Texas Brown Tarantula

Aphonopelma hentzi

Last updated: November 1, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit texas brown tarantula/Shutterstock.com

You may see a mass migration of tarantulas in late summer or fall.

Texas Brown Tarantula Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Arachnida
Order
Araneae
Family
Theraphosidae
Genus
Aphonopelma
Scientific Name
Aphonopelma hentzi

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Texas Brown Tarantula Conservation Status

Texas Brown Tarantula Locations

Texas Brown Tarantula Locations

Texas Brown Tarantula Facts

Prey
insects, crickets, roaches, small lizards, small frogs
Main Prey
insects
Name Of Young
spiderlings
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
Fun Fact
You may see a mass migration of tarantulas in late summer or fall.
Other Name(s)
Oklahoma brown tarantulas, Missouri tarantula
Temperament
Docile, easy going
Habitat
arid desert, grasslands
Predators
tarantula hawks (wasp), snakes, lizards, fox, coyote
Diet
Carnivore
Lifestyle
  • Nocturnal
Location
Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico
Migratory
1

Texas Brown Tarantula Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • Black
  • Dark Brown
Skin Type
Bristled hairs
Lifespan
Males 8-10 years, Females 30+ years
Weight
1-3 ounces
Height
1-2 inches
Length
4-5 inch leg span
Venomous
Yes
Aggression
Low

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“The Texas brown tarantula is a classic big hairy spider!”

Texas browns are one of the most common tarantulas in the US and are often called Missouri tarantulas or Oklahoma browns. Their bodies and legs are covered in brown hairs that give them a furry look. They have eight long segmented legs with two additional arm-like pedipalps at the front of their bodies. Texas brown tarantulas are terrestrial, living in burrows abandoned by other animals or digging one of their own. During mating season, it is more common to see them out and about.

Amazing Texas Brown Tarantula Facts

  • These spiders are brown and furry.
  • Texas brown tarantulas are one of the tarantulas native to the US.
  • They have an easy-going temperament.
  • Females have been recorded to live more than 30 years.
  • Texas browns can have a leg span of 5-6 inches.

Texas Brown Tarantula Scientific name

The scientific name of the Texas brown tarantula is Aphonopelma hentzi.  There are around 1,000 different tarantula species with 30+ native to the United States. Tarantulas are some of the biggest spiders in North and South America. The Texas browns are sometimes called Oklahoma brown tarantulas or Missouri tarantulas depending on their location.

Texas Brown Tarantula Appearance

The Texas brown tarantula has a stocky build with a large abdomen and carapace. Their bodies are brown, and their eight legs are a bit darker. They have spikey, bristle-like hairs that cover their body called setae. Their bodies can be 2-3 inches with a leg span of 5-6 inches. That is longer than your average cell phone.

In addition to their eight legs, they have two appendages at the front of their bodies called pedipalps. They are used like arms for grasping prey and the males use them during mating. On the front of their head the Texas brown tarantula has a chelicera and eight eyes (ocular tubercle). Their vision is poor, so they rely on sensing movement with their bristly setae.

Texas brown tarantula
The Texas brown tarantula has two appendages called pedipalps, which are used like arms for grasping prey.

Texas Brown Tarantula Behavior

Texas brown tarantulas are easy going and predictable. They spend most of their lives in their burrows, which they either dig or take over from a previous animal. At night they head to the entrance of their burrows and wait for some unsuspecting insect, frog, or cricket to wander by.

If a Texas brown tarantula comes across a large lizard, the tarantula may flick urticating hairs off its abdomen at the predator. These hairs penetrate the skin, which is painful, deterring the lizard from attacking.

These spiders also molt, wiggling their way out of their skin, or exoskeleton, to make room for their growing bodies. During this time, they may refuse to eat, but afterwards they may have a hardy appetite.

Texas Brown Tarantula Habitat

It’s no surprise this spider lives in Texas, but they can also be found in Oklahoma, Missouri, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico. They are terrestrial, spending much of their time hidden deep in burrows in the ground. The entrance to their burrows is covered with a white silky web that keeps predators out and can help the tarantula detect movement of approaching threats.

