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17 Types of Tarantulas: Species, Facts and Photos

With their hairy legs and large, downward-pointing fangs, tarantulas thrive worldwide, from the Americas to Asia. This article explores the diverse types of tarantula species, highlighting habitat and appearance differences. Read on to learn more about these arachnids.

Tarantula Classification

Tarantulas are giant and hairy arachnids from the Theraphosidae family. As of writing, 1,089 identified species span 166 genera1. While the term tarantula commonly represents Theraphosidae family members, it's also used for other Mygalomorphae infraorder members, which is why they are also referred to as false tarantulas.

These spider types are present across the United States, Central and South America, Mexico, parts of Africa, Asia, Australia, and select European regions.

Related Read: Tarantula Facts.

17 Types of Tarantulas

1. Goliath Bird-eater (Theraphosa blondi)

Goliath Bird-eater
Photo by Ltshears on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Goliath Birdeater is the largest tarantula species by mass and is native to South America's rainforests. The species also protects itself by releasing tiny, barbed hairs that can cause severe irritation and blindness. 

Moreover, it captures prey by stealthily approaching them at night and injecting venom with its 1-inch fangs. Despite its name, it does not eat birds. It feeds on insects, amphibians, rodents, and small reptiles. Even if it is intimidating, it tends to avoid confrontation.

It communicates by rubbing the bristles on its legs together to create a hissing sound, a behavior known as stridulation. 

2. Mexican Redknee Tarantula (Brachypelma smithi)

 Mexican Redknee Tarantula
Photo by Olei on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 (Cropped from original).

The Mexican Red-knee Tarantula is a New World species that lives in the tropical deciduous forests of Mexico's Pacific coast. It has a black and brown body with red-orange hues on the joints of its legs. 

The tarantula is docile and suitable for beginners but can become defensive if threatened. Moreover, this silent hunter prefers to ambush its prey, including insects, small lizards, and sometimes birds. 

Although its venom poses no significant threat to humans, it is best to observe the Mexican Red-knee Tarantula from a safe distance.

3. Brazilian Black Tarantula (Grammostola pulchra)

Brazilian Black Tarantula
Photo by Mike Peel on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Brazilian Black Tarantula lives in the grasslands of Brazil and Uruguay. This nocturnal species primarily feeds on insects but can occasionally prey on small lizards and mice. 

It has a black, glossy appearance and a docile nature, which is why the Brazilian Black Tarantula makes for a good pet. Moreover, it has a longer lifespan than other tarantula species; females live up to 20 years, and males survive for five years. 

4. Pink Zebra Beauty (Eupalaestrus campestratus)

Pink Zebra Beauty
Photo by Dick Culbert on Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Pink Zebra Beauty tarantula is a ground-dwelling spider in Argentina and Paraguay. It has pink stripes on a light-colored body, grows up to six inches in leg span, and is active at night. 

These New World tarantulas are calm and approachable but can appear intimidating when threatened. They primarily feed on insects and have a strong instinct for burrowing. In captivity, they grow slowly and have a long lifespan. Moreover, their bite is harmless to humans. 

5. King Baboon Tarantula (Pelinobius muticus)

King Baboon Tarantula
Photo by Amada44 on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 (Cropped from original).

The King Baboon Tarantula is a giant spider species from East Africa. It has a leg span of up to 7.5 inches and a reddish-brown to deep, earthy brown coloring. Unlike many tarantulas, it has no urticating hairs.

When threatened, the spider rubs its front legs to create a hissing sound. It is primarily active at night and prefers to wait for prey to come to it. Its diet includes insects, small mammals, and reptiles. 

However, this type of tarantula is not recommended for novice handlers due to its aggressive nature and venomous bite. 

6. Desert Blonde Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes)

Desert Blonde Tarantula
Photo by Marc BRETHES on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Desert Blonde Tarantula inhabits the arid wilderness of Arizona and parts of Mexico. Its sandy, light color helps it blend with its surroundings. 

Moreover, this type of tarantula is primarily active at night and retreats to its burrow during the day. It preys on insects and occasionally feeds on small lizards or rodents. The Desert Blonde Tarantula is gentle but can flick irritating hairs from its abdomen when threatened. It is advisable to observe this spider from a safe distance.

7. Greenbottle Blue Tarantula (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens)

Greenbottle Blue Tarantula
Photo by snakecollecor on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Greenbottle Blue Tarantula is a medium-sized tarantula native to the Paraguaná peninsula in Venezuela. It has vibrant hues of blue on its legs and a metallic green-blue sheen on its carapace. 

This earth-dweller constructs intricate tunnel systems in harsh, arid conditions such as deserts and scrublands. It is active during the day and feeds mainly on insects. However, it may occasionally consume small lizards and rodents. 

The Greenbottle Blue Tarantula is aggressive towards its prey. When threatened, it flicks urticating hairs as a defensive tactic. Due to its defensive nature, it requires cautious handling as a pet tarantula.

8. South American Pink toe Tarantula (Avicularia avicularia)

South American Pink toe Tarantula
Photo by Luis Alejandro Cisneros on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The South American Pink Toe Tarantula is native to Central and South American countries and changes color with age. Juveniles have pink bodies and dark feet, turning into dark bodies with pink feet as adults. 

At full maturity, they reach a length of six inches. Their lifespan falls short, with males surviving for 2-3 years, while females live between 6-9 years. Regarding physical features, male tarantulas have barbed hairs, and females have hairs at the proximal end. 

They're ambush predators, responding when threatened. Their venom is mild compared to other South American tarantulas.

9. Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula (Aphonopelma seemanni)

Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula
Photo by David J. Stang on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula or Striped-knee Tarantula lives in the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica. They have dark and light bands on their legs. 

