanent inhabitants of the dry grass and brush-covered hillsides of the basin.”  We also realize that habitat loss within the city is a contributing factor in reduced populations of Tarantulas, but your proximity to Rainbow Canyon Park and other preserved open space parks in the neighborhood is a good indication that local activism is having a positive impact on native species.  Hogue recognizes two species in Los Angeles,
 Aphonopelma eutylenum and Aphonopelma reversum.  We suspect your individual is most likely Aphonopelma eutylenum which is pictured on BugGuide, and which according to Hogue has males maturing in the fall.  Please keep us posted on this poor Tarantula’s recovery.

Thank you for the information. The tarantula is making a good recovery! We gave him (I decided he’s a male) water, which he  drank; then, three little crickets – of which he has eaten one. I just checked on him and he has buried himself under a combination of small wood chip/mulch and gossamer! So, I think he is recuperating well.

 

Letter 21 – Tarantula on Trinidad

 

Subject: Massive spider maybe 7 inches in Trinidad
Location: Trinidad, Caribbean
December 2, 2016 3:24 pm
My son and myself came across this massive spider on a bamboo patch in a small park area near our house. My son said it was a “Huntsman spider” but I am unsure he is correct (smart kid though). see pics below
Signature: Dion Santana

Tarantula
Tarantula

Dear Dion,
What a gorgeous Tarantula you encountered.  But for the lack on markings on the abdomen of your individual, we believe it resembles this Trinidad Chevron Tarantula,
Psalmopoeus cambridgei, which is pictured on YouTube.   Normally we refrain from citing Wikipedia, but it was there we learned the Trinidad Chevron Tarantula is “endemic to Trinidad” and “The female has chevron-shaped dark markings on the abdomen and her colour varies through shades of green and brown with characteristic red or orange flashes on the legs. The male is a more uniform grey or brown colour. It is a large, hairy, fast growing species that reaches six inches in leg span.”  The lack of markings and the longer legs indicates your individual is a male, and it sure looks like these male Trinidad Chevron Tarantulas pictured on Project Noah and Angelfire.  According to Tarantulas of the World:  “these animals spend most of their time up in trees blending in with their environment.”  Because we are preparing for a trip away from the office for the holidays, we are postdating your submission to go live at the end of the month.

Tarantula
Tarantula

Thank you very much 🙂

Letter 22 – Tarantula from South Africa

 

Subject: Spider Identification
Location: Witbank, Mpumalanga, South Africa
May 5, 2017 10:58 am
Hi.
Found this little big man on my doorstep while sitting outside in the dark. Just caught my eye, needless to say I got a terrible fright!
His back seems to have a “smiley face” on.
Would love to know what’s it called and if poisonous, but I really doubt it.
Thank you
Nataly Oosthuizen
Witbank, Mpumalanga
South Africa
Signature: N Oosthuizen

Tarantula

Dear N Oosthuizen,
The best we are able to provide at this time is that this is a Tarantula, but we don’t know the species.  Tarantulas have venom but most are not aggressive and they are not considered a threat to humans.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Tarantula from Zambia: Ceratogyrus meridionalis

 

Subject: Is this spider dangerous?
Location: Zambia
January 28, 2016 4:23 am
Hi, we’ve been living in central Zambia in the bushy outskirts of a town for 8 months now and today was the first time I’ve seen one of these kind of spiders. It’s tarantula looking and about 2 to 3 inches at full span. We have children here too which causes me even more concern and worry if they would be tempted to approach one. Can you please tell me if they bite or are poisonous please?
Signature: Many thanks for your help

Tarantula: Ceratogyrus meridionalis
Tarantula: Ceratogyrus meridionalis

Your gorgeous Tarantula is Ceratogyrus meridionalis. which we identified on BirdSpiders.  Tarantulas are not aggressive, but they can give a painful, though not generally serious, bite if carelessly handled.  Teach your children while they are young to have respect for lower beasts.

Tarantula
Tarantula

Letter 2 – Tarantula from the Sierra Nevada Foothills

 

Tarantula, I believe
Location: Sierra Nevada foothills, northern California, at 2400 ft.
November 14, 2011 9:51 am
I found this approximately 1” spider in my bathroom last week (early November). I believe it is a Tarantula, but was amazed, as I am not sure how he got in, and we do get wet weather and occasional winter snow. I thought they were only found in hot, dry climates in California. Can you identify?
Signature: Rhonda L.

