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.


  1. Oh yes, the best kind. They don't eat much, they don't bite or shed (unless u tick them off), they only require a small cage. They don't eat much and require very little clean up. Plus they are just plain cool.

  2. Apparently you are richly rewarded for being kind to and gentle with your fauna. =) Nicely done.

    The other day some random SOMEthing floated into my eye whilst I was bathing and WOW did it hurt--as in cursing and flipping water into it in panic. Amazing pain and it reinforced to me how STRONGLY we are wired to protect our clearly VERY-IMPORTANT-TO-SURVIVAL eyeballs.

    When examined eye 30 seconds later 1/3 of the white was freakishly blood red. angry eye. yow. have NO desire to get anywhere a spider hair. =) Nice spidey...

  3. Very cute! Hope to see more pictures in the future of you guys hanging out - perhaps some of your great macro shots? Reptile show in Overland Park...hmmm how have we not known about this? Would you say it is more of a "feel sorry for the alligators in their tiny cages for sale" type of show or an interactive interpretive event?

    Enjoy your new company!

    And to biobabbler above - ouch! I've had the same thing happen to me, only not while relaxing in the tub... always a little funny to me how advanced and evolved we are only to be taken down by the tiniest of creatures :)

  4. Bio, sorry to hear about your eye, I know how that feels. I scratched my cornea with my fingernail a few years ago. It was so painful I couldn't stand to look at light, my eyeball literally ached. It watered all the time. I finally had to go to the eye doctor and get special drops and medicine for it. Fortunately my spidey friends have not ever been angry enough at me to start flicking hairs.

  5. Ben and Carrie, the show in Overland Park is not an interpretive, educational kind of show, it is somewhat as you describe......"feel sorry for the alligator in the tiny cages for sale" kinda show. Thankfully most of the vendors are knowledgeable about the reptiles and amphibians they have for sale and are willing to answer any questions you may have. I've bought a few snakes and several tarantulas at this show over the years. I plan to use fluffy for school programs and will try to post pictures of those events as they happen.

  6. Awesome colour of that tarantula, i have two black tarantulas