; order Araneae, suborder Mygalomorphae)
Family of very large, hairy, non-social spiders, which possess claw tufts, four spinnerets, and eight, closely grouped eyes. They are known as ‘tarantulas’ in the USA. They feed on large insects and occasionally reptiles, amphibians, or nestling birds. Most species chew their prey, sometimes dipping it in water. Few, if any, of the American species are dangerously poisonous to humans. Defensive displays include the raising of chelicerae, pedipalps, and first walking legs, and some species stridulate as well. Large species become mature in 3–10 years, the male living only for months but the female for up to 20 years (in captivity) after maturing. N. American species live in deep burrows and some Amazonian species are arboreal. They are basically tropical in distribution.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.