California Tarantula

Dear Rhonda,
Even at high altitudes, much of California is arid.  It is our understanding that North American Tarantulas are in the genus
Aphonopelma.  According to BugGuide:  “The Aphonopelma of North American are poorly known. Although many species have been described few specimens can be properly identified either by using available keys or by wading through species descriptions . Most identifiable specimens belong to species found in Mexico or Central America that are easily recognized by unique color patterns, such as that of A. seemanni . Correct identification of specimens collected within the United States is often suspect since determinations must be based on the process of elimination using collection dates and locality data in combination with coloration, coxal setation, and metatarsal scopulation .”

Tarantula

So, you agree this is a Tarantula (not a Trapdoor?).  Thank you.     R. Lawrence

Yes we do, but we would always defer to a true expert.

Letter 3 – Tarantula from Cyprus

 

European Tarantula
Hello Bugman
I thought you might like to see a European Tarantula (Chaetopelma Gracile) that I found in my kitchen in North Cyprus in November 2006. The picture was taken outside while we were trying to coax it into a dustpan to relocate it to a more suitable home. I’m afraid the picture isn’t that clear as it was 6.30am and we were a bit shocked. The spider measured approx 90mm. I have only just discovered your fantastic website and it has really helped me in identifying the different creatures we find here in Cyprus. Thank you and regards.
Jo

Hi Jo,
Thanks for sending us this great photo of a European Tarantula. We have linked to an article on Chaetopelma gracile.

Letter 4 – Tarantula in Baja California, Mexico

 

Hitch-hiking tarantula
June 27, 2010
Thought you all might enjoy this photo and the story that goes with it. We spend a lot of time in Baja California Sur and a few years ago in early December, we made one of our usual 30 minute trips into town from the beach where we lived to visit a friend. At the time, we drove a big truck with high clearance, which we usually kept closed as much as possible, to keep out the elements and unwanted fauna.
You can probably imagine our surprise then, when after visiting our friend, we found this male desert tarantula (I say male, since they are the wanderers) all cozy on the passenger seat. I couldn’t believe I had just about hoisted my butt up on top of him. As we debated how to safely and gently remove him (though we like all kinds of critters, in the heat of the moment, we were wishing Jeff Corwin were around to lay hands on him), one of the gardeners just reached in, picked him up and then put him in my partner’s hand at her request. While she held him, I took photos and then they went for a little walk out into the nearby desert scrub where she released him.
We still can’t figure out how he got into the truck cab and it was kind of creepy to think about where he had been on our way to town and how long he might have been in the car. One theory about his presence was that our cat, who liked to jump into the cab or camper shell whenever we left the car open, may have brought him in as one of his pets to play (lizards on the doorstep, live mice in the shower stall, fiddler crabs in the shoes…), but then quickly lost interest in him, as he usually did.
Unfortunately, the Case of the Hitch-hiking Tarantula will always remain a mystery…but it sure has made us look twice before getting into the car!
D. Valov
Mulegé, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Tarantula

Hi D,
Thanks for the great Tarantula anecdote.  You Tarantula looks like an undescribed Aphonopelma species photographed by Rick West and posted to the Tarántulas de México website.

Letter 5 – Tarantula from Utah

 

Subject: Didn’t know Utah had spiders this size
Location: Saratoga Springs
August 9, 2016 8:23 pm
What is this? Maybe the Salt Lake Brown Terantula? Is it a poisonous spider? Saw it coming from a boulder rock wall in Saratoga Springs, Utah.
Signature: Daniel

