What is a tarantula? Tarantulas are a family of very mildly venomous spiders (Theraphosidae) known for their large size, hairy bodies, and popularity in the exotic pet trade. If you’re lucky enough to live in certain U.S. states, you may even have tarantulas living nearby. In this article we’re going to be looking at some of the tarantulas in Texas and learning a little about them.
Let’s have a look!
Tarantulas in Texas
Going back to the mid 1800s, there have been as many as 18 species of tarantulas recorded in Texas. More recently there have been 14 species of tarantulas known to occur in the state of Texas according to nps.gov, though it’s difficult to identify all of them without proper equipment.
The 7 tarantulas in Texas that are on this list are the Texas brown tarantula, Texas tan tarantula, Aphonopelma armada, Rio Grande gold tarantula, Lubbock gold tarantula, Aphonopelma moellendorfi, and Aphonopelma gabeli.
1. Texas brown tarantula
Scientific name: Aphonopelma hentzi
Texas brown tarantulas are one of the most common tarantulas in the Southern United States and are found in states like Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Their legs can span up to 4 inches and they can weigh around 3 ounces. Their dark to light brown and covered in hair, shades of brown vary from spider to spider.
Like most other tarantulas, Texas brown tarantulas are ground spiders that like hiding under logs, rocks, and in underground burrows in deserts and grassland areas. Their main predators are tarantula hawks, a large species of wasp who’s main diet is tarantulas.
2. Texas tan tarantula
Scientific name: Aphonopelma anax
The Texas tan tarantula is one of the largest species of tarantulas in Texas and the United State. They’re found in southeastern areas of the state as well as Northern Mexico. Like other tarantulas, the female of this species can be considerably larger than the male with a leg span reaching up to 6 inches.
These spiders are known for their docile temperaments and large size, making them popular among pet owners. The male Texan tan tarantula has a life span of around 2 years, females are known to live for 40 years or longer.
3. Aphonopelma armada
Scientific name: Aphonopelma armada
Aphonopelma armada, commonly known as the Texas black spot, is a tarantula found in parts of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas and Nevada. They are similar in both size and appearance to the Texas brown tarantula and they are also commonly kept as pets.
4. Rio Grande gold tarantula
Scientific name: Aphonopelma moderatum
The Rio Grande gold tarantula got it’s name from the fact that they’re commonly found in the Rio Grand Valley in Texas. They are also common in the pet trade.
5. Lubbock gold tarantula
Scientific name: Aphonopelma hollyi
This species is found in North Texas in Lubbock and Briscoe counties. They live in grassland, scrub woodland, and on grassy hillsides.
A study was conducted recently and a group of A. hollyi were tagged with transponders, making them the first spiders to be tracked in this way. A later sperate study indicated that adult spiders of this species spend as much as 96% of their time in their burrows.
6. Aphonopelma gabeli
Scientific name: Aphonopelma gabeli
This species is found in Arizona, southern New Mexico, and western Texas. There is not much info out there about this specific species, but they are also common in the pet industry.
7. Aphonopelma moellendorfi
Scientific name: Aphonopelma moellendorfi
This species was recently named after an Austin Texas resident and owner of a local pet store in 2016. Apparently David Moellendorf was doing a study on the tarantulas in Texas and stumbled upon a new species, he was honored to have it named after him.