By Julie Cart
Although they appear to be perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering extending Endangered Species Act protection to 11 tarantula species native to India and Sri Lanka.
Sometimes known as parachute spiders, the colorful and fierce-looking arachnids are threatened by the international pet trade, where vividly hued spiders can fetch a few hundred dollars apiece. they are imperiled by shrinking habitats and fragmented ranges.
Should the tarantulas gain protected status here, U.S. officials could more easily prohibit their importation and sale.
Many of the 11 species under review are already considered endangered or threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The review was prompted by a listing petition from the conservation group WildEarth Guardians. The federal agency will conduct a 12-month status review of the species to determine whether listing is warranted.
All the tarantulas are in the genus Poecilotheria and are tree-dwelling, preferring wooded areas in tropical and subtropical forests. Tarantulas are especially successful hunters. They do not use webs to trap prey, but attack from hiding places in trees and inject an immobilizing venom. Species.