Mexican blonde tarantulas (Aphonopelma chalcodes) are hairy, burrowing arachnids that live all over the southwestern region of the United States -- think parts of California, New Mexico and Arizona. Although many of them live out in their natural desert environments, these sizable spiders are occasionally kept as exotic pets. They are also often known as desert blonde tarantulas and Arizona blonde tarantulas.
These nocturnal, eight-legged creatures usually grow to between 3 and 4 inches long. Males of the species are usually a blend of colors, with elements such as red bellies and black limbs. Females, on the other hand, are beige all over. When it's bright out during the daytime, Mexican blonde tarantulas generally remain tucked away, either below stones or within their burrows. They usually stay close to their burrowing areas, with the exception of times of reproduction. Visibility for the species is at a peak in the summer, when their environments receive ample rainfall.
Mexican blonde tarantulas do not pose a major threat to people, indicates Animal Diversity Web of the University of Michigan. Although they are indeed venomous, the stuff is not considered to be at all potent. Their bites do hurt temporarily, but are comparable in severity to bee stings. The protective hairs on their bodies feel spiky to the touch and can occasionally lead to irritation in humans and animals, especially as they are sometimes difficult to extract from the skin. These hairs only become an issue during times of defense, however. When they feel frightened, these tarantulas may rub these hairs against the skin of whatever's threatening them -- ick! This can drive attackers away with their sharp and spiny textures. If you're ever concerned about your encounter with a Mexican blonde tarantula, however, do not hesitate to promptly visit a doctor, especially if you're worried about allergic responses.
Mexican blonde tarantulas are kept as pets for two notable reasons. Firstly, they are generally mild and docile. Secondly, their care is not considered to be overly complicated or time-consuming.
Although Mexican blonde tarantulas aren't much of a danger to human beings, they are carnivorous predators and therefore are threats to other species, namely caterpillars, reptiles, cicadas, beetles, crickets and others. They don't have a lot of predation risks, however, although birds, tarantula wasps and flies occasionally prey on them. It also isn't uncommon for females of the species to dine on the males, bizarre as it may sound.
- Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images