A Tarantula is an extremely interesting pet to own, and it’s partly because of the various things that they are able to do. Now, the Tarantula itself is not the most intelligent of animals, but they do have certain skills that make them stand out from the crowd.
I’ve owned tarantulas for many years, and what I’m going to do right here is take you through a number of the things that they are capable of doing, and I’m sure you will be pretty amazed at pretty much all of them.
Fact 1: They are Amazing Hunters
When it comes to hunting, then these guys are right up there with the best.
They are deadly for most insects, and they are so aware of who is nearby them that they can then make an instant decision as to whether or not they are prey.
That means they are willing to wait for as long as is required to then hunt their prey. Of course, it also means that, in the wild, they work at having the perfect placement for their home to make sure they can grab as much food as they need. [Source]
Their hunting ability has been honed to absolute perfection. They have very poor eyesight, so they need to sense what is going on around them, and this is the area where they really do excel at things.
They can identify what is going past their lair, and then know how they should react. They can make this decision in an instant, which is also interesting to know as the brain of the Tarantula is very small, and largely ineffective in what it does.
Fact 2: They Spin Webs, But Not For the Usual Reason
The Tarantula does spin a web, but it’s not like your usual web that you may see in your garden.
Instead, this web is to either cover the inside of their home, as they live differently to most spiders, while they also set up the equivalent of a trip wire to alert them to what is going on around them.
So the one thing you are not going to see is a Tarantula spinning a web, and then sitting in the middle of it like you do with other species. That is just not their thing.
Also, some believe they spin a web to keep the floor of their home clean and hygienic. That in itself is an interesting concept that they have that sort of awareness, but the jury is still out on giving a definitive reason.
Fact 3: A Female Can Lay Up to 2000 Eggs
This may be a scary thought to some, but a female Tarantula is capable of laying up to 2000 eggs, and that’s a lot of baby Tarantulas running around.
However, that’s not something that they do all of the time. It may be as few as 50 eggs, and not all of them are going to hatch and turn into actual spiders, but that is still a huge number of eggs for the mother to then deal with.
Fact 4: They Have Retracting Claws
A Tarantula is wonderful at climbing even though it has a large frame to try to lift up, but then it does have a helping hand when it comes to this sort of thing.
The Tarantula has a secret weapon, and it comes in the shape of some retractable claws that appear at the end of each leg.
They can basically cling on and climb with amazing ease, and at some real speed, and that is a cool little trick that they are only too willing to use at various times.
Fact 5: They Can Sometimes Regrow Legs
If a Tarantula loses a leg while it’s still an infant, then it’s going to be able to grow that leg back, which is an amazing thought.
It does this through multiple moults, and it does mean that the leg has to be lost while those moults are happening. If an adult Tarantula loses a leg, then that’s not going to come back, but don’t worry as they can still cope exceptionally well when they have lost one.
Also, this is something that a number of spiders are able to do, so it’s not just limited to the Tarantula.
Fact 6: They Liquify Their Prey
So when a Tarantula catches its prey, it does go through various processes to help the consumption process, and one of them is to basically liquify the prey.
They do this thanks to some powerful digestive enzymes that they spread over the prey. These enzymes start to pretty much dissolve the body and turn it into a mush that is then easier for them to consume.
It may sound gross, but it’s the easiest way for them to be able to go ahead and actually get that meal inside of them.
Fact 7: They Can Eat Lizards
If you thought that a Tarantula would only eat small insects, then think again. These guys are known to catch, and eat, frogs and small lizards.
That is quite impressive at first glance, but then you only have to think about the size of some of the Tarantulas out there to see how it is entirely possible.
Once again, it then comes down to the way in which they turn their prey into liquid, which is kind of useful when dealing with the hard outer skin of something such as a lizard.
Now, I’m not saying they are going to be picking on a large lizard, but you would be surprised at what they can manage to kill in comparison to their size. Also, throw in some birds as well, with a particular species of Tarantula being well-known for tackling and killing birds, but again we are talking about birds relatively in comparison to the size of the Tarantula.