Tarantula
Tarantula

Dear Daniel,
This is a Tarantula in the genus
Aphonopelma and BugGuide led us to this quote from the Journal of Arachnology:  “The Aphonopelma of North American are poorly known. Although many species have been described few specimens can be properly identified either by using available keys or by wading through species descriptions. Most identifiable specimens belong to species found in Mexico or Central America that are easily recognized by unique color patterns, such as that of A. seemanni. Correct identification of specimens collected within the United States is often suspect since determinations must be based on the process of elimination using collection dates and locality data in combination with coloration, coxal setation, and metatarsal scopulation.”  BugGuide does list Utah sightings in August and September.  We searched Salt Lake Brown Tarantula and found a posting in our own archives with the subject Salt Lake City Brown Tarantula, which was not a name, but rather a subject line for the posting, and we also found a Salt Lake County Brown Tarantula identified as Aphonopelma iodius on the Natural History Museum of Utah site where it states:  “The teddy bear of the desert, these harmless fuzzy darlings live much longer than you might think — up to 25 years for a female and about half that for a male!  Tarantulas aren’t the fastest runners.  Their primary defense is the irritating hairs on their abdomens.  When chased or frightened, they can use a back leg to brush these hairs into the eyes or mouth of a predator.   In the late summer, you’re likely to see tarantulas wandering in the foothills.  They aren’t migrating. They are mature males looking for females, with little interest in food or their own safety…just mating.”  We were going to try to link to the species on BugGuide and see if we could get additional information, but alas, BugGuide currently seems to be experiencing technical difficulties.

Letter 6 – Tarantula from Costa Rica

 

tarantula in costa rica?
Fri, Jan 16, 2009 at 3:00 PM
hi there,
we found this one taking refuge from the rain last night in our room near san isidro, costa rica… wondering if you can tell us what it is and whether it’s f or m?
thanks so much!
kyla
san isidro, costa rica

Unknown Tarantula from Costa Rica
Unknown Tarantula from Costa Rica

Hi Kyla,
After searching the images on the Tarantula Photo Gallery Website, we don’t feel that we have the necessary skills to provide you with an accurate identification. There are not enough similarities to make the Costa Rican Tigerump , Cyclosternum fasciatum, a definite positive ID. We couldn’t find a satisfactory match on the Gallery of Tarantulas webpage, but there are several species from Venezuala and Costa Rica named Suntigers. The dark diamond pattern between the red markings on your specimen is very distinctive, and doesn’t match anything we can find. After 45 minutes of unsuccessful searching, the best we can do is to post your image and hope an Arachnophile has the answers to your questions.

Update: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 10:52:56 -0800 (PST)
Hi, Daniel:
I suspect the ornate tarantula from Costa Rica is a juvenile specimen, in which case there is no telling what gender it is.  Males do not get their secondary sexual characteristics until their final molt into adulthood.  Many species can be quite colorful as immatures, while being rather “dull” in color as adults.  Not sure if anyone will be able to conclude the identification if it ‘is’ a baby.
Eric

Letter 7 – Tarantula from Puerto Rico

 

Tarantula from Puerto Rico
Fantastic! Thanks so much! We’re getting a kick from seeing all this stuff appear on your site. Eric’s not going to commit to Pepsis formosa or Pepsis thisbe, eh? Since we’ve gotten this detailed, though, we DID find and photograph a tarantula on Vieques. Wanna get down to the genus level on this one? Might it serve as Pepsis prey? (Coinage is for scale, not for commerce) This is such a hoot!
Jim & Sandy
NYC
P.S. That’s Sandy to youse. Nancy is a former girlfriend. Sandy’s the one I married 17 years ago…

Hi Again Jim and Sandy,
We hope posting your latest submission on St. Valentine’s Day will get us out of the doghouse for accidentally crediting a recent submission to an ex-girlfriend rather than your wife. Though we don’t know what genus this Tarantula belongs to, we are confident a reader will eventually write in with the correct answer. It could be the prey of the Tarantula Hawk you sent previously.

Update: (02/15/2007)
About the Tarantula from Puerto Rico
Dear Daniel and Lisa,
Hi guys! As I have said before, I am not at all a spider expert, but I looked online, and I would say that the tarantula from P.R. is a Cyrtopholis species, because of the pretty lighter rings between each segment of the legs. This looks superficially like the Common Puerto Rican tarantula, Cyrtopholis portoricae, see:
http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/caribbean/wildlife-facts/2006/wildlife-facts-september-2006.shtml
But, if you look carefully at Jim and Sandy’s image, it seems that many of the segments of the legs have attractive longitudinal or diagonal stripes too, in which case I would assume that this spider is likely to be Cyrtopholis bartholomei instead:
http://www.kingsnake.com/westindian/cyrtopholisbartholomaei1.JPG
Best, Susan

