In Arkansas, you can spot numerous species of spiders, but only one type of tarantula. They are one of the biggest spiders in the state and play an important role in the Arkansas ecosystem.
Tarantulas in Arkansas
There is only one type of tarantula that has been found in Arkansas and that is the Arkansas chocolate tarantula. This large spider is common across several regions in North America and can be spotted both in the wild and in captivity.
The brown tarantula found in Arkansas is the only tarantula found in the state and is commonly found in the nearby regions of Oklahoma and Missouri as well. These large spiders have various common names depending on the state they are found in, but they all share the same scientific name. The brown tarantula, or the Arkansas chocolate tarantula, is found over most of the state and serves an important environmental function.
The scientific name for the Arkansas chocolate tarantula is Aphonopelma hentzi. This spider comes from the Theraphosidae family and Araneae Order.
The Arkansas chocolate tarantula is known by a few common names, depending on the state it lives in. When found in Missouri this tarantula is called a Missouri tarantula.
It is also sometimes just called a brown tarantula, because of the coloring. Despite having different common names in different states, these tarantulas are the same spider, with the same scientific name.
You can spot the Arkansas chocolate tarantula throughout the entire state, except for the area known as the Mississippi delta region. Wild tarantulas prefer to stay away from people and will run or hide to avoid them. They can be found in wooded regions and rocky areas throughout most of Arkansas.
Diet and Lifestyle
Arkansas chocolate spiders live in burrows in rocky or wooded terrain, they may even take over abandoned tunnels and burrows of other small animals. Females lay eggs here as well, and protect them fiercely until they hatch.
Young tarantulas spend about a week with their mother before spreading out. Burrows is also used to help these tarantulas hunt, as they will hide inside, ambushing prey that gets close enough.
These spiders feed on a number of prey, such as:
- Small lizards
- Other spiders
These large spiders have a small amount of venom in their fangs that is helpful in stunning prey. This venom is not dangerous to humans, however, and tarantulas are unlikely to bite people.
Arkansas chocolate tarantulas are active during spring, summer, and fall. They stay in their burrows throughout the cold winter months and use webbing to close up the entrance. When spring comes around the tarantulas will emerge and go into their mating season.
The Arkansas chocolate tarantula is one of the biggest spiders found in the state. The females are slightly larger than the males of this species, reaching an average of around two inches in size, not accounting for their legs, which can reach six inches long.
Males, on the other hand, reach an average of around one and a half inches in size, plus up to six inches of leg length. The bodies and legs of Arkansas chocolate tarantulas are covered in thick reddish brown hairs. The rest of them appears more of a chocolate brown color, which is where these spiders get one of their nicknames.
Arkansas tarantula predators
Arkansas chocolate tarantulas might be fierce predators, but they are plenty of animals that will try to feed on them as well.
Common predators of Arkansas chocolate tarantulas include:
These spiders are mostly active at night in order to avoid predators. They will also escape into their burrows to hide. When threatened, tarantulas will use their legs to knock strands of their short and thick hair at predators. The hair will then get in the predator’s face, making them retreat, or at least giving the tarantula enough time to get away.
Captive Arkansas Chocolate Tarantulas
While frequently seen in the wild, Arkansas chocolate tarantulas are often kept as pets in captivity. They are docile and not aggressive, making them interesting and great pets. It is rare they will bite a person, and even if they do it is not dangerous.
Tarantula bites are similar to bee stings when it comes to both pain and venom. When kept in captivity, these spiders are often fed live beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, cockroaches, or small spiders.
Other Arkansas Spiders
Even though the Arkansas chocolate tarantula is the only tarantula found in the state, there are numerous other spider species that share their habitats. Here are a few of them.
1. Barn Funnel Weaver
Scientific name: Tegenaria domestica
Barn funeral weavers are a common spider found in multiple regions around the globe. It can be found in homes, yards, and woodlands across Arkansas. Webs spun by these spiders look like sheets and are easy to spot in barns, garages, and basements.
2. Bold Jumper
Scientific name: Phidippus audax
Bold jumpers are a large type of jumping spider found across many states in North America. They are mostly black, with large jaws and a recognizable marking on their abdomens. This marking is usually orange, white, or red.
Arkansas chocolate tarantulas are one of the largest spiders found in the state. They thrive in the wild, as well as in captivity, and have become popular pets for spider lovers across the country. Even though they can look scary, they are harmless to people and play a vital role in controlling the populations of other insects.