True facts about tarantulas

November 21, 2022 • 1:00 pm

ZeFrank is back with another enticing and biologically informed video, this time about tarantulas. It’s about sixteen minutes long.

I used to have a live tarantula collection in my office in graduate school, and fed them hissing cockroaches, of which there was a colony in the MCZ. I let them walk around on me, and I was never bitten, though I did sometimes get irritated by urticating hairs. (When I put them on visitors, however, the reaction was sometimes unfavorable.) Watching them molt was a unique experience.

One of my favorites, Bismarck, lived for at least 20 years, since she was still alive when I checked years after giving her away (she had actually been moved to Chicago by the curator of arachnids).

What I like about ZeFrank is that his videos get more and more biologically informative but yet retain their humor.  (They do, however, have ads.) This is a particularly good one, with tons of biology that I didn’t know.  These animals do have a fearsome reputation, but they don’t really kill people, and their biology is complex and fascinating.

h/t: Rick

15 thoughts on “True facts about tarantulas

  1. These animals do have a fearsome reputation, but they don’t really kill people …

    Dr. No didn’t know that, since he tried to use one to clip Mr. Bond:

  2. Always a treat. I had two tarantulas, “Hilda”, and “Kubla Kahn”. I quickly learned to not handle Hilda (she would rear up and show fangs at the drop of a hat), while Kubla was a sweetie.

    1. Did Kubla have a stately dome-shaped residence, with fitted river, caverns (measureless to man) and a sunless sea?

  3. I’ll always have a soft spot for tarantulas. Missouri, at least south of the Muddy Mo, has one species of tarantula. Aphonopelma hentzi, but I’ve only ever seen one. Age 10 or 11, at the H Roe Bartle Doy Scout camp, a friend and I caught one while rambling through the Ozark woods and glades, skipping out on the usual boring merit(less) badge classes. We were the heroes of our troop! I also taught everyone how to catch the local scorpions by using twigs like chopsticks. Soon every tent had a pet scorpion in a can. The best part of scouting was always getting away from scouting.

  4. My wife’s parents were both biologists, my FIL salamanders and my MIL snails. “Their biology is complex and fascinating,” I lived that through them.

  5. There is a wonderful poem about tarantulas by Thomas Lux. If you read the poem, you will recognize that you should rescue unfortunate tarantulas that fall into a swimming pool.

    1. I love that poem. It expresses a sentiment I feel very deeply, but it may be a bit biologically exaggerated, since it seems like it isn’t easy for a tarantula to drown (but I still say it’s a good thing to leave a lifebuoy in your swimming pool for all sorts of little lost- and even ugly and dangerous- creatures!)

  6. Anyone old enough to remember when staff/prop people dropped a bunch of live tarantulas on Steve Allen for a comedy bit? When Allen realized they were real, he jumped up and started brushing them off of him, while the horrified spider wrangler ran onstage yelling “Stop!” trying to save them.

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