Tarantulas are in the class arachnid, which includes scorpions, spiders, ticks and mites. All arachnids have eight legs, and two body parts, the abdomen and cephalothorax.
The smallest tarantula is the Aphonopelma mojaviensis at about the size of a human fingernail or 5/8 of an inch. The Goliath Bird Eater of South America has a leg span of 12 inches or the size of the average dinner plate.
Tarantulas are found in different habitats, ranging from the desert climates of North America, Australia, and Africa to the rainforest in Southeast Asia, and South America; the grasslands of North America, South America, and Africa. They also can be found in the temperate forest of Europe and North America.
They live in burrows that other animals have abandoned or in some cases even dig there own if the substrate allows it.
The word “Tarantula” is derived from a town in Italy named Tarano.
Tarantulas molt once or twice a year (or more depending on the age), to do this they will lay on their backs on a platform or mat they have constructed out of webbing. After a few hours the back will split and the tarantula will push the old skin off. It takes several days before the exoskeleton of the tarantula has hardened.
A Chaco Golden Knee Tarantula getting ready to molt.
Molted skin of the Chaco Golden Knee Tarantula.
The tarantulas fangs are used for defense and subduing prey.