Spiders in Chile

While Chile is not crawling with spiders, there are a few to note.

I was very surprised to see 2 tarantulas here down in the Lakes region – one dead and one alive.

Here is the dead one found at the Saltos de Petrohue. Kind of shriveled up but still I would not want to meet one up close. The other I saw was caught by a young boy in Puerto Octay.  He was having a good time playing with it so I guess they aren’t too aggressive.
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The rose colored tarantula of northern Chile is commonly found in pet stores in North America. The one in the south is the Andean or Patagonian tarantula. Tarantulas rarely bite and they usually give you a good warning before they do. The bite can be painful but is harmless. They also can throw irritating bristles at you from their abdomens as a deterrent.

The tarantula below fell out of an avellano tree onto this guys shoulder while he was pruning the tree and he brought it over for my friend to look at. She was very brave and let it crawl up her arm!

 

The Chilean brown recluse is a spider I see too often in my yard usually hanging around the clothesline and sometimes on my clothes. The chilean variety is particularly venomous though is not aggressive and won’t bite unless squeezed like between you and your clothes. The bite can cause a large necrotic wound which is quite painful and rarely causes death. They can be easily identified by the darker brown violin shape on the abdomen. It is known in Chile as the arana de rincon or the spider of corners as it likes to live in dry dusty out of the way places like closets or sheds or woodpiles. I guess mine didn’t get the memo!

And the third is the black widow which I have seen frequently in South Carolina but not here in Chile and is easily identified by its black body with a red hourglass shape on the abdomen. It is known as the arana de trigo or the spider of wheat as it is often found on farms. There is a Chilean legend of the virile farmer who is called “spider bitten”. As it turns out this legend has some scientific basis and the story can be found on this link to Reuters. Caution – this article linked has adult content – not suitable for children 🙂

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-chile-spider-idUSN0132580120070601

A Chilean scientist shows a black-widow spider at his laboratory in this file photo. Scientists have discovered a potentially marketable contraceptive in the venom of Chile's black widow spider, whose bite is fatal to many but can also cause prolonged, painful and involuntary erections in men. REUTERS/Carlos Barria CB

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Snakes in Chile

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There are only 2 species of snakes in Chile and both are small and relatively harmless. A geography reminder to many that Chile is not a tropical country and is relatively isolated by the driest desert in the world to the north, the Atacama, and the Andes to the east, and the Pacific to the west so large venomous snakes like those found in the Amazon are not here.

The most common snake is the chilean slender snake or short tailed snake , culebra de cola corta, and  in latin Tychymenis chilensis.  It is found over most of Chile and while the peruvian species can be fatal, the chilean species is not. It is a venomous snake and the bite can be painful but it is not known to be fatal but then there have not been many recorded bites as it is rarely found. The snake in the picture above was found near a creek in the woods near our farm. It is a greenish brown with brown or black stripes.

The other snake is the chilean long tailed snake or culebra de cola larga and in latin Philodryas chamissonis. It is endemic to Chile and it’s range is from Copiapo in the north to Valdivia in the south. It is gray with black and white stripes and can grow up to 4 feet in length. Not much information is available on it because it is so uncommonly seen. The bite can be painful and cause swelling but is not known to be fatal.