By Taylor Jackson
My interest in tarantulas and nature’s other creepy crawlies came from a childhood spent outdoors exploring the seven-acre farm, fields, and woods I grew up on. I found all manner of reptiles and insects and would show my parents what I had discovered. My parents knew how interested I was in exotic animals, so when a coworker of theirs needed to re-home a tarantula, they thought of me. I, of course, took on the challenge despite being around ten years old; my dad helped, too. I don't know what species it was, but it was fast when it wanted to be and really fluffy/hairy. It was an older tarantula and didn't live very long, but I was hooked! My next tarantula was a Green Bottle Blue from the pet store. It was amazingly gorgeous with a green carapace, blue legs, and an orange & black-striped abdomen, but it didn't last too long either. That was rather discouraging, and we didn't get any more tarantulas after that.
Fast forward several years, and I'm out of school working full time with some extra income. A new coworker happens to mention she and her father had tarantulas when she was little too! A fire was lit, and six months of research later, I went to my first Repti-Con event in August 2019 in Greenville, SC. It was mind-blowing the amount of people, reptiles, exotic animals, and the large selection of tarantulas. Everything I could need for my spider in one place. I left with three tarantulas!
There are over 1000 species of tarantulas with more still being described. Tarantulas can be found on most continents and are broken down into two main groups, Old World and New World, with many subgroups, sizes, colors, and distinctions within each. New World tarantulas are from North, Central, and South America, whereas Old World tarantulas are from Africa, Asia, and Australia. Tarantulas can also be described in three subgroups for how they live and make their homes, with some overlapping occurring: arboreal, terrestrial, and burrower. Arboreal tarantulas live up in the canopy of trees, whereas terrestrial species will live on the ground. Burrowing tarantulas will create deep tunnels they stay in most of the time. Some species blur the line, for example, and burrow when young only to become arboreal when adult.
Now, over three years later, I currently have 67 tarantulas in my collection! They are almost all different species with only a few duplicates. I find it fascinating how variable they can be from size, temperament, speed, instinctual habits, and color; pure velvet black to unreal color combos. I would say I have a broad selection of tarantulas. Most are terrestrial, some arboreal, and a few burrowers; from beginner to advanced; goliaths to dwarves. Some are skittish, and some meet me at the enclosure door.