… Sorry, we're talking about baby tarantulas, right?
We're bringing it up because of a viral video shared earlier this year by the YouTube host known as Deadly Tarantula Girl (real name: Marita Lorbiecke). In the oh-so-creepy, oh-so-enthralling video, Lorbiecke uses scissors and tweezers to open up a big, pillowy egg sac created by two loving parent tarantulas in her care. The camera shifts, angles down into the sac's open cavity and reveals the squirming babies inside … all 1,460 of them! [Creepy, Crawly & Incredible: Photos of Spiders]
That's a huge brood. According to National Geographic, it is common for a single tarantula egg sac to contain anywhere from 500 to 1,000 babies. But even for Lorbiecke, who has been breeding and raising tarantulas since the 1990s, this is the biggest hatch she's ever seen, she told the Daily Mail.
The two happy parents and their myriad bundles of joy are all Nhandu chromatus tarantulas — sometimes known as red and white Brazilian birdeaters. While some tarantulas have been known to actually eat birds, it's more likely that this species' nickname was earned because of the spiders' impressive size; some N. chromatus owners report that their spiders measure 7 inches (18 centimeters) or more from the tip of their front leg to the tip of their back leg (a measurement known as diagonal leg span).
So, how are spider babies made? Let's just say it's slightly more complicated than human mating. When a male tarantula comes of age, he spins a special web just for sperm. He then "charges" his pedipalps — two small, leg-like reproductive appendages near the front of his face — by rubbing them in the web.
Once he's all charged up, the male can use his pedipalps to copulate with a few willing females, sometimes after doing a little tap dance to get their attention. They do the deed. He grabs his coat and leaves. For tarantulas, there is no pillow talk; if the male does not depart the female's burrow quickly enough after mating, he risks getting eaten.
The female spider takes it all from there, sealing both eggs and sperm inside a silky cocoon and guarding it carefully for six to nine weeks. The rest you can see in Lorbiecke's video. It's the miracle of birth, times 1,400. Enjoy it, if your stomach permits you.
Originally published on Live Science.
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Brandon is the space/physics editor at Live Science. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Reader's Digest, CBS.com, the Richard Dawkins Foundation website and other outlets. He holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from the University of Arizona, with minors in journalism and media arts. He enjoys writing most about space, geoscience and the mysteries of the universe.