Your Vet is Always Wrong

Why Your Vet is Always Wrong We see it across social media almost weekly if not more often. Someone in our network of ‘friends’ talking about a sick reptile they took to their veterinarian and how the veterinarian summarily killed their beloved pet; of course for the extra flair the veterinarian was unskilled. I’ve got […]

Courtesy of Wikipedia

DM Exotics Yellow Spotted Green Tree Toad

Reptile Expos | Herpetoculture’s Trade Show

The Beginning of Reptile Expos The revitalization of paleontology of the 1970’s drove thousands to the study of dinosaurs. Could this be the key to the increase of interests by the general public in reptiles and amphibians? No matter what the initial event was, reptile keeping, or better known as herpetoculture saw a huge increase […]


Feeding the Feeders | Rat Pack Rattery

Feeding the Feeders Q&A with Rat Pack Rattery Here we are again with another installment of Feeding the Feeder. Just for clarification our Featured Feeder this round is rodents. With the use of rodents the Reptile Apartment Group advises the use of frozen then thawed rodents only. This of course requires euthanasia of the rodent. […]

Rat Pack Rattery 1

Calcium Homeostasis in Reptiles

Metabolic Bone Diseases in Reptiles and Amphibians | Calcium Balance

Authored by: Christina Miller CAHT/RVT, RLAT, BSc MBD in Herpetoculture Captive reptiles and amphibians are subject to a somewhat unique situation. Unlike our mammalian companions, they’re highly dependent on their captive environment for their most basic physiology to function, making good husbandry the key to maintaining healthy companions. One of the most common health problems […]


Tarantulas have been kept as pets for numerous years. I’m not sure anyone can definitively say when this began. I imagine it’d be somewhat similar to how human primates began keeping reptiles as pets. A scientist, studying one aspect or another of the Theraphosidae family began looking at their charges as more than just a subject of study. Being knowledgable of their preferred environment they began keeping them as pets. Maybe somewhere in the world, someone brought one to their home from the wild and they passed on the information they gleaned to others and so forth. Either way, the tarantula is today ensconced within the world of herpetoculture to the chagrin of some of my esteemed colleagues.

Courtesy of Hochgeladen von Micha L. Rieser

Courtesy of Hochgeladen von Micha L. Rieser

Tarantula Natural History

Being somewhat of a natural history enthusiast, I suppose you could go so far as to say an amateur naturalist. I’m always interested in where and how the creatures be they squamate or otherwise came to be ‘known’ as they are. Tarantula as a name has been around since about the early seventeen hundreds. The Swiss naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian is attributed as being the first to show Europeans a painting of a tarantula (Avicularia spp.) The Pink Toe tarantula (Avicularia sp.) she’d painted and then shown (to what I presume were colleagues) had taken a bird.

The scientific name Avicularia when broken down translates to Avi referring to ‘bird’ and cularia referring to ‘eat’ so we have bird eater. The common name of Bird Eater often refers to (Theraphosa blondi) or Goliath Bird Eater which of course looks nothing like the Pink Toe Species (Avicularia spp). This is a perfect example of why when we’re speaking with colleagues and or peers we must always use the scientific names of the species we’re discussing.

According to Samuel D. Marshall published by Barron’s wrote, ‘perhaps Jonathan Steadman a British Adventurer and mercenary in 1770 whilst in Suriname, spoke to native persons about a large brown spider which was “misnamed tarantula by the Surinamese.”

At the time according to the author the only spider known as tarantula was the Lycosa tarantula. Today we understand this species to be a wolf spider which is in the Araenomorph or True Spider family and not related to Theraphosidae at all except distantly. The Lycosa tarantula according to the etymological history I’ve found is identified as the True Spider responsible for the common name of Tarantula being applied to the larger and much hairier Myglamorph species kept today.

The common name of Tarantula comes from the Tarantella dance that was used in order to expel the venom from the (Lycosa tarantula) spider bite. There was also a ‘Dancing Plague’ where during the thirteenth century in southern Italy persons were thought to be envenomated the ‘tarantula’ and therefore were ‘forced to dance’ which may have been frowned upon the church at the time. I would propose that the traditional spinning dance used for courtship was perhaps too much for the church. Therefore the people found an excuse to dance perhaps? For a truly in-depth examination please see the link above.

What Identifies a True Spider?

We’ve got to get a little scientific for this part. All tarantulas as they’re known belong to the Myglamorphae infraorder. They’re ‘different’ from True Spiders araneomorphs by their articulated chelicerae or jaws. This type of jaw structure allows for a downward strike versus the sideways pincer like movement of True Spiders known of course as araneomorphs.
For more on identification please see the British Tarantula Society by Richard C. Gallon.

Courtesy of Hochgeladen von Micha L. Rieser