Haplopelma lividum, commonly called the cobalt blue tarantula, is one of the rarest and most beautiful of the approximately 800 tarantula species belonging to the Theraphosidae family of spiders. Indigenous to the rain forests of Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia, it is scarcely encountered due to loss of its natural habitat.
The cobalt blue tarantula appears black to the naked eye. However, upon closer inspection or under the right light, its true bright blue color becomes stunningly apparent, shimmering with metallic iridescence.
While many tarantulas are armed with urticating (stinging) hairs on their abdomens that they flick at their enemies, the cobalt blue tarantula does not possess this defense mechanism. Its only defense is its strong, vertical fangs, which can inflict a painful bite.
The blue cobalt tarantula is one of the most aggressive tarantula species on earth. So aggressive, in fact, says David Sones's Tarantulas, that even young spiderlings have been known to fiercely attack.
Cobalt blue tarantulas live in deep underground burrows on the floor of the rain forest. They either dig these burrows themselves, or simply move into used ones created by other creatures.
Nocturnal in nature, the cobalt blue tarantula typically ventures out only at night searching for food. Males also search for females at night. Their days are spent resting in their burrows.
Although the bite of the cobalt blue can be extremely painful, its venom is generally not considered dangerous to humans. Tarantulas, like most arachnid species, have adapted to killing for food, so the strength and amount of their venom is toxic only to their prey.
According to the Oakland Zoo, the blue cobalt can go for extended periods of time without food. A swift and aggressive hunter, it preys upon insects, other spiders, amphibians and mice, delivering a paralyzing toxin before dragging the meal back to its burrow to feast.
Like most tarantulas, the blue cobalt molts once or twice per year. Molting is the process by which the tarantula renews its exoskeleton and regenerates missing appendages. The molting process is quite exhausting, and typically requires several days of recovery time.
Despite possessing eight eyes, the cobalt blue tarantula has poor eyesight, says the Oakland Zoo. Its auditory faculties are unknown, but most likely poor as well. It relies on its sensory receptors, the most refined of which are located on its leg and body hairs.
The male cobalt blue approaches the burrow of the female and performs a tapping ritual while vibrating his body. If the female is receptive, she exits her burrow and invites the male inside to mate. The female lays her eggs in an egg sac kept in her burrow. Unfortunately for the male, though it doesn't happen often, the female may kill and consume him after mating.
Yvette Sajem has been a professional writer since 1995. Her work includes greeting cards and two children's books. A lifelong animal advocate, she is active in animal rescue and transport, and is particularly partial to senior and special needs animals.