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Tarantulas In Colorado

There are two different species of tarantula in Colorado.

Previously A. Coloradanum, A. Echinum, and A. Vogelea were considered separate species found in the state, but a recent study in 2016 proved they are identical to A. Hentzi and A. Marxi. Due to this study, they are now considered junior synonyms of the two species currently found in Colorado.

There may only be two species found in the state but they are widely distributed so finding one is more common than you’d think. They are most commonly seen in the southern areas.

They can be found in underground burrows lined with webbing. Their burrows can be distinguished by the coin-sized entrance and the webbing over the entrance.

The tarantulas in Colorado aren’t usually aggressive, and it’s rare to be bitten by one, but if provoked, they may bite or kick tiny hairs from their abdomen that can cause skin and eye irritation.

Tarantulas are beautiful spiders that can make excellent pets, especially for beginners.

Tarantulas In Colorado

1. Colorado Chocolate Brown Tarantula

Colorado Chocolate Brown Tarantula (Aphonopelma hentzi) on arid, pebbly ground somewhere in Caddoa, Colorado, USA
A Colorado Chocolate Brown Tarantula (Aphonopelma hentzi) on arid, pebbly ground somewhere in Caddoa, Colorado, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Theraphosidae
  • Scientific Name: Aphonopelma hentzi
  • Other Names: Missouri tarantula, Oklahoma brown tarantula, Texas Brown tarantula
  • Adult Size: 2.5 to 3 inches
  • Lifespan: Females: 20 to 40 years/Males 5 to 15 years
  • Average Price Range: $30 to $100+

The Texas Brown tarantula can be found all across Colorado.

They are the most widely distributed species in the state. They are frequently found in the following counties; Crowley,  Fremont, Otero, Prowers, and Pueblo.

These spiders prefer arid or semi-arid regions with rocky terrain and dry, well-drained soil. Tarantulas of this species commonly make their homes in burrows, or they create their own out of silk webbing. Their homes can be found in tree trunks, under rocks, or in natural crevices.

These tarantulas typically have brown or dark brown bodies with light brown or tan heads and black legs. Like most tarantulas, the females are harrier and considerably larger than the males with robust abdomens and short legs.

The males have small abdomens with much longer legs. They are covered in short dark brown hairs with long red/orange hairs interspersed on the abdomen.

Though tarantulas are usually secretive spiders, the males of this species can be found wandering around outside their burrows during their mating season. Their breeding season has been observed to occur either from April to August or September, depending on the area.

2.  Grand Canyon Black Tarantula

Grand Canyon Black Tarantula (Aphonopelma marxi) on red sand at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Cortez, Colorado, USA
A Grand Canyon Black Tarantula (Aphonopelma marxi) on red sand at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Cortez, Colorado, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Theraphosidae
  • Scientific Name: Aphonopelma marxi
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 3 to 5 inches
  • Lifespan: Females: 20 to 40 years/Males 5 to 15 years
  • Average Price Range: $250

The Grand Canyon Black Tarantula is common in higher elevations of the Four Corners regions of Colorado and the Colorado Plateaus. They can be found throughout the Southern areas of the state.

This species can be difficult to locate due to the cryptic nature of their burrows. Unlike other species, these spiders don’t surround their burrows with mounds of dirt and webbing, and they may or may not cover their entrance with webbing depending on the spider. They are normally found in Sagebrush steppes or mixed conifer forests.

This species can be differentiated by its intense black coloring. While the other species found in colorado has two or three different colors on its body, Grand Canyon Black tarantulas are all black with the exception of the long red/orange hairs found on their abdomen. The females of this species have larger abdomens, while the males have longer legs. 

Male tarantulas of this species abandon their homes and can be found walking around searching for a mate during the breeding season. The breeding season occurs during the fall, usually from September to November.

Grand Canyon tarantulas have a diet consisting of insects and small invertebrates. They have a number of predators such as coyotes, foxes, toads, and a wasp called the tarantula hawk.

These spiders are very docile and are unlikely to bite. If they do bite, their venom is harmless to humans, though the bite itself may be sore for a few days.

FAQ’s

Is it common to see tarantulas in the wild in Colorado?

Depending on the time of year and the area, tarantulas can either be scarce or commonly seen.

If you are in southern regions during the fall, you are more likely to find males wandering during the day. In northern areas during the summer months, you’re less likely to find tarantulas out of their homes during the day.

Are tarantulas in Colorado endangered?

Even though tarantulas aren’t found in some areas of Colorado, the current species found in the state are not considered endangered.

Are tarantulas in Colorado dangerous?

Despite what popular media has portrayed, tarantulas are not dangerous. In fact, they are very docile, easy to handle and make wonderful pets, even for inexperienced people looking to keep a pet spider.

Tarantula venom is not harmful to humans, and their bite doesn’t hurt more than a bee sting. They do have hairs on their abdomen that can cause skin and eye irritation and, in rare cases, an allergic reaction.

Wrapping up

Out of the 850 species of tarantula found in the world, only two reside in Colorado. Tarantulas are non-aggressive spiders that prefer to live in dry arid or semi-arid habitats. They can be found living underground or in natural crevices like inside tree trunks or under rocks and logs.

These spiders are fun to observe, and most wild tarantulas will even let you handle them. Even though these spiders are big they are still fragile and should be handled with care.

Tarantulas are very docile and are more likely to run away from a threat rather than confront it. Their venom is harmful to prey and some potential threats but is harmless to humans. Due to the size of their fangs, a bite from a tarantula may hurt similarly to a bee sting. 

Popular media has led most to believe tarantulas are big, scary, and dangerous, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Learning about these spiders can be fun and help destigmatize these gentle creatures.

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