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8 superlative spiders

Chilean rose tarantula

Photo: GollyGForce/Flickr

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Chilean rose tarantula (Grammostola rosea)

The particularly furry and docile species known as the Chilean rose tarantula is the most popular type of tarantula to keep as a pet. Native to the desert regions of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina, this cricket-munching hairball harnesses barbed hair on its abdomen — urticating bristles, to be exact — as a defense mechanism. When under threat, the Chilean rose tarantula rubs the tiny pointed bristles off with its hind legs and “kicks” it in the direction of its intended target, a target that has the distinct misfortune of being assaulted by an irritating cloud of hair-harpoons. While the spider may suffer from a temporary bald spot after employing its weapon, it’s nothing like the excruciating pain experienced by whatever critter — or human — comes in contact with them.