Desert Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Desert Tarantula.
Updated: 2/27/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The famous Desert Tarantula is one of Hollywood's favorite creatures and has been featured in scary movies, old westerns, and television.
Desert Tarantulas are a common sight in the Southwestern states and Mexico. They generally hide during the day, choosing instead to rest under rocks or in protective burrows that are abandoned by desert rodents.
As with most arachnids, the male of the species is smaller than the female, though Desert Tarantulas in general are noted for their large size compared to other spiders. Leg spans can reach up to 4 inches in diameter on the females, making it possible for them to cover the whole hand of a grown man. Their brown bodies are covered in an abundance of hairs. This bristly hair is the hallmark of identifying Tarantulas, in general. Males are generally completely dark, whereas females tend to have light brown (blonde) hairs on their carapace ('shoulders') and legs.
This spider will work hard at avoiding contact with people, and it will strike if disturbed or threatened. It should be noted that Desert Tarantula bites are considered poisonous, but not deadly. Seeking medical assistance is advisable if bitten. In general, Desert Tarantula venom is reported to only be as dangerous as bee venom, but a deadly allergic reaction may result in sensitive individuals. Every body is different, so medical care is advised in the event of a bite.
Because of their large size, Desert Tarantulas are able to take down and consume small reptiles in addition to insects. Spiderlings hatch from eggs laid by the female, and young male spiders eventually develop the large hairy pedipalps (sometimes mistaken for short legs) at the front of the face. Females enjoy great longevity and have been known to have life spans of up to 20 years.