Sunday, January 15, 2012
Chilean Gold Fluff Tarantula
Today was the bi-monthly reptile show in Overland Park, KS. Joey and I made a trip down there to see what they had this time. The show is always full of large snakes, turtles, alligators, caimans, lizards and various arthropods. Meet the newest addition to my growing menagerie; this lovely tarantula. She is a Chilean Gold Fluff from the mountains of Chile. They can grow to have a 5 inch legspan. This in an incredibly docile spider and they rarely if ever bite. If they would take a notion to bite, their venom is not known to have any serious affects on humans. However, if you are allergic to the venom, then you could have a serious side affect like anaphylaxis. Their diet consists of arthropods, small snakes, lizards, and small rodents.
Like all tarantulas they possess venom to subdue their prey. Limited by their narrow stomach tubes, tarantulas, like other arachnids, cannot eat solid food. Tarantulas expel digestive enzymes that help liquefy their prey for ingestion. After immobilizing its prey, a tarantula chews it with its powerful chelicerae while covering it with digestive enzymes. Contraction of the muscles surrounding the fore-stomach helps the tarantula suck up the liquefied prey through its straw-like mouth and into the mid-gut.
Tarantulas also have a unique defense mechanism, they are able to flick the hairs on their abdomen at a potential predator. They simply turn their body towards the source of the danger and use their back legs to begin flicking irritating hairs in the direction of the predator. These tiny hairs are an extreme irritant that will cause uncomfortable itching. The tarantula can beat a hasty retreat while the predator is busy dealing with a very uncomfortable case of irritation. Some tarantulas are more high strung than others and will often have bald patches on their abdomen where it is evident they have been flicking hairs. When the tarantula sheds its exoskeleton the next time the hairs will return. This is an important defense strategy for the spider so it is vital that the hairs return so it can adequately protect itself.
I currently own 4 tarantulas and I have never witnessed the hair flicking, and I must admit I am thankful. I have heard of people who have gotten these hairs in their eyes and it can be extremely painful. The hairs are so fine that they can embed themselves into your eye and cannot be retrieved. Your only hope is if the hairs finally work their way out of the eye.
I love these incredible spiders, their large size, docile nature and incredible beauty all add up to a great pet.