Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Desert Tarantula - 10/12/14

One of John's favorite activities is looking for wildlife in forests, plains, mountains, canyons, deserts...really anywhere! And he has an uncanny ability to sight things, even from afar.  Since we have been in Nevada, he has been looking for spiders (tarantulas) and snakes (sidewinder rattlers) in the desert.

To his delight (and my dismay), he found a tarantula relaxing under a desert bush. They are quite common in the deserts of the southwestern part of the U.S. Here he is taking a photo of it...can you see it? I was appalled that he got that close to it!

Here's a picture of it that I took using the telephoto lens (from a good distance away!)

Desert tarantulas (aphonepelma chalcodes) are noted for their large size and hairy appearance. Their leg span is 4" in diameter (which would cover the whole hand of a grown man). Just describing this thing gives me a creepy feeling...

After observing it for awhile (he did not move), John decided to give him a gentle nudge.

This caused him to start to run across the desert, presumably to his burrow. (They live in burrows that have been abandoned by other desert animals.)  Here he is on the run...

They will avoid contact with humans but will strike if disturbed or threatened. He seemed to be chasing Sadie (our dog) who was very curious about him, but John kept her from touching him. Their venom is poisonous (similar to bee venom) but not deadly unless there is an allergic reaction.

The desert tarantula can take down small reptiles and, of course, insects. Females can live up to 20 years! I do not want to run into any more of these, but I will admit he was interesting to see in the wild.

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