03 Sep

Tarantulas: A Case of Muddled Misunderstanding

It’s big, hairy, has eight legs and comes with inch long fangs. They live in jungles to arid environments and you can find them on six of the seven continents. If you suffer from arachnophobia, then the tarantula spider will be enough to make you want to move to Antarctica. Even if you don’t have a debilitating fear of spiders, you might reconsider when you see one.

Imagine if you saw a spider the size of a dinner plate walk across your driveway… you might run to find a weapon. In either case, your fear would be unfounded. Tarantulas are docile and rarely bite humans. Even if you do get bit, don’t worry; their venom packs the potency of a bee sting. There hasn’t ever been a reported case of death by tarantula. There are many fascinating facts concerning this misunderstood behemoth.

·         Hunting by Ambush: If you’re out at night you might be lucky enough to see a tarantula in action. When evening falls, the large spider begins its hunt; they stalk and pounce on prey. Most tarantulas hunt insects, yet the adults are large enough to tackle bigger prey. Mice, frogs, lizards, even small birds can become food.

·         The Ultimate Protein Shake: After the tarantula catches its meal, it injects a digestive enzyme that turns the insides of the prey into a protein Slurpee. After the enzymes have gone to work, the tarantula bites down and uses it fangs as straws to slurp up the bodily fluid broth.

·         Alarm Webbing: You won’t see a tarantula sitting in the middle of a web, yet it will still use silk. Tarantulas lay webs in long strands out from its den. Those strands act as an early alarm system, indicating the presence of prey or warning the spider of predators.

·         Longevity: Did you ever wonder why a person would have a tarantula for a pet? First, they’re docile and approachable. Second, if you’re tired of replacing pets, you might want to think about purchasing a terrarium. A female tarantula can live up to thirty years.

·         No Need for Prosthetics: If a tarantula losses a leg, it can regrow the missing limb. Like many insects and arachnids, tarantulas molt. With each subsequent molting, you’ll notice the once missing leg will get longer until it is fully replaced.

·         Hair Defense: If a Tarantula feels threatened, it will scrape tiny hairs from its abdomen and launch them at the culprit. You might not think that hair would make a great weapon, but these little barb-like hairs act as an extreme irritant. If you’re unlucky enough to make a tarantula angry, you’ll get a nasty rash.

Because of their size and shape, Hollywood has demonized the tarantula. Though these spiders are big and hairy, you don’t need to fear them. After the ignorance is lifted, fear can turn into fascination. Next time you see an eight-legged arachnid the size of dinner plate walk across your driveway, instead of running for a weapon you might go running for your camera.

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