Mexican fireleg tarantula sitting on rocky ground next to green succulents

Tarantula

Super spiders

Type

butterfly

Arthropods

Area

South America

South America

Endangered Status

Some Endangered

facts

size
4.5 to 11
inches, leg span
A soccer ball is 9 inches high.
Goliath bird eating tarantula next to a soccer ball
food
meat
insects and more
Carnivore
meat

Tarantulas also eat other spiders, small lizards, snakes, and frogs.

habitat
rain forest,
desert, steppe
desert habitat

description

A zoo keeper holds a Chilean tarantula in her hand.

Meet a tarantula

They're big and hairy, but are tarantulas scary? Not when you get to know them! Tarantulas live in warm areas around the world. While most tarantulas live in South America, they can be found on all continents except Antarctica.

Mombassa star burst tarantula in its silk webbing burrow

A cozy home

Some live in underground burrows in well-drained soil. If the soil is just right, the spider digs a deep burrow and lines it with silk webbing. Other tarantulas live on the ground under rocks or logs or the shed bark of trees, and still others live in webbed burrows in trees.

Close-up of a tarantula's face with multiple eyes

Skilled hunters

Tarantulas are nocturnal hunters that wait for their prey to come close enough to grab. They kill their prey with a bite from their fangs. The fangs release venom that kills their victim. They can also crush their prey using their powerful mouthparts.

Tarantula hawk wasp on a pink and white flower

Threats they face

Although spiders are fearsome predators, other animals often eat them. Tarantulas have many natural enemies, including lizards, snakes, spider-eating birds, and even wasps. Though people are often afraid of tarantula bites, most species' venom is only as strong as a bee's. And remember, a tarantula would rather hide from you than bite you.