Animal of the Month
January 2019

Name: Chilean Rose Tarantula (Also Rose Hair Tarantula or Chilean Fire Tarantula)


Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Family: Theraphosidae
Genus: Grammostola
Species: : G. rosea, G. porteri

Number of Species: 1 (4?)
Size: Leg span of about 5 inches.
Weight: N/A

Characteristics: Fuzzy body, eight fuzzy legs, eight eyes, fuzzy fangs.
Color(s): Brown, or brown and rose-colored.
Behavior: Nocturnal, docile.
Preferred Habitat: Dry scrublands.
Range: Atacama Desert, Chile.
Diet: Variety of insects including crickets, grasshoppers and locusts, among others.

Lifespan: In the wild males 3-10 years, females 15-20 years. In captivity females 20 or more (average 12) years and males less than 2!

Status: Least Concern

Don't let that creepy look fool you. The Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula is actually a relatively gentle creature. Though these tarantulas do not get along well with other tarantulas (even members of their own species), they are a common pet in the United States. To show how gentle these arachnids are, the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, Colorado has a famous Chilean Rose named Rosie, who is often held by visitors! Rosie has been held by thousands of school children and has not hurt a single person.

There is some confusion when classifying the Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula and it's cousins, which are G. porter, G. gala and G. spatulata. All of these spiders belong to the genus Grammostola. They are so similar that they are often be lumped together simply as Rose-hairs. Some believe they are the same species, others believe they are different. The debate goes on.

Chilean Rose-hairs reach adult size at about three or four years old. They are very active at night and like to feast on insect including grasshoppers and locusts. When breeding, males will create a sperm web and then attempt to lure a female out of her shelter. He will then rush her and impregnate her. The female will then grow an egg sack and hatch five-hundred babies. It is common for the male to die in the weeks following a successful mating.

Just like reptiles, tarantulas molt, or shed their skins. Right before a molting they become lethargic or don't eat. They may also spin lots of web. Finally, the tarantula will begin the finally lie on it's back, appearing to be dead (it's not dead). The tarantula will then shed it's skin. It's new skin will be soft and pale. After some time, the tarantula will recover and go back to it's usual feeding habits.

The Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula is a common spider and is not currently endangered. Tarantulas however, are misunderstood creatures. While these creatures do bite and many tarantulas are venomous, there is no reason to fear them! Be gentle when holding them and give them their space, and they will treat you with the same respect! Also, take this as an opportunity to make ethical pet decisions. Tarantulas are exotic pets, but make sure you get your pet from an ethical source. Adopting an endangered animal will hurt the species rather than help it!

To learn more about the Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula and to help endangered tarantulas, check out these awesome organizations!

Animal-World-Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula page.

The British Tarantula Society-UK-based organization dedicated to ethical care of captive tarantulas as well as the preservation of tarantulas, other species, and ecosystems in general.

If you live in or can visit Colorado, be sure to visit the Butterfly Pavilion where you can meet Rosie the Tarantula as well as many other marvelous invertebrate animals!


photo credit:federico-faccipieri


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