Many people find tarantulas scary. But if you were to encounter one of the large, hairy spiders, it would probably run away, says Pearson. There are more than 1,000 tarantula species scientists know about, and most are not aggressive. Plus, the venom of tarantulas is usually harmless to humans.
Most wild tarantulas live in South America. But the spiders are found in deserts, forests, and grasslands on every continent except Antarctica (see Tarantulas of the World).
Tarantulas make their homes in holes called burrows. They build thick webs at their burrows’ entrance to help them catch prey. When these webs vibrate, it means an insect or another small prey animal is nearby. The tarantula pounces and injects its prey with venom. It also injects a substance that turns the prey to liquid so the tarantula can slurp it up.