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Desert Blond Tarantula Fact File

Aphonopelma chalcodes

Credit: Chris A. Hamilton, Brent E. Hendrixson, Jason E. Bond, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Weight

Insufficient

Data

Length

15cm

(6in)

Lifespan

Males 10-12 years

Females 20-25 years

Diet

Carnivores

Insects

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

Watch out for the Hair!

The desert blond tarantula is an arachnid found in parts of the southern United States and northern Mexico.

To defend themselves this species is equipped with Urticating hairs. These are hairs which can be detached and have special barbs which help them to attach to the skin of predators which will irritate them and hopefully distract them from eating the spider.

They are carnivores which will spend their time seeking out invertebrates.

These animals are threatened by vehicle strikes. During mating season males will make large movements which often see them moving across roads.

Read on to learn more about these intriguing invertebrates.

Appearance

What does the Desert Blond Tarantula look like?

Males and females have differing appearances. The female is a standard tan color across her entire body while the male is tri-colored with black legs, a copper colored cephalothorax and a reddish abdomen.

Across their body they are covered in a short coat of hairs.

An average desert blond tarantula will measure 15cm (6in) long.

Males often have longer legs than females.

Adaptations

How does the Desert Blond Tarantula survive in its habitat?


Male desert blond tarantulas have a small hook on the back of their leg which can be used to hold the female during mating.

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Diet

What does the Desert Blond Tarantula eat?

The desert blond tarantula is a carnivore which will feed on a range of invertebrates.

These animals have little requirement for water.

Learn more about the Desert Blond Tarantula in this video from Nat Geo WILD on YouTube

Range

Where do you find the Desert Blond Tarantula?

North America is the native home of the desert blond tarantula. Their range takes in part of southern Arizona, California and northern Mexico.

Habitat

Where can the Desert Blond Tarantula survive?

These animals make their home in desert habitats which are dominated by saguaro.

These animals will shelter in a burrow. This can be between 25 and 50cm (10-20in) long. A number of silk strands will be stretched across the opening to their burrow.

Often they will make use of the abandoned burrows of rodents.

Desert Blond Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes)

Credit: Chris A. Hamilton, Brent E. Hendrixson, Jason E. Bond, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Reproduction

How does the Desert Blond Tarantula produce its young?

Males begin their mating advances by stroking silk lines at the entrance to her burrow.

During mating the male is at risk as the female may eat him to obtain energy to use while raising their young. As soon as mating is complete he will quickly leave to try and escape this.

Females may retain sperm from a mating to fertilize several clutches of eggs. She can retain this until she next sheds her skin.

While females produce a large number of eggs few of these will reach adulthood.

It takes a long time for a desert blond tarantula to reach maturity. Females achieve this around 10 years old while males achieve this at 10-12 years old.

Males will only live a few months after they mate.

Behavior

What does the Desert Blond Tarantula do during its day?

During winter these animals will plug the entrance to their burrow using soil, rocks and silk. This seals them inside and they will remain largely inactive during the coldest part of the year. They survive during this time using stored fat reserves.

These animals are active by night.

They are considered solitary and will only come together to mate.

Desert Blond Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes)

Credit: Ondřej Řehák, Czech Republic, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What stops the Desert Blond Tarantula from surviving and thriving?

These animals are prey for tarantula hawk wasps. These inject the spider with poison and paralyze it. It will then be dragged back to the wasps burrow where the wasp will lays its egg in the tarantula. The eggs hatch and this spider becomes their first food source.

During summer large numbers of males are seen crossing roads as they attempt to find a mate making them vulnerable to vehicle strikes.

When threatened these animals can use hairs on their abdomen to defend themselves. They will detach these hairs which have barbs which help to make them stick in the skin of the predator. These are irritating for the threat.

This species is a popular pet in some areas of the world.

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Quick facts

They may also be known as the desert tarantula, Arizona blond tarantula or the western tarantula.

Their species name, chalcodes, is taken from the word chalco meaning 'brass.' This is in reference to their blond hairs.

Desert Blond Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes)

Credit: Snake collector, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Frogs, J., 2022. Arizona Blonde Desert Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes) Care Sheet – Josh's Frogs How-To Guides. [online] Josh's Frogs How-To Guides. Available at: <https://www.joshsfrogs.com/catalog/blog/2020/02/arizona-blonde-desert-tarantula-aphonopelma-chalcodes-care-sheet/> [Accessed 3 February 2022].

Paintedreptile.com. 2022. Desert Blonde Tarantula Care Sheet. [online] Available at: <https://www.paintedreptile.com/desert-blonde-tarantula-care-sheet> [Accessed 3 February 2022].

Peoria Zoo. 2022. Desert Blond Tarantula – Peoria Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.peoriazoo.org/animal-groups/invertebrates/desert-blond-tarantula/> [Accessed 3 February 2022].

Desertmuseum.org. 2022. Arizona blond tarantula – Aphonopelma chalcodes. [online] Available at: <https://www.desertmuseum.org/books/nhsd_tarantula.php> [Accessed 3 February 2022].

The Tarantula Collective. 2022. Arizona Blond Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes) care — The Tarantula Collective. [online] Available at: <https://www.thetarantulacollective.com/caresheets/aphonopelma-chalcodes> [Accessed 3 February 2022].

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