identify this spider
December 14, 2006 3:44 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone identify this spider ?

I've lived in the Bay Area for about ten years after moving here from England and this is the biggest, ugliest spider I've ever had the misfortune to encounter. He'd walked up our Nannies trouser leg, and being the brave soul she is she managed to get him in my sons bug cage. He'd had met the bottom of my boot if he'd climbed up mine. Shudder. Anyway, what is it? From my research looks like a Funnel Web but I'm no expert, not dangerous is it?
posted by zeoslap to Pets & Animals (11 answers total)
It's about 6-8 inches long, right? Tarantula.
posted by lekvar at 3:52 PM on December 14, 2006

Pic here. Judging by the shape, it's probably a female. It'll give you a hell of a bite if you piss it off, but it's not poisonous in any meaningful way. And yes, they are related to funnel-web spiders.
posted by lekvar at 3:55 PM on December 14, 2006

Are tarantulas native to the bay area? I've never seen one there! Always thought it was too cold and damp for them. Maybe it's someone's escaped pet?

They do make good pets, though, and if you handle them carefully and keep them well-fed they won't bite ... at least my red-legged tarantula never did and almost acted affectionate, but it probably just liked my body warmth.
posted by luriete at 3:57 PM on December 14, 2006

To be honest I've never seen one here in the Bay Area, but they're all over the place inland and down south about 400 miles. I wouldnt be at all surprised to learn that there's a Bay tarantula, especially in the San Jose area, but you've probably got someone's escaped pet.
posted by lekvar at 4:02 PM on December 14, 2006

Well, apparently the Bay Area (although usually further inland areas such as Mt. Diablo) are host to a particular "blond" tarantula. Here's an interesting article on tarantulas in the bay area in general, and here's a picture of a tarantula near Livermore. Looks a bit lighter than yours but very similar in shape.
posted by luriete at 4:15 PM on December 14, 2006

Yes, there are tarantulas in the Bay Area, especially in the East Bay and South Bay hills. In fact, every fall, Henry Coe State Park (a huge state park/wilderness area east of Gilroy) has a TarantulaFest to celebrate the hairy critters.
posted by mosk at 4:18 PM on December 14, 2006

Best answer: Your profile says that you live in Oakland, where true tarantulas are very infrequently seen but where Calisoga longitarsus pops up frequently in homes, especially up in the hills. The differences are subtle, and nothing in the pictures strongly diagnoses it, but I'm inclined to call it for Calisoga. Not quite linebacker-y enought to a tarantula, but then your pics are mostly leg. Calisoga goes by the common names "calisoga spider," and "false tarantula."

That animal is totally incredibly indoobitably male, in the last picture you can see the modifications to the palps (smaller "legs" all the way in the front) for sperm transfer.

For those keeping score, Calisoga is in the Nemesiidae, whereas tarantulas are the Theraphosidae, both are in the Mygalomorphae. For those keeping score obsessively, some name cops believe that it should still be called Brachythele longitarsus.

True tarantulas pop up alot over the hills in Contra Costa County [on preview, and over the hills in Alameda County, such as luriete's third link], often in pool filters, and famously on Mt. Diablo where males anually clog the roads in the fall and usually get on at least one of the local news broadcasts [on preview, and in print, such as luriete's second link]. Less frequently they pop up on the peninsula. There are natives (genus Avicularia), most pets are tropical and/or desert species and an escapee would likely die a swift but miserable death in this weather before being found.
posted by Eothele at 4:24 PM on December 14, 2006 [2 favorites]

And no, not dangerous. We californians need fear only the black widow. A bite would hurt tho.
posted by Eothele at 4:38 PM on December 14, 2006

Response by poster: Sorry, it's not 6-8 inches long, much smaller, perhaps 2-3 inches when it extends it's legs. Lower part of the abdomen is about as large as your thumbnail give or take, there was some red underneath it, and yes we live in the Oakland Hills, although after seeing this guy it might be time to move :)
posted by zeoslap at 4:55 PM on December 14, 2006

Response by poster: I'm thinking Calisoga too, body length is about 1", much smaller than a tarantula. How far away would I need to take it so that it couldn't find its way back here :) Also are they likely to be others lurking around.
posted by zeoslap at 4:59 PM on December 14, 2006

Weird, I live in Mt. Diablo's shadow (literally) and I've never seen a tarantula hereabouts. I need to leave the apartment a bit more, obviously.
posted by lekvar at 5:49 PM on December 14, 2006

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