These heavyweight Aussie arachnids lay in wait for their prey then wrestle it into submission.
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.
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.