Chilean Rose-hair Tarantula

ZOO LOCATION: My Big Backyard

Lifespan: 3-20 years in the wild, females live longer than males

Wild Diet: Insects and other arthropods, sometimes small animals (cannot swallow solid food)

Zoo Diet: Crickets

Predators: Various nocturnal animals (large mammals, reptiles, other tarantulas), hunting wasps, parasitized by nematodes or roundworms


IUCN Status: Not Evaluated.

Habitat/Range: This species of tarantula can be found in the dry grassland regions Chile, and near the edges of deserts.

Characteristics: Adults grow to be 4.5 - 5.5 inches in diameter. Colors vary from more brown to red to pink, based on where in Chile they arefrom. Tarantulas have a hard exo-skeleton and 8 jointed legs. Their body is covered by long, bristle-like hairs. The individual hairs may be sensitive to motion, heat, cold and other environmental triggers. Nearly the mouth is a pair of small sensory "arms," called pedipalps. Hairs near this area are capable of sensing basic smells and tastes. They have a cephalothorax (head and thorax segments are one) where the legs attach. The spinnerets, where the string for the web comes from, are found on the abdomen. They have 8 eyes and 2 fangs.

Behavior: Like several other species, these tarantulas are nocturnal (nighttime) hunters and find shelter as morning draws near. These tarantulas are mildly venomous and only able to digest liquid. The venom aids in digestion of prey by interfering with the prey's nervous system and also begins to break down cell tissues. To digest its prey, it vomits digestive enzymes onto its food, breaking the tissue down into a liquid that can then be sucked up through the spider's mouthparts. Spider droppings consist mostly of uric acid crystals and are usually dry and chalk-like.

Reproduction: Chilean rose-haired tarantulas reach sexual maturity at 2-3 years of age. Mating season is in September and October. Males develop tibial spurs or "mating hooks," and swollen tips on both pedipalps which contain sperm and a syringe-like instrument used to insert semen into the female. Males leave their den and roam until they find a female in their shelter. Females leave chemical signals, called pheromones, in the silk that lines their shelter to attract males. Males begin a courtship display that varies by species and an interested female responds by tapping her feet on the ground. She turns and faces the male, opens her fangs and exposing the genital opening at the bottom of her abdomen. Using his first set of legs (mating hooks), he grabs the female's fangs, pushing her upwards allowing him to release his sperm, fertilizing the female. The male will then attempt a hasty retreat, usually escaping his deadly mate.

Gestation lasts 6 weeks. The female constructs an egg sac and lays between 80-1000 eggs. She carries the egg sac around with her and aggressively guards it against an intruders until the spiderlings emerge.

Conservation: These tarantuala are often found in the pet trade and prospective pet owners need to take care that this animal did not come from the wild. Because of the wide-spread collection of this species from the wild for the pet trade, increasing collection regulations in the future may be necessary to protect it from becoming threatened and/or endangered.