Who am I?
My name is Gooty Tarantula.
What are some of the other names given to me?
I am also called,
1. Gooty sapphire ornamental tree spider,
2. Gooty sapphire,
3. Parachute peacock spider
4. Metallic tarantula
5. Peacock tarantula
Scientists call me –
What is a tarantula?
A very large spider with long hairy legs. They kill their prey using venomous fangs.
Why is the name peacock or sapphire prefixed to my name?
Because, I am a metallic blue coloured spider, quite attractive like the peacock or the blue sapphire.
Why then the name Gooty tarantula?
I was first discovered in the town of Gooty in Andhra Pradesh and that too in a railway timber yard. So people started calling me the Gooty tarantula. But here is the secret – I never really lived there! Many experts are sure that I actually came to Gooty along with the timber and my real home is the Eastern Ghats where I live now, a 100 km away from Gooty. Talk about first impressions!
Where do I live?
In deciduous forests of Andhra Pradesh in India. Nowhere else in the world. In fact, my home range is less than a 100 sq. kms in a reserve forest between Nandyal and Giddalur. I love living inside tree holes creating my tunnel webs inside.
What do I eat?
Tasty flies, moths, fruit flies, mantis etc. Any insect that flies around me; I seize it in flight, paralyze it and gobble up.
Where am I placed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species?
They say I am Critically Endangered and face an extremely high risk of extinction.
Why am I so rare and threatened?
The forest I like to live in is getting smaller each day because of growing need for timber. People are also clearing the forests for building homes, converting to croplands etc.
Some people also hunt for me to sell as exotic pets. It is thought that few tarantula lovers in the US are ready to pay as much as $500 to buy me as a pet. Sadly, if only the same money could be spared to save my forest home, I could easily live longer and never be extinct.
Why do I hate humans?
I don’t. I just do not like showing myself to them because most of them are not nice to me. I am so rarely seen that even scientists who spent years looking for me have not been able to spot me in spite of my beautiful metallic blue colour.
I was first discovered in 1899 in the railway timber yard of Gooty, then was seen in 2001 and was again discovered 113 years later recently at Seshachalam Biosphere reserve spread across Chittoor and Kadapa districts of Andhra Pradesh.
Do I still exist or am I already extinct?
It is difficult to guess although I was seen as recently as in 2013. If my forests, and trees with nice, comfortable holes are preserved, surely I’ll be seen again. And you might not even have to wait a 100 years for it!
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Image via Wikimedia commons