Hi LA and D,
Looks like Susan is on to something. She may be more or a spider expert than she thinks. Our tarantula’s legs do have those longitudinal stripes, in very much the same patterns on the same leg segments as the Cyrtopholis bartholomei in her second link. There’s a color difference, though. Might that just be like a horse having a chestnut coat rather than a bay? Here’s another angle of ours, that shows the striping pattern:
Jim and Sandy

Letter 8 – Tarantula from Dominican Republic

 

For your site
Here is a tarantula from the Dominican Republic taken this past November. He was about six inches in length and we saw him on a sidewalk at night. I think his designs are beautiful!
Julie Ferwerda

Hi Julie,
Thanks for sending us your beautiful Dominican Tarantula.

Update: (01/06/2006)
ID on the Dominican Tarantula?
Hi Daniel and Lisa Anne,
I don’t in any way claim to be a spider expert, but the Dominican tarantula from 01/05/2007? I think it’s the same species as the one from Nevis whose picture I sent you 10/05/2006, in other words: Acanthoscurria antillensis Pocock, 1903. There a nice picture of one at:
http://www.spidy.goliathus.com/english/acanthoscurria-antillensis-id269.html
Very best to you,
Susan J. Hewitt

Wow Susan,
That was fast. Thanks for the information.

Update: (02/05/2007)
About ‘Donkey Spider from West Indies’
Hi again Daniel and Lisa Ann,
I was interested to see the Giant Crab Spider or Banana Spider (Olios sp.) from St. Kitts; images which R. Fields sent in on 1/25/2007. I vacation on Nevis each year and St. Kitts is the sister island, only 2 miles away. English names are notoriously unreliable, but I believe that the creature which is usually referred to on St. Kitts and Nevis as the ‘Donkey Spider’ is the Antillean Tarantula, (Acanthoscurria antillensis), which is furry and colored like a donkey. The image of the one I found on Nevis is on your Spider Page 8, listed as ‘Caribbean Tarantula (10/05/2006)’ and described as a Donkey Spider. On the same page there is an image of what is probably the same species, ‘Tarantula from Dominican Republic (01/05/2007)’. I believe that on St. Kitts and Nevis, the giant crab spider (Olios sp. of the Sparassidae) is usually called a ‘Banana Spider’ or a “Yellow Spider”. Of course the two species are not at all closely related, but they are the two biggest spiders on those islands, they both only come out at night, and so I suppose some people might confuse them one with the other. They both can bite if you hassle them enough, but neither is dangerous to people. Best,
Susan J. Hewitt

Letter 9 – Tarantula from Arizona

 

Subject: What specie is it?
Location: Southern Arizona
October 6, 2013 2:47 pm
Hi, I’m just asking what is this tarantula.
I was looking some pictures of tarantulas here, so I supposed it is a genus Aphonopelma but I’d like more exactly, so, if you can answer me I would appreciate it. Thank you!
PD: it is a young tarantula (I think so).
Signature: Angel

Tarantula
Tarantula

Hi Angel,
We will post your photo of this Arizona Tarantula in the hopes that someone with more experience can help you identify the species.

Letter 10 – Tarantula found Dead!!!

 

Subject: what kind of spider is this?
Location: east bay area 94509
March 3, 2014 1:50 pm
Hi. We found this spider dead in our garage this am and we have never seen anything like it. I would imagine he was at least as big as a 50 cent piece when alive, if not bigger. I really just want to make sure he’s not poisonous because we have small children.
Signature: jaimie

Dead Tarantula
Dead Tarantula

Hi Jaimie,
This is a Tarantula, and they do have venom.  Teach your children to respect Tarantulas since they live in your area.  The bite of a North American Tarantula might be painful and result in local swelling and tenderness, but it is not considered especially dangerous to humans.  Tarantulas really need to be provoked to bite, and there is little chance of that happening with this dead Tarantula.  More of a threat is the irritation caused by the utricating hairs.

Letter 11 – Tarantula found Dead in West Indies

 

Subject: St. Kitts and nevis tarantula
Location: St. Kitts and Nevis West Indies
October 14, 2013 10:54 am
Hey there. Found this in my garden at home on nevis Island Antilles. It was already dead but was big. Hairy. Wolf like long hair.
Signature: Ryan

What Killed the Tarantula???
What Killed the Tarantula???

