Mexican red-kneed tarantula (Brachypelma smithii).—Lynam/Tom Stack & Associates

Name that originally referred to the wolf spider but now covers any spider in the family Theraphosidae. It is found from the southwestern U.S. to South America. Many species live in a burrow, and most have a hairy body and long, hairy legs. They are nocturnal predators of insects and, occasionally, amphibians and mice. Certain South American tarantulas eat small birds. In the southwestern U.S., tarantulas of the genus Aphonopelma may have a body 2 in. (5 cm) long and a leg spread of nearly 5 in. (12 cm). They may inflict a painful bite if provoked. The most common U.S. species, Eurypelma californicum, may live up to 30 years.

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