There are around 900 different species of tarantulas with different species spread throughout Southwestern United States, Central and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. Tarantulas are large arachnids that can grow to 5 inches long when spread out and weigh as much as 6 ounces. They can live for as much as 30 years with proper care, but the males have a significantly shorter lifespan with around 5 to 7 years.
Just like other arachnids, the body of a tarantula is made up of two sections, the cephalothorax and the abdomen. Tarantulas also have eight eyes and eight legs that are typically hairy. When threatened, tarantulas will rear up and put on their weight on hind legs. They may also shoot out hairs from their front legs.
While tarantulas are viewed as large, scary spiders, some species are small enough to fit on a fingernail. The largest tarantula is the goliath birdeater that is found in Venezuela and Brazil. When spread out, its legs can measure to up to 12 inches in length. Other species that are nearly as big as the goliath birdeater are the Brazilian salmon eater and the Lasiodora klugi.
Due to their unusual size and appearance, tarantulas have become a popular pet in the United States. This popularity, however, has placed some of the tarantula species on the endangered species list. Although there are restrictions to importing tarantulas into the United States, the regulation is lax when it comes to the overcollection of tarantulas.