Hi Ryan,
This is one impressive Tarantula.  We wonder what killed it.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to identify the species.  Do you ever see living Tarantulas in the West Indies???

Dead Tarantula
Dead Tarantula

No I haven’t yet,  but I’ve only lived here for the past month.  There have been articles in the paper of people in basseterre, St.  Kitts finding upwards of 10 inside their house.  Alive.  People speculate it was because of a grassy field being excavated close to these homes and the spiders were forced out.  I believe mine may have died from unpredictable high amounts of rainfall.  It was found in a spot that may have flooded fast. To fast for the Spider to get away without drowning. But that is only my guess.

 

Letter 12 – Tarantula from Brazil

 

Huge unknown insect from Brazil
Fri, Jan 16, 2009 at 3:18 AM
Thanks for identification, and here are the spider pics. Imagine this making
a run for inside you house. This is not one of the spiders I would want to
swallow in my sleep. Part of the fun of living somewhere like brazil is all
of the new things you see everyday (that and the pretty girls in bikinis)
Dave
Florianopolis, Brazil

Tarantula
Tarantula

Thanks for sending us your Tarantula image Dave. We are posting the image of you with the Tarantula for scale. Regarding your comment about swallowing the Tarantula, we heard in the past from entomophagy  expert David Gracer that Tarantulas are edible once the stinging hairs are singed off.  Finally, we always thought swimsuits were optional in Brazil.

Tarantula with Dave for scale
Tarantula with Dave for scale

Letter 13 – Tarantula from Brazil

 

Subject:  Spider
Geographic location of the bug:  Ilhabela,SP – Brazil
Date: 10/03/2017
Time: 10:43 PM EDT
Whats that spider?
How you want your letter signed:  Antonio Prado

Tarantula

Dear Antonio,
This is a Tarantula.

Letter 14 – Tarantula from Costa Rica

 

bathroom tarantula
Sun, May 10, 2009 at 8:28 PM
Hi there
First I have to say I love your site, it has served me very well! For the past two years I’ve been living in Costa Rica and this site has provided me with so much help identifying the seemingly infinite supply of new and interesting critters I encounter.
But today I have a new one and I can’t seem to get the answer for sure. The other day just before getting in the shower my pareja found this tarantula escaping from the tub. He trapped it under the trash bin and called me down to check it out…
It’s really only about 4 inches long, maybe 5 or 6 with its legs extended. Its furry and a bit skittish when approached, but generally seems pretty docile.
We live in a mountainous suburban region outside of a major city, but the area is mostly forest. I dug up some dirt from the garden and have the spider in a terrarium with some water. I tossed a beetle in there yesterday and it was gone in a few hours. I’ve never kept a spider as a pet before but this thing is pretty big and interesting. We’ll see how long it takes before I have to put it outside to keep my (human) relationship!
What do you say, can you identify it? Mostly I want to know if it prefers to burrow in the ground or hang from the trees.
Thanks and keep up the good work!
Josh in Costa Rica
Costa Rica

Unknown Tarantula
Unknown Tarantula

Hi Josh,
We hope our readership, which contains some Tarantula aficionados, is able to assist in the identification of this impressive creature, so we are posting it as unidentified.

Letter 15 – Tarantula from Ecuador

 

Pamphobeteus- Ecuador
Location: Lives in Ecuador
January 1, 2011 6:39 pm
i just thought i would show the true beauty of the tarantula world. this is my male Pamphobeteus species from Ecuador. i have yet to find an actual common name from a book, but many people call them a South Ecuador Pampho. Tarantulas make the greatest pets. This one looks even better in person!
Signature: Zach

Tarantula: Pamphobeteus species

Dear Zach,
That is some beautiful Tarantula.  The lavender color on the legs is stunning.  Are these Tarantulas being bred in captivity or are they all wild captures?  We are also curious why you would choose a male instead of a female because we are under the impression that the female spiders live longer.  The description of
Pamphobeteus antinous on Giant Spiders is “Pocock, 1903 Peru, Bolivia  A very large and robust species from the rainforest areas of Bolivia. The femora of the legs have a bright blue colouration, especially apparent in mature males. Not that common in collections” and the description of Pamphobeteus ornatus is “Mature males are particularly striking being coloured with purple/pink to the legs and a starburst of colour to the carapace. Females remain dark brown to black.”  In our opinion, of the two, the description of Pamphobeteus ornatus seems quite accurate because of the starburst of color on the carapace.

