Centennial Museum gecko logo

Desert Diary



This page was designed with CSS, and looks best in a CSS-aware browser--which, unfortunately, yours is not. However, the document should still be readable, though not presented in the most sophisticated manner.

Many of us can sympathize with Little Miss Muffett. After all, wouldn't you run if a spider decided to join you? People are frightened by spiders, even though most of them actually help us. We're especially frightened by large ones&mdashlike the fearsome tarantula! These spiders are large enough to actually feed on such things as lizards, frogs, small mammals, and even some venomous snakes! It's true that tarantulas have a poison of their own, but it's not a great threat to humans. In fact, many people have tarantulas as pets! The arthropod collection in UTEP's Laboratory for Environmental Biology has a tarantula so tame it will snuggle into a person's hand; school groups who visit may get to meet this gentle giant.

These spiders are really at a greater risk from humans than we are from them. Some people intentionally kill them, but even accidentally dropping one may doom it, as the body is quite delicate. If you run into one of these extraordinary creatures, pen and inkwatch it and enjoy a mild-mannered marvel of nature.

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Kodi R. Jeffery, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.


tarantula photo

Tarantula. Photograph by Gerald and Buff Corsi. Copyright 1999 by California Academy of Sciences.



Web Resources

Hays' Tarantula Web Page. A wealth of information and links.