For many people, big, hairy spiders are the stuff of nightmares. Such animals have often been depicted as potential killers with potent venoms and an aggressive nature. The tarantula became synonymous with horror, but they are a very misunderstood creature. Most tarantulas are very docile creatures that are pretty much harmless to us. They are only ever likely to bite if provoked, and don’t have a venom that is dangerous to us except for in rare circumstances. Many species have stunningly beautiful patterns in highly vivid colours, and one species of tarantula is the largest of all spider species.
Despite a bad reputation, more people are beginning to understand these placid creatures better. They are being taken into the home as pets and are kept all around the world, with some very rare and beautiful species fetching very high prices among keepers. For others, they simply make for a fascinating pet. Many tarantula species are fairly easy to keep, with no expert equipment or knowledge required.
Tarantulas have been the subject of a lot of research and we have found out a great deal about them. In finding out so much about them, we have been able to reveal some fascinating facts.
Tarantula Fact #10: Shed Skins
Tarantulas, along with other arachnids, don’t have an internal skeleton of bone and cartilage as we do. Instead, they have an exoskeleton, which means a ‘skeleton’ on the outside of their bodies. This helps to act as armour for the animal, offering protection to them against attack. This armour doesn’t grow, however, making it difficult for them to grow within it. When they become too large for their exoskeleton, they shed it, revealing a softer skeleton below. This softer skeleton will expand to help the spider grow and the shell will then harden, restarting the cycle.
Tarantulas are vulnerable during shedding and should be left well alone during this time. It can take hours or, in some cases, days. The old exoskeleton will come away almost intact in most cases, leaving behind an empty shell. Soon after shedding, the spider will be at their best aesthetically, often with bright colourings that stand out vividly.
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