Creature Feature: Mexican Blood Leg Tarantula

Mexican Blood Leg Tarantula

Aphonopelma bicolouratum

Reptiles Alive Name: “Chewbacca”

Hissstory:
 Chewie was one of 8 tarantulas, one scorpion, and one savannah monitor lizard that were rescued from a house fire by Fairfax County Animal Control in April of 2006.  Due to zoning laws, the owner was not allowed to have his animals returned to him, so we were given custody of all of the rescued animals.

RA Diet:
 Chewie’s favorite food are crickets.

Natural Diet:
 Tarantulas will eat insects, birds, lizards, and even small mammals.
Tarantula-red

Range: Mexican blood leg tarantulas are native to Mexico and South Texas.

Habitat: Blood leg tarantulas are found in deserts where they spend most of their time hiding in burrows.

Size:
 Blood legs are a relatively small tarantula, growing to about 3 1/2 to 5 inches

Lifespan:
 Female tarantulas can live over 30 years – males do not live nearly as long.

Reproduction:
 Tarantulas construct a golf ball sized egg sac out of silk. The female tarantula will care for her eggs by turning the egg sac on a regular basis. One egg sac may contain over two thousand eggs.

Conservation:
 Tarantulas form a vital part of the desert’s food web.   They control insect populations by eating them, and then, tarantulas are eaten by other animals such as lizards, birds, and mammals.

Cool Facts: Tarantulas rarely harm humans. They prefer to use the itchy hairs on their abdomen to irritate any animal that bothers them. The venom from tarantulas found in North America is not any more dangerous to people than bee venom.  The best thing to do whenever you see an animal is to just leave it alone.

Creature Feature: Haitian Brown Tarantula

Haitian Brown Tarantula

Phormictopus cancerides


Reptiles Alive Name:
 “Charlotte”

Hissstory: Charlotte was transferred to us from another wildlife education organization in 2004.

RA Diet:
 Charlotte eats 1 or 2 crickets every couple of days.

Natural Diet: 
Tarantulas will eat insects, birds, lizards, and even small mammals.
Tarantula_haitian

Range:
 Haitian brown tarantulas naturally occur in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and other parts of the Caribbean .

Habitat: Haitian brown tarantulas enjoy hiding under rocks, in burrows,  and under debris.

Size: 
Haitian brown tarantulas are big spiders – they sometimes grow 7 to 9 inches in diameter!

Lifespan: Male tarantulas may only live 18-24 months, but females can live much longer,  sometimes, over 20 years.

Reproduction:
 Tarantulas construct a golf ball sized egg sac out of silk. The female tarantula will care for her eggs by turning the egg sac on a regular basis. One egg sac may contain over two thousand eggs.

Conservation:
 Tarantulas biggest threat is habitat destruction.  Human fear is also a danger to tarantulas, however, tarantulas rarely harm humans.  Like most wild animals, tarantulas actually fear humans, and will only bite as a defense.  Most species of tarantulas have venom that is no worse than bee venom, so, most tarantulas are harmless to people.

Cool Facts: 
Spider silk (the stuff spiders make into webs) is stronger than steel.  No, really, it’s true!  Scientists have been trying for years to manufacture enough spider silk to manufacture items such diverse items as clothing and cable to make bridges out of.    So far, no one has figured out how make enough spider silk to make anything other than a really expensive scarf.  But maybe someday you could be wearing spider clothes while driving over a spider bridge!