The Desert Comes Alive: Tarantula (Aphonopelma sp.) Mating

With the beginning of the monsoon season the desert comes alive, the rains bring moisture and the plants and animals immediately respond.  The most recent wildlife observations were of a female tarantula, Aphonopelma sp., that has had a burrow by the garage, north of the main buildings, for several years, see here and this video.  There were no signs of the female last year and the entrance to her burrow had filled in.  Thinking she had moved to greener pastures I was surprised to find the other day the burrow entrance open with webbing across the top, but still no signs of the female.  This morning all that changed.

Upon heading over to the garage to get the Kabota out in preparation for work I noticed a male tarantula in the drive behind the Kabota.  Surprised at the find I checked the burrow entrance and noticed even more webbing across the entrance.  I went back for the camera and took several photographs of the male and returned to work.  Checking on the trantula 20 minutes later I saw a second male was approaching the burrow from a different direction stopping and tapping the ground with his legs as he approached the burrow, and so it was back for the camera again.  Upon returning the female had emerged from her den and she was battling the new comer while the other male sat quietly behind the Kabota several feet away.  The big brown female chased the new comer male around a concrete block and he took off to the south across the drive abandoning any hopes of mating.  The female then returned to her burrow and entered while the other male still sat quietly by.  After another 20-30 minutes I checked again and the other male had also left the area leaving the female in peace.  Either I missed this years mating or the female just was not in the mood.

Location of 2 male tarantulas and the female's burrow

Male tarantula waiting

Face off between a male (left) and female (right) tarantula

Female tarantula outside her burrow (third season she has been observed)

Several mornings later another male approached the female's burrow.  She eventually emerged herself and after several less than positive interactions chased the male away and re-entered her burrow.

mating ritual of tarantulas
Female tarantula emerging from her burrow to an awaiting male


  1. Nice pictures! I always like seeing the tarantula's walking around. Wonder what you will see today?

  2. Thank you. More wildlife was observed while cleaning the patio in preparation for arriving guests, see the newest post.