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Poecilotheria regalis

  • Live collection
Photo: Insectarium de Montréal, René Limoges

Groupe tab

Description

The bodies of these tarantulas are about 7 cm long and up to 18 cm across. The cephalothorax is light coloured with two black bands in the middle, and the abdomen is dark grey with a yellowish-white band in the middle. The legs are banded grey and black.

Country of origin

Sri Lanka
French name
Mygale indienne
Scientific name
Poecilotheria regalis
English name
Ornamental black and white tarantula
Class
Arachnida
Order
Theraphosidae
Family
Araneidae
Living environment

Diet

They are carnivorous, eating insects (cockroaches, crickets and locusts).

Habitat

They live in hollow tree trunks in moist tropical forests.

Geographic distribution

They are found in southwest India and Sri Lanka.

Ecological role

Like all predators, these tarantulas help to maintain a balance in their natural habitat.

Special behaviour

These are semitree- and tree-dwelling tarantulas. They are fairly aggressive by nature and quick moving. They do not have urticating (stinging) hairs, but their venom is highly powerful.

They assume a defensive stance when they feel threatened. They rise up, displaying the underside of the first pair of legs and open their chelicerae, ready to attack. In this species, the underside of the first two pairs of legs is yellow, while the remainder of the underside is black. This is intended to warn off potential attackers.

As among most tarantulas, females take their egg cocoons with them wherever they go.

Interesting facts

Status

This attractive species is very popular, and this makes it endangered. Although efforts have been made to have it listed in the Washington convention (CITES), they have not been successful as yet.

Popular beliefs

Because tarantulas are so large and hairy, people tend to be both curious about and fearful of them. Many horror films make arachnids out to be much more fearsome than they are, giving the impression that tarantulas are dangerous and can kill people. Although a tarantula bite is very painful and can sometimes cause nausea and vomiting, it is very rarely fatal.

Interesting facts and curiosities

Before mating, a male drums the ground with his legs to tell the female that he is there. The female then does the same, indicating that she is ready. Mating is over very quickly, whereas courtship may be lengthy.

Males are generally smaller than females and they live much shorter: two years for males and ten years for females.

Tarantulas turn on their backs when moulting in order to shed their old skin. This is a risky position for them, making them easy prey.

At the Insectarium

If you’re lucky, you might just see this huge tarantula devour a cockroach!

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