THE TARANTULAS: MYSTERIOUS ARACHNIDS OR LOYAL PETS?

THE LARGEST  SPIDERS IN THE WORLD

“No living thing is ugly in this world. Even a tarantula considers itself beautiful. “

-Munia Khan 

 

They are hairy, with eight legs and odd look but they are harmless, at least for humans.  The tarantulas are spiders that are very popular as pets worldwide because their venom is mild and their behaviour is mostly acceptable. If you are not one of those people who have problems with hairy little creatures, you may be the one who could eventually welcome tarantula at your home. Personally, I have opinion that those beautiful animals should live free, without being jailed for the sake of human beings. However, I would always take  one , but only if the certain spider is not able to go back to the nature or it lost the owner and shelters.

What do we know about tarantulas so far? Their common name is Tarantulas and their scientific name is Theraphosidae, known as the group of arachnids that have life span up to 30 years in wild, they are a size of tea cup, cold-blooded and carnivorous. We can categorise them into hundreds of species that are located in tropical, subtropical and arid areas and depending on the environment, their look will be shaped as well as their unique colours and remarks. They are burrowers, the residents of the ground and holes.

Those spiders are slow hunters and nocturnal predators that prey on small insects and sometimes on frogs, mice or smaller birds.  They do not use their web to trap the food but rather their speed to catch the victim, when gets into their zone on alert. As soon as they have the prey, they inject their paralyzing and disabling venom and according to the National Geographic studies:”They also secrete digestive enzymes to liquefy their victims’ bodies so that they can suck them up through their straw-like mouth openings. After a large meal, the tarantula may not need to eat for a month.”

The most sensitive part about them is their molting, the process of internal organs replacements. At that moment, the spider is naked and easy target for natural threats like parasitic pepsis wasps that use spider as the womb for its own eggs and reproduction. If that happens, the wasp larvae crawls from still living spider, which  is almost like a horror setting.

I find interesting the story of the multidimensional use of their silk. They do not build real webs but rather make their caves and ground home cozy and attractive for their victims. Their special silk makes the hole warm and safe for the spider, also causing that targeted insects come closer and end up dead.  The tarantulas silk is also their component in reproduction stage. The fact is that the female tarantula is preparing the sperm web that stores the male sperm but this silk is an additional protection for the eggs. The most exciting is an information that tarantulas, alike many other spiders, produce their silk from their feet.

There are two main categories of tarantulas: Old World tarantulas and the New World tarantulas. The first one are all spiders from Africa, Asia and Europe while the second are from America. The Old World Tarantulas are faster, more aggressive and more active. The modern tarantulas are hairier and more approachable. Something what is typical for the them is their willingness to use their hair against the enemy or every time they feel under stress, which could be itchy, painful and uncomfortable. Actually, those are bristles from abdomen that are launched at the moment of higher adrenaline or fear. So, having such a spider in terrarium as a pet requires a lot of know and how and also the studious behaviour and actions. They do not have a dangerous venom but if you develop an allergic reaction on bee or wasp sting, you are in a problem. Otherwise, you will be just in discomfort for a few days, depending on what kind of tarantula you do have. The old tarantulas are more aggressive and with more potent venom and the new one have aggressive bristles.

The tarantulas are very sole and isolated animals but sometimes they make an exception and live in symbiosis. This is the case of the Colombian lesser black tarantula (Xenesthis immanis) that lives with an odd ally, the small dotted frog( Chiasmocleis ventrimaculata). They developed the harmony because the both profits from this coalition. The spider protects the fog from some natural predators and provides the rest of the food while the little frog protects tarantula nest against ants. The common union.

For me, the tarantulas are masters of elegance and tranquility. They are the kings of patience and wisdom of their own kind. Thats why they are very beloved as pets by the people who are more interested in observing than in holding, cuddling or handling the pets. The tarantulas are not the choice for any of us who love to be close with our pets and sharing sofa with them. The tarantulas are unique, authentic and strange but majestic animals that can teach us a lot about nature and its hidden world of miracles and survival skills. They do not require lots of investment and time, as pets, but they do provide thrilling  spectacle. The way the move, hunt, eat or sleep….its all like a ritual and tarantulas are highly skilled in reposing, watching and moving in their own rhythm.

The problem is that they must be fed with living insects and that is not always the luckiest scenery. However, this is a pure and raw nature and you need to provide it to your tarantula, if it is your pet and your responsibility. Those spiders may look awkward and bizarre but they are very vulnerable and they could be easily endangered, hurt or even with fatal end. That is why is necessary for each person who is engaged in getting the tarantula pet to be aware that this creature will live, if all is good, up to 20 or even more years and that it will need care, attention and food providing. Before all, every beginner should start with more docile species, which are usually the members of the New World tarantulas, that do not lose temper so easy and even if do, they come out with itchy bristles. The Old World tarantulas are for experienced spider enthusiasts.

I find tarantulas exceptionally beautiful and gracious and wish I could have an intelligence to take care of some of them, if they are some  in need. They could show us the whole new universe of natural habits and processes, that are happening behind the scene. The spiders aren’t our enemies and we should start being opened for learning about them and their valuable role in the global ecosystem. The alluring tarantulas are the emperors of the spider world and the tale for itself, worth of knowing.

 

 

 

One thought on “THE TARANTULAS: MYSTERIOUS ARACHNIDS OR LOYAL PETS?

  1. Sarah’s marvellous and informative article reminded me of the natural history documentaries of the BBC focused upon arachnids…

    Spider-like organisms first appeared on Earth c. 380 million years ago; more than 150 million years before the first dinosaurs. Even though fossils of mygalomorph spiders (i.e. large spiders like tarantulas) only date to The Triassic Period (i.e. c. 230 million years ago), amber fossils from Central America are definitive.

    Biodiversity was recovering from a global extinction process during The Triassic Period and the new climate and topography was perfect for large spiders to evolve.

    The appellation of ‘tarantula’ is a misnomer: it derives from the ancient Magna Grecia citadel of Taranto, in southern Italy. The place was established by 700 BCE and the wolf spider (Lycosa taranatula) was a common organism across The Mediterranean Sea coastal regions, then. The ancient people of Tarus (i.e. Greek name of Taranto) applied this appellation to all regional large spiders.

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About Sarahowlgirl1982

I am a master of Political Sciences, with special focus on Security Studies, Islamic Counter Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. I enjoy discovering and commenting things which are " in the air" but still not spoken.I also do like science writing and planing to move myself into the pure science journalism !