On my way into work this morning I had to swerve the car to avoid running over a spider (how often can you say that?). A big, hairy spider. Luckily, I had our new camera beside me in the car, so I pulled over and hopped out, Canon in hand, to both help keep the spider from getting run over and to take a gabazillion pictures of it. I purposely kept these pictures pretty big, so if you click on each image, a larger version will appear so you can see more of the detail.
I think this is the fourth desert tarantula I've been able to play with since moving to Arizona. Although, he (remember, only male tarantulas leave their burrows to go search for mates) wasn't very good at holding still to give me a chance to focus the camera, so most of my pictures ended up rather blurry. He was definitely on a mission to go find a female spider somewhere nearby.
I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to get him to crawl onto my hand. I've only been able to get one other tarantula to do that (the very first one I ever saw, actually). The others have been way to skittish. This guy didn't even slow down when he got to my hand. He just strolled right onto it. Although, he did pause half way across and, moments after this picture was taken, I noticed these two rather large pointy black things (ie, fangs) being maneuvered over my vulnerable palm. It took me a second or two to figure out exactly what was happening. At that moment I felt the spider scrape its fangs lightly over my skin, for what purpose I can't really say since I quickly (but carefully, so as not to hurt the spider) removed my hand out from underneath it. I honestly don't know if he would have actually bitten me or not, but I wasn't really willing to experience it, so I decided not to put my skin within fang-reach again.
So, I let the spider go on its merry way, but not without doing my best to get some cool pictures of it.
I'm curious as to why tarantulas seem to have such large spinnerets, considering that they only spin silk to line their burrows. You can see them here protruding from the back of the opisthosoma (abdomen). He kept flexing them at me like this for some reason. I suppose it might have been a defensive or stress thing, but he never postured like he was trying to defend himself.
I love this picture because you can clearly see the spider's unique eyes. It would be pretty cool to see the world through the eyes of a spider.
At this point I figured I'd leave him to his quest. Besides, I was already late for work.