Skeleton Tarantula, Ephebopus murinus
The Skeleton Tarantula (Ephebopus murinus) is a species of spider belonging to the Theraphosidae family, a sub-family of Aviculariinae. This New World species is native to several South American countries. Its common name comes from the skeleton-like markings on its legs. The generic name, Ephebopus comes from the Greek meaning “youthful” plus “foot”, and the specific name, murinus is from the Latin meaning “mouse-colored”.
The adult E. murinus normally grows to a leg span of about 4.5 inches, although the females can grow as large as 6 inches.
The legs are black, the carapace is coffee or golden colored, and the abdomen is small and brown. The leg striping is much like that of Aphonopelma seemani, but more yellowish in its coloration.
This species is a terrestrial, semi-fossorial, lowland forest-dwelling species that is native to northern Brazil, French Guiana, and Suriname.
Unlike the majority of the members of the subfamily Aviculariinae, which are arboreal, E. murinus resides mainly on or near the forest floor, where it will build a heavily, webbed burrow under the topsoil or amongst the branches, rocks, and other forest floor debris.
As a defense against potential predators, and in common with many other New World tarantulas, the species of the Ephebopus genus will brush urticating hairs from their bodies. Uniquely, opposed to being located on the abdomen, Ephebopus urticating hairs are located on the spider’s palps – on the medial side of the palpal femora; the spider sheds these hairs by rubbing the palp against the chelicerae.
This spider is also a fast and aggressive species, and will readily rise up and present its fangs to a potential predator.
In common with the majority of tarantula species, Ephebopus murinus consumes ground-dwelling insects, worms, and small mammals.
Image Caption: Ephebopus murinus standing motionless in a terrarium. Credit: Wikipedia (CC0 1.0)