As a matter of fact i have a female too. i honestly don’t have a clue on if they are bred in captivity. i ordered the female from a dealer and i found the male in a local pet shop that always have a great selection of exotic animals and Tarantulas. The females do live longer as you stated, but from what i have read, the females will stay a more brown color and wont develop the purple coloring on the legs (my female is still small at the moment so i don’t know for sure). As soon as i saw this one in the store and saw the purple.. i couldn’t turn it down. i don’t think any collector could. it’s simply gorgeous.

Letter 16 – Tarantula from Ecuador

 

Subject:  tarantula
Geographic location of the bug:  Ecuadoran andes 30 miles west of Quito
Date: 04/02/2018
Time: 01:37 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  On a birding tour of Ecuador we found this beauty in the road. It’s about 4-5″ long. Any idea on Species?
How you want your letter signed:  BirderKate

Tarantula

Dear BirderKate,
Your individual resembles this FlickR image identified as being a member of the genus
Pamphobeteus.  We suspect the arachnophiles in our readership may write in with a confirmation or correction.

Letter 17 – Tarantula from Utah

 

Subject:  Tarantula
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern utah, desert area
Date: 10/20/2017
Time: 06:36 PM EDT
My dad came across this spider at the mine where he works. It was on a piece of machinery.
How you want your letter signed:  Up to you

Tarantula

This is indeed a Tarantula.  The only species reported from Utah on BugGuide is Aphonopelma iodius.

Tarantula

Letter 18 – Tarantula Identification Requested

 

Subject: What type of tarantula could this be ?
Location: Bought it in Australia but could be from another country.
July 6, 2016 10:33 am
I know it’s a tarantula but just wondering if you could give me an idea on what type! I bought it from a pet store and forgotten what it’s called !!!
Signature: Adrian

Tarantula, we presume
Tarantula, we presume

Dear Adrian,
With all due respect, accuracy in proper identifications is tremendously aided by knowing the location of the sighting.  Pet stores purchase creatures from all over the world.  Furthermore, the highest quality images are incredibly helpful for proper identifications.  Your dark, blurry, low resolution image is not ideal for a proper identification.  We are not able to assist you at this time.

Letter 19 – Tarantula in Mexico

 

Subject: Huge spider
Location: Akumal near the beach and next to the jungle
March 11, 2017 7:28 pm
Found this in our bedroom tonight in Akumal, Mexico after a rainy day.
Signature: Lisa

Tarantula

Dear Lisa,
This sure looks like a Tarantula to us.

Letter 20 – Tarantula in Mount Washington

 

Ed. Note:  From our personal email account.

Subject:  Tarantula in Mount Washington
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
October 23, 2016
Daniel,
Can you ID this spider from this photo? S/he was not seeming well when Mark saw her – in a glass bowl on the porch, where she must have fallen 🙁
S/he’s much livlier since we gave her water and tiny crickets…Poor thing, I have no idea how long s/he was there.
Julian and I both think s/he looks more like a tarantula than a trapdoor spider.
c.

Tarantula
Tarantula

Dear Clare,
We agree with you and Julian that this is a Tarantula, and we are happy to hear it is recovering considering it looks dead in your image.  Female Tarantulas are reluctant to leave their burrows, and the males, which do not live as long, seek mates when the first rains of the season occur, much like related Trapdoor Spiders.  According to Charles Hogue in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin:  “Local hill residents are sometimes shocked to find a giant hairy spider crawling about their pations on a late summer’s eve.  Few Angelenos realize that tarantulas are permanent inhabitants of the dry grass and brush-covered hillsides of the basin.”  We also realize that habitat loss within the city is a contributing factor in reduced populations of Tarantulas, but your proximity to Rainbow Canyon Park and other preserved open space parks in the neighborhood is a good indication that local activism is having a positive impact on native species.  Hogue recognizes two species in Los Angeles,
 Aphonopelma eutylenum and Aphonopelma reversum.  We suspect your individual is most likely Aphonopelma eutylenum which is pictured on BugGuide, and which according to Hogue has males maturing in the fall.  Please keep us posted on this poor Tarantula’s recovery.

