What is the Most Dangerous Tarantula?
The tarantula is one of the few species of creatures that inspire fear and fascination at the same time, and insect lovers know what I’m talking about. There are little over 1,000 species of tarantulas worldwide, each species with its unique grotesque appeal.
But what is the most dangerous species of tarantula in the world? This question is important, since all tarantulas are venomous, and their bites can produce varying effects. Some species will only cause mild discomfort, similar to a wasp sting, while others can inflict lasting pain, muscle spasms, and even hallucinations.
Tarantulas also have bristles covering their bodies, like little hairs called setae. These act as both a defensive and offensive mechanism, since they can cause irritation in attackers and will kill small prey like rodents. But some tarantulas are more dangerous and deadly than others.
The one we will be talking about today is the Queensland whistling tarantula (Selencosmia crassipes).
Here are some fast facts about the Whistling tarantula for a brief but comprehensive profile:
- This species is endemic to Queensland, Australia, hence the name
- The whistling part comes from the spider’s ability to produce a specific threatening hiss when confronted with a danger; the tarantula has also received the name “the barking spider” for the same reason
- The tarantula’s powerful venom can kill a dog within 30 minutes after the bite
- Young Whistling tarantulas live in underground burrows that could be up to 3.3 feet deep, while adults can double its depth
- The spider’s fangs can grow up to 0.39 inches as an adult
Where do Whistling Tarantulas Live?
The Whistling tarantula is endemic to Australia. There are 2 notable species of tarantulas roaming, slightly different in appearance, that occupy different areas on Australian land.
The first species belongs to the Phlogius and Coremiocnemis genera and will display a more accelerated growth rate compared to other species. This makes the Phlogius genera preferred among tarantula lovers, who tend to prioritize these spiders as pets. You can find this species primarily around east Queensland.
The second species belongs to the Selenotholus genera and is typically widespread in more arid areas like deserts and open forests. This species doesn’t grow as fast as the first one.
Both species are similar in appearance, with thick hairy legs, different shades of brown, and bulky abdomens.
How Dangerous is the Whistling Tarantula?
The most interesting aspect regarding tarantulas is that scientific literature has little information about certain species. We know they exist and how they typically function, but we don’t know much of the specifics. This includes how their venom functions and which symptoms to expect after the bite.
This brings us to the Whistling tarantula. This species has a very potent venom, unlike most tarantulas. While most tarantulas are venomous, their venom isn’t particularly dangerous; it will only inflict some temporary discomfort that you can withstand with minimal efforts. The situation is different with the Whistling tarantula.
While this spider’s venom will not kill you, it will inflict severe discomfort with varying symptoms. The most notable one is nausea and severe vomiting for up to 6 hours, along with alarming swelling around the area of the bite. The pain and the swelling may last for 24 hours or more.
So, the Whistling tarantula’s venom will not kill you but will cause extensive discomfort for longer periods of time. However, the spider’s venom is lethal for smaller animals like rodents, birds, and even dogs and cats.
What do Whistling Tarantulas Eat?
The Whistling tarantula has many names, including barking-spider and bird-spider. Interestingly enough, they are both wrong, since the spider doesn’t bark but whistle and doesn’t eat birds. Not because they couldn’t but because it’s unlikely that they can catch them. If a Whistling tarantula can catch a bird, it will definitely eat it.
Until such a thing can happen, the Whistling spider will eat various invertebrates, including insects, spiders, and vertebrates like frogs, lizards, and geckos. The venom will usually kill the victim fast, allowing the tarantula to drag it into its nest and begin the feast.
How Big do Whistling Tarantulas Get?
The typical Whistling tarantula will reach up to 2.5 inches with a leg spread of 6.5. This makes the tarantula larger than the hand. Its impressive size allows it to hunt prey that’s atypical for most spiders and makes the creature scarier.
Can You Keep a Whistling Tarantula as Pet?
Yes, you can. Tarantulas, particularly this species, have grown in popularity immensely among pet and insect lovers. There are primarily 3 reasons why you should get a pet tarantula:
- Exoticism – There’s hardly any animal more exotic and exquisite than the tarantula.
- Ease of care – Tarantulas aren’t pretentious creatures. Provide them with a secure and lush environment, a thick substrate, a warm environment, and regular food, and it will ask for nothing else. Except for love, maybe.
- Long lifespan – A male Whistling tarantula will live up to 8 years in ideal conditions. On the other hand, the female may reach 20-25 or even 30 years. This makes the tarantula a great pet option since it will become a member of your family.
But what should you know when keeping a pet tarantula? The tarantula has some unusual environmental requirements compared to other pets, but the tarantula is an unusual creature.
Here’s how to set up its living space adequately:
- Setting the terrarium – The tarantula’s living space needs to be at least 3 times longer and 2 times wider than its leg span. A 5-gallon tank should do just fine since tarantulas don’t use to wander too much. Provide the animal with hiding places, including rocks, a cave, or wood.
- Provide thick substrate – The Whistling tarantula is an ambush predator and will spend most of its time underground. It will only come out to catch the prey and get some air occasionally. Consider that, in the wild, the spider may build burrows that may go to 3 to 6 feet deep. Obviously, there’s no way you can provide them with similar conditions in captivity. But have the substrate thick enough for the tarantula to build a practical burrow and hide its body inside with ease.
- Ensuring optimal diet – Tarantulas consume a variety of prey, including insects, other spiders, lizards, etc. The good news is that one consistent meal should last your tarantula several days up to a week. If you want to feed your tarantula properly, provide it with varying food sources. These may include crickets, roaches, mealworms, silkworms, and even small mice. As a useful tip, you can grow your crickets at home, feed them nutritious food, and even cover them in vitaminic powder before feeding them to your spider.
As additional advice, keep your tarantula shielded from direct sunlight, remove any uneaten food, and clean its habitat every 6 months.
As you can see, the Whistling tarantula is very low maintenance. If I were to mention a downside, it would probably be the fact that you can’t really pet it.
The Whistling tarantula is a fascinating animal that more and more people adopt a a pet. With proper care, your Whistling tarantula will live for decades, effectively becoming a family member.
Just make sure you avoid holding it without protection and stay clear of its fangs. Its bite is no joke.