Answers to Tarantula Questions

Yesterday we featured a book about tarantulas and asked some questions about them, Today we have the answers to those questions, using the illustration.


(Photograph by Jason van den Bemd)

1. Find the legs and count them. Are there eight legs?

Yes, tarantulas have eight legs like other spiders and arachnids.

2. What are those two appendages in front of the tarantula?

Those two shorter appendages at the front of the tarantula are not legs. They are called pedipalps. They are used for various purposes other than walking.

3. Can you find the eyes? Do you know how many eyes a tarantula has? Is this more than, less than or the same number as other spiders?

Tarantulas have eight small eyes. That is the same number as most spiders. One exception is the brown recluse, which has only six eyes.

4. Where are the spinnerets to make silk?

Tarantulas have spinnerets at the back of the abdomen. In this photograph they only show as a slight bump. Both males and females make silk. They use it to line their burrows. Tarantulas do not make elaborate webs.

5. Is this a male or female spider? How can you tell?

Based on the fact this spider was found out wandering around and that it has extensive black coloring on its legs and abdomen, it is reasonable to assume it is a male.

Mature male tarantulas have a hook on the tibia of the front leg, which is not visible in the photograph.

How did you do? Are you a tarantula expert?

Be sure to let me know if you have any other questions about tarantulas.



  1. Riaan Fouche

    Question: Hi… I have a Brizilian Gaint Blonde and she laid eggs twice without a male present…. Can someone explain….????????

  2. danie

    hi I have a mexian red rump and I think it is a female she has a leg span of about 3-5cm
    It looks to me as if she is getting ready to molt as her abdomen is a brownish colour and her legs are black but getting a white to grey colour to them and she is not eating
    I’ve noticed that she is behaving very strangely as she is regularly leaning towards her right side and rubbing her left legs on one other as well as on the left side of her abdomen and this will cary on for quite some time then she would proseed to lean towards her left side and do exactly the same thing with her right legs
    my question is, IS THIS NORMAL? i have asked all my friends that own a tarantula/tarantulas and non has ever heard or seen something like this
    can you please help me as I am clueless and very concerned about her wellbeing

  3. Roberta


    How long has it been since your tarantula molted last? If it has been a long time, that is probably what is going on. I would back off and leave her alone and see if that happens.

    If you have never seen a molt, the tarantula usually lays down some extra silk. Then it may actually flip over on its back and lay there. Don’t freak out, because that is normal. Give her some time alone if that happens.

    Also, when tarantulas are nervous, they kick the hairs off the back of their abdomen. Is the back of the abdomen starting to look bald? If so, then try to give her plenty of quiet time.

    Good luck!

  4. danie

    hi roberta
    I’ve gotten her in Jan and she’s molted once since then but i did not see her molt as i was asleep when it happened
    i have a friend with 13 T’s and he has never seen this behaviour in one of his
    do you think its just normal grooming behaviour or is she trying to loosen her old skin? as she is showing the same behaviour now as when she molted the first time since i got her

  5. Roberta


    If you think it is the same behavior, then maybe she is going to molt. January seems rather recently, but youngsters can molt several times a year. I’m afraid that without being able to see the conditions and what she’s doing, I can’t be much more help than that. Do you have a local club or expert you could talk to?

  6. dj

    hi i have a scarlet brown she has molted not so long ago but is doing some thing weird she spins a web and gets under it on her back then stays like that for 5 min and gets out just to do it all again in the next 10 min been going on for few weeks now i have move the cage to warmer spot also darker and less noise but still the same

    i would just like to know whats happening she is eating and in good health i have a photo if any one wants to see


  7. Roberta


    How old is your scarlet brown? Did she have any trouble during the last molt?

  8. Michael

    Hey, I have a pink toe taranchala and he is sometimes seen with two legs partially curled up and she will bite her feet. Can someone explain this behavior?

  9. Danielle


    I have a Brazilian black hair, and I recently discovered my cage infested with teeny tiny pinheads. I think she’s due for a molt in a few days it seems. I’m wary to handle her before a molt, but I’m also worried the pinheads will hurt her molt.

    What should I do?

  10. Roberta

    By pinheads, do you mean mites? I’m not familiar with what those are. Readers, do you have any suggestions?

  11. Brittany ann

    Hello, my name is Brittany and I have a stripped knee tarantula. She escaped about a week or two ago, and I just found her today. When I found her she was under my rug, and all curled up and she has no hair on her abdomen at all.. I’m really worried about her.. she let me pick her up and everything, but I’m still kinda worried bc I don’t know if she is in really bad shape or not.. since I put her back in her tank she’s been drinking a lot of water (yes I put fresh water in there for her) and she seems to be okay she no longer curled up but she’s not really moving a lot unless it’s to her water bowl then straight back to her hide.. any help or suggestions anyone could give me???

    ***I took extra precautions this time tho so no more getting out! ***

  12. Roberta

    When a tarantula is stressed, it will kick all the hairs off its abdomen. Try giving her some non-stressful quiet time to recover.

    By the way, the hairs won’t grow back until the next time she molts.

  13. Ariel

    Hi there,

    I am a new tarantula owner and I order 5 brachypelma albopolisum slings and when my order came I had an extra sling that was white creamy colour which is not the grayish pink tinted colour of my orginal B.A. but later after it bad molted the colour went from white cream to gray like the others so I don’t know if being white is normal for a B.A sling or if I got a different species. so I was wondering if there are any other brachypelma species that might be confused for the B.A and go from white to gray

  14. Roberta

    It’s likely a small color variation if it looks like the rest now. You could contact the place where you ordered it from to be sure.

  15. Blake

    I have a Avicularia avicularia and it seems to be keeping some crickets alive until they lay eggs; is this normal?

  16. Roberta

    Do you think it is getting ready to molt?

  17. Shane

    Hi was wondering if anyone could help me with my male brachypelma abapolisum. i could be over reacting but he has developed a large enough bald patch in the space of about two days and im not sure why. i have read that he could be due to molt but he hasnt eatn for some time and he appears still quite active. i dont handle him and cant see why he could possibly be stressed as i havnt changed the general routine. any help to ease my nerves would be greatly appreciated thanks.

  18. Roberta

    Hopefully it is just going to molt. Consider, too, that spiders perceive their environment differently than we do. Has there been a change in temperature? Is it possible that something new is making his cage vibrate, such as machinery or a new appliance?
    Good luck.

  19. Nastja

    Hi. Less than a week ago I bought my first tarantula (Brachypelma vagans) in a pet store. Its size is about 10 cm. It behaves very strangely almost does not move, does not react and refuses food. I can touch her, she doesn’t react, she starts moving only when I move her. It seems to me that she should behave differently. I am very scared for her. Is this behavior normal in premolt? (I don’t think so.) What should I do?

  20. Roberta

    Have you contacted the pet store? It can take a few days to adjust to a new setting or she might have sustained some sort of harm in transport. Because the people in the pet store have been caring for her, they are likely to know whether this is normal behavior or not.

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