They are nocturnal and prey on insects, small lizards, and occasionally tiny mammals. Moreover, they carve out homes in the ground or move into vacant ones. 

10. Indian Ornamental Tarantula (Poecilotheria regalis)

Indian Ornamental Tarantula
Photo by Chris Parker on Flickr licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Indian Ornamental Tarantula lives in South India and Sri Lanka. This arboreal species spends most of its time off the ground and creates complex homes within tree hollows. 

Moreover, it has a leg span of up to seven inches, featuring a bluish-black body with white stripes and a yellow underbelly. 

It primarily feeds on insects and small vertebrates and has a venomous bite that poses a mild to moderate threat to humans. Due to its speed, agility, and defensiveness, it is a challenging pet for tarantula enthusiasts.

11. Trinidad Chevron Tarantula (Psalmopoeus cambridgei)

Trinidad Chevron Tarantula
Photo by Fungus Guy on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Trinidad Chevron Tarantula is a visually striking species originating from the tropical rainforests of Trinidad. These arboreal tarantulas are skilled climbers and are rarely found on the ground. 

Females display chevron-shaped marks, green and brown colors with red or orange leg flashes. Meanwhile, sexually dimorphic males exhibit uniform grey or brown colors, appearing smaller in comparison.

While visually impressive, Trinidad Chevron Tarantulas can be temperamental when they feel threatened. They are nocturnal hunters and feed mainly on insects but may also consume small lizards or rodents. While their venom is not a significant threat to humans, it may cause some discomfort.

12. Cobalt Blue Tarantula (Haplopelma lividum)

Cobalt Blue Tarantula
Photo by Rushenb on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Cobalt Blue Tarantula is a medium-sized spider inhabiting Myanmar and Thailand's monsoon forests. Its electric-blue color makes it easily noticeable. 

It prefers to stay in damp burrows, soil, or rotting logs to avoid the heat and hunt prey. It feeds on insects, rodents, and lizards. 

Unlike other tarantulas, the Cobalt Blue Tarantula doesn't have urticating hairs as a defense mechanism. It uses its venomous bite instead. This tarantula can be aggressive when threatened. 

Although not lethal to humans, its bite can cause severe pain, fever, and muscle cramps. Due to its nature and powerful bite, this tarantula is best left to experienced keepers.

13. Salvador Sun Tiger Tarantula (Pseudhapalopus sp.)

The Salvador Sun Tiger Tarantula inhabits the rainforests of El Salvador. They have distinctive orange and black markings and build funnel-shaped webs in tree bark or rocky recesses. 

They use their webs as ambush points to strike their prey. Although not venomous to humans, their bite can still be painful. 

They are popular among spider enthusiasts due to their vivid coloration and active behavior. However, they require high-humidity environments and experienced handlers.

14. Orange Baboon Tarantula (Pterinochilus murinus)

Orange Baboon Tarantula
Photo by Prianteltix on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Orange Baboon Tarantula is found in Central, East, and Southern Africa. It has a striking orange coloration and is a vigilant predator that feeds on insects, small lizards, and even small rodents. Females are attentive parents who produce large egg sacs full of spiderlings. 

Moreover, this fiery type of tarantula is notorious for its aggressive behavior and potent venom, earning it the nickname "Orange Bitey Thing" or OBT. Its aggressive and dangerous nature is not recommended for faint-hearted people.

15. Mexican Red Rump Tarantula (Brachypelma vagans)

 Mexican Red Rump Tarantula
Photo by Fungus Guy on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Mexican Red Rump Tarantula is native to the coastal plains of Colima and Jalisco in Mexico. These terrestrial creatures make their homes in burrows, under rocks, or within fallen logs. 

Moreover, they are nocturnal and mainly hunt insects, but larger individuals may also prey on small lizards or rodents. 

Mexican Red Rumps release a cloud of urticating hairs when threatened, which can cause skin irritation. While they might be docile species, it is always important to handle them with care. Mexican Red Rump Tarantulas are popular among exotic pet enthusiasts.

16. Peacock Tarantula (Poecilotheria metallica)

Peacock Tarantula
Photo by Micha L. Rieser on Wikimedia Commons.

The Peacock Tarantula, native to Andhra Pradesh's deciduous forests in South India, is the sole blue species in the Poecilotheria genus. It favors tall trees and utilizes holes to establish asymmetrical funnel webs.

The Peacock Tarantula, an arboreal creature, predominantly feeds on various flying insects. Although its dey bite feels like a bee sting, it hasn't caused human fatalities, but it can lead to discomfort or health concerns.

Sadly, this critically endangered tarantula suffers from habitat decline2, which is also restricted. Firewood lopping and timber harvesting degrade their forest homes.

17. Chilean Rose Tarantula (Grammostola rosea)

Chilean Rose Tarantula
Photo by David J. Stang on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

Chilean Rose Tarantulas, familiarly known as rose hair tarantulas, are native to the desert regions of northern Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina. They thrive in these environments, finding sustenance from a varied diet. 

Typically, these types of tarantulas consume beetles, grasshoppers, and mealworms. However, larger prey, such as small lizards and rodents, aren't off the menu. These spiders bring down their prey with venom, but their primary defense mechanism is their urticating hairs.

Often kept as pets, these hardy species are admired for their manageable nature and straightforward upkeep requirements.

1

World Spider Catalog. (2024). World Spider Catalog. Version 25.0. Natural History Museum Bern, online at http://wsc.nmbe.ch, accessed on {March 8, 2024}.

2

Molur, S., Daniel, B.A. & Siliwal, M. (2008). Poecilotheria metallica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T63563A12681959. 

By Mike Gomez, BA.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by Josie Alheli Holgado Tupa on Pexels.
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