The Taxonomy of a Desert Tarantula
What is Taxonomy?
Taxonomy is the study of classifying organisms. There are 7 levels of Taxonomy. The 7 levels are Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species.
Each organism is named using a two-part system; the Genus and Species. The organism will be named using Latin and Greek words to create a universal naming system.
Taxonomy of a Desert Tarantula
Taxonomic levels of a Desert Tarantula:
Kingdom: Animalia - Desert Tarantulas are multicellular and eukaryotic. These organisms must eat other organisms to obtain their energy, making them heterotrophic.
Phylum: Arthropoda - These organisms are invertebrate animals with an exoskeleton.
Class: Arachnida - Arachnids are joint-legged invertebrates with 8 legs. Tarantulas are known for producing egg sacs with 50 - 2000 eggs.
Order: Araneae - The largest order of Arachnids, these arthropods have 8 legs and chelicerae with fangs that inject venom into their prey.
Family: Theraphosoidae - The Desert Tarantula is part of the Theraphosoidae family which is the family of "true" tarantulas.
Genus: Aphonopelma - This Genus includes 90 species, most of which are native to the Americas.
Species: A. chalcodes - This species are large-bodied burrowing spiders. They are most common in summer rainy seasons in southwestern deserts.
Where are Desert Tarantulas Found?
The Life of a Desert Tarantula
Tarantulas are slow movers but are excellent nocturnal predators. Insects are their main prey, but they also go for bigger organisms such as frogs, mice, and birds.
Tarantula's don't use webs to capture their prey, but they may create a single thread to alert them when their prey triggers it. They will grab with their appendages, inject paralyzing venom, and begin feeding on the victim. Tarantulas have no teeth to chew with, so their venom liquefies their prey and allows their sucking stomachs to suck in their meal. After a large meal, the tarantula may not need to eat for a month.
Tarantulas only have a few natural enemies, but wasps are a huge danger. The wasp will paralyze a tarantula with its sting and lay eggs on the tarantula's body. When the eggs hatch, the larvae will begin to feed on the still living tarantula.
When a male tarantula is ready to mate it spins a web and deposits sperm on its surface. He copulates by using his pedipalps (short, leglike appendages located near the mouth) and then runs away if possible (some female tarantualas will feed on the male).