Indian tarantula climbing over a log

Tarantulas

Tarantulas have large, hairy bodies that make them the stuff of nightmares for many, but they look more threatening than they actually are. The mild venom of their bite is weaker than the average bee's, and causes little more pain than a wasp sting. There are hundreds of species of tarantula living in the world's tropical jungles and deserts. South America is home to some of the most sizeable species, such as the Goliath spiders that can have a leg span of 30cm. The name tarantula originates from the Italian town of Taranto.

Scientific name: Theraphosidae

Rank: Family

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Distribution

The Tarantulas can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Amazon Rainforest, Asia, Australia, China, Indian subcontinent, Madagascar, North America, South America. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.

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Habitats

The following habitats are found across the Tarantulas distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Behaviours

Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

When they lived

Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.

BBC News about Tarantulas

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.

  • Nature's record breakers Nature's record breakers

    Animal kingdom record breakers - how fast can a cheetah run, how heavy is an elephant and what's bigger than a dinosaur? Watch amazing video clips from the BBC archive and uncover the fascinating facts about our smallest primate, the longest stick insect and the most venomous snake.

  • George's marvellous minibeasts George's marvellous minibeasts

    A video collection featuring bugs and insects in amazing close up selected by insect expert and TV presenter George McGavin, with Goliath spiders, killer centipedes, ants and moths.