Tarantulas may be big, hairy, and just a wee bit scary, but these spiders are interesting and unique in many ways. In fact, although they are the largest spiders in the world – some can grow up to 10 inches, or the size of a dinner plate – in reality they are some of the most harmless arachnids in the world. Below are five facts that you probably didn’t know about tarantulas.
1. Female Tarantulas Can Live Up to 30 Years
Female tarantulas are known for their long life spans, and can live up to 20 years in captivity or 30 years out in the wild. Males, on the other hand, only live about 5-10 years, and don’t even molt once they’ve reached sexual maturity.
2. Tarantulas Hunt at Night
Tarantulas don’t use fancy webs like other spiders to catch their prey – they do all their hunting on foot. Smaller tarantulas eat insects, but larger species have been known to eat frogs, birds, and mice. Tarantulas use their venom to paralyze their victims, just like any other spider, then use digestive enzymes to turn their prey into a liquid meal.
3. Most Tarantulas Sightings are During Summer Months
During the warm summer months, male tarantulas head out in search of females to mate with. This tends to be the time of year when tarantula sightings occur during daylight hours. Males are willing to risk their safety in order to seek out a female during daytime; if he happens to stumble upon a female’s burrow, he politely taps the ground to announce his presence. The consummation of a tarantula courtship is quick, with the male scurrying away as quickly as possible once his sperm has been deposited, lest the female make a meal out of him.
4. Tarantulas Use Silk Rather Than Spin Webs
Tarantulas don’t spin webs, but they do produce silk like all other spiders. They put their silk to use in different creative ways. Females use their silk to decorate the interior of their burrows, which helps to strengthen the dirt walls, while males produce silken mats in which to “lay” their sperm. Females also wrap their eggs in silken cocoons, as well use silk trap lines around their burrows to notify them of any potential prey or predators in the area. Tarantulas can also produce silk with their feet, as well as with spinnerets.
5. Tarantulas Rarely Bite People
This may be a surprising fact, since most people are raised with the impression that all spiders are just waiting for the chance to attack, but in actuality, tarantulas rarely bite humans. Most larger predators would make a meal out of tarantulas, so anything as large as a human is something to be avoided. A tarantula’s venom isn’t very toxic, anyway – a bite from a tarantula is no worse than a bee sting.
Tarantulas may look big and scary, but really they are fairly harmless. As long as you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you. However, if you notice a large outbreak of tarantulas in your yard, you may want to call a pest control professional.
About the author: Chris is a blogger for a long island exterminator company. For pet’s he has had a dog, a bird, a hamster, and a rabbit. He’s never had a tarantula, but maybe he’ll get one for his son one day.