The Thailand Black Tarantula

Thailand black tarantula in the wild

Thailand Black Tarantulas in the Wild

The Thailand Black Tarantula (Haplopelma Minax) is one of only three types of tarantula that are found in Thailand.  The others being Thai Zebra & the Cobalt Blue tarantula.  Unlike the other two species the large, furry, Black Tarantula doesn’t have any other markings, it’s entirely black.

The good (?) news for people visiting Koh Chang is that this is one of their habitats.  Thai black tarantulas’ natural habitat is in underground burrows.  Jungle trekking guides often know the whereabouts of burrows which are usually hidden in dense undergrowth.  Thai black tarantula likes warm, humid conditions out of direct sunshine.

The guide will try to entice a tarantula out for trekkers to take a photo.  They will vibrate a stick near the entrance of the burrow, to simulate approaching prey.

Therefore, if you have arachnophobia, mention this to your guide as you’re sure to see a few different types on any jungle trek.  

This species of tarantula is part of the subfamily ‘Ornithoctoninae‘.  Which won’t mean anything to you until you learn that they are more commonly referred to as ‘earth tigers’.  This gives a clue to their habitat and ferocity.  As does the Latin name for the species  – ‘Haplopelma’ is a genus of old-world tarantula and ‘Minax‘ means “threatening”. 

But they are defensive spiders.  Meaning that they won’t look to attack anyone unless they are provoked.  Their first course of action if they are disturbed is to retreat into their burrows or hide themselves in undergrowth on in loose soil.

However, if this isn’t possible and they are provoked, they will first rise up and send a clear warning message to back off. They will threaten the attacker with raised front legs, and with their fangs visible.  They will often remain in this position until the threat disappears. 

The spider will bite if the warning doesn’t have the desired effect, or the threat moves closer, then they will strike very quickly. 

Their venom is strong enough to kill birds and small animals but isn’t deadly for humans. Unless the victim is allergic to their bites.  And you probably won’t know that until it has bitten you.  Which is another reason not to get too close to a Thai black tarantula in the wild.  (In the unlikely event that you do get bitten the best course of action is to use water to try to flush out any venom and then clean the wound. You’ll probably need a couple of painkillers too.)

How big are Thai black tarantula?

They can grow up to 15cm (6inches) in diameter.  Males are slightly smaller than females. 

What do Thai black tarantula’s eat?

These black tarantulas live in areas with abundant sources of food. So, they don’t have to hunt.  They will sit motionless outside their burrow at night waiting for prey to pass by. Their diet mainly consists of small birds, lizards, frogs, and insects. 

Despite having eight eyes, tarantulas, as with most spiders, don’t possess good eyesight. They don’t see their prey approaching but they sense it through vibrations.  When they build their burrows they incorporate silk tubes.  Small vibrations are passed along these tubes to the entrance of the burrow where the spider is sitting.  As the prey gets closer, the vibrations get stronger and the tarantuala can prepare itself to strike. 

How long do Thai black tarantulas live?

Males have a much shorter lifespan than females, as is the case with virtually all spiders. Males usually live under 3 years and die shortly after reaching sexual maturity.  Whilst females can easily live 10 – 12 years. 

Thailand black tarantula on a person's hand

Thailand Black Tarantualas as Pets

Many people keep tarantulas as pets.  However, they usually only keep the far more docile and friendlier new world tarantulas.  Thailand black tarantulas are old world spiders and are far more dangerous and aggressive.  Therefore, only experienced keepers and handlers should own pet Thai black tarantulas.  And they definitely aren’t suitable for children.

These are seriously for advanced keepers. More information can be found on this care sheet 

Don’t try this at home . . .

Koh Chang Island Guide For Independent Travellers