University of Missouri Extension

G7386, Revised March 2003



Nonpoisonous spiders


In Missouri, tarantulas (Dugesiella hentzi) are found only in the southern part of the state. This large, hairy species is uniformly chocolate brown with no noticeable markings. Tarantulas prefer drier areas, where they inhabit natural cavities or abandoned burrows of other animals. They stalk crickets and other large insects at night. The structure of their mouthparts is unique among spiders and requires them to elevate their heads to insert their fanglike mouthparts into prey.

Tarantulas are shy and avoid contact with humans. However, when they are threatened and elevate their heads, this posture is mistakenly interpreted as aggressive. Their venom is only slightly toxic to mammals, so the biggest threat is the puncture that would result from their large fangs.

G7386 Spiders | University of Missouri Extension

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