TarantulaScientific Species Name: Grammostola pulchripes
Ecological role: ground predator
Native habitat: tropical South America 
Lifespan: 10 years or more
Maximum legspan: 8 inches
Life Cycle: Incomplete Metamorphosis 

Tarantulas are primitive spiders that live mostly in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. Not all tarantulas are large, but among their 900 species are some of the biggest spiders on earth. The Chaco Golden Knee is one of the larger species of tarantula, with a legspan of up to about eight inches. It is native to South America, where it lives in grassy Argentinean lowlands (the Gran Chaco region). All tarantulas are predators, and they will eat any living prey that they can capture and kill, including mice, birds, large insects, and lizards. Tarantulas do not build large webs and they do not use webs to capture prey. Instead, they actively hunt for their prey. Tarantulas can produce silk, however, and they use it to line their burrows and to make their egg sacs. Tarantulas like the Chaco Golden Knee can lay hundred of eggs in a single egg sac. 

Is It Dangerous?

Tarantulas have very large venomous fangs (in this tarantula, the fangs are the size and shape of cat-claws!) and bites are painful, but the venom is only dangerous to people who experience severe allergic reactions to bites and stings. Like most tarantulas from the western hemisphere, this tarantula also possesses “urticating hairs.” These tiny hairs are a defense, and they can be “kicked” from the top of the tarantula’s abdomen. They can cause severe reactions in the eyes, respiratory system, and skin of predators (or people) who try to touch the tarantula. 

Tarantulas in Kentucky?

Tarantulas do not live in Kentucky, but some of their close relatives do, including trap-door spiders and purseweb spiders. Kentucky is also home to many species of wolf spiders and fishing spiders--these aren't related to tarantulas, but they look very similar, and some of them are almost as big as tarantulas! Large tarantulas can be found as close as Missouri and Arkansas. 

Even More About Tarantulas

Wikipedia: Tarantulas
Kentucky Spiders

Small World