Australian Tarantula

Australian tarantulaScientific name: Selenocosmia crassipes
Conservation status: Not Evaluated
Body length: 3-8 cm, with a leg span up to 16 cm
Incubation: 6-9 weeks
Number of young: About 50 in a sac

Distribution: Queensland
Habitat: Tropical rainforest

Description: Tarantulas have large, hairy bodies which range in colour from dark brown to pale reddish-brown and often with a silvery sheen. They have large fangs approximately 1 cm in length.

Diet: The tarantula is a carnivore and eats large insects, small reptiles, frogs and occasionally small birds.

In the wild: Tarantulas live in silk-lined burrows that vary in length from 40–100 cm. These burrows are usually permanent and are also used as a hiding place for the female’s egg sac.

Tarantulas do not snare their prey in a web. They ambush their prey, using their muscular body to overpower it.

Male tarantulas perform a courtship dance, which involves tapping their abdomen on the ground and circling the female with jerky steps until she rears up, allowing him to mate.

Threats: One of the major threats for tarantulas is the flooding of their burrows. Grazing livestock can trample the burrows.

At Perth Zoo: The tarantula can be seen with other arthropods and insects in the Nocturnal House.

Did you know? Some species of tarantula make a whistling sound when threatened by rubbing spines on their palps (limb-like mating organs) against opposing spines on their jaw. This may be used as a mechanism to deter predators. One Australian species of Tarantula barks and it sounds just like a dog. Not surprisingly it’s called the Barking Spider.

Download the Australian Tarantula Fact Sheet (pdf).

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