Chihuahuan Desert Wildlife: Desert Blond Tarantula

Desert Blond Tarantula

Aphonopelma chalcodes

Status: Common

Size: Legs can span up to 6 inches

Habitat: Southwestern United States, especially Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern California

Like most tarantulas this tarantula burrows in sandy soil. It emerges at sunset to hunt for prey including lizards, crickets, beetles, grasshoppers, cicadas and caterpillars.  Hair covers the body and the color varies from gray or dark brown in the cephalothorax (first two body parts) region to dark brown to black on the abdomen. 

From June through December the male goes looking for a female while carrying sperm cases he has prepared in advance. Once he mates with a female she stores the sperm to fertilize her eggs. When she is ready to lay eggs, she bathes them in the sperm and places them on a silken sheet that she has woven. After she has deposited up to 1000 eggs she covers them with another silken sheet and moves them to the front of her burrow where they can receive sunlight to keep them warm. The eggs hatch after 7 weeks and the young spiders leave the burrow 3 to 6 days later. They reach maturity after 8 to 10 years. Males survive only a few months after mating. 


Top – Andrew DuBois, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Cover and bottom – Patrick Coin, Wikimedia Creative Commons

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