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Tarantula Spider Control

Tarantula Overview

Tarantulas comprise a group of large and often ″hairy″ spiders of the family Theraphosidae (technically, spiders possess setae, not true hairs. Currently, about 1,000 species have been identified. The term tarantula is usually used to describe members of the family Theraphosidae, although many other members of the same infraorder (Mygalomorphae) are commonly referred to as “tarantulas” or “false tarantulas”. Some of the more common species have become popular in the exotic pet trade. Many New World species kept as pets have urticating hairs that can cause irritation to the skin, and in extreme cases, cause damage to the eyes.

Like all arthropods, the tarantula is an invertebrate that relies on an exoskeleton 

for muscular support. Like other Arachnida, a tarantula’s body comprises two main parts, the prosoma (or cephalothorax) and the opisthosoma (or abdomen). The prosoma and opisthosoma are connected by the pedicel, or pregenital somite. This waist-like connecting piece is actually part of the prosoma and gives the opisthosoma a wide range of motion relative to the prosoma.

Tarantula sizes can range from as small as the size of a BB pellet to as large as a dinner plate when the legs are fully extended. Depending on the species, the body length of tarantulas ranges from 0.180 to 4.33071 in (5 to 110 mm), with leg spans of 8–30 cm (3–12 in).[citation needed] Leg span is determined by measuring from the tip of the back leg to the tip of the front leg on the opposite side. Some of the largest species of tarantula may weigh over 85 g (3 oz); the largest of all, the goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi) from Venezuela and Brazil, has been reported to attain a weight of 170 g (6.0 oz) and a leg-span up to 30 cm (12 in), males being longer and females greater in girth. The fang size of this tarantula reaches a maximum of 3.8 cm (1.5 in)

Tarantula Bites and Urticating Bristles

All tarantulas are venomous and some bites cause serious discomfort that might persist for several days. In general, the effects of the bites of all kinds of tarantula are not well known. While the bites of many species are known to be no worse than a wasp sting, accounts of bites by some species are reported to be very painful and to produce intense spasms that may recur over a period of several days; the venom of the African tarantula Pelinobius muticus also causes strong hallucinations. [need quotation to verify][additional citation(s) needed] For Poecilotheria species, researchers have described more than 20 bites with the delayed onset of severe and diffuse muscle cramps, lasting for several days, that 

in most cases resolved completely with the use of benzodiazepines and magnesium. In all cases, seeking medical aid is advised. Because other proteins are included when a toxin is injected, some individuals may suffer severe symptoms due to an allergic reaction rather than to the venom. Such allergic effects can be life-threatening.[citation needed] Additionally, the large fangs of a tarantula can inflict painful puncture wounds, which can lead to secondary bacterial infections if not properly treated.

Before biting, a tarantula may signal its intention to attack by rearing up into a “threat posture”, which may involve raising its prosoma and lifting its front legs into the air, spreading and extending its fangs, and (in certain species) making a loud hissing by stridulating. Tarantulas often hold this position for longer than the duration of the original threat. Their next step, short of biting, may be to slap down on the intruder with their raised front legs. If that response fails to deter the attacker, the tarantulas of the Americas may next turn away and flick urticating hairs toward the pursuing predator. The next response may be to leave the scene entirely, but especially if no line of retreat is available, their final response may also be to whirl suddenly and bite. Some tarantulas are well known to give “dry bites”, i.e., they may defensively bite some animal that intrudes on their space and threatens them, but they do not pump venom into the wound.

Most New World tarantulas are equipped with urticating hairs on their abdomens, and almost always throw these barbed bristles as the first line of defense. These bristles irritate sensitive areas of the body and especially seem to target curious animals that may sniff these bristles into the mucous membranes of the nose. Some species have more effective urticating bristles than others. The goliath birdeater is known for its particularly irritating urticating bristles. They can penetrate the cornea, so eye protection should be worn when handling such tarantulas.

Old World tarantulas have no urticating bristles and are more likely to attack when disturbed. They often have more potent, medically significant venom, and are faster and much more nervous and defensive than New World species.

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