Official weblog of the world's cutest Chaco Golden Knee tarantula  

Where the Wild Tarantulas Are


  © Copyright 2014 schizophrenicshoppingcartwheel. All Rights Reserved.  

Happy New Year!!!

2016 ended on a high note for Señor Sydney Sue. On December 6th, he celebrated his third birthday as well as his second year as a part of our family. We marked the occasion with the taking of photos and the eating of a tasty cricket. Sydney Sue enjoyed only one of these activities. Care to guess which one?

You can see how much larger he has grown since his last molt. He's also honed his ninja-like camouflaging skills—that stripe-y suit blends in perfectly with his cork bark cave:





Here we see Sydney Sue tormenting his tasty birthday cricket before its ultimate demise:


Sydney Sue enjoys the distinction of being the undisputed apex predator in our house. His sharp fangs, crafty disguise and blinding speed are no match for even the heartiest of tasty crickets. Don't let his puppy-dog eyes and fuzzy butt fool you—he's an exceptionally efficient hunter.

His non-domesticated cousins, however, do not share the same status. In the wild, tarantulas play an unwitting role in the food chain. Their niche as stealthy predator is usurped by their standing as delectable prey. They are a favorite meal for a variety of two- and four-legged creatures. A spider's legs are packed with nutritious protein, and their hemolymph is a fantastic source of copper.

Here we see a Buteo magnirostris, the Costa Rican Roadside hawk, dining on an Aphonopelma crinirufum, the Costa Rican Bluefront tarantula, near Sarapiqui, Costa Rica:

  © Copyright 2014 Scott Arvin. All Rights Reserved.  

Tarantulas also make a quick snack for reptiles and amphibians. Here we see an Incilius alvarius, the Sonoran Desert toad, chowing down on an Aphonopelma sp. in Arizona:

  © Copyright 2016 Michael Bogan. All Rights Reserved.  

The spider in this case was able to escape from the toad's gullet with only minimal injuries, possibly by using its urticating bristles to fend off the big, green beast. An account of the entire ordeal can be read on National Geographic's website.

  © Copyright 2016 Michael Bogan. All Rights Reserved.  

Surprisingly, tarantulas are a popular roadside treat for Homo sapiens in many Asian countries. Vendors carrying large platters of deep-fried spiders sell them as snacks to weary drivers and fearless tourists. If you're not able to visit Vietnam or Cambodia during your next holiday, edible freeze-dried tarantulas can be purchased through Amazon. Bon appétit!

  © Copyright 2009 Darrin. All Rights Reserved.  
  © Copyright 2012 Alessia. All Rights Reserved.  
  © Copyright 2013 N G. All Rights Reserved.  

On his show Gordon's Great Escape, Chef Gordon Ramsey caught, cooked and ate tarantulas with a group of local farmers. He describes the flavor as "a sort of a bitter, bile, sour taste." Yep—I think I'll just have the chicken, thank you very much.

  © Copyright 2011 Channel 4. All Rights Reserved.  

Pepsis formosa, a wasp known as the Tarantula Hawk, uses the tarantula as a food source in a less orthodox way. The spider's paralyzed body acts as a host and a meal for the wasp's unhatched egg. From Wikipedia:


The female tarantula hawk wasp stings and paralyzes a tarantula, then drags the specimen to a specially prepared brooding nest, where a single egg is laid on the spider's abdomen, and the entrance is covered…

When the wasp larva hatches, it creates a small hole in the spider's abdomen, then enters and feeds voraciously, avoiding vital organs for as long as possible to keep the spider alive. After several weeks, the larva pupates. Finally, the wasp becomes an adult and emerges from the spider's abdomen to continue the life cycle.


Just to clarify: it's the wasps's life cycle that continues—not the tarantula's.

Entomologist Justin O. Schmidt, inventor of the "Schmidt sting pain index" and author of The Sting of the Wild, rates the Tarantula Hawk's agonizing sting as a 4 out of a possible 4. He describes the pain as:


Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair dryer has just been dropped into your bubble bath. The best thing to do is to just lie down and scream. The pain is so debilitating and screaming is satisfying.


Dr. Schmidt knows firsthand the overwhelming sensation of the Tarantula Hawk's sting. He has personally been stung by all 78 of the insects listed in his index. Here we see the good doctor with a preserved Tarantula Hawk specimen:

  © Copyright 2016 Chris Richards. All Rights Reserved.  

In this photo, a Tarantula Hawk has paralyzed an Aphonopelma sp. in Georgetown, Texas and begins dragging it to its nest:

  © Copyright 2016 TORCHRIDER. All Rights Reserved.  

In 2014, Greg Rice, a regular contributor on's forum, posted a detailed account of how he rescued and nursed back to health an Aphonopelma chalcodes that had been paralyzed by a Tarantula Hawk's sting. It's a fantastic read and a heartwarming account of the "octoplegic" tarantula's resilience.


I don't know what happened to her, or why she left her burrow, only that she can't move. My leading theory is that a pepsis wasp stung her and started to drag her off, and my roommate interrupted that and it dropped her and flew away.

She seems to be doing well, and is holding herself up like a normal spider, sans the walking. She's only getting stronger. I think I'll make up some roach soup for her this weekend and feed her like the rest of my Ts. Thanks everyone for your words of encouragement. :biggrin:

When I watered her yesterday, the light hit her just right and I noticed what appeared to be a puncture wound on her sternum. This just about confirms the theory of a pepsis wasp attack.


Greg's post was accompanied by the following photos which show the massive wound he found on the tarantula's underbelly:

  © Copyright 2014 Greg Rice. All Rights Reserved.  
  © Copyright 2014 Greg Rice. All Rights Reserved.  

After several months of hand feeding and lots of love and attention, she molted! The wound from the wasp's sting was shed away with her old skin and she completely recovered from her brush with death.

  © Copyright 2015 Greg Rice. All Rights Reserved.  

"I'm so happy for her!"

We are, too! A fantastic ending to an incredible story—and a big "thank you" to Greg and everyone else who takes time out of their busy schedules to care for injured and abandoned animals. ::HIGH5::

During the new year, Sydney Sue will continue his reign as our lovable little alpha spider. Naps will be taken, tasty crickets will be eaten and the perils of the outside world will continue to go unnoticed. Such is life when you're an indoor tarantula.

Have a fantastic 2017, and remember:

Be nice to spiders!


Bonus video!

Did you know spiders can dance? Not convinced? Here is the Robugtix T8 Octoped Robot dancing a spicy salsa rumba. Olé!

  © Copyright 2013 Robugtix. All Rights Reserved.  
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