do tarantulas live?
They can be found in the
south- and west parts of the USA, Central America and down throughout South
America to the southern parts of Chile, Argentina. Tarantulas can also
be found throughout Africa, large parts of Asia and all over Australia.
In Europe, there are some species in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Turkey and
in Cyprus. Around 840 described species have been found over the world.
They live in warm climates - in dry hot semi-deserts or in humid rainforests.
Most are terrestrial and live in burrows, but some are arboreal, e.g. Avicularia.
Tarantulas have eight legs
like every kind of arachnid plus a pair of pedipalps. In the scorpion family
these are developed to claws but spiders are lacking the claws on the pedipalps.
These are used for grabbing the food items, to touch and in mating. The
rear end of the spider is called abdomen and the front part cephalothorax,
and the top of the cephalothorax is called carapace. The eyes are located
on the top of the carapace (Some Spelopelma species are the only theraphosids
that lack eyes, they live in caves) and underneath are the mouth and the
chelicera with its fangs. The respiratory organs are located in the abdomen,
they are called booklungs, and the stomach.
"Deadly tarantula found in
Nothing could be farther
from the truth! Ok, tarantulas are venomous but not dangerous to
humans in general. There are, however, some exceptions. Poecilotheria
and Stromatopelma can be dangerous even for us, humans. Coma after
a bite from a Poecilotheria has occurred but, so far, there has
been no report of human fatalities having resulted from a tarantula bite.
The species from the Old
World seem to have more potent venom than New-World species. The mechanical
damage after a bite can be quite largethe fangs are often larger than
those of most venomous snakes! If you get allergic reactions from a wasp
sting you should be extra careful. The tarantula family does not include
the infamous funnel web spiders. They are Hexathelids, australian funnel
web spiders, despite what some popular books are saying. The funnel webs
are however mygalomorphs.
resulting from bites of certain species
||No visible symptoms
||Swelling and pain in several
||Severe pain, numbness, respitory
difficulties and sometimes cardiac failure. Local or total paralysys of
the bitten limb. The venom attacks neuromusculare and causes tetanus. These
symptoms last for 1-2 days but can return after 2-4 weeks.
||Similar to P. fasciata-bite
but even more serious. Coma has occurred after a bite with a paralysis
during 2 weeks. After a bite in the southern part of Sweden the bitten
arm was so severely swollen that the doctors considered amputation.
||Intensive pain, miscoloraion
of the hand at the place of the bite. The pain lasted 1-2 days. The mechanical
damage wasnt too
At the end of the
abdomen are the anus and the spinnerets. Tarantulas are often very hairy
and the American species use special urticating hairs on their abdomen
as a defensive weapon. These are located on the abdomen and can be kicked
off using the back legs, against an aggressor and it results in pain and
irritation. Some of the hairs can be used for locating food, picking up
particles in the air to sense the temperature and humidity. The species
from the Old World do not have the urticating hairs, they are using their
powerful chelicera for defense instead. I have called it hair but it isnt
really hair like the mammal hairs growing out of a hairsack. It is more
like spines made of chitin, the same material the entire exoskeleton of
the tarantula is made of. The proper word would be setae instead of hair.
The size of a tarantula is
everything from a centimeter to the gigantic Theraphosa blondi that
reaches legspan of 25 cm, body length of around 9-10 cm and a weight of
largest spider in the world?
Which species are the biggest?
It is for sure one of the theraposids but which one? Theraphosa blondi
are probably the biggest but Xenesthis, Lasiodora, Pamphobeteus,
Pseudotheraphosa are strong contenders to the title. In 1925, a
female T. blondi was found that measured 25.5 cm in legspan and, in 1945,
a female Lasiodora klugi that measured 24 cm in legspan was found. In 1982,
a female Pamphobeteus antinous was found and she measured 24.1cm
in legspan. I have heard of larger specimens held in captivity, and that
are very likely due to the fact that captive spiders get lots of food from
being spiderlings to adulthood and can grow to the maximum. I havent seen
any spider over 30 cm in legspan but perhaps they can grow that large.
Hmm, my blondi is right now about to molt...
Smaller animals like insects,
frogs and mice might consider the spider as their number-one enemy but
do the spiders have enemies of their own? Yes, smaller predators that are
searching the rainforest floor for food such as the coatimundi will
gladly dine on a fat tarantula for lunch, but not without difficultieswould
they encounter a large Theraphosa blondi, a female that is willing
to spray the coatis nose full of urticating hairs, the coati is in trouble.
The most notorious of the spider antagonists is probably the tarantula
hawk, a large wasp. The largest are around 10 cm in length. They capture
the spider by injecting it with venom that does not kill the spider but
paralyzes it. The wasp can bring it home to its burrow and lay an egg inside
the body of the spider. The newly hatched wasp eats the spider alive from
the inside while it is still alive...
Another enemy is the scolopender,
an arthropod that is searching constantly for food on the forest floor.
The largest species, Scolopendra gigantea, gets around 40 cm in
length. Then of course, perhaps the biggest threat to the well being of
spiders are people. Deforestation is one of the reasons that several species
of animals face extinction, not only spiders.