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Hiking Among Tarantulas Near San Francisco

September 30, 2017

Okay, call me weird but as soon as I heard I could hike among the tarantulas on Mt. Diablo, I put it on my bucket list. These gentle giants are easy to view along a specific trail at dusk in September and October during the mating season.

I hadn’t realized how quickly the free guided tours filled up, so I was fortunate to move off the waitlist. Now I know what you’re thinking – what a lucky duck!

Tarantula on the move

I didn’t know what to expect. I guess I was hoping to see a mass migration of tarantulas. But these fellas are solitary. We spied about 12 of them sparsely along the trail.

The hike began with a quick educational introduction to these marvelous creatures. Because they are so big and juicy, tarantulas are vulnerable to predators. So as a defense mechanism, they flick fiberglass-like hairs into a predator’s eyes and nose.

And all that body hair gives the spider important feedback about their surroundings because their eight-eyed eyesight is actually quite poor.

Tarantula Burrow

A female is inside this tarantula burrow. Her underground home may stretch one foot down and one foot across. And in February, she’ll lay approximately 150 eggs.

Males only mate at the end of their life which coincides with full sexual maturity. This is not true for females who will be mamas many times over their 30 years of life.

View of Mt Diablo State Park

Tarantulas never venture far from where they were born. It’s so beautiful, why would they?

Tarantula against a tennis shoe

Spiders can’t chew so they inject venom from their fangs into prey to liquefy their insides. Then they suck out the juices. That’s why you see empty insect exoskeletons below spider webs.

Although tarantulas look fearsome and are venomous, they’ve never been known to cause a human fatality.

View of Mt Diablo State Park

Mt. Diablo State Park is approximately 40 miles east of San Francisco. Sign-ups for free guided tarantula tours are available online on August 1st through the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association. Admit it – you’re marking it on your calendar now 🙂

More: Best Day Trips from San Francisco

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