TARANTULAS

Tarantulas can grow on you, but hide the canary.

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A Goliath Tarantula explores the face of Ruud Kleinpaste of Animal Planet. If you wuz a tarantula, wouldn't you just have to give one of those ears a nip?    photo dailyherald.comBeautiful Red Kneed Tarantula    copy-right-free-photosAustralian Bird Eating Tarantula    offbeat.news,com photoA Tarantula Hawk.  Its sting would probably hurt more than a tarantula's bite.    photo bugman123.comAnother Creature-Feature.  These do irrepareable harm to Tarantulas, etc    cinemasterpieces.comTarantella Dance
A Goliath Tarantula explores the face of Ruud Kleinpaste of Animal Planet. If you wuz a tarantula, wouldn't you just have to give one of those ears a nip?    photo dailyherald.com
A Goliath Tarantula explores the face of Ruud Kleinpaste of Animal Planet. If you wuz a tarantula, wouldn't you just have to give one of those ears a nip? photo dailyherald.com
Beautiful Red Kneed Tarantula    copy-right-free-photos
Beautiful Red Kneed Tarantula copy-right-free-photos
Australian Bird Eating Tarantula    offbeat.news,com photo
Australian Bird Eating Tarantula offbeat.news,com photo
A Tarantula Hawk.  Its sting would probably hurt more than a tarantula's bite.    photo bugman123.com
A Tarantula Hawk. Its sting would probably hurt more than a tarantula's bite. photo bugman123.com
Another Creature-Feature.  These do irrepareable harm to Tarantulas, etc    cinemasterpieces.com
Another Creature-Feature. These do irrepareable harm to Tarantulas, etc cinemasterpieces.com
Tarantella Dance
Tarantella Dance

Much Maligned, Tarantulas are Relatively Harmless

Family Theraphosidae

And the Lycosa Tarantula, progenitor of the Tarantella Dance.

Belt Buckles; key fobs, arachnid abuse.

Another creature suffering from the image of giant, man-eating arachnids foisted on us by Hollywood, like the sharks, wolf and more. Tarantulas are, in the main, pretty harmless to man, especially those content to observe the giant spiders without feeling the need to harass them, such as poking them with a stick or throwing stones at them. They can, as can all arachnids, bite and inject venom, which they do to stun prey. In all cases, the tarantula venom is much weaker than that of the dangerous spiders, such as the Black Widow, etc., etc. But you still wouldn’t enjoy being bitten by one as the fangs are large and powerful and they can spice the defence up a bit by filling the air with minute hairs which have the potential to cause severe eye pain and even blindness. The tarantulas from the so called, New World (USA, Central and South America), are those capable of rubbing or kicking-off “urticating hairs” from their body. These tiny, barbed hairs should not be inhaled and kept out of the eyes; they may be fatal to small mammals. As “Old World” tarantulas do not have these hairs, they may be more likely to bite as a first form of defence, and their venom is somewhat stronger than their new world counterparts. In both species, a common form of defence is to rear-up and display fangs, sometimes hissing (Piiiissssss offfff!). They may often just turn and run, but spin around and attack if they are pursued or their escape route is blocked. (A little known fact is they can also jump; one leaped onto my foot in Baja Mexico: I am sorry to confess it was able afterwards to tell its mates it knew how to fly!). If they are treated gently and their space is not violated in a rough manner, they may calm down and can even be picked up in the wild. I have found, like so many wild creatures such as snakes, they understand when they are not threatened very quickly and respond in kind.

Some of the bad press tarantulas have engendered has been caused by the fact they were confused with other, large spiders, such as the Brazilian Wandering Spider, or the Sydney Funnel Web. As these two especially are highly venomous and aggressive, picking one up and chucking it under the chin might end in tragedy; their venom is many times more lethal than any tarantula. In fact, tarantulas have become popular pets, a fact I find very wrong. These creatures should be enjoyed when encountered in the wild, not stuck in a small tank to end their days in lonely depression. Much as we say they “get to know and love us,” this is just not true of lower life forms who have no centres in their brains to allow for complicated thought processes towards other beings. We represent food; they get used to us and the fact we are not a threat to them, but they should be with their own species. I have a lot of problems with the “Exotic Pet Trade” which is not supervised half enough and has cost lives supplying dangerous pets such as scorpions and snakes.

