Tarantulas are large ground dwelling spiders of the family Theraphosidae. They are often hairy, and regularly live in slightly warmer climates such as in Costa Rica.
Tarantulas are found throughout the Neotropics, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Australasia. Tarantulas of Costa Rica can be spotted at places such as the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Guanacaste National Park, Corcovado National Park, Braulio Carillo National Park and Barra Honda National Park to name a few.
Mating & Reproduction
Tarantulas exhibit sexual dimorphism in many species where the male is considerably smaller than the female. This is common among many species of spiders. In some instances, a male tarantula may be eaten by a female after receiving his sperm which he produces in what might seem like an unusual fashion.
When males reach maturity, they create a web mat which they rub themselves on until they release semen. They then collect it on their front pincers. In the presence of a female of the same species, the two give each other signals that can lead to consummation. The male then injects the collected sperm into the abdomen of the female.
The female then lays 50 to 2,000 eggs and forms a webbed egg sac around them. She turns the eggs many times to keep them from becoming deformed. When the eggs hatch in 6 to 8 weeks, the spiderlings live off of the remains of the egg sac. Tarantulas undergo ecdysis many times as they grow where their exoskeleton sheds or molts.
Depending on the species, tarantulas may eat a variety of animals as they are carnivorous. Many species of Tarantulas are also nocturnal. Some of the smaller species eat mostly arthropods, but the bigger species may take down animals as large as birds, lizards, snakes and mice.
In spite of their fearsome reputation, Tarantulas are the subject of predation. Some of the predators of Tarantulas include hawks, wasps and certain flies that feed on the spiderlings.
Tarantulas in Cambodia are considered a delicious snack. They are fried in a concoction that is similar to making fried chicken and served on the street. In Costa Rica, there are some very interesting species of Tarantulas such as the Costa Rican Bluefront Tarantula (Aphonopelma crinirufum), the Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula (Aphonopelma seemanni) and the Costa Rican Tiger Rump (Cyclosternum fasciatum). The common names are often indicative of their colorations.
Locations in Costa Rica: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Guanacaste National Park, Corcovado National Park, Braulio Carillo National Park, Barra Honda National Park
Diet: arthropods, birds, snakes, lizards, mice
Migration Pattern: non-migratory
Habitat: lowland wet and arid tropical forest
Size: length=2.5-10 cm (body) 8-30 cm (legs) weight=85-150 g (some are smaller)
Species: Aphonopelma crinirufum, Aphonopelma seemanni, Aphonopelma burica, Cyclosternum fasciatum et al