More and more people are choosing exotic animals as pets. Interest in such an unusual pet as the tarantula is rapidly increasing. Before you go to the pet store, you should familiarize yourself with the characteristics of such animals and the rules of keeping.
Tarantula spider – description
This species stands out from other representatives with its exotic appearance with characteristic long hairy paws. Many who are not familiar with this arthropod are wondering why the tarantula spider is so called. It got its name from the engravings that were created by the German artist and entomologist Maria Merian. They depict a spider attacking a hummingbird. The artist saw this situation during her stay in South America.
In some sources, all large tarantulas are classified as tarantulas, but this is wrong, because they have a completely different chelicerae structure. This species does not weave a web, but is an ambush predator. The only thing he can use it for is strengthening holes. These “babies” are protected by bites, blows with sharp chelicerae or the use of poisonous hairs on the body.
If we talk about how much a tarantula spider costs, then prices vary and depend on the type, size and other parameters. The cost varies from $ 2 to 150. Another interesting point that cannot be ignored is how often the tarantula molts, so you need to remember that the kids get rid of the exuvium several times a month. Adults do this no more than once a year. The main signs of approaching molting are darkening of the color of the skeleton, partial loss of hairs, and even refusal of food.
Where does the tarantula spider live?
Arthropods of this species are distributed on all continents, the only exception is Antarctica. The density of individuals in different countries is not the same, for example, most of them are in Australia, South America and Africa. If you figure out where the tarantula lives, then in the wild it can be found on trees and shrubs, some species like to build shelters at ground level or in small burrows. Some tarantulas choose tropical rainforests, while others settle in semi-deserts.
What does a tarantula look like?
The arthropod is endowed with an exotic appearance. The body consists of a cephalothorax and abdomen, covered with a dense chitin exoskeleton. The tarantula spider has six pairs of limbs: four pairs are paws, the rest are chelicerae and pedipalps. The former are used for digging and hunting (they contain poisonous glands), while the latter perform a tactile function due to small hairs.
The size of the body of a tarantula spider can vary from 2.5 to 10 cm. However, this indicator is often determined taking into account the span of the legs, which can reach 28 cm. The average body weight in most cases is 85 g, sometimes there are individuals that weigh more than 150 g In addition, tarantulas are endowed with the following characteristics:
- the head is covered with a shield-carapace;
- there are four pairs of eyes;
- “teeth” grow up to 2.5 cm in length;
- limbs are hairy and long;
- catchy color;
How long do tarantulas live?
The age of these arthropods is not measured in years, but in the number of molts. Females of this species are competitors in terms of lifespan among other similar animals, so they can live for more than 30 years. Male tarantulas at home, as in the wild, die when they reach reproductive age, when they stop moulting or some time after mating. On average, they live only a few years.
Is the tarantula dangerous for humans?
Arthropods defend themselves with bites, they can be dry or venomous. It cannot be called fatal, because cases of death of people are still unknown. For an adult, the bite of a tarantula spider is not fatal, problems may arise in children or those who are allergic to poison. After the attack is observed:
- sharp pain;
- temperature rise;
- loss of consciousness;
- occurrence of convulsions or delirium.
How to determine the sex of a tarantula?
Today, there are several ways in which this can be done. One of the most accurate is the exuvium method (liberated skeleton). With it, you can determine the sex of the tarantula spider at first. Its essence lies in the examination of the exuvium. You need to study the area located closer to the base of the abdomen between two white spots. Here are the genitals of spiders. In females, there is a trace from the seminal receptacle, in males in this area the surface is even.
Tarantulas – species
Currently, the family is divided into many species. Consider a brief description of the most popular of them:
- Acanthoscurria brocklehursti. Has an aggressive nature. The body is painted black and white. Lives between tree roots and rocks.
- Brachypelma smithi. The tarantula is the main color of the body, which is dark brown or black. Paws are covered with bright spots. They are not aggressive in nature.
- Avicularia purpurea. At a cursory glance, the spider looks black, but after being hit by light, it turns purple-blue. It lives in pastures, in hollows of trees and in crevices of premises.
