Amazin' Amazon Mystery Animals

Mystery Animal #16: Tarantula

Hairy, scary, quite contrary ... So you think the jaguar, the caiman and the anaconda are bad?  Well, spiders are the most abundant and most diverse of all terrestrial predators. And the most fearsome of all spiders? Well most people would probably say the tarantula since tarantulas are hairy and scary, can reach the size of an adult human's hand, and have a very painful - though not deadly - 'bite.' Unlike their cousins, the web-weavers, tarantulas tackle their prey before injecting their paralyzing venom. Once its prey is immobilized, the tarantula injects more fluid - this time powerful enzymes to digest the captured food before even ingesting it. When its prey is reduced to mush, the tarantula sucks it up vacuum cleaner-style, using its stomach as a pump. Most tarantulas mainly dine on insects - and, along with other spiders, play an important role in controlling insect populations - but some tarantula species prefer larger meals, like small birds, mammals and reptiles.



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