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Invertebrate of the Week #1: Cobalt Tarantula (Haplopelma lividum)

We’re a little late out of the gate today with Week #1 of our new “Invertebrate of the Week” series, but I hope it was worth the wait.  This week, we’re showcasing the cobalt blue tarantula, Haplopelma lividum.

Haplopelma lividum
Haplopelma lividum. Image: David Horvath (Wikimedia Commons)
Haplopelma lividum
Haplopelma lividum. Image author unknown
Haplopelma lividum
Haplopelma lividum. Image: http://goo.gl/uZxdM2

This dashing little devil is a member of Thetheraphosid sub-family Ornithoctoninae (the “Earth Tigers”) and is found in Southeast Asia, namely Myanmar and Thailand.  It is a large terrestrial spider, reaching a leg span of around 5 inches, and is commonly found in deep burrows.  In fact, you could even consider it a primarily fossorial animal since it usually only leaves the refuge of it’s burrow in order to find food.

The remarkable blue color appears to be the result of structural color rather than pigment, as further evidenced by it’s iridescence.  A spectacular invertebrate, this spider is sometimes kept as a pet and is considered by arachnid enthusiasts to have an erratic and wild disposition.

Further Reading
  • Foelix, Rainer F., Bruno Erb, and David E. Hill. “Structural colors in spiders.”Spider Ecophysiology. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2013. 333-347.
  • Schultz, Stanley A. The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide: Comprehensive Information on Care, Housing, and Feeding. Barrons, 2009. ISBN 0764138855
  • Wolfgang Nentwig Universitat Bern, Spider Ecophysiology, Springer, 2013. ISBN 9783642339899
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