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purple tarantula

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A unique tarantula covered in purple mane!

Purple tarantulas do actually have purple hairs that cover the body and legs. Their bristly hairs are called setae. They are medium-sized docile tarantulas from Ecuador. Because of their bright colors, they are sometimes kept as pets in the exotic pet trade. These tarantulas are arboreal, living in trees and building their nests in the bends of branches and hollowed out trunks.

Amazing Purple Tarantula Facts

  • They can be 2 inches long with a 5 inch leg span.
  • The purple tarantula is native to Ecuador in South America.
  • They are tame and make great pets.
  • Instead of living in burrows underground, they live in trees.
  • In self-defense, they can flick their quills at predators.

purple tarantula scientific name

The scientific name of the purple tarantula is Avicularia purpurea. They are also known as purple pink-toed tarantula, Ecuadorian purple tarantula, Ecuadorian purple pink-toed tarantula, purple tree tarantula. Their common name apparently comes from their purple color, but their scientific name comes from early artist's descriptions of purple tarantulas. Linnaeus named the species in 1758, as described by artist and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian. The Latin word avicula means "little bird" and refers to a Merian painting of a purple tarantula eating a hummingbird. While tarantulas can eat birds, they are more likely to eat insects, but the name has stuck with the species.

purple tarantula appearance

purple tarantula
Purple tarantulas do actually have purple hairs that cover the body and legs. Their bristly hairs are called setae.


Tarantulas come in a rainbow of colors, and purple tarantulas don't disappoint. Their iridescent purple color is very eye-catching. The belly is completely black, the head (carapace) is purple, and the legs are covered with purple hair. Their coats or bristles will have an irresistible shimmer that makes them stand out.

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Females are larger and stockier than males, reaching up to 2 inches long with a leg span of 5 inches. Their body has two parts, an abdomen and a head (or carapace). There are eight eyes on the top of the head, two of which are larger than the others. They have eight articulated legs and two appendages located on the front of the body that look like arms. These appendages, called pedicles, are used to grab and hold prey. Males use their specially adapted pedipalps during copulation. Behind the tarantula is the spinneret.

purple tarantula behavior

Although they can move quickly, purple tarantulas are very docile. They are arboreal, living in trees and building nets and nests in branches or hollows. Their webs provide protection from approaching predators as well as a means of catching prey. They use webs to ball up their prey, then infuse it with digestive juices, turning the prey into a liquid from which they can draw nutrients.

In captivity, these spiders are easy to care for and a lot of fun. They will stay open so you can see them and they will be webbing the branches of the paddock.

Purple tarantulas need to molt to make room for their growing bodies. They molt several times a year when they are young, and then usually once a year, leaving behind the old exoskeleton. It is common for tarantulas to stop eating a few weeks before they molt.

Purple Tarantula Habitat

The habitat of purple tarantulas is arboreal, and tarantulas spin their webs in the bends of branches and in hollowed out trunks. They are excellent climbers and can scale tree trunks very quickly.

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Purple tarantulas are native to Ecuador and live in the hot and humid Amazon rainforest. In captivity, these spiders also prefer hot and humid conditions. A large enclosure with a variety of plants and vegetation is the perfect setting.

They are solitary animals with only one spider in the nest. The only time they come together is during mating.

Purple Tarantula Predator and Threat

Purple tarantulas have a variety of predators, including other arboreal snakes, lizards, birds, and larger spiders. Purple tarantulas can take refuge in their webbed dens or flee when approached. They can also flick their quills at predators, which can cause irritation. If their hair gets into the eyes of a predator, it can cause blindness.

What Do Purple Tarantulas Eat?

Some of the animals that eat tarantulas that live in the Ecuadorian rainforest include snakes, lizards, birds, and larger spiders. The tarantula hawk, a species of hornet, also preys on tarantulas by paralyzing them and burying them alive. Before burying them, they inject an egg into their abdomen, and when the egg hatches, it feeds on the tarantula. Tarantula hawks are common throughout South America.

What Do Purple Tarantulas Eat?

The main diet of purple tarantulas consists of insects. Anything that might fly into their webs, they wrap more webs and liquefy their interiors before absorbing nutrients.

As pets, you can feed your purple crickets, mealworms and cockroaches. They prefer several large meals every few days to daily feedings. They can go weeks without food before molting.

What is the conservation status of purple tarantulas?

The purple tarantula is not listed as threatened by the IUCN. They seem to be readily available in the pet trade, presuming they have a healthy population.

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Reproduction, Babies and Longevity

When males reach mature age, usually around 3-4 years old, they leave the nest in search of females. Females are more selective and when confronted by males they may try to attack her. If the females are willing, they will allow the males to mate with them, and then retreat to their dens. Males may only live a few months after mating, with an average lifespan of 3-4 years.

The female lays about 100-120 eggs, which are enclosed in a mass of silky web. She will guard them until they are ready to hatch. After about 6 to 8 weeks, the spiderlings will hatch and eventually take off on their own to create their own nest.

Female purple tarantulas live much longer than males, some up to 10-12 years. Pet lovers often try to obtain females so they can enjoy their pets for longer.


In the dense rainforests of Ecuador, it is difficult to accurately count the number of tarantulas that live in the trees. The IUCN, which monitors endangered species, does not list the species. They are also readily available in the pet trade, so their numbers appear to be healthy.

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Yes, they are poisonous, but their venom is mild and harmless to humans. They are also non-aggressive and rarely bite.

Females are approximately 2 inches long with a 5 inch leg span. Males are smaller.

It is best not to pick up purple tarantulas. They are docile and rarely bite, but can become irritable.