Fact 8: They Can Dance
Yes, your pet Tarantula is capable of dancing.
Well, it’s not a dance as in the way we imagine it, but that is what some pretty unique movements are referred to when dealing with a Tarantula.
What they are doing is something that we, as yet, don’t fully understand but it’s a common trait for this species of spider.
However, there are a number of different ideas as to what is going on.
First, it may be that they are listening out for movement, as that’s how they identify things, and they are raising themselves up in order to listen better.
Also, they may be doing this so they can listen out when they are eating.
Another option is that they do this dance to then help with laying down their webbing. Keep in mind that the Tarantula does spin a web, but it does so differently, and for different reasons, to pretty much every other spider.
So that particular action is due to how they spin their web, but even how they manage to do that is something we have only relatively recently managed to learn about.
However, no matter the reason as to why they do it, there’s no doubt that it does come across as your Tarantula is going to do its little dance, and as it’s quite cool to watch, then it’s no surprise that it’s then known as their happy dance.
Fact 9: Their Jaw Movement
A Tarantula is different when it comes to their jaw movement. Most spiders are going to move their jaws from side to side, but not the Tarantula.
Instead, their jaws move up and down, and that’s because they really do use their jaws in more of a crushing movement rather than a chewing. [Source]
You need to remember that earlier fact about them turning their prey into liquid. They do this so they can effectively drink up their prey rather than spending all of this time chewing on it.
However, they do use their powerful jaws to crush their prey to then also make it easier for the digestive enzymes to get into the body and to then work its magic on turning it into slush for them to then have some prey soup.
Fact 10: They Can Mate By Scent
The mating process for the Tarantula is a complicated process, but one thing that some species of Tarantula do is they pick out their mate via scent.
What happens in this instance is that the male Tarantula picks up on a scent for a female, and he will then follow that scent along the silk trails that she has left behind. That is how he then manages to locate her, and then the mating process begins.
But he can do all of this, and he has no guarantee that he is going to be successful with his entire mating ritual or routine.
Usually, they will mate by the male finding the burrow of a female and venturing inside. However, it does throw up an interesting image of the male going on a treasure hunt by scent alone.
Fact 11: They Can Defend Themselves in a Number of Ways
The Tarantula has a number of ways in which it can defend itself as it is undoubtedly viewed as being prey to a number of different animals and creatures.
First, some of them are going to lift themselves up onto their back legs, and show off their fearsome fangs. That can be enough to scare off some potential predators, but that won’t always work even though it is going to be quite a sight to see.
However, that’s not the only way in which a Tarantula is going to seek to defend itself.
Other Tarantulas will throw hairs at whatever is attacking them. These hairs will irritate and give the Tarantula enough time to make its escape, so it can be a highly effective way of giving them space to then get away.
Of course, they can also bite and inject venom into whatever is attacking them. In general, their venom is pretty powerful, at least for insects and small lizards, but the Tarantula is not silly.
Instead, it’s acutely aware that their venom is not going to be good enough against certain animals. They wouldn’t want to waste it when they realize it will be ineffective.
But basically, the Tarantula has more than one trick up its sleeve when it comes to defending itself. However, it’s also adept at identifying potential issues, and avoiding them in the first place, and that is all thanks to their amazing talent at listening out for what is going on, and then interpreting those sounds at the same time.
Tarantulas have a number of neat and cool tricks to hand, if they need to use them, and that is part of the reason as to why they have been so successful at surviving through the years in some very difficult circumstances.
They have perfected the art of hunting, mating, even how to eat their prey. Then, adding in those retractable claws to get up different surfaces is another amazing feat, and it’s one that has undoubtedly helped them to get around and even find new mates.
Of course, you may not see your pet Tarantula doing all of these things since the circumstances do not call for them, but that’s not to say that your pet would be incapable of doing it. However, at least it gives you something to think about as to how your pet would be able to survive in the wild. As it turns out, I think they would be pretty good at it.