how do tarantulas reproduce?

How Do Tarantulas Reproduce?

How do Tarantulas reproduce? It’s a risky procedure where the male approaches and “wrestles” the female – then hopes to get away alive…

If you’re wondering, “How do tarantulas reproduce?” you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll answer common questions about tarantula reproduction, including: how do tarantulas mate?, whether females eat their mates, and how many times can one male tarantula mate? Hopefully, you’ll feel more confident about breeding these fascinating creatures after reading this article.

How Do Tarantulas Mate?

How Do Tarantulas Mate? is a question asked by many people, but not all people are aware of the process. This fascinating animal is capable of copulation with several females in one season, though it is a risky process every single time.

In order to complete this process, a male tarantula must approach a female tarantula and engage in a kind of wresting that keeps the female immobile for a minute.

What makes it risky is that female tarantulas may engage in sexual cannibalism before mating. Males, however, do not engage in sexual cannibalism. Essentially the male is always under the threat of being eaten whenever he meets a female.

Male tarantulas begin courtship by approaching the female, where they are vulnerable to attack. The male will tap its pedipalps on the female’s silk threads to announce his presence.

Once the female tarantula accepts the male’s advances, the male will insert his charged pedipalps into the female’s gonopore – transferring a packet of sperm. The male will then make a very hasty retreat.

How Do Tarantulas Reproduce?
Sazima’s Tarantula (Pterinopelma sazimai). This one of the numerous species that live in South America

Do tarantulas eat their mate?

Tarantulas don’t generally have strong venom – but they certainly are dangerous to each other.

Generally speaking, they breed once a year. Male tarantulas expel semen by rubbing their abdomens and pedipalps. This semen packet is viable until they mate, at which point they transfer it to the female. Female tarantulas seal the egg sac and sperm in a cocoon. They guard the cocoon for six to nine weeks, after which the young hatch.

Female flexibility in cannibalism may be due to adaptation. During the pre-copulatory period, females attack inferior males. Males that make a mistake in their approach, or during the mating ritual will be eaten. After all, this could be the sign of an inferior male, whose genes might not be as good for the next generation.

Also, the female may indeed want to mate, but be in need of some extra nutrients for her eggs. Eating a male will help her reproductive success and lead to more of her young surviving.

It’s not known if all tarantulas eat their partners, but it seems to happen regularly in most known species. Overall, sexual cannibalism is common in arthropods, particularly spiders and mantids. Sometimes there are complex evolutionary reasons behind it – but other times the female is just hungry!

Chilean Rose Tarantula
Chilean Rose Tarantula

How can you tell a tarantula is male or female?

If you’re wondering “How can I tell if my tarantula is male or female?” there are a few signs you can look for. Males have organs that allow them to mate. Females, on the other hand, lack these organs.

One way to determine whether your tarantula is a male or a female is to examine the underside of the abdomen (if you can). It has a small area called the epigastric furrow between the first pair of book lungs and the waist. Males have a less deep furrow than females, and a narrower space between the book lungs.

The epigastric furrow can be an excellent indicator of gender, but you’ll need to know the species and be able to observe the molt. Males have accessory organs that resemble spermathecae, while females have no such organs.

Overall though, this method of sexing is tough unless you are an expert! The easiest way to know if a tarantuala is male or female is to wait until it is full grown and see how its body proportions look.

Male tarantulas are much slimmer, and have skinnier, longer legs in proportion to their body. The male and female Arizona Blonde Tarantulas below are a good example.

how do tarantulas reproduce?
Male Arizona Blonde Tarantula. Notice the dark legs, and skinnier body proportions
Arizona Blonde Tarantula Care Guide
Female Arizona Blonde Tarantula on the prowl

How many times can a male tarantula mate?

When it comes to mating, a male tarantula cannot reproduce until he is 3 to 10 years old, depending on the species. Once he is mature, he can mate as many times as he wants, but he obviously risks being eaten by the female every single time.

Interestingly, female tarantulas can last for up to 30 years. Once mature, they will generally reproduce once a year for the rest of their lives.

Females recognize the sex signals and position themselves for mating when they sense the vibrations of an approaching male. They may shake their web or crawl away, but if the male if the male is brave enough, she will allow him to mate.

A female spider will then either eat him or let him go and soon start the fertilisation of her eggs. This is the typical pattern. However, there are some species that are more aggressive and prone to cannibalism than others.

How long is a tarantula pregnant?

A tarantula is an amazing creature to breed in captivity, but how long is a tarantula actually pregnant? The answer may surprise you.

Tarantulas can lay hundreds of eggs and be very fat during their pregnancy. They are also very temperamental during this time. Do not disturb them! In general, tarantula will only be gravid (pregnant) for a couple weeks after mating until she lays her eggs.

Female tarantulas lay a sac containing 100 or more eggs. These sacs are lined with silk and then the female tarantula deposits the eggs. This silk-lined egg case is then covered with more silk. The female then protects the egg sac until the baby spiderlings hatch. This process can take two or three months.

Brazilian Black Tarantula care and faqs
Brazilian Black Tarantula on cork bark.

Do baby tarantulas eat their mother?

The answer to the question of do baby tarantulas eat when mating is a resounding no. Although tarantulas are known to eat each other, this does not mean that they eat their mothers.

In fact, some species will feed their babies after mating. The baby tarantulas may eat their siblings in the early stages, but this is rare. Once they reach a certain size, tarantulas will disperse. They will begin travelling individually away from the lair to find a suitable place to live.

Females are generally very adaptable towards approaching males, and pre-copulatory cannibalism may have evolved in response to negative effects of low food availability on female reproduction.

Interestingly, females who are able to eat their males are more likely to have larger offspring with higher body condition. They are also more likely to produce eggs than non-cannibalistic females.

how do tarantulas reproduce?
Mexican Red Knee Tarantula above hiding place

Why do female tarantulas eat the male?

Why do female tarantulas cannibalize male tarantulas? This question is largely a survival one. Female tarantulas may kill male tarantulas as a means of securing a meal.

This is possible, because food abundance always varies in the wild. For a female, higher food intake = bigger, healthier babies. Why not just eat the male after mating?

The primary motive for a female spider to cannibalize a male is to produce healthy offspring and perpetuate the species. It’s safe to say, a female spider is not concerned with ethical considerations, she’s concerned with increasing her reproductive capacity.

Other resources related to tarantula reproduction:

Tarantulas | National Geographic

How Do Tarantulas Mate? – The Spruce Pets

Animal Sex: How Tarantulas Do It | Live Science

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