There are more than 900 known species of tarantula, also including the sub-group, Diplunidae, or Funnel-Web Tarantulas. Some live in trees, constructing a sort of silk cocoon to live it; others live primarily on the ground, occupying tunnels, also lined with fine silk (bless them, eh!?). They are known as ambush predators, like many other spiders and scorpions. The larger ones predate on lizards, mice and birds: the largest of all, the Goliath Bird-Eating-Tarantula is an avian specialist and can weigh up to 6 ounces with a leg span of 12 inches! No surprise, he lives in the Brazilian and Venezuelan rain-forests and there are another four species nearly as large. They wouldn’t have to throw hairs at me, I’d be running through the jungle gibbering in fright! (Just kidding, I’d be chucking ‘em under the chin!).

If you can get past the idea of menace, tarantulas are handsome critters indeed. They come in many sizes and colours; the North American ones are mainly brown and medium size. They are also found in black, black and white, blue, orange and black and more.

They have their own enemies, too, like the “Pompilidae” or “Tarantula Hawk” which is well known in the States and elsewhere for stinging, paralysing the tarantula and using it as a comatose repository for their larvae. Darwin used this fact to bitterly conclude there could be no Supreme Being.

They have taken their compelling name from a Wolf Spider found in Italy and they have many other names throughout the world, such as baboon spider in Africa, earth-tiger in Asia (like that), barking spider in Australia, (where they’re all barking mad and full of Foster’s…the Aussies, not the arachnids). A common name in many other areas is “Mygales.”

Too little is really know about tarantulas; hundreds of species have not been studied at all since they were first recorded. We have no idea how many species are becoming extinct due to the destruction of the rain forests everywhere. There are certainly hundreds more never yet recorded and which may never be, as our natural resources dwindle unchecked. Perhaps someone should open a “Tarantula Park” just to conserve a few pairs of each species until man comes to his senses or buggers off. The same case can be made for thousands of wild species endangered by our mindless proliferation and abuse of our weary world.

Arachnid Abuse With the above in mind, please object when you see plastic key fobs and belt-buckles etc., decorated by embedding real tarantulas, spiders and scorpions inside. This has become a scourge of arachnids all over the world and should be made illegal everywhere. They are repulsive and mindless objects and should never be purchased.

The Tarantella.

First came the spider found near Taranto, Italy, the Lycosa Tarantula. Mildly venomous, the spider was greatly feared in the area, more, I believe, because it was a Wolf Spider, which means it could run very fast on gangly legs and jump around. It’s bite was hardly as bad as a bee sting. (Poor bees, lucky they can’t read and get a complex, all mild arachnid bites are compared to their stings!). People getting bitten by one of these spiders were thought to have caught an ailment, Tarantism, and the dance, The Tarantella, was invented to drive the venom and disease from the person’s body. One and all probably got so pissed on the local hooch, high-blood-pressure pumped the weak venom out and honour was satisfied for the local quack. In reality, there is no evidence of Lycosa bites in modern times, the spider being very shy and elusive and living in a silken burrow..

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Comments 25 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Lots of very interesting information I have learned, thank you. However, I think I resist the temptation to go anywhere near it.


Bo Heamyan profile image

Bo Heamyan 6 years ago from Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

Jesus Bob, I just know that photo of the Goliath Tarantula exploring the face of Ruud Kleinpaste of Animal Planet will haunt me at quiet moments.

I have been very distrusting of tarantulas ever since I saw 'Dr No', but your article has alleviated me slightly.

I like your writing style, it feels like i'm having a fireside chat with an eccentric expert; maybe Richard Attenborough from 'Jurassic Park'!

Keep 'em coming, Bob.


doigenes 6 years ago

Thanks for that, Bo - I think. Were you referring to my vintage when you mentioned Jurassic Park? (loved that silly movie!!) Cheers, Bob


Bo Heamyan profile image

Bo Heamyan 6 years ago from Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

Ha, ha, it was either Jurassic Park or the Doc from 'Back to the Future', but I thought you and Attenborough both had a penchant for a wisened beard...


J  Rosewater profile image

J Rosewater 6 years ago from Australia

Sorry - can't even look at this. But here's my thumbprint anyway!


