Like bats, tarantulas are terribly misunderstood creature. People seem to have an unfounded fear of tarantulas, even though they have never had a bit of trouble with them. They are big, hairy spiders, and that’s all people need to see to go running in the other direction. Either that or someone has to be macho and kill them outright!
A tarantula’s venom is not at all lethal to a human. If you harass a tarantula enough, they will bite, but this will only cause a little pain and swelling. And to have them bite you, you have to be handling them in the first place! They are not exactly speed demons that are going to chase you down and attack! Some tarantulas will actually allow you to handle them if you are gentle and don’t make any sudden moves. In fact, many people keep tarantulas as pets! Just type “tarantula” in your Internet search engine and you will see hundreds of sites dedicated to tarantulas and their keep. I’ve included links to some of the more informative sites at the bottom of this page.
Tarantulas use their venom to help capture and digest insects, small birds, and rodents. When a tarantula bites it prey, a digestive enzyme in its secretion goes to work literally dissolving it from the inside out. This allows the tarantula to “sip” the innards out of the shell of its victim. Yummy!
You might think that a tarantula is terrifying, but imagine what kind of monster you must seem to them looking through their eight eyes! A tarantula will molt as many as nine times in its life, and some live to the ripe old age of 25 years.
Here are just a few of the most informative websites on tarantulas and other spiders.
- Aphonopelma: Tarantulas of the United States – Distribution, Ecology and Taxonomy of Tarantulas
- American Tarantula Society – The American Tarantula Society or ATS, established in 1991, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering education about tarantulas and other arachnids.
- Desert USA’s tarantula page
- Desert USA’s black widow page.
- The Tarantula’s Burrow: An Introduction to Arachnids