Tarantulas are truly amazing creatures that have captured human imaginations over the centuries.
However there’s a lot more to these giant hairy spiders than initially meets the eye.
So let’s take a closer look at some amazing tarantula facts that you may not know about these impressive animals…
Some Tarantulas Can Hiss Like A Snake
Many types of tarantulas can make a hissing sound known more accurately as “stridulating” by rubbing together special hairs. Suddenly finding a giant spider hissing at you can be incredibly intimidating and so not surprisingly this is normally used a warning to scare off potential threats.
Tarantulas Have Two Pairs Of Lungs Instead Of One
Unlike most other groups of spiders, tarantulas are unique in that they have two special pairs of lungs known as “book lungs”. When a tarantula moults these lungs are clearly visible as lighter patches inside the skin.
Tarantulas Attract Mates By Drumming Their Legs
Tarantulas are normally solitary creatures and will often eat each other if they come into contact so mating poses special problems. As a result when many male and female tarantulas they drum their feet repeatedly on the ground to signify to the other spider that they are a potential mate rather than a potential meal.
Tarantulas Slough Their Digestive System
When a tarantula changes it’s skin, it’s not just the exosketelon that gets replaced. In addition the inside of the spider’s digestive system gets replaced and can sometimes be seen as a fragile projection on moulted skins.
Male Tarantulas Avoid Being Eaten By Holding The Females Fangs Out Of The Way
Even during the mating act a male tarantula – which is normally significantly smaller than the female – is at risk of being eaten by the female who is often either short-tempered or hungry. In order to maximize his chances of escape, most male tarantulas use special hooks on their front legs to “hook” the females fangs out of the way making it impossible for her to bite down on him.
Tarantulas Can Live For Over 20 Years
While many common invertebrates may only live for a few months to a year tarantulas can be far longer-lived with some of the Brachypelma genus regularly reaching into their twenties.
Interestingly it is only the female that live to this ripe old age. Males normally die within a few months of becoming sexually mature while the female may go on for decades.
In Some Countries Tarantulas Are Considered A Delicacy
While many people wouldn’t even want to see a tarantula let alone hold one, in some parts of the world a large, juicy tarantula makes a nutritious snack for anyone brave enough.
The giant spiders are lured out of their holes, before having their legs tied together and being tossed onto a fire. The flames not only help to cook the meat but also burn off the irritating hairs that many tarantulas possess on their abdomens.
Tarantulas Walk Using Pneumatic Pressure
With those long, spindly legs you’d think that the tarantula would have an impressive arrangement of muscles to control their walking. However this isn’t the case and while the spider uses muscles to draw it’s legs in towards it’s body, it uses internal pressure to extend it’s legs.
This is the main reason why most dead spiders are found with their legs curled underneath the body simply because the dead spider starts to dry out and so the pressure inside the legs drops which in turn causes them to curl up.
Tarantulas Can Produce Over 200 Babies From A Single Mating
After mating, tarantulas can lay several hundred eggs in one go, which are carefully wrapped up in silk to produce what is known as an “egg sac”.
The egg sacs of larger tarantulas can be larger than a golf ball and can contain several hundred eggs which all hatch within a few days of each other.
Interestingly tarantulas have even been known to store sperm within their bodies and to produce further egg sacs without needing to mate again.
Tarantulas Are Found On Every Continent Except One
The only continent that lacks tarantulas is Antarctica. Whilst many of us think of tarantulas as coming from the jungles of South America or the dry steppes of the southern US they are present as far afield as Europe, South East Asia and Australia too making them a highly successful group of invertebrates.
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