Tarantulas in Oklahoma (Facts & Pictures)

Oklahoma is home to various types of insects and spiders, with one of the most well-known being the Oklahoma brown tarantula. This is one of the largest spiders found in the state, though it is more likely to be spotted in the southwest regions.

Tarantulas in Oklahoma

Despite there being multiple types of tarantulas found across North America, there is only one that is known to live in Oklahoma. This tarantula is also the only kind found in the nearby states of Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas. It serves an important function in its native habitats and can make a unique pet.

Oklahoma Brown Tarantula

Oklahoma Brown Tarantula
Oklahoma Brown Tarantula | image by Thomas & Dianne Jones via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

In Oklahoma, there is just one type of tarantula that is known to call the state home, the Oklahoma brown tarantula. This is a large spider, known for being docile around humans, yet a fierce hunter of other insects.

They have even been known to eat small mice and small snakes on occasion. These spiders are also frequently seen in other states across America, and in each of these regions, the name they are given varies.

Scientific name

The scientific name for the Oklahoma brown spider is Aphonopelma hentz. However, this large spider has multiple common names that it is known by. This tarantula falls in the Theraphosidae family and Araneae order.

Common names for this insect depend on the state it is found in, but all of these tarantulas are the same spider. In any region where they are found, they may simply be called brown tarantula.

Other names

In addition to the common name brown tarantula, these spiders have multiple nicknames. They are also called Texas brown tarantulas, Missouri tarantulas, or Arkansas chocolate tarantulas. The name depends on the state this spider is found in, as they have a far-reaching range across North America.

Habitat

Oklahoma brown tarantulas can be found living in burrows in wooded regions and the rocky terrain of the state. Not only do these burrows give them a space to hide from predators, but it is also where females will lay and guard their eggs.

Young tarantulas stay with their mothers for the first week of their life, but after that, they disperse. These large spiders are found in other states as well, including Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas. They are most active at night when they do most of their hunting.

This also helps them avoid certain predators. In Oklahoma, these tarantulas are mainly found in the southwest region of the state, but they can be spotted anywhere. They prefer to stay in dry areas.

Predators and Prey

Even though the Oklahoma brown tarantula is one of the largest spiders in the state, they have numerous predators they have to deal with.

These predators include;

Bullsnake
Bullsnake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The Oklahoma brown tarantula can deal with these predators in more than one way. They will use burrows to avoid and hide from predators. They can also use their legs to swipe their hair into the face of predators.

This can be painful, and will often cause a predator to retreat. Oklahoma brown tarantulas can also be fearsome predators and are important for population control for various species of insects.

Common animals this spider will feed on include;

  • Small mice
  • Other spiders
  • Grasshoppers
  • Beetles
  • Small snakes

Unlike other types of spiders, these tarantulas do not use webs to catch prey. They ambush them, often hiding in their burrows before striking. They have venom for stunning their prey as well, though it is not enough to pose any danger to people.

Size and color

The females of Oklahoma brown tarantulas are slightly larger than the males of their species, reaching an average of about two inches in size. This does not account for their legs, which can reach six inches long.

Males will reach an average of around one and a half inches in size, plus a few inches of leg length. The legs of these spiders can reach around six inches long. The Oklahoma brown tarantula is brown, and its legs and body are covered in thick reddish brown hairs,

Pet tarantulas

Arkansas Chocolate Tarantula
Arkansas Chocolate Tarantula by Christopher Cassidy via Unsplash

Oklahoma brown tarantulas have been found to make great pets for spider lovers, as they are docile spiders, and not aggressive. They rarely bite people, and their venom poses no danger if they do.

Bites are said to be about as painful as a bee sting. While in the wild these spiders typically live for just a few years, they can live much longer as pets. Females have been known to get as old as 30, with males typically having shorter lifespans.

Fun facts about Oklahoma tarantulas

The Oklahoma brown tarantula is an interesting insect, and there are plenty of fun facts to learn about them.

  • These tarantulas put silk around the entrance of their burrows to alert them of any predators.
  • In the winter, they use silk to close in their burrows and will spend the cold months inside it.
  • Males migrate during the mating season and can be spotted crossing roads to do so.
  • The shades of brown found on these insects are great camouflage against predators.
  • The hairs of these tarantulas are known to trigger allergic reactions in predators.
  • It was 8,000 years ago when these large spiders first came to Oklahoma and surrounding regions.
  • In the wild, the Oklahoma brown tarantula is shy and will be quick to hide from people.

Conclusion

One of the largest spiders that can be found in Oklahoma is the Oklahoma brown tarantula. While in the wild they hide from people, they are also popular pets and can live for a decade or more in captivity. Their scary appearance is misleading, as these spiders are harmless and docile to humans.