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Tarantula

Posted in Insects

Tarantulas are a group of spiders that are usually very large and very hairy.  In fact, some tarantulas are the largest spiders in the world.  There are over 900 different species of tarantula.  

 

 

Did-you-know

Some tarantulas can be as small as a fingernail, but some can get to be as big as a dinner plate?

 
 
Where-do-they-live

Tarantulas can be found in a variety of habitats include savannas, grasslands, rainforests, deserts, scrubland, mountains, and cloud forests in tropical, subtropical, and arid climates. They mostly live in Central and South America, but can also be found in North America, some parts of Africa, much of Asia, all of Australia and even a few places in Europe.

 

Many tarantulas live in burrows in the ground.  They will either use their fangs to dig them or else take someone else’s burrow for their home.

 
 
What-do-they-eat

Tarantulas are carnivores.  They eat other animals, from very small insect larvae all the way up to lizards, mice, birds and even small snakes.   

 

Tarantulas ambush their prey by sneaking up on it and then pouncing! They seize it with their legs, paralyze it with venom, and then kill it with their fangs. They can also crush prey with their strong jaws. The tarantulas mouth is like a straw.  After the prey is dead, tarantulas inject digestive enzymes into the prey to liquefy the body so they can suck it up.

 
 
What-are-their-predators

Predators that eat tarantulas include snakes, hawks, owls, weasels, and skunks, but their worst enemy is the spider wasp known as the “tarantula hawk”. The female wasp will paralyze the spider by stinging it. Then, she drags the paralyzed tarantula to her own burrow, lays an egg on its body, and covers it up. When the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the tarantula, consuming it in about 30 days.

 

 

What-are-their-defenses

In addition to a really scary and intimidating posture, if a tarantula feels threatened it uses its hind legs to scrape barbed hairs from its abdomen and flings them in the direction of the threat.  These hairs are barbed like fish hooks so they don’t come out easily and can cause a stinging rash to form.  They can even blind their opponent if these barbs get in their eyes!

 
 

 How-fast-do-they-move

Tarantulas don’t walk very fast normally, but can run at speeds of up to 10 mph, which is very fast for short distances.  They also have an impressively fast strike speed.

 
 
Danger-scale

If you’re a cricket, watch out!  But for a person, tarantulas pose little threat, even wild ones.  Check out the video and see for yourself…

 

 

Can-you-believe

 

when a tarantula molts, or sheds its exoskeleton, it leaves behind a perfect shell that looks just like a live tarantula?

 

 

My-favorite-thing

about tarantulas is the powerful venom they inject in their prey.

 

What is your favorite thing about them?

 

 

 

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