A Guatemalan Red-rump Tarantula Makes a House Visit - Observation of the Week, 3/24/21

Our Observation of the Week is this Guatemalan Red-rump Tarantula (Tliltocatl sabulosus), seen in Guatemala by @ricardelremate!

Ricard Busquets grew up in Premià de Mar, Barcelona, Spain, and tells me he was always interested in nature.

I had the good fortune to grow up in a house full of books and encyclopedias collected by my father. One of these encyclopedias inspired my love for nature: the “Enciclopedia Salvat de la Fauna”. I used to enjoy snacking in the afternoons, after coming home from school, browsing through some of the eleven volumes of which it is composed. It was my favorite, and as I leafed through its pages I traveled around the world discovering incredible animals. The coordinator of that encyclopedia was Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, a Spanish naturalist and environmentalist, defender of nature, and producer of documentaries for radio and television who died too young in a plane crash in Alaska. I remember the day he died, I was 7 years old and I felt very sad.

Now an adult, Ricard resides in a place teeming with incredible flora and fauna: Guatemala! Living there for about twelve years, he’s married to a biologist and he manages a small hotel (ten cabins) outside of “the protected biotope Cerro Cahuí, harmoniously integrated in the humid subtropical forest of northern Petén, on the shores of Lake Petén Itzá,” he explains.

It was after inspecting the empty rooms of the hotel last August (the tourism industry, of course, has been decimated by the pandemic) that he encountered the colorful tarantula documented in this observation.

I entered the apartment where I live inside the hotel. As I opened the door, I moved the curtain and out of the corner of my eye I saw a dark shape near my shoulder. I took a step back and then I saw it. So beautiful, so spectacular, so calm. The tarantula slowly moved through the glass of the wooden door and I ran like crazy looking for my camera to immortalize it. My wife was with me, and we both kept exclaiming, "Wow, what a beauty, what a cute little thing!” 

In the end, the tarantula landed on the ground, and what I did was to pick it up and take it to a safe place, a huge mound of stones that we have at the hotel, where we usually take the spiders and scorpions that guests find in their rooms. All life forms are respected at the hotel.

Recently split from the genus Brachypelma, members of the genus Tliltocatl occur in Mexico and Central America. Like most other New World tarantulas, their abdomens are covered in urticating hairs, which can irritate the skin and eyes when brushed off by the tarantula as a method of self-defense. 

Ricard (above) heard about iNat from his wife’s colleagues, who recommended it to him because he likes photography and nature. I can say that discovering iNaturalist has been one of the best things that has happened to me during this pandemic,” he says.

I am taking very seriously the observation and documentation of every living thing around me, with the humble intention of contributing to citizen science and suddenly helping biologists and scientists with my observations from Petén, Guatemala. Hopefully this is just the beginning.

To conclude I would like to share with you this thought from Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente:

"Man is a poem woven with the mist of dawn, with the color of flowers, with the song of birds, with the howl of the wolf or the roar of the lion. Man will be finished when the vital balance of the planet that supports him is finished. Man must love and respect the Earth, as he loves and respects his own mother".:

(Photo of Ricard by Asgeir Rossebo Almas. Some quotes have been lightly edited.)

- Nearly five years ago, our Observation of the Week was a spider that had been found in someone's ear!

- Check out our recent blog post about @naufalurfi, the top spider identifier in Southeast Asia!

Posted on March 24, 2021 11:37 PM by tiwane tiwane


A really nice observation! Well done!

Posted by susanhewitt over 2 years ago

¡Espectacular! ¡Me encanta tu observación y el entrañable recuerdo a Félix Rodriguez de la Fuente, persona que marcó positivamente mi infancia y la defensa de la naturaleza en nuestro país.

Posted by pazcarbajo over 2 years ago

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