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

Bob, I have to confess that, despite a high tolerance for the majority of spiders, Tarantulas frighten the pants off me! They don't look cuddly to me. They look scary! I'm glad to hear that they are not as poisonous as some of their smaller cousins, but a spider bite of any description is a bite I'd rather not have! The flying hair trick is worrying too, a bit like breathing in fibre glass or asbestos!


diogenes profile image

diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi Amanda: if that's the case, would be a good idea to take one along on a date with you! They are really lovely creatures, velvety feeling, slow moving and rarely inclined to bite. But I like to just see them in the wild; I am not really an advocate of handling these kinds of wild creatures; sadly, they are often crushed on the highway as they like to walk on the metalled surfaces, as do snakes, because of the conserved warmth. Bob


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

Bob, you are a true animal lover. I loose patience with people who keep exotic creatures like these in tiny tanks just for curiousity value. I don't even like to see fish in small tanks!


diogenes profile image

diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Yes: And I am against keeping animals alone, unless it's a dog or a cat, and even these do better with a partner. The hopelessness of an iron or glass prison until death is eased if it is shared...Bob. Many people still don't try to understand their creature-companions.


spiderspun profile image

spiderspun 6 years ago from Utopia, Ontario Canada

Very nice information. I saw a documentry on the decline of the Goliath T because of tourisum wanting wall hangings of them to take home. It wasn't the tarantula sheddings they were selling it was caught ones by the villagers to make money


diogenes 6 years ago

The demented idiocy practised against all kinds of creatures leaves me practically speechless. Maybe one day some superior alien will want humans hanging on their walls. Thanks for your kind interest. Bob


diogenes 6 years ago

The demented idiocy practised against all kinds of creatures leaves me practically speechless. Maybe one day some superior alien will want humans hanging on their walls. Thanks for your kind interest. Bob


spiderspun profile image

spiderspun 6 years ago from Utopia, Ontario Canada

you have an enjoyable writing style. I love reading about my favorite topic ever- Tarantulas


Trae 6 years ago

I have one male and one female Chilean Rose's since I'm a beginner. A Mexican Red Knee is next on my list, those look totally awesome. I would keep a Blue Cobalt but I'd be too afraid to touch it. And wow the Tarantula Hawk was really interesting. Thanks for the cool info Bob.


GarnetBird profile image

GarnetBird 6 years ago from Northern California

LOVED this; check out my Hub on my Mexican Red Knee Tarantula, which lived to be 18 yrs. old.

Garnetbird


diogenes profile image

diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Thanks Trae and Garnetbird. Trae, I really hope you stayed away from the Cobalt and most other old world taras, their venom as you know can kill ya! Bob


stars439 profile image

stars439 4 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Dear Bob: Your thoughtulness toward creatures of the wild, or otherwise is wonderful. My dad use to tell me that mistreating animals will cause some of them to defend themselves. God Bless You. Fine work.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Thanks Stars. Nice comment. I guess we all do our bit on here.

Bob


mikey 4 years ago

i hate spiders when i see one i have to get my girlfriend to get them


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

You big wussy, mikey, she'll run off with some macho!

Bob


Danast profile image

Danast 3 years ago from Wichita, Kansas

Great article! I used to have a Rose Hair (terrestrial) and a South American Pink Toe (arboreal). They were both females. I have actually had a total of 5 tarantulas in my life. The females live a very long time! I would really like to get another spider (even though they're not true spiders). They make the best pets, and they're so beautiful. I loved to feed them and watch them grow and molt! Lots of incredible things that they do! Thank you for writing this. :)


diogenes profile image

diogenes 3 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Yes, the New World taras are by far the best to keep - usually calmer and less dangerous (except for the urticating hairs).

Boy, this is an old hub!

Cheers

Bob


Danast profile image

Danast 3 years ago from Wichita, Kansas

I'm new to hubpages. I just got started! But, I love reading about animals including tarantulas.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

I have seen huge tarantulas here in Texas that they say don't come this far north, but they sure did come this far north. Lots of other people saw them too. I had to drive over them everyday and even walked right next to a couple of them. Voted up, interesting, shared and pinned.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 3 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Wetback Tarantulas! Will the good ol US never be spared the indignities foisted on them by a revengeful Mexico!

Be careful one doesn't run up your leg and play with your urticating hairs!

Bob xoox

Goodness, Misty, you sure have fun digging up these old articles.

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