Move over ‘spider paws’! The Gooty Sapphire Tarantula’s galactic colors are stunning.
This unexpected beauty from Gooty, a town in Central Southern India, certainly doesn’t have a shortage of names. It’s most commonly referred to as the Gooty Sapphire Ornamental Tree Spider.
The extraordinary coloration of this tarantula comes from what are referred to as nanostructures, incredibly small structures on the hairs of the tarantulas which reflect light. In this case, these tarantulas aren’t producing a blue color, rather their hairs are bending and reflecting blue light. This means that depending on the angle that you are looking at the Gooty from, it may appear a different color, a trait called iridescence. You may have seen this same trait in peacocks and/or dragonflies.
Another Kind of Striking
The Gooty Sapphire is a tree-dwelling tarantula that lives in the holes of trees where they construct funnel webs. Occasionally, they have been found living somewhat communally when territories are limited (ie, holes in trees). Unlike many types of spiders, the Gooty doesn’t rely on its webs to catch their prey, which are usually all types of flying insects. Instead, they ambush their prey with a paralyzing bite. Don’t worry though; no humans have ever died from the potent-peck of the Gooty Sapphire. That’s not to say that the bite itself isn’t harmless. In fact, a bite from their 3/4 inch fangs can be incredibly painful, though it isn’t common. Gooty venom causes increased heart-rate, sweating, headaches, and all sorts of fun stuff, lasting up to a week.
Endangered and In Danger
Again, the Gooty Sapphire gets its name from the town Gooty in Central Southern India where they live. In fact, their entire natural range is less than 39 square miles in an area designated as a forest reserve. Despite this designation, it continues to be an area that is highly exploited for its resources. Logging and firewood harvesting are rapidly degrading the only natural habitat of the Gooty Sapphire. This combined with the pressures of the international pet trade have already put this arachnid on the Endangered Species list as Critically Endangered- thus making it even more of a gem than is is biologically.