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Peacock Tarantula— Scientific classification: Poecilotheria metallica

This incredibly metallic blue tarantula is found within a 39-square mile reserve forest in Andhra Pradesh. Its behaviour parallels that of many arboreal spiders. In the wild, it lives in holes of tall trees where it makes asymmetric funnel webs. Spiders of this genus may live communally when territory, i.e. the number of holes per tree, is limited.

The species is skittish and will flee when light shines upon it, as it is a photosensitive species. It’s also called the Peacock Parachute spider because of its habit to jump when disturbed either to a neighbouring tree or, more often, just parachute down like a leaf to the ground. Females can live up to 12 years. As with all tarantulas, males have a much shorter lifespan, living only a fourth to a third as long as females.

The primary prey consists of various fl ying insects. Under provocation, however, members of the species may bite. P. metallica’s bite is considered medically signifi cant, with venom that may cause intense pain, judging from the experience of keepers bitten by other spiders in the genus. The spider was originally discovered in central southern India, in the railway yard at town called Gooty and commonly known as the Gooty Tarantula. It was rediscovered after 102 years, in 2001 in the forest between Nandyal and Giddalur.

P. metallica is classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to its occurrence in a single, small area in which habitat is rapidly degrading due to logging and fi rewood harvesting. Another threat identifi ed by IUCN assessors is specimen collection for the pet trade.

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