Skeleton tarantula

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Skeleton tarantula

The skeleton tarantula, Ephebopus murinus, is a species of spider belonging to the family Theraphosidae (tarantulas), sub-family Aviculariinae. A New World species, it is native to several South American countries. Its common name is derived from the skeleton-like markings on its legs.

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Infraorder: Mygalomorphae
  • Family: Theraphosidae
  • Genus: Ephebopus
  • Species: E. murinus
  • Binomial name: Ephebopus murinus


Ephebopus murinus (Walckenaer, 1837), also known as “Yellow knee skeleton” and “Skeleton tarantula”, is a very remarkable bird spider due to its skeleton pattern on the legs from Brazil. The genus belongs to the subfamily of the Aviculariinae, mostly consisting arboreal bird spiders. Species from the Ephebopus-genus however, except for Ephebopus rufescens, are known to be burrowing bird spiders. Spiderlings from the genus have been observed living semi-arboreal. Contrary to other new world tarantulas, Ephebopus is being armed with urticating setae on pedipalps and femura and not on the abdomen.


Most of Brazil has high annual average temperatures, above 22°C (72°F). Only in the South and in the highest elevations does the average fall below this.

A tropical wet climate characterizes much of northern Brazil, with abundant rainfall and little or no dry season. Temperatures average 25°C (77°F). Rainfall averages about 2,200 mm (about 90 in) a year. Over central Brazil rainfall is more seasonal, characteristic of a savanna climate. Eighty percent of the rain falls in summer (October through March). Here rainfall averages about 1,600 mm (about 60 in) a year.


Nothing special or new here; the Skeleton tarantula has a hearty appetite and will munch on anything smaller than itself that it can get its fangs on. So the usual; crickets, meal worms, roaches etc.


Unlike most members of the subfamily Aviculariinae, which are arboreal, E. murinus lives mainly on or near the forest floor, where it will build a heavily webbed burrow beneath the topsoil or amongst branches, rocks, and other forest floor debris.

As a defense against potential predators, and in common with many other New World tarantulas, the species of the genus Ephebopus will brush urticating hairs from their bodies. Uniquely, rather than being located on the abdomen, Ephebopus urticating hairs are located on the spider’s palps – on the medial side of the palpal femora; the spider sheds these hairs by rubbing the palp against the chelicerae.


You may have to take a second look after you read about the mating process of these species. It is suggested that you introduce the male to the female more than once, or you can leave the male in her enclosure for up to a fortnight. Sources say that this approach can lead to cannibalism but the fact it has been suggested must mean it has worked in the past. Within the enclosure for which the mating will take place, it is suggested that a hideaway should be provided for the male exclusively.


Not friendly or docile in the very slightest. This is purely a species to be appreciated from a distance. It will not suffer from your lack of hands on affection with it. It will live quite happily with you fulfilling its requirements of feeding and habitat.  This species is lightening fast and aggressive, this is in no way a beginner’s tarantula choice.

Skeleton tarantula images

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