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Are There Tarantulas In Florida? 6 Facts You Should Know

Seeing a tarantula in Florida is actually rare, they are not native to the area with the majority of these spiders being kept as pets.

There are two tarantulas you may encounter in Florida, continue reading to find out more.

Type Of Tarantulas In Florida

The 2 tarantulas in Florida, that you may come across include:

1. Brachypelma vagans

Mexican red rump tarantula

Scientific name: Tliltocatl vagans or Brachypelma vagans.

Common name: Mexican red rump.

This tarantula is better known as the Mexican Red Rump tarantula, which comes from Mexico and Central America.

They are burrowing spiders and have red hairs on their abdomen.

They can grow to a leg span of 6.5 inches with males being smaller than the female.

The Mexican red rump tarantula prefers shrubland habitats and was discovered in the St Lucie County, Florida in 1996. It is an established species in the state, which is believed to have been introduced by accident.

Adult Mexican red rump tarantula

These tarantulas grow to around 16cm in length and are considered New World tarantulas, which means they have tiny hairs on their abdomen, that they kick off towards predators, which can cause itching and discomfort.

They have a medium growth rate and are docile and will usually move away than bite.

The females can live up to twenty years.

2. Brachypelma aureoceps

Scientific name: Tliltocatl aureoceps or Brachypelma aureoceps.

Common name: Florida Golden Chestnut.

This tarantula is believed to be from the Theraphosidae family and only one female has been described, which was captured in Florida Keys and believed to have been brought in from Mexico.

The body length was 5.5cm and the longest leg was 5.4cm.

The color of the described female was dark chestnut brown with golden brown hairs on the abdomen and legs, along with yellow hairs on the abdomen.

A New Tarantula-like Spider Discovered

A new tarantula-type spider was discovered in Florida in 2012 by a zookeeper at the Zoo Miami, known as the Pine Rockland Trapdoor Spider (Ummidia richmond).

The spider does not match any records of known species in the area.

Two years later, another of these spiders were discovered and sent to Georgia for identification.

The venom of this species contains compounds that could potentially be used as a pain medication and for cancer treatments.

Over the years, the zoo staff has found a number of males of this new species, but no females have been found as of yet.

Due to the fact that around 1.5% of the pine rockands outside Everglades National Park are in Miami-Dade County, it is believed that this spider is endemic to the area.

Are Florida Tarantulas Dangerous To Humans?

There are countless spiders in Florida, some are harmless and some are dangerous, but the tarantulas you come across in the state are rare and docile.

They are often kept as pets with exotic pet lovers in the area.

They also make their way into Florida in cargo boxes with a leg span of up to seven inches.

Even though the tarantula is considered venomous, their bite is not dangerous to humans and the venom is not fatal. In fact, the bite is no worse than a wasp or bee sting.

Where To Find Them?

Tarantulas are often found in grasslands and deserts, where they live in burrows that are lined with silk.

They are nocturnal and therefore they are not observed very often.

They can bite and have urticating hairs, which they brush off in the direction of their predator.

The Mexican red rump can be found in South Florida, mostly in the overgrown areas close to canals and swamps, along with citrus groves.

What To Do If You See A Tarantula?

Tarantulas are often considered dangerous, due to their threatening look, but they are not dangerous and only bite in self-defense.

When they do bite, it is due to being stepped on or handled and is no worse than a wasp or bee sting.

Some people have allergies and a tarantula bite can cause a serious allergic reaction.

It is recommended that you safely remove and release a tarantula if you find them in your home, rather than killing them.

Females very seldom move far from their burrows, but the males can travel far distances searching for a mate, which is why you should release the tarantula. Chances are it made its way into your home by mistake searching for a mate.

Capturing a tarantula is relatively easy with an open container and a piece of paper.

Simply place the container over the spider, keeping it in place, and then slide the paper underneath to close any openings, flip the container over with the paper, trapping the tarantula inside.

You can then safely release it outdoors, away from your home.

Safety Precautions

  • Clean and vacuum regularly, especially in hard-to-reach places, such as cellars and closets
  • Keep doors closed at night
  • Seal any cracks in the walls
  • Fix any screens
  • Turn off outside night lights to reduce the number of insects attracted by the light, which in turn increases the risk of a tarantula hunting its next meal
  • Remove outdoor clutter, such as leaf litter and plants.
  • Remove indoor clutter such as newspaper piles and other objects, ensuring the tarantula doesn't have anywhere to hide
  • Remove plants from directly outside your home
  • Wash dishes immediately to reduce the number of insects being attracted into the home
  • Don't leave uneaten food lying around. Refrigerate any leftovers to reduce insects being attracted
  • Use peppermint oil and water in a spray bottle and spray around the entry points into your home, spiders hate peppermint
  • Use eucalyptus oil and water in a spray bottle as spiders also hate the smell of eucalyptus
  • Put tea tree oil directly on a cotton ball and wipe it across cracks on your windows and doors
  • Plant citrus plants in your garden, as the citric nature of the fruit, is a repellent to tarantulas

Citrus plant

Summary

It is very rare to come across a tarantula in Florida. They are secretive, living in underground burrows during the day, and only come out at night to hunt.

If you do see one, there is no cause to panic, they can simply be removed and released from the home. They will not bite or brush off their urticating hairs unless they feel threatened.

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