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Tarantulas

Tarantula of Arkansas

Tarantula
Photo copyrighted by Leah Arnold.

Wow! What is this spider?

This is Arkansas' biggest spider.  It is known as the Texas Brown Tarantula (Aphonopelma hentz).  It belongs to Order Araneae and the family of Theraphosidae.  This tarantula is only found in certain areas of Arkansas which is the western portion.  My students have never seen  this  tarantula before I brought my pet Texas Brown Tarantula (Pollyanna) into my classroom.

General Information

Out the thirty different species of tarantulas found in United States, Aphonopelma hentz is the only tarantula found in Arkansas but can be found through North America. 

Habitat:  This tarantula lives in rocky terrain in abandoned mouse or reptile burrows .   This is why this tarantula is not found in areas of Arkansas which the soil is mostly composed of sand.

Description:  Being an arachnid, this tarantula has two body parts:  cephalothorax and abdomen with eight legs.  Another characteristic of tarantulas is the pair of large pedipalps (big fangs).  The female species is about two inches long while the male is smaller being one and half inches in length.  Determining the sex of this tarantula can be done by looking at the pedipalps.  They are swollen with reproductive organs in a male.  The female's pedipalps like small walking legs and this true for immature males.  The males are short-lived which the females can live up to 25 years.  The coloration is basically dark brown on the legs and light brown on the abdomen.   The height arranges from two to three inches.

Diet:  Tarantulas usually waits  patiently in their burrows for food to come by.  They may hunt in the day or night time.  Dietary choices includes crickets, June beetles, ground beetles, grasshoppers, cicadas, earthworms, mealworms, and caterpillars.  They will leap onto  their prey and stick their pedipalps into dinner.  They quickly inject their venom which liquidizes the prey's insides.  They will dine this soup.

Miscellaneous:  The Texas Brown Tarantula will bit and it could be painful.  It is not poisonous unless the person is allergic to it.  When they are not hunting, they are hiding.   Their defenses include running away and their hair on the abdomen can break off at the slightly touch.  These hairs can cause itching.  Some people keep tarantulas as pets.  Males do not make good pets since they attend to die in the fall. 

Tarantula

The following website will help you if you are interested in keeping a tarantula as a pet:  http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/2448/tarantula.html

References:

http://www.mpm.edu/collect/tar.html
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/spidernorton/page4.htm
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/spidernorton/page7.htm
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/spidernorton/page3.htm
http://jrscience.wcp.muohio.edu/html/tarantulas.html#links
http://www.spiderpatch.com/pricelis.htm
http://pw1.netcom.com/~wrandall/arachnids/a_hentzi.html
http://www.tennis.org/Amazing/goliath_birdeater_tarantula.html
http://whozoo.org/Intro2001/brooksal/BS_TxTarantula.htm

This web page was created by Kathy Gann, Science Teacher at Stephens High School, Stephens, Arkansas (gannk@roadrunner.scsc.k12.ar.us). 


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