Discover the Largest Spider in Texas

pet Tarantula
© iStock.com/waldru

Written by Cindy Rasmussen

Updated: June 1, 2023

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Key Points:
  • There are around 900 species of spiders living in Texas, including two venomous species (the black widow and brown recluse).
  • The large spider in Texas is the brown tarantula, which is four inches across, can weigh as much as three ounces, and does not have venom harmful to humans.
  • Female Texas brown tarantulas can live for up to 25-30 years, making them one of the longest-living arthropods.

Texas brags about having some of the largest of many things, including the largest pair of cowboy boots in San Antonio that are 40 feet tall! Texas is the largest state in the lower 48, second only to Alaska in all 50. So, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that it has some of the largest spiders in the country as well. If you are out hiking in Big Bend National Park or grabbing wood for a bonfire in your backyard, coming across a giant spider can be startling. But how big do spiders get in Texas? Are there spiders the size of your hand? Let’s discover the largest spider in Texas.

How Many Kinds of Spiders Are in Texas?

tan jumping spider

There are about 900 species of spiders that live in Texas.

©SwastikEs/Shutterstock.com

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, there are around 900 spider species in Texas. There are a variety of house spiders, orb weavers, wolf spiders, crab spiders, and black widows. When you think about large spiders, you may think of tarantulas, and Texas certainly has its share of tarantulas.

Are Any of the Spiders in Texas Venomous?

Animals with exosceleton black widow spider

Black widow spiders are one of the venomous spiders in Texas.

©iStock.com/maria72

Yes, two spiders in Texas are venomous. The black widow and brown recluse are venomous, with their venom being harmful to humans. Black widows are shiny black spiders with large abdomens that have a red hourglass shape on their backs. These spiders can be found outdoors under woodpiles, under rocks, or by sheds, but they can also be found indoors, so keep an eye out for them. They are not aggressive but will bite if startled or threatened. Their bites cause pain, swelling, and muscle weakness. If you think you have been bitten by a black widow, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Brown recluse spiders are small brown spiders with long legs. They typically stay out of sight (thus the “recluse” in their name) but can hide inside, especially if the weather gets cool. Their bites are very painful and can cause a large ulcerous sore, so be sure to seek medical attention for the safest treatment.

What Is the Largest Spider in Texas?

texas brown tarantula

The Texas brown tarantula is the largest spider in Texas, and it can grow to be more than 4 inches long!

©texas brown tarantula/Shutterstock.com

The largest spider in Texas is the Texas brown tarantula. These dark brown hairy spiders can get to be more than 4 inches and weigh 1-3 ounces. Some spiders have a large leg span but tiny bodies that are only about an inch long, but the Texas brown tarantula is a big hefty spider with a full body.

Where Do They Live in Texas?

Texas brown tarantulas are spread out in most counties in the state. Just because “Texas” is in the name doesn’t mean they are exclusive to the state. They can also be found in Missouri, Louisiana, Colorado, Kansans, Arkansas, and New Mexico. Sometimes, states will change the name of the tarantula to fit their name, like the Oklahoma brown tarantula and the Missouri tarantula. The Arizona blond tarantula is lighter in color and is a different species, primarily found in Arizona.

Where Else Do Tarantulas Live?

Tarantulas can be found in many places around the world. In addition to Texas, they are commonly found in Central and South America, like Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Peru. They have also been spotted in parts of the Caribbean, such as Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Cuba. Tarantulas are also known to inhabit areas of North Africa, Asia, and Europe. In some cases, these tarantula species may even find their way into other regions as a result of human activity, such as pet transport or accidental introduction by cargo shipments. It’s important to keep an eye out for any potential signs that a tarantula is living near you!

When Can You See Them?

In August, some people get squeamish because large numbers of male tarantulas come out of their burrows in search of a mate. They can sometimes be seen along roadsides and are seen more frequently in parks and hiking trails. Every year, all the males that are around 10 years old will get out to mate for the first time in their lives. Unfortunately, it may be one of the last things they do. Although it is not that common for females to eat their mates, like the black widow, the males die soon after mating.

