The Peruvian Chicken Spider

25th January 2018

Blog (Hanging out with a giant tarantula…..)



I found another interesting creature of the night while off on a walk after dark. I was following a trail through the forest and there suddenly appeared a huge black tarantula, right on the trail in front of me! I stopped and observed it for a moment. It was roughly the size of my hand, maybe a bit larger, and looked very similar to one I’d seen weeks before, when Mark had come across one during a night walk. It had been crawling into its burrow along the side of the trail and he attempted to lure it back out. It partially emerged, only briefly, and we were unable to convince it to come all the way out. I actually had forgotten where exactly we had found it along that trail and had been hoping to see one again. So this was exciting, there was the spider now sitting right in front of me! I took a few photos while standing there but then it turned around and scurried toward its burrow, which was located right next to the trail. I noticed another smaller spider just outside of the burrow, and then several even smaller than that one just inside the entrance of it. So we had a whole family here it appeared. I took a step closer to get a better look and they all disappeared into the hole. I grabbed a thin stick and attempted to lure them out. First one of the smaller spiders crawled out and after a couple of minutes the big female crawled out as well. I took a few photos and some video before they disappeared back into the dark hole. I wasn’t able to get them to emerge again after that so I decided to leave and try another night.



Tonight I visited the tarantula den again. The large female and three smaller ones were just outside of the entrance. I managed to get a few photos but then they crawled back in. I hung around for a while and but they did not respond to my attempts to lure them out. These appear to be one of the large “Birdeater” tarantulas of the tropics, I believe it could be from the genus Pamphobeteus. There is a species commonly known as the Chicken Spider, due to claims that one was seen carrying off a chick to its den. I don’t know about that for certain but it makes for an interesting name. It is a nocturnal, burrowing species of tarantula and known to share its home with its offspring, unlike most tarantulas which are solitary. After trying several more times to lure them out and failing, I finally headed back to camp for the night.



So since I’m leaving Peru soon, I made one last trip to see and photograph the tarantulas as part of tonight’s walk in the forest. Once again I discovered the female right out in the open, in the middle of the path! I took a few photos and watched her turn and start making her way back toward her burrow. I moved very slowly and managed to capture better photos of her this time and also some video. She disappeared into the burrow so I turned my light off and waited; she slowly emerged again and for a little while sat outside in the open. It’s just another incredible rainforest experience, sitting on the forest floor in the dark of the night while watching a massive tarantula emerge from its dark burrow – first you see the long legs slowly appear, then suddenly the entire space is taken up by this huge, hairy spider!¬† Its the stuff of nightmares, unless you’re like me and just find it entirely fascinating. I took some more photos before she turned and crept back inside again. I considered it a successful visit and finally returned¬† to camp.


Blog Written by Jaime Thomas

Story written by Mark Fernley