Thank you for the information. The tarantula is making a good recovery! We gave him (I decided he’s a male) water, which he  drank; then, three little crickets – of which he has eaten one. I just checked on him and he has buried himself under a combination of small wood chip/mulch and gossamer! So, I think he is recuperating well.

 

Letter 21 – Tarantula on Trinidad

 

Subject: Massive spider maybe 7 inches in Trinidad
Location: Trinidad, Caribbean
December 2, 2016 3:24 pm
My son and myself came across this massive spider on a bamboo patch in a small park area near our house. My son said it was a “Huntsman spider” but I am unsure he is correct (smart kid though). see pics below
Signature: Dion Santana

Tarantula
Tarantula

Dear Dion,
What a gorgeous Tarantula you encountered.  But for the lack on markings on the abdomen of your individual, we believe it resembles this Trinidad Chevron Tarantula,
Psalmopoeus cambridgei, which is pictured on YouTube.   Normally we refrain from citing Wikipedia, but it was there we learned the Trinidad Chevron Tarantula is “endemic to Trinidad” and “The female has chevron-shaped dark markings on the abdomen and her colour varies through shades of green and brown with characteristic red or orange flashes on the legs. The male is a more uniform grey or brown colour. It is a large, hairy, fast growing species that reaches six inches in leg span.”  The lack of markings and the longer legs indicates your individual is a male, and it sure looks like these male Trinidad Chevron Tarantulas pictured on Project Noah and Angelfire.  According to Tarantulas of the World:  “these animals spend most of their time up in trees blending in with their environment.”  Because we are preparing for a trip away from the office for the holidays, we are postdating your submission to go live at the end of the month.

Tarantula
Tarantula

Thank you very much 🙂

Letter 22 – Tarantula from South Africa

 

Subject: Spider Identification
Location: Witbank, Mpumalanga, South Africa
May 5, 2017 10:58 am
Hi.
Found this little big man on my doorstep while sitting outside in the dark. Just caught my eye, needless to say I got a terrible fright!
His back seems to have a “smiley face” on.
Would love to know what’s it called and if poisonous, but I really doubt it.
Thank you
Nataly Oosthuizen
Witbank, Mpumalanga
South Africa
Signature: N Oosthuizen

Tarantula

Dear N Oosthuizen,
The best we are able to provide at this time is that this is a Tarantula, but we don’t know the species.  Tarantulas have venom but most are not aggressive and they are not considered a threat to humans.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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25 thoughts on “Where Do Tarantulas Live: Discovering Their Habitats and Lifestyles”

  1. I am not an expert, but I do believe that this tarantula is actually the Costa Rican Zebra tarantula (Aphonopelma seemani). Will burrow in captivity. 6″ or more of substrate should be provided. Skittish / nervous and not recommend for handling. Does well with higher humidity. Mating is a bit difficult in captivity, as the females are not always receptive and males are typically very nervous/skittish. (Information found on http://www.beccastarantulas.com/index.html )

    Reply
  2. I am not an expert, but I do believe that this tarantula is actually the Costa Rican Zebra tarantula (Aphonopelma seemani). Will burrow in captivity. 6″ or more of substrate should be provided. Skittish / nervous and not recommend for handling. Does well with higher humidity. Mating is a bit difficult in captivity, as the females are not always receptive and males are typically very nervous/skittish. (Information found on http://www.beccastarantulas.com/index.html )

    Reply
  3. Hi Daniel, I think you have some real tarantula experts in your readership now, but my totally amateur guess (please folks correct me if I am wrong) is a male Acanthoscurria geniculata. Although its knees are only a little bit white, it does look rather like the individual shown here: http://www.swiftinverts.com/species/Agen1m.jpg

    Best wishes to you, Susan J. Hewitt

    Reply
  4. I am going to include a link this time to a photo of a male CR Zebra, because well I forgot to last night. Apologies for this. Okay so here is the beautiful little guy that I was referring to http://www.swiftinverts.com/species/Asm1.jpg . I am going to ask if the original poster could, to try and take some more close up shots of the legs, and the hair on the body (please be cautious, whether he is friendly or not, tarantulas are still wild creatures and can be hostile at times) so as to assist in further identifying this little guy. Alright, I must be off to work… I just can’t get enough of this site. Take care all, and I will check back later to see if anyone else has any ideas….

