New Mexico: Tarantula

2019 February 24

On December 4, 2018, Dale took us to see the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument, which is accessed by hiking a mile or so up a dry riverbed. While we were walking, Rosie and I had gotten quite a way ahead when we heard Sam yelling something faintly in the distance. So we turned around to see what was going on, until we could make out what Sam was saying: “I found a tarantula!”


And indeed she had. I think it was a male (which tend to be smaller than females), but even so he was big enough that he would have filled the palm of my hand if I had picked him up.


He wasn’t terribly cooperative at first, tending to stay kind of scrunched up, but he was also pretty lethargic due to the cool temperatures that day. Eventually, he positioned himself in such a way that I could photograph him properly.



I think it is most likely a Desert Blonde Tarantula, Aphonopelma chalcodes, which are common in New Mexico. They are apparently a bit more brightly colored during the breeding season in late summer/early fall, but before breeding season they are inconspicuously colored.

Male desert blonde tarantulas live 5-10 years, dying soon after they reach sexual maturity, while the females can live 30 years or so. This one is big enough that he is probably going to mature next summer.

3 Responses
  1. February 24, 2019

    The tiny eye pod up on the top looks like a control center.

    Great photos as always!

  2. February 27, 2019

    Yes, when you look at the eyes and mouthparts, it is pretty clear that tarantulas are quite different from other spiders.

  3. March 6, 2019

    I wonder – do they have larger brains than other spiders, or is the whole thing just chassis and motor?

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