Creatures & Critters: Tarantula Edition

Meet Pink!

Pinki is a Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula. Chilean Rose Hair Tarantulas are exotic to Iowa and they would normally be found living in the dry grassland region at the edge of the desert in South American countries such as Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. They are the most common tarantula seen as pets in the United States. They are easier to handle than other tarantulas because they are slower and more gentle.

The Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula got its name from the rose haired hue that is found on the back hairs of the tarantula. As the tarantula grows, a molting process occurs where the exoskeleton is shed and is replaced by a new, bigger exoskeleton. Pinki molts once every 18-24 months. Female tarantulas can live up to 20 years in captivity while the males may live only a few months after mating.

Tarantula’s venom is important to them. They can only eat liquids, so when they bite their prey, the venom affects the prey’s nervous system, and its body tissues will begin to break down. In order to digest its prey, the tarantula will spit digestive enzymes onto it. This helps to break down the body tissues into a liquid that can then be sucked through the spider’s mouthparts. Pinki has never bitten anyone at the Nature Center. If she did, majority of people would not be affected by this specific species of tarantula’s bites.

Tarantulas have hairs on the bottom of their abdomen that have sharp tips with little barbs. These little barbs are so tiny that they can only be seen under a microscope. They use these hairs as a defense weapon by using its back legs to kick off a cloud of hairs at its attacker. Whenever we handle Pink, we use glove because the hairs on Pinki can be irritating to the skin.

Pinki the tarantula

Pinki is really a unique creature and we are happy to have her be a part of the Nature Center! Make sure to say hi to her next time you visit the Nature Center!