- Aphonopelma seemanni. Lives in burrows. It is black in color with white stripes on the paws. It is not aggressive or venomous.
- Avicularia versicolor. The blue tarantula becomes covered with red and green hairs with age. This species is peaceful.
- Brachypelma boehmei. The spider is distinguished by its impressive size and bright black and orange color. This species may soon disappear.
- Cyclosternum fasciatum. The smallest representative The body is painted in dark colors with reddish hairs. The natural habitat is the tropical forests of Guatemala.
- Grammostola rosea. A very beautiful tarantula. The body color is a variation of brown with light hairs.
- Theraphosa blondi. The biggest spider in the world. Due to its size, it is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. The color is brown with red hairs on the paws.
- Epheborus cyanognathus. Brilliant representative. The body is painted in a burgundy-red hue with elements of green. The limbs have yellow stripes.
Keeping a tarantula at home
These arthropods are extremely unpretentious and bred in captivity without any problems, so they have long become popular favorites. A tarantula spider at home should be kept adhering to the following rules:
- The temperature in his dwelling should not fall below + 25ºС. To do this, use a heater or thermal pad.
- Some species that live in their natural environment in the tropics need a humidity level of 85%. You can maintain the required level with a bowl of water.
- It is forbidden to keep two same-sex individuals in one terrarium. In such a situation, a strong representative will eat a weak one.
- Coconut fiber, tree bark substrate, or sphagnum moss can be used as bedding.
Terrarium for tarantula
Plastic or glass containers of various shapes are suitable as a dwelling. A prerequisite is a tight-fitting lid so that the pet cannot escape. Tarantulas for beginners will not be a problem, depending on the species, the following are chosen:
- Tree representatives need dwelling sizes up to 35 cm in height.
- A long terrarium is suitable for a terrestrial species. With a thick layer of substrate at the bottom.
- Burrow spiders need a semblance of a mink. It can be an upside down mug with a broken edge or half a coconut shell.
Proper ventilation is an important parameter in a terrarium. A coconut substrate, a drinking bowl, shelter and heating are vital for these spiders, everything else does not affect their life in any way. Arthropods do not need plants and decorations, they are used to decorate the space, nothing more. To prevent parasites from appearing in the home, it is recommended to use artificial elements.
How to care for a tarantula?
The maintenance of such pets does not differ in any special procedures, but has features.
- When a domestic tarantula molts to help it is strictly forbidden, one awkward movement can harm health and even lead to the death of the “baby”.
- The terrarium must be freed from the remnants of food and waste products. They do this with tweezers so as not to frighten the pet and not cause him aggression. It is recommended to carry out such cleaning every seven days.
- The main care accessories include: long tweezers, a thermometer, a hygrometer and a lamp for lighting and heating the air.
What does a tarantula eat?
These arthropods are omnivores, the main thing is that the size of the feed is smaller than the body of the pets. Adult representatives are fed up to two times a week. The number of servings is determined by the size of the abdomen, which increases in relation to the cephalothorax by 1.5-2 times. As food you can give:
- fruit flies;
- flour worms.
The poisonous spider prefers that the food is alive, this is required by instincts. It attacks its prey by injecting poison to paralyze it. After that, it breaks it with powerful chelicerae and covers it with gastric juice for digestion. A well-fed spider can starve for a week, and sometimes a month. After the “meal” is over, the remnants of the feed must be removed without fail to avoid rotting.
Tarantula spider – interesting facts
For some, these arthropods are a real nightmare. However, there are those who admire “furry babies.” Among the interesting moments about their lives are the following facts:
- Some tarantulas defend themselves by blinding their enemies by firing a stream of excrement in their direction.
- The goliath tarantula can starve for about two years.
- Some species can swim and dive.
- In some countries, spiders are used to prepare exotic desserts.
- Females lay 200 eggs at a time.
- The largest tarantula in the world is the goliath, with a paw span of 28 cm.
- Arthropods have poor eyesight, orienting themselves in space by the vibrations of the soil.
- Spiders are capable of limb regeneration.
- The friction of their paws resembles the sound of a rattlesnake.