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Wild Tarantulas In Canada

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by JacenBeers, May 14, 2003.

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  1. JacenBeers

    JacenBeers Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Many times since I have lived here in the desert I have heard of people claiming to have seen massive spiders while on walks out in the drylands all around the city. Kamloops is very deserty and dry and we even have cactuses. It is extremely warm here and we only get snow for about 1 month of the year, if that. Well this year two people have captured wild tarantulas here and last year a whole bunch of scorpions were caught that were two inches long. One tarantula was captured by a student near my university in an area I commonly walk around in and another was caught by the guy that runs a local exotics store. This was caught down near Kamloops Lake. I havent seen them yet but I will be checking out both sometime this week. I am excited.
  2. Fungii

    Fungii Arachnopeon

    Sounds cool Jacen, can you get pictures? I've heard that we have one type of tarantula in Canada but I've never heard of anybody actually encountering one in the flesh. Let us know what you find!
  3. JacenBeers

    JacenBeers Arachnoprince Old Timer

    I still havent had a chance to see one of these illusive beasts yet but Moe assures me i will be impressed. He says his is at 4 inches and it lacks urticating hairs. He says it is a burgundy color to almost black.
  4. Buspirone

    Buspirone Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Thats interesting.....Do you think you could take some pictures and post them? Let us know what you think after you see them.
  5. Steve Nunn

    Steve Nunn Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Hi Jacen,
    It isn't a tarantula, as such, probably just a large mygale of some sort. All T's in the US have urticatious setae, so anything even remotely 'native' to Canada would definately have the urticatious patch.

    The other theory, although highly unlikely, is that a gravid captive old world T escaped and it's offspring survived.

    Sorry to burst the bubble ;)

    Either way it sounds like an impressive spider, please post a pic if you can.

  6. JacenBeers

    JacenBeers Arachnoprince Old Timer

    It is indeed a tarantula. Moe knows just as much about tarantulas as i do and the taxonomy teacher at the university I go to has the other one in his lab now and he confirmed it as well. Both were found pretty far from each other and look identical apparently. Lots of people are going out with Moe early tomorrow to find more. I will definitely post a pic as soon as I get one. Hopefully I can do it tomorrow if I have time after work.
  7. Steve Nunn

    Steve Nunn Arachnoprince Old Timer

    OK, so the taxonomist who has one thinks it's a T hey? What's the taxonomists field? Being that mygales are a hard to key out even for standard arachnid taxonomists I'm interested in the persons credentials. Being he knows a bit about theraphosid taxonomy how did he exlpain the geographic location of this T with no urticatious setae? I really am interested in his hypothesis. What morphological features did he use to ID it as a theraphosid. Does he know the differences between theraphosids and barychelids, or diplurids for that matter. Thing is Jacen, most people would spot a large hairy mygale and think to themselves "that's a tarantula!". This taxonomist would have to have access to rellevant published material or at last an accurate knowledge of all mygales to ID this spider as a T.

    Moe knows as much as you. Can you tell me what differentiates a theraphosid from other mygales?

    I'm not meaning to come down hard on you, I would just like to hear your thoughts on why this IS a theraphosid. Because frankly, the chances are about 0% that thse sidrs are tarantulas.

  8. Arachnopuppy

    Arachnopuppy Arachnodemon

    How can tarantulas survive the Canadian winters?
  9. Steve Nunn

    Steve Nunn Arachnoprince Old Timer

    They couldn't lam. Even one month of snow is enough to kill any T. Even a spider such as Selenocosmia himalayana (living at elevations of 6000' at the base of the Himalayas) could not survive one month of snow. The only chance of this occurring as Jacen has stated is that a bunch of old world T's either escaped or were released by some numbskull who didn't know they would die within one season. It's just not possible on so many levels....Then again, maybe Jacen is onto something that will change the beliefs of scientific kowledge regarding theraphosids, not just through ecology and behaviour(temperatures) but geography (old worlder in the far Northern Americas)as well. Dismissing two rules of the Therahosidae at once, this will be quite a tarantula.....

    Last edited: May 16, 2003
  10. RugbyDave

    RugbyDave Arachnoprince Old Timer

    it could just be some guy who released some old world species a couple days previous..

    it could be the astro-physicist in me, but NOTHING'S fully impossible.

    However, its HIGHY UNPROBABLE (i stick kind of with Steve on this one)... however, thats not to say that it isnt a morph or mimic, or some unknown species...

    new species ARE always being found. Look at the crustaceans living next to the deep-sea vents.... INSANELY hot temps, and we NEVER thought anything was living down there, but..

    life evolves to what it needs, right?

    I'd be VERY interested to see the pics!
    keep in mind, it could just be a pet-release.

    stewing, waiting for pics :) By the way Jacen, thats a beautiful part of canada (clearwater and cache creek areas!!)

  11. Mister Internet

    Mister Internet Big Meanie Doo Doo Head :) Arachnosupporter

    Well, the astro-physicist in you can probably also see that the mathematical probability of two unrelated old-world pet tarantula releases resulting in eventual capture in the same locale of a hostile habitat actually occuring would be.... well... astronomical... no pun intended. ;)
  12. RugbyDave

    RugbyDave Arachnoprince Old Timer

    very true, Mr I!


    but there's still a possibility! =D

    enough with the ribbing, BRING ON THE PICS, am I right?!

