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Avicularia avicularia female morphotype 1 ZK36.jpg
Avicularia avicularia female
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Infraorder: Mygalomorphae
Family: Theraphosidae
Genus: Avicularia
Lamarck, 1818[1]
Type species
Aranea avicularia
(Linnaeus, 1758)[1]

See text.

12 species

Avicuscodra Strand, 1908
Eurypelma C. L. Koch, 1850

Avicularia is a genus of the family Theraphosidae containing various species of tarantulas. The genus is native to tropical South America. Each species in the genus has very distinguishable pink foot pads.

One of the most notable features of the Avicularia species is their odd method of defense. When threatened, their first choice is to jump or run away as quickly as possible – occasionally, though, they will launch a jet of excrement at the perceived threat. Adults are capable of good accuracy and a range of 0.5–1 m (2 to 3 feet).

There is also a belief that they may be the reason behind rumors of "flying spiders" in the rainforests they are native to, as they are quite adept at jumping. Their legs, however, prevent them from gaining much height in making a jump. Avicularia avicularia are among the tarantulas most commonly kept as pets.


Maria Sibylla Merian's illustration of a spider eating a bird, bottom left corner. Published 1705 after a research expedition in Dutch Surinam

The genus Avicularia was erected in 1818 by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck for species previously placed in Mygale Latreille, 1802, the genus name used at the time for most mygalomorph spiders. One of the species Lamarck included in his new genus was Avicularia canceridea, which included Aranea avicularia, first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. Araneologists continued to use the name Mygale, although this had been used for genus of mammals in 1800, so was not available for Latreille to use for spiders. Ausserer in 1871 used Avicularia, but a degree of confusion persisted until a decision of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature in 1928 established the correctness of Avicularia, with the type species being Linnaeus' Aranea avicularia in the combination Avicularia avicularia.[2]

Linnaeus' name avicularia is derived from the Latin avicula, meaning "little bird", and refers to a 1705 illustration by Maria Sibylla Merian, showing a tarantula feeding on a bird. The English names "bird spider" and "bird-eating spider" and the German name Vogelspinne reflect the Latin name.[2]

A major review of the genus drastically reduced the number of species recognized, from over 50 to 12, as of March 2017. Some species have been transferred to other genera, with others reduced to synonymy. Yet more names are considered to be doubtful in their application (nomina dubia).[2][1]


As of March 2017, the World Spider Catalog accepted the following species:[1]

Transferred to other genera:[1]

Treated as synonyms or as nomina dubia:[1]

  • Avicularia ancylochira Mello-Leitão, 1923, synonym of A. avicularia
  • Avicularia arabica (Strand, 1908), nom. dub.
  • Avicularia aurantiaca Bauer, 1996, nom. dub.
  • Avicularia azuraklaasi Tesmoingt, 1996, nom. dub.
  • Avicularia bicegoi Mello-Leitão, 1923, synonym of A.  variegata
  • Avicularia braunshauseni Tesmoingt, 1999, nom. dub.
  • Avicularia cuminami Mello-Leitão, 1930, synonym of A. avicularia
  • Avicularia detrita (C. L. Koch, 1842), nom. dub.
  • Avicularia doleschalli (Ausserer, 1871), nom. dub.
  • Avicularia exilis Strand, 1907, synonym of A. avicularia
  • Avicularia fasciculata Strand, 1907, nom. dub.
  • Avicularia geroldi Tesmoingt, 1999, nom. dub.
  • Avicularia gracilis (Keyserling, 1891)Ischnocolus gracilis, nom. dub.
  • Avicularia hirsuta (Ausserer, 1875), nom. dub.
  • Avicularia holmbergi Thorell, 1890, nom. dub.
  • Avicularia huriana Tesmoingt, 1996, nom. dub.
  • Avicularia leporina (C. L. Koch, 1841)Iridopelma leporina, nom. dub.
  • Avicularia metallica Ausserer, 1875, nom. dub.
  • Avicularia nigrotaeniata Mello-Leitão, 1940, synonym of A. avicularia
  • Avicularia ochracea (Perty, 1833), nom. dub.
  • Avicularia plantaris (C. L. Koch, 1842)Iridopelma plantaris, nom. dub.
  • Avicularia rapax (Ausserer, 1875), nom. dub.
  • Avicularia soratae Strand, 1907, nom. dub.
  • Avicularia surinamensis Strand, 1907, nom. dub.
  • Avicularia ulrichea Tesmoingt, 1996, nom. dub.
  • Avicularia urticans Schmidt, 1994, synonym of A. juruensis
  • Avicularia velutina Simon, 1889, synonym of A. avicularia
  • Avicularia walckenaeri (Perty, 1833), nom. dub.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Gen. Avicularia Lamarck, 1818", World Spider Catalog, Natural History Museum Bern, retrieved 2017-03-10 
  2. ^ a b c Fukushima, C.S. & Bertani, R. (2017), "Taxonomic revision and cladistic analysis of Avicularia Lamarck, 1818 (Araneae, Theraphosidae, Aviculariinae) with description of three new aviculariine genera", ZooKeys, 659: 1–185, Suppl. 1–5, doi:10.3897/zookeys.659.10717 

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