‘Hey, here’s a great idea, let’s cross a rattlesnake with a tarantula,’ thought no one ever.
Luckily (or perhaps disappointingly, depending on your outlook), this isn’t some weird, mutant, hybrid, cross-species devil-child between a snake and a spider. Although, that would make a great film, right? If the producers of Sharknado are reading this, yes I would happily write that script.
Instead, this rattlesnake tarantula has the ability to mimic the sound of a rattlesnake in order to deter predators. (The spider is only displaying the sound, and was not harmed in this video).
Check it out:
Uncanny, right? So next time you hear a rattlesnake, stop and think, is it a tarantula? It may well be. On the other hand, if it’s a tarantula or a rattlesnake, either way you’re better off legging it.
And if you’re thinking that you’ve never come across a rattlesnake or a tarantula in the wild because you don’t live in the outback so you don’t need to worry, doesn’t it also sound a bit like cicadas? Or crickets? Or the rustling of insects in general? In fact, a bit like every sound you’ve ever heard when trying to sleep on a camping trip? Zip up your tents, folks.
While the rattlesnake tarantula may not be as venomous as the rattlesnake itself, a bite from one of the eight-legged fellas will still cause a considerable amount of pain.
Speaking to Daily Mail, Nick Volpe, who recorded the video, said:
The spider is found in central Queensland. They are a rare species and the rattling sound is thought to be used to deter predators. The animal [in the video] is a captive animal to be used for breeding purposes. This is a threat display and the spider was not harmed in any way.
The sound is created by the spider rubbing its fangs together. Nice.
They live in deep burrows and wander out for food and to mate after heavy rains.
It’s then if they are approached by a predator they raise their front legs and create the sound with their fangs to scare anything away.
Nick, the crazy fella, wasn’t scared away though, and says he was ‘blown away’ the first time he heard the harsh sound.
Reassuringly, he also added that despite the sound and looking kinda ferocious, their bite won’t kill a human.
Their bite is not of any medical significance, it will just cause pain, swelling and general nausea.
The distinctive spider was only discovered about 10 years ago, according to Queensland Museum arachnologist Robert Raven.
Speaking to 9Pickle, he said:
We are just now getting a good understanding of the species and the gaps that make them.
This one [in the video] looks like the small one from western Queensland – around Winton – and it is fairly quiet. They get much noisier, but Nick is being gentle to it.
If you have six people in a room and stir this thing up, it would shut everybody down.
I look forward to never hearing that sound, thanks very much.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.