  13. Kugellager

    Kugellager ArachnoJester Arachnosupporter

    Steve, interesting note on the maximum elevation Tarantulas can be found at. Aphonopelma coloradanum is found as far north as central Colorado.

    I and Atrax each have several slings that were hatched from an egg sac found in the foothills north of Canon City Colorado. Canon City is at about 5500' in elevation and the foothills to the north range from around 6000' to 9000' (they call them foothills here anyway). The sparse vegitation is sage brush mixed with juniper and therefore fairly arid. They do in fact get a bit of snow in the area during the winter...not just trace amounts either(wet season). Our local Butterfly pavilion has several adults collected from the same general area and to the south where the elevation is in the 5000-7500' range and of similar vegitation...think high plains and rolling hills.

    The egg sac was found among some rocks behind a womans house and then kept in her garage for a couple of weeks until Jeff Owen of the U of Colorado entomology dept. came and collected it from her. I freely admit that the exact elevation the egg sac was collected at is not known and would speculate that it was not above 8000'. The egg sac was brought back the the Denver area( also 5000-6000 feet) and hatched shortly after this past August. There were 100-150 slings...he didn't bother doing a detailed count. The slings do have urticating hairs by the way. Nice little black fuzzy patches of them at this stage (about 1-1.5 cm).

    To the west of this area is a wide high plains region called the San Luis Valley which is at an elevation of 7000-8000'. It is reported that an Aphonopelma sp. can be found there...I don't know the details. The areas I mentioned that they have been found still get frost frequently even at this time of year...In fact we may get snow here on Monday down to 6000'.

    Anyway...I though you might find that interesting.

    Last edited: May 19, 2003
  14. Mojo Jojo

    Mojo Jojo Arachnoking Old Timer

    There are tarantulas in Missour and that place sure doesn't lack any cold weather or snow.

  15. Bry

    Bry Arachnodemon Old Timer


    I have done a little bit of searching for the Colorado native species that I've heard about. I couldn't find pics of an adult or the latin name for them. I've been interested in keeping this species. Have any idea where I could obtain some?

  16. Mybe its not a T....Mybe its just a giant spider:) I would love to see a giant true spider hanging from a silk strand...That would be awesome!
  17. Kugellager

    Kugellager ArachnoJester Arachnosupporter

    Bry...our casual spider group we have out here has talked about going collectiog for Colorado T's at some point in the summer. If I or Atrax get any I'm sure we will post something here and you should ask me again then. I have four slings of them now but the largets is just over 1/2". They grow very slowly...these are from the ones hatched in August I mentioned above. Pic are difficult to find of these guys. Next time I go to the Butterfly Pavilion I need to remember to take my camera with me.

    If you go here there is a picture of what may be an Aphonopelma coloradanum about half way down the page...it looks similar to a male of this species...though the ones I have seen are a bit greener.


  18. Fungii

    Fungii Arachnopeon

    I'd just like to mention how mild the winters can be in BC and how arid the interior is, almost desert-like. I don't think it's all that far-fetched that a tarantula could survive around Kamloops.

    Wether it's a native species or not is another question.
  19. RugbyDave

    RugbyDave Arachnoprince Old Timer

    everything you ever wanted to know about the weather in Kamloops, part 1:

    Its def. very arid up there. Some parts are almost American SouthWest looking.

    I've only gone as far as Cache Creek and Clearwater, but i've flown over that area...

    its true, it gets very mild winters

    In fact:
    "The climate of the Kamloops Region is extremely diverse. Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Kamloops and the Nicola Valley are classified as semi-arid bordering on desert and noted for their dry hot summers. Winters are mild with little precipitation. Hillsides are grass-covered with sagebrush. Little tree growth occurs until elevations of 900+ metres (2953 ft)." The Kamloops region itself is only around 1000' asl (ish)

    so there you go.... (off of travelkamloops.com i think). I also think Amarillo TX gets more snow (average) per year than Kamloops. And Amarillo doesn't get too too much snow (maybe 20" a year, average?)

    now that you think about it, it sounds less and less unprobable, and more and more probable? :)

    Last edited: May 17, 2003
  20. Steve Nunn

    Steve Nunn Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Hi John,
    That's the highest elevation I know of for an old world tarantula. If the spider was new world, one of the Aphonopelma spp., well, anything's possible. Thanks for the elevations on the Aphonopelma though, it's food for thought. G.rosea live in some fairly cold climate too.

    The thing that maks this so unbeliveable is it's not an Aphonopelma sp. AND more then one have been found.

    I'd still love to know what morphological features were used to ID the spider as a tarantula. A big hairy mygale does not constitute a T, so what was used to ID this spider???? How did they determine it not to be a barychelid for example (which can be hairy, can even stridulate, depending on species and even has tarsal scopula)?

    At what temps does the collection area for this spider drop too? It may be fairly warm there at times, but what it the lowest it gets to during winter, could a T really survive that??? I doubt it still. Colorado, Utah and some of the other colder states US T's are found in are still a long way away from Canada......

    I've gotta see it to believe this one.

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