Mexican Blond Tarantulas In Our Back Yard — I Learn Something About Fluffy

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It was only yesterday that I said the gender of the two tarantulas living in our back yard was indeterminate because both of them were immature.  What a difference an evening makes!

Last night I went out to check on Fluffy and Buffy.  Buffy was in its usual stance, peeking out of its burrow.  Finding no photo opportunities there, I moved on to Fluffy’s burrow.  I saw a tarantula sitting on the ground a few inches in front of the burrow and I immediately assumed it was Fluffy.  My initial reaction was that Fluffy was quite a bit larger than I’d thought.

I was surprised when I trained my flashlight on the spider.  This is what I saw.

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This is not Fluffy!  This is an adult male Mexican Blonde Tarantula, apparently lovesick and hoping that Fluffy will reciprocate his affections.

It may be that Fluffy is still too young for love but I have no doubt now that she’s a female.  The male (I named him “Toughie” for purposes of identification) wouldn’t be hanging around her burrow if he didn’t view her as a potential girlfriend.

Toughie is substantially larger than either Fluffy or Buffy.  I’d estimate that he’s about five inches in diameter.  The nearly black abdomen and the long black legs clearly identify him as a male.  I still think that Fluffy and Buffy are immature, because adult females of this species generally are as large or larger than the males.

Our summer Monsoon is the season of romance for tarantulas.  Females never leave the vicinity of their burrows.  Males, on the other hand, wander, hoping to find love.  It’s a bittersweet thing for these males because they die shortly after mating. The females can live on for years.

I’ll move on to something else tomorrow, but a few more words about tarantulas before I leave the subject.  Tarantulas are members of an ancient order of spiders known as “Myaglomorphs.”  They are considered primitive in comparison to other, more highly evolved species.  They comprise only a small fraction of known spider species and there are only a few species of tarantula living in the United States.  Mexican Blonde Tarantulas are resident in southern Arizona and Mexico.  I know that a lot of people find these giant spiders to be horrifying but they are benign and beneficial.  They have no interest in humans, preferring to live their lives without any contact with us or our dwellings.  They are in fact, quite timid.  A tarantula’s typical reaction on encountering a human is to run and hide.  One never bites unless provoked. Its bite is only mildly painful.

I’ve very much enjoyed observing Fluffy, Buffy, and Toughie.  I’ll report on any new developments in their lives as they occur.

Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180 mm f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, M setting, ISO 160, f10 @ 1/160.

2 responses to “Mexican Blond Tarantulas In Our Back Yard — I Learn Something About Fluffy”

  1. Jeff Montgomery says :

    Steve, these are excellent and clear images. Thank you for making them available!

  2. justin says :

    It’s gotta be pretty cool to see these locally. Here on the east coast we don’t get any big spiders besides the wolf spiders. They don’t get anywhere close to the size of these.

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