“Quentin,” The Tarantula

You may enlarge any image in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a full screen image.

I’ve been posting a lot of images of birds, flowers, and cute mammals lately.  I thought I’d change things up a bit today.  Today, I’m featuring some images of a Desert Blonde Tarantula (a/k/a “Mexican Blonde Tarantula” and “Arizona Blonde Tarantula”) that lives just a few feet away from our front door.  I’ve named it “Quentin” after my favorite Hollywood director, Quentin Tarantino.  Please excuse the heavy handed play on words.

Look, I think that Quentin actually is pretty cute, but that’s just me.

Quentin has a burrow right by the sidewalk in front of our house.  The burrow entrance, a gaping hole, is about two inches in diameter.  Quentin spends its days underground.  Quentin is strictly nocturnal like all tarantulas of its species.  I took all of the images in today’s post in full darkness, using a flash to illuminate the scene.  When I first discovered this tarantula I assumed that it was a male.  I’m not certain anymore.  Quentin has both male and female characteristics.  Its blond forelegs are typical of a female and its dark abdomen is more representative of males. I’ve been told that immature tarantulas often have characteristics of both sexes and that they acquire typical adult appearance only after they mature.  Adult male tarantulas live up to about 10 years and females to 20 years or more, so Quentin may have a way to go before becoming fully mature.

Quentin is about three or three and one-half inches in diameter.  That’s medium size for a tarantula of its species.  I’ve seen them up to five inches across.

Seeing Quentin completely outside its burrow as it is in the first image is unusual.  Normally it sits with part or all of its body in its burrow, as in the second image, ready to beat a strategic retreat at a moment’s notice.

Tarantulas are ambush hunters.  They do not roam about in search of food, although adult males will leave their burrows during breeding season and roam in search of mates.  Typically, one sits at its burrow entrance, patiently waiting for something — a small invertebrate such as a cricket or a centipede — to come along that it can pounce on.  A tarantula’s metabolism is perfectly suited for this lifestyle.  It burns very little energy sitting and waiting and therefore, it needs to eat only every couple of weeks or so.

Here’s a closeup.  Quentin’s “head” (cephalothorax) is the tan area on the front of its body.  The tarantula has eight pinhead-size eyes arranged at the front of its cephalothorax.  Some of them are visible in this image.  Tarantulas probably cannot see more than gradations of light and dark.  They lack ears and noses so they really don’t hear or detect odors.

But, they have an exquisite sensitivity to vibrations.  Do you see those hundreds of tiny hairs on Quentin’s legs?  They are sensory organs.  They can pick up the slightest vibration.  A tarantula can detect something as small as a small insect walking along the ground a few feet away.  It can estimate something’s location, its size, its rate of movement, and its direction, all from the vibrations that it creates.

I have a great affection for tarantulas and I’m delighted to share our yard with Quentin.  Tarantulas are completely harmless to humans.  Quentin and all others of its species are extremely timid in humans’ presence.  I had to tiptoe up to it in order to take its picture.  Quentin would have retreated instantly back into its burrow if I had stepped too heavily.  I look forward to sharing our yard with Quentin, hopefully for years to come.

Images made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180mm f4L Macro Lens, assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, M setting, ISO 160, f16 @ 1/160.

3 responses to ““Quentin,” The Tarantula”

  1. David F. Dean says :

    Interesting animals, but I don’t know about “cute”, Steve.

  2. tkiiatmindspringcom says :

    And to think that Toshi and I have met Quentin! Or at least have seen his front door!

  3. Tom Munson says :

    He or she is a beauty, Steve. Nice shots!

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