    Tina

    Reply
  5. Normally the white knees are very distinctive on A. geniculata; I have a bunch of them, but never raised any to maturity. But- judging by the size of the abdomen, it’s male- which means it’s probably at its final moult, meaning it will die soon (within a few months). It may not even feed. Some Ts have hooks on the inside of the front legs- used to capture the female’s legs as they mate, and she pretty much tries to kill him. Not all Ts have these, but if there are such hooks present, then he’s definitely a male, and it’s definitely his final moult.

    The males go wandering once they mature, trying to find females (which live much longer lives- frequently in burrows). You may wish to let him go with this in mind, or find someone with a female.

    The Asian and African Ts are the arboreal ones (hanging out in trees) for the most part. Ts from the Americas are terrestrial, and a fall from a substantial height- sometimes even a foot or less- is often fatal, particularly for large females with their big abdomens.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  6. This species has the common name of Costa Rica Tiger Rump and is currently going through clarification on the species.
    Its very likely to be Cyclosternum fasciatum as this is a natural species but a similar species, Cyclosternum pentalore, can be found in Guatemala.
    Neither grow to much more than 5-6″ and lifespan is expected to be around 12 years.
    Their venom, as is the case with all terrestrial New World tarantula, is mild but they do posses urticating hairs.

    Reply
  7. Aphonopelma is always a good bet from this region. This might be A. iodious, I’d need more photos, specifically of its carapace to identify properly

    Reply
  8. I have lived in Baja Ca, Sur for forty five years. To show of I used to pick up our black Turantulas and shopw everyone they are harmless to humans. On day I found the kids pusing one around under their ping pong table . I told them that wasn’t the rigt ting to do and I bent down and picked up the spider from his backside. The spider imidiatle embed it’s fangs into mmpal near a finger . I thought nothing of it and walked outside the gsrsge and tried to flip the ppyder off from my hand . It hung on I had to really snap my wrist to get rid of it. The was blood rujnning out of one puncture and a cleasr liquid on my hand near the wound. A few hours later my muscles started cramping when ever they were bent. That night I had to have someone stay with me to straighten my arms legs, fingers and every thing else out I couldn’t release a coffee cup. This lasted over a month but dimished a little each day , I even had prlonged orgasms. When I told my story to some spyder expert and asked why alll my life I’ve read Turtantula poison doesnt affect humans. I was told, “OH we do not know anything about Bajas Turtrantulas”. I think a good bight like I got could stop a heart. This person I taked to seemed seemed disinterested. Thanks Jimmie Jeffries.

    Reply
  9. Good day ,I’m from South Africa and we only have the baboon spider,and that’s only one my spider colection are growing and scorpions so hope we can export more or trade

    Reply
  10. Thank you for the information. The tarantula is making a good recovery! We gave him (I decided he’s a male) water, which he drank; then, three little crickets – of which he has eaten one. I just checked on him and he has buried himself under a combination of small wood chip/mulch and gossamer! So, I think he is recuperating well.

    Reply
    • We suspect you are most likely going to nurse him back to health and release him back into the wild. Daniel is hoping to be able to stop by for a peek before that happens. Knowing what a good caretaker of the environment you are, we don’t think there is much chance you are keeping him with that exotic female Tarantula that you have cared for so many years. We shudder to think how that roommate situation would end.

      Reply
  11. Just to avoid confusion, in Brazil it is said to be wrong to call Theraphosidae a “tarantula”, because it is more appropriate to Lycosa species (although it is now common because of the internet). It is considered an “English mistake”. Common name for Therasphosidae in Brazil is “caranguejeira”.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for that information Cesar. We doubt we will be able to convince English speakers to give up the familiar name in lieu of the rather musical Brazilian name you provided, but then again, Tarantula is also quite musical sounding.

      Reply
  12. In the early 1960’s I lived in Puerto Rico above Arecibo near Lago dos Bocas. We had plenty of tarantulas around. But they were very gentle and we let them crawl on us (at least I did). In a storeroom I have a picture of one on my face.

    Reply

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