By: Sandra Markle
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: February 2012
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: March 2012
Tarantulas are arachnids, predatory spiders that "must catch and kill other animals to live." Perhaps you have a friend who has a pet tarantula or actually own one yourself. You may even have seen a Mexican redknee tarantula, one of the more popular breeds to own. There are many different kinds of tarantulas. They range in size from the Paloma dwarf, which has "a leg span of about 1 inch," to the pinkfoot goliath whose leg span is a whopping 11 inches. These hairy spiders use their fangs to attack and kill their prey. The fuzzy looking hair these spiders have does not just lay on or stick out of their bodies, but is actually useful. Some of these hairs have sensors or "setae" that can detect heat, motion, and sense chemicals, which allow the tarantula to actually taste what they touch.
One protective measure tarantulas use are barbed hairs that they flick at their enemies, hairs that "cause pain and itching when they strike eyes or skin." As an arachnid the tarantula goes through an incomplete, three-stage metamorphosis: one that starts in the egg stage, changes to the spiderling, and ends in the adult stage. The mother spider lays her eggs in a burrow, but once they hatch the time the assorted spiderlings stay with their mother varies. In this book you'll also learn about the molting process, how the tarantula can regenerate missing parts, how and why they spin silk, you'll learn where they make their homes, how they hunt, how they mate, take care of their young, and you'll learn many other interesting facts about this amazing arachnid.
One of the most impressive parts of this book are the two, two-page spreads that show the body parts of a tarantula. The first spread has an enlarged photograph of a brown baboon tarantula, while the second has a more detailed illustrated cross section detailing more than a dozen internal organs and body parts of a female tarantula. Vibrant, colorful, bold photographs pepper the pages and add to its appeal. There are numerous, informative sidebars that briefly discuss a "Tarantula Fact." For example, one says: "Bigger tarantulas will catch and eat smaller ones--even their own brothers or sisters." In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a "Tarantula Activity," and additional recommended book and website resources to explore. There are free downloadable educational materials on the publisher's website.
Quill says: This is an amazing overview of the world of tarantulas, "supersized" predators of the arachnid family.