The most common habitat of the Texas brown is arid desert, as they are equipped to deal with the dry climate. They are nocturnal animals that come out at night to look for food, but they’re occasionally out in the early morning or late evening as well. Tarantulas don’t wander far from their burrows; In fact, they usually stay home and wait for food to come to them. You might see more tarantulas in the fall when the males leave their burrows to find a mate. Otherwise, these creatures remain fairly hidden.

Texas Brown Tarantula Predators and Threats

Predators of the Texas brown tarantulas include lizards, snakes, coyotes, birds, and foxes. You may also be aware of tarantula hawks, the biggest wasp in Texas. These wasps are blue with orange wings and can get to be 2 inches long. They are common in much of the southern states of the US. If you have ever been stung by one, you know how painful it is. When they sting a tarantula, they have gruesome plans. The sting doesn’t kill the tarantula but paralyzes it. The wasp will then bury it alive as food for its young. The female lays an egg on the tarantula’s abdomen and when the larvae hatch, the first meal is readily available.

Texas brown tarantulas have a few defense mechanisms including urticating hairs they can flick at a predator. If they feel threatened, they can also try to intimidate a predator by taking a threat pose. When in this posture, they raise up, hiss, and show their fangs. However, they are not overly aggressive and prefer to flee than fight.

What Eats Texas Brown Tarantulas?

Some of the common animals that eat Texas brown tarantulas are tarantula hawks, snakes, lizards, some birds, coyotes, and foxes.

What Do Texas Brown Tarantulas Eat?

They eat insects, crickets, and roaches, but can also eat small lizards and mice. They don’t need to eat very often; In fact, they can go weeks without food, but when they do eat, they do so aggressively. If prey wanders by their burrow, the tarantula will snag it with its front pedipalps and wrap it with a web. It may use its fangs to inject venom that contains digestive juices to help liquefy the prey so it can suck up the nutrients.

What is the Conservation Status of Texas Brown Tarantulas?

Texas brown tarantulas are not listed by the IUCN as a threatened species. They are a common tarantula in most of the southern states in the US.

Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

Texas brown tarantulas are solitary animals, but when it comes time to mate, the males leave their burrows. This happens in the late summer or fall, when mass migration of tarantulas can be seen in some areas. These spiders venture off, looking for female tarantulas that are receptive to mating. They latterly knock outside the door of the burrow by tapping their leg on the ground. If the female is ready to mate, she comes out of her burrow and the male spins a sperm web. He deposits his sperm on the web and then uses his pedipalps to insert the sperm into the female.

The females can lay up to 1000 eggs at a time, which they keep in their burrows for safety. She makes an egg sac, which she watches for the next 45-60 days until the spiderlings hatch. Not all of the eggs survive and not all of the spiderlings make it to adulthood, as many are eaten when they venture out on their own. Spiderlings usually leave their mother’s nest a few days after hatching.

The life span of the females is much longer than that of the males. Females can live more than 30 years. Males, on the other hand, usually only live eight to 10 years.

Population

It is difficult to get an accurate count of tarantulas due to the fact that they spend most of their times hidden underground. According to the National Park Service, there are 14 different species of tarantulas in Texas. They are not listed by the IUCN as a threatened species.

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

Texas Brown Tarantula FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Texas brown tarantulas venomous? 

Yes, Texas brown tarantulas are venomous, but they have a mild venom. If you get bitten by one the bite will hurt but it will be similar to a bee sting. 

 

 

Do Texas brown tarantulas make good pets?

Yes, Texas brown tarantulas can be good pets, but they are not one of the most common tarantula species kept as pets. Other tarantulas like the Chilean rose and Mexican redknee are much more common in the pet trade.

Can you pick up a Texas brown tarantula? 

Yes, Texas brown tarantulas are easy to handle. They are docile and rarely bite. 

 

 

 

Are Texas brown tarantulas carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores?

Texas brown tarantulas are carnivores. 

What do Texas brown tarantulas eat? 

They eat insects, crickets, roaches, small lizards and mice. 

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Tarantula Collective, Available here: https://www.thetarantulacollective.com/caresheets/aphonopelma-hentzi
  2. MDC.mo.gov, Available here: https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/texas-brown-tarantula
  3. Wildlife Department, Available here: https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/wildlife/field-guide/invertebrates/brown-tarantula
  4. Tamu.edu, Available here: https://entomology.tamu.edu/studylist_all/tarantula-hawk/#

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