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.

Join the Perth Zoo-coordinated Night Stalk from 1 September to 16 October and spotlight for native animals in your local bushland. Night Stalk is a great way to become involved in community conservation action and to learn about our native animals, their habitat and their threats. Night Stalk is sponsored by Tronox.

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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