you suffer from Arachnophobia, there is really no reason
to worry about Tarantulas. My dictionary reads, "No
person has ever died of a tarantula bite."
are hairy spiders that live in warm areas around the world,
with the greatest concentration in South America. Of the
approximately 300 species of Tarantulas, the largest is
the Pseudotherathosa apophysis with a leg span
of over 12 inches (33 centimeters), the smallest the Acanthopelma
annae, a fingernail-sized tarantula just recently
identified in Belize by Steve Reichling, Ph.D., Assistant
Curator of Reptiles at the Memphis Zoo (Tennessee, USA).
are meat eaters. Depending on their size they enjoy anything
from grasshoppers and beetles to other spiders, frogs,
lizards and even small snakes and birds. A Tarantula kills
its prey using venomous fangs, injecting a chemical that
dissolves the flesh. Or they crush their prey using their
are hairy animals with a two-part body and very strong
jaws, eight hairy legs with two claws at the end of each.
The hair on their body and legs are sensitive to touch,
temperature, and smell. These hairy spiders live in underground
burrows, on the ground, in trees, in thatch roofing or
anywhere there is a crack or a cut. Some live up to thirty
years of age.
a house in the jungles of Belize, I am aware of the always
valid rule never to put my fingers or feet anywhere where
I cannot see what they are going to touch. Always beware
of the looming danger of spiders (or scorpions and snakes).
And despite the fact that the bite of a tarantula is not
potentially lethal, I always felt that in my best interest,
I avoid any body contact with them.
recently, it was during a visit by my mother in law, we
had just finished dinner when a shadow on the floor caught
my eye and sure enough there was a large tarantula, about
seven inches, with long light brown legs crawling just
past my feet (in closed shoes) heading towards my husband's
feet that were exposed in flip-flop sandals.
jumped up and called out, "Tarantula!" and sure
enough I got everybody's attention quickly. Looking around
my eye caught a large piece of floor tile leaning against
the wall, a leftover from a recent bathroom refurbishing.
As I dropped the tile on top of the tarantula I realized,
"that must be that species they recently discovered
here in Belize (Crypsidromus gutzkei), recognizable
by its red belly and metallic gold legs." And there
the tile went crushing down, but when it hit, it just
landed there on top of that strong animal, laying there
at an angle indicating that whatever was underneath, was
not to be crushed that easily. And I have to admit, although
I am very excited about the variety of species and animals
that abound in the jungles of Belize, in my own dining
room, I do consider them my personal enemies. So without
hesitation I stepped on top of that tile, doing what I
had to do...