Lifespan

The lifespan of male Texas brown tarantulas is usually 10-12 years, while females may live up to 25-30 years, making them one of the longest-living arthropods. While they are not considered endangered or threatened, their population has been declining due to habitat destruction and climate change. As such, it is important for people to help protect these spiders by avoiding activities that could harm their habitats and advocating for better conservation practices throughout the state.

How Big Are Baby Texas Brown Tarantulas?

Tarantulas don’t start out big, but you wouldn’t expect them to only be about .25 inches (6 mm). The amazing thing is they look like tiny adult versions, hairy legs and all. Females can lay 1,000 eggs in one batch, and they all hatch at the same time, with a massive carpet of tiny spiders scurrying about to find food. Many of them won’t make it, becoming dinner for larger spiders, frogs, and lizards. It will take the males 3-7 years to reach their full-grown size, while females take 4-10 years.

Are Texas Brown Tarantulas Dangerous?

Texas brown tarantulas are harmless to humans. They can bite, but their venom is not harmful to humans. The venom does a number on grasshoppers, however, with it being injected with the tarantula’s fangs, immobilizing the prey before the body is liquefied and sucked up by the spider. Another defense mechanism these spiders have is special hairs with barbs that they can use to attack prey. If humans rub against those hairs, it can cause skin irritation. That is why people with pet tarantulas will often wear gloves when handling them.

What Are Some of the Largest Spiders That Live in Texas?

Largest Wolf Spider - Carolina Wolf Spider

The Carolina wolf spider can have a leg span of 3-4 inches.

©Will E. Davis/Shutterstock.com

Below are some of the largest spiders in Texas.

  • Texas tarantula: 3-4 inches long with a 6-inch leg span
  • Carolina wolf spider: 3-4 inch leg span
  • Giant crab spider: 2-2.5 inch leg span
  • Golden huntsman spider: 0.4-2 inches
  • Jumping spiders: 0.4-0.9 inches
  • Western spotted orb weaver: 0.4-0.7 inches
  • Western black widow spider: 0.5-0.6 inches
  • Beach wolf spider: 0.4-0.6 inches
  • Brown recluse spider: 0.2-0.5 inches
  • American house spider: 0.1-0.2 inches.

What Is the Largest Spider in the World?

Largest spider by weight

Biggest Spiders: Goliath Bird Eating Spider

The Goliath birdeater is the world’s largest spider by weight.

©juerginho/Shutterstock.com

The largest spider in the world by weight is the Goliath bird-eating spider. Goliath bird-eating spiders can weigh 6 ounces. Their leg span can be 9-10 inches, with some reaching 11 inches. These giant spiders do not live in Texas but can be found in several South American countries. Although they are big enough to eat small birds or fledglings, they typically don’t. They prefer earthworms, mice, frogs, and lizards.

Largest spider by leg span

Huntsman Spider in the Rainforest

Huntsman spiders can be found in Texas, but the giant Huntsman spider is only present in Laos.

©Pong Wira/Shutterstock.com

Giant huntsman, spiders have the largest leg span in the world, with a span of 11 inches! Although their bodies are significantly smaller than tarantulas, they have large long legs. Huntsman spiders can be found in Texas, but the giant Huntsman is only located in Laos.

What Is the Largest Spider Ever Recorded?

The largest spider ever recorded is a male Goliath bird-eating spider that was found in Rio Cavro, Venezuela. It had a leg span of 11 inches (28 cm)! The Guinness World Records has rewarded the title “Largest Spider” to this one. Goliath bird-eating spiders can be found in Surinam, Guyana, and French Guiana, but some have been detected in Venezuela and Brazil.

Other Wildlife in Texas

Texas has a wide variety of wildlife, including mammals such as white-tailed deer, coyotes, javelinas, and armadillos. You may also spot black bears in the eastern portion of the state. Reptiles are abundant in Texas, with species like snakes (including rattlesnakes), lizards, turtles, and alligators living there.

This is also an excellent place to find bird life. More than 500 species have been recorded. From hummingbirds to vultures to roadrunners, you can see them all in Texas. If you’re lucky enough, you might even spot a bald eagle soaring through the sky or a migratory waterfowl looking for food on one of our many wetlands or lakes.


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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".

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