are spiders belonging to the family Theraphosidae
. They are characterized by having tarsi (feet) with two claws and claw tufts, called scopulae.
When people who knew about the tarantulas
emigrated to the Americas and discovered fearsomely large and hairy spiders in the New World, they bestowed the name "tarantula" on them. Those spiders belong to the Suborder Mygalomorphae
, the Family Theraphosidae
(Greek for thera
"wild animal, beast" + phos
"light") and the Family Dipluridae
. They can be quite large.
Tarantulas can be kept as house pets
. Common species are Chilean rose hair tarantula
and Mexican red-knee tarantula
. A terrarium
with an inch or two of damp vermiculite or a mixture of soil and sphagnum moss (but not with cedar shavings as they are toxic to many spiders) on bottom provides an ideal habitat. (Burrowing tarantulas will require a much deeper layer.) Tarantulas can be fed a variety of living animals (insects, small mice, small fish in the water bowl, and reptiles are on their menu).
The widow spiders are members of the spider genus Latrodectus, a subset of the family Theridiidae. Latrodectus includes approximately 31 recognized highly poisonous species, with the black widow spiders (Latrodectus mactans) being the best known members of the group. Envenomation by these spiders can be fatal to children and ill or infirm adults. Ordinarily, the body mass of a healthy adult is sufficient to dilute the venom to less than a fatal concentration.
The Australian funnel-web spiders are very dangerous
spiders of the family Hexathelidae
. This spider is probably one of the three most dangerous spiders in the world and is regarded by some to be the most dangerous. It has a powerful neurotoxin that is known to cause death within a period ranging from 15 minutes to three days.
The Goliath birdeater
) is a tarantula, and is arguably the largest spider in the world. Native to the rain forest regions of northern South America, these spiders have up to a 30 cm (12") long leg span when fully extended and can weigh over 120 grams.
Like most Asian tarantulas, Haplopelma lividum
is quite aggressive. As a result, it should only be kept as a pet by experienced and well-informed tarantula enthusiasts.
The greenbottle blue tarantula
, a native of Venezuela, has some of the most dramatic coloring of any spider species. The greenbottle has metallic blue legs, a blue-green carapace with a vibrant orange abdomen.
The Mexican redknee tarantula (Brachypelma smithi) is native to Mexico, but might be found in small numbers in neighboring countries. The mature Mexican redknee tarantula has a dark-colored body with orange patches on the joints of its legs, the second element of the legs (the trochanter) is orange-red.