Discover 6 types of tarantulas in Texas
Discover 6 types of tarantulas in Texas

Discover 6 types of tarantulas in Texas

The Lone Star State is home to a diverse array of animals and stunning scenery. The state is home to a wide variety of animals, including porcupines, alligators, blind salamanders, and ocelots. Tarantulas and jumping spiders are just two of the many species of spiders that can be found in Texas. In fact, even the mere thought of Texas crawls with tarantulas. However, despite the common knowledge that the Lone Star State is home to several tarantulas, only a few species can be found here.

Of the nearly 900 species of spiders in Texas, there are only six species of tarantulas. Most of the Texas species and sightings are found in the southwest and south of the state. Below, we’ll look at the 6 types of Texas tarantulas, what they look like, where they live, and more.

Background on Texas Tarantulas

Theraphosidae is a family of giant, hairy spiders that includes tarantulas, and Aphonopelma is the genus that hosts nearly all North American spider species. As previously mentioned, Texas is home to 6 different species of tarantulas. There were more than 10 species. However, this is no longer the case, thanks to a 2016 revision of the genus Aphonopelma. Several previously accepted species are now considered synonyms of other species.

These spiders are solitary and spend most of their lives in trees or burrows. Given their size, tarantulas are easy to recognize when seen. However, even with the right information and experience, distinguishing between the many species could still be a challenge. Texas brown and tan tarantulas are the most common tarantulas in Texas and can be found throughout the state. Whether you live in Texas and own or are interested in tarantulas, you may be curious about what you can find nearby. Here are six tarantulas you can find roaming the Lone Star State:

6 types of tarantulas in Texas

1. Aphonopelma Hentzi (Texas Brown Tarantula)

texas brown tarantula
The Texas brown tarantula is widespread throughout Texas, but is most common in Central Texas.

texas brown tarantula/Shutterstock.com

The Texas brown tarantula is most common in the southern United States and is widespread throughout Texas, but is most common in central Texas. One of the largest spider species native to the southern United States, adult Texas brown tarantulas have dark brown bodies, legs 4 inches (10 cm) long, and weigh over 3 ounces. However, different tarantulas can have different colors. As with many arthropods, their colors are more prominent after a molt.

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The giant, brown, fluffy spider lives in a dry environment. The Texas Brown Tarantula is a terrestrial species that frequently lives and feeds in abandoned burrows of other small animals, grasslands, burrows dug in the ground, logs, and rocks.

The Texas brown tarantula is a non-aggressive species, although it will strike the tiny hairs on its hind legs when threatened. They have gained popularity as pet spiders in the United States and other countries due to their non-aggressive and gentle nature. Their enormous fangs can make their bite uncomfortable, but not fatal.

Like other spiders, they use their venom to immobilize and aid in the digestion of their prey. They use their webs to line the entrance to their burrows to detect insects, small birds and mice before consuming them.

2. Aphonopelma Anax (Texas Tarantula)

Texas Tan Tarantula
The Texas tarantula’s body is normally tan or brown, while its legs are usually black or dark brown.

Chris A. Hamilton, Brent E. Hendrixson, Jason E. Bond / CC BY 4.0 – License

The largest tarantula that has been seen in the United States is Aphonopelma anax, sometimes known as the Texas bronze tarantula. It can reach a leg length of 5 inches, and some females have been measured as high as 6 inches. The Texas tarantula is among the most widespread tarantulas in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Near Corpus Christi, it is usually found to the south and east. In addition, Cameron County and Kleberg County have reported sightings.

As the name suggests, this tarantula’s body is normally tan or brown, while its legs are usually black or dark brown. Its color is comparable to Aphonopelma hentzi, but much darker.

Like most tarantulas of this genus, they develop slowly and fully mature within two to seven years. Males and females can be easily distinguished from each other. Like most tarantula species, females are much larger than males and have much more bulk.

These arachnids are very passive and shy away from conflict. The tan tarantula is a non-aggressive species, but if threatened, it will kick the would-be attacker with small hairs on its hind legs.

They are commonly found in the scrub forests and grasslands of southeastern Texas, where they prefer a semi-arid climate. One of the most common tarantulas in San Antonio, they are occasionally seen around the city and can also be found as far north as Austin and as far east as Houston.

