This is literally skin-crawling.
A video of a Mexican Red Knee tarantula shedding its skin is the latest molting spider video to creep out the internet.
There are few creatures in the animal kingdom as maligned as snakes and spiders. They have been working tirelessly throughout human history to keep our villages and crops free of pests that would otherwise cripple humanity’s ability to provide for itself. But still, haters be hating, so if you happen to get freaked out by creepy crawly critters like spiders, You may want to keep on web surfing during work today.
Tarantulas are spiders. Spiders are arthropods. Arthropods must periodically shed their outer skin so that they can continue to grow. However, the process can take several hours, and it can be difficult to sit still long enough to witness this occurrence, meaning that few people have ever actually seen it happen.
Thankfully, a spider enthusiast has managed to capture the process in a time lapse video, and now, we can watch the whole thing in just a couple of minutes.
The outer shell of spiders is an exoskeleton and once it hardens it can no longer grow. For a tarantula to grow, it has to shed this outer skeleton and form a new one. Before the process begins, The tarantula will become lethargic and even stop eating so that it can conserve the energy it will take to shed the old exoskeleton. An adult tarantula will molt several times throughout the year.
Believe it or not, tarantulas can even regenerate missing limbs over successive moltings.
Tarantulas are one of the most fearsome looking animals on the planet, and have a reputation for being deadly. However, for those people brave enough to get up close and personal with these hairy spiders, the reality is that they are among the most docile and harmless of all spiders. In fact, this particular species, called a Mexican red kneed tarantula is considered to be a great candidate for people interested in having a pet spider.
An adult Mexican red knee can grow to about four inches in diameter and have a leg span of about six inches. They are extremely long lived and can attain an age of almost thirty years in captivity, if properly cared for.
Sadly, this species was listed as endangered in 1985. Wild populations have dwindled due to overharvesting for the exotic pet trade, and because of systematic eradication efforts on the part of people who have irrational fears of these gentle giants.
Their natural range is in Southwestern Mexico’s deciduous forests, where they feed on other insects and very small mammals like shrews and mice. Their venom is only mildly irritating to humans, despite what Hollywood horror movies would have you believe. In fact, the brown recluse spider of the US Midwest is far more dangerous to humans, with a venom that can lead to necrosis of tissue resulting in the need for surgery or in drastic instances, amputation.