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Central Queensland tarantula

Fact Box
Selenocosmia crassipes (RM)
(or a closely related species: see notes below)
Body length:
female: about 55 mm
male: about 40 mm
In a deep burrow in open bush and native grasslands. The burrow lacks a door but may have a collar of silk and possibly a thin veil of webbing across the entrance, especially if the spider has mated and now has eggs or spiderlings in the burrow
The venom of this spider, and especially the male, may be significantly toxic to humans so handle with caution
Selenocosmia crassipes
Click to enlarge
Another view
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Underneath male
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Male abdomen
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The female
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Eyes of female
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Burrow entrance

In recent years there has been debate as to the appropriate generic name for the species shown on this page and we are presently in a state of considerable confusion. The Queensland Museum is now suggesting that there are no genuine Selenocosmia species in Australia, this genus being restricted to parts of Asia. Instead, some Selenocosmia species are being moved back to the Phlogius generic name they were originally given more than a century ago. The Queensland Museum website also states that those tarantulas that are found in dry open forests or semi-arid areas of Queensland and that have Leg I no thicker than Leg IV belong to the Selenotholus group. This should include the spider shown above. However, Platnick in his World Spiders Lists has not yet accepted these changes and has retained the Selenocosmia crassipes name. For this reason, the spider presented on this page will continue to be shown as Selenocosmia crassipes until this issue has been resolved.

This species and some other Australian tarantulas are also called barking or the bird-eating spider, neither of which is really appropriate. Another name that is sometimes applied to them is 'whistling' spider because they have a stridulating organ associated with the mouth parts and this can produce a faint whistling sound.

Distinguishing features of Selenocosmia species are the hirsute (hairy) legs, the presence of brushes on the ends of the legs, and the relatively long spinnerets. Theraphosids are the only true tarantulas, but some people erroneously call huntsmen and wolf spiders tarantulas although these are very different in appearance and in family relationships.

Spider(s) with a very similar appearance: Only other Australian theraphosids such as Selenocosmia stirlingi.

Email Ron Atkinson for more information.    Last updated 2 January 2013.