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3. Aphonopelma Armada (Texas Black Spot Tarantula)

Aphonopelma Armada
The Texas Black Spotted Tarantula belongs to the group of spiders that live underground in tunnels dug by themselves or other creatures.

Chris A. Hamilton, Brent E. Hendrixson, Jason E. Bond / CC BY 4.0 – License

The Texas black-spotted tarantula, also known as Aphonopelma armada, is a species of tarantula found mostly in central and western Texas. Most sightings occur between San Angelo and Midland, although some have also been spotted throughout central Texas as far west as Dallas.

This tarantula belongs to the group of spiders that live underground in tunnels dug by themselves or other creatures. Their burrow is made of their web, which protects them from the outside world and aids their ability to spot predators. Arid and semi-arid regions such as California, Arizona, New Mexico, and portions of Nevada are also tarantula favorites.

The head and body of this species are grey, with gray legs and a small black area closest to the body. They are considered lurkers; they will wait until their prey gets close before snapping it with their jaws. Once their prey is in their grasp, they bite, inject venom that begins to decompose it, and then proceed to consume it. This tarantula eats mice, small birds, reptiles and insects like other tarantulas.

Although this tarantula is not aggressive, it will try to defend itself if it feels threatened. The initial course of action is to run away, or they might stand up on their hind legs, extending their front legs to appear larger and more menacing.

4. Aphonopelma Gabeli (Chiricahua Gray Tarantula)

Aphonopelma gabeli
Chiricahua gray tarantulas are calm and generally safe around people.

Chris A. Hamilton, Brent E. Hendrixson, Jason E. Bond / Creative Commons – License

Arizona, New Mexico, northern Mexico, and Texas are home to Aphonopelma gabeli, also known as the Chiricahua Gray Tarantula. It occurs almost exclusively in west Texas, with sporadic occurrences in Carson County and less frequently in the Panhandle. This species resembles Aphonopelma armada in appearance and has dark brown bodies and tan heads. Like most tarantulas, males possess long, dark legs, while females are larger and have slightly shorter legs. The enormous pincer-shaped appendages on this species make differentiation simple from other species living in Texas. They can be found living in former rodent burrows lined with silk.

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They are calm and generally safe around people. However, they are deadly to smaller animals, and certain bites can be incredibly painful. These spiders have huge fangs that, if not treated with medication, can pierce the skin and cause a secondary infection. The Chiricahua gray tarantula prefers to stay hidden rather than come out and confront you, even though they are venomous. When threatened, they would push out their front legs and remove fur from their bellies to make themselves appear larger.

5. Aphonopelma Moderatum (Rio Grande Golden Tarantula)

Moderate aphonopelma
The Rio Grande golden tarantula is unique to the Rio Grande Valley.

Chris A. Hamilton, Brent E. Hendrixson, Jason E. Bond/ CC BY 4.0 – License

As the name suggests, the Rio Grande golden tarantula is a species of tarantula unique to the Rio Grande Valley and rarely seen. They have also been spotted along the southern Texas/Mexico border and in Maverick County. A beautiful light brown tarantula with black leg bands is displayed by Aphonopelma moderatum. Their large bodies and short legs make them easy to recognize. The female has black leg tips and is almost entirely reddish-brown to orange-brown. The male has some reddish-brown spines (hairs) on the abdomen and is much darker in color.

This species usually lives underground or in dead trees in burrows. They will dig a web-lined burrow, which they will use as a home and hunting ground for passing prey.

This species is famous for being docile. If startled, they may shed hairs or run away, but this is unusual. This species is also an excellent choice for pets. They rarely bite humans and their venom is mild enough to cause no harm.

They are opportunistic eaters and prefer to take advantage of any food that passes by their burrow rather than go out in search of it.

6. Aphonopelma Moellendorfi

Found only in west Texas, Aphonopelma moellendorfi is a species of spider in the family Theraphosidae. David Moellendorf discovered this tarantula in Val Verde County in 2016. This species is unusual and there is not much information about it. Due to its similar size and coloration to other tarantulas in the neighborhood, it might be difficult to tell them apart, but it is said to have black legs and a brassy green thorax.

These spiders are often quite passive and only become hostile when threatened, like most Aphonopelma.