« Tarantulas of the World – Theraphosidae » by François Teyssié + interview of the autor


– Hardback cover
– Paperback: 487 pages
– Author: François Teyssié, foreword by Pierre Escoubas
– Publisher: NAP Editions
– Language: English
– ISBN-10: 2913688241
– ISBN-13: 978-2913688247- Book dimensions: 5,1 x 7,9 in
– Publication: May 11th, 2015
– Price: 80€ ( about $90)
– Also available in French : « Mygales du Monde – Theraphosidae »

Website of the editor

Une version française de cet article est également disponible sur le blog ici !

This book on tarantulas describes and illustrates almost 300 species of tarantulas of the Theraphosidae family by biogeographical zone.

The descriptions show non-specialists how to identify each species, and provides additional information on lifestyle, habitat and distribution. Theraphosidae systematics are presented in the form of an identification key for subfamilies and a description of particularly note-worthy genera. An exhaustive list of currently known species is also presented by subfamily and by country.

This book also covers Theraphosidae biology : anatomy, primary biological functions, ecology, venomology and pharmacological research.
This book also contains advice on breeding and rearing Theraphosidae.

My opinion
As soon as we handle the book, we have an impression of weight in spite of the compact format. It’s a hardback cover, and the thick but very well illustrated cover gives an impression of solidity, it makes me think of a housebrick that one uses to expand our knowledge (instead of our home). The only desire one has is to take a look inside !

The book has two distinct parts when the book is closed. The first part relates to biology, anatomy, venimology and ecology of Theraphosidae and took about half of the book and is printed on blank paper chechmate. While the second part is a bunch of index cards (300 species with 3 species per double-page!) printed on a superb glazed paper.

Concerning the first part we realise that the provided work is monumental, each point has been detailed.
We start with the phylogeny of Arachnida and the introduction to Theraphosidae (the origins, the subfamilies, classification…) then we pass on to biological specifics of this family (anatomy, biology, venimology and ecology). Than some breeding advices on few pages (little certainly, but the vocation of the book is not to be a breeding book), then a small part on the place of the spider in mythology and the beliefs.
We finish this great part by a identification key of all the current subfamilies and a comparison of the list of genus and the current classification, it’s colossal!

The thing that has most marked me in this part, is at the same time the facility of reading (sincerely even for the uninitiated person) and the fact that it is really complete, it does not miss anything, all your questions will inevitably find an answer in this book. All was thought, it is really impressive!
I was also very surprised by the smoothness of the illustrations, I mention as example the spermbank receptacles that has been illustrated (I counted 285 of them!), a large part of the species that we find in our collections as for a hobby, in represented in here.

Let us pass to the “second” part which is composed as I said before of index cards (concerning not less than 300 species).
The layout is not without pointing out to the work “Scorpions of the World”, a really great job, we have 3 species per double page, on water glazed paper, with a picture, a distribution map, the lifestyle of the species (underground specie, terrestrial, arboreal), the principal criteria of descriptions and some behavioral notes. (as C. schioedtei which passes from an underground behavior at the first stages to an arboreal behavior while growing). All is classified alphabetically and continents.
It’s very pleasant to read, it is readable and clear, I repeat myself again but I think that this work is as well intended to a beginner who will learn how to know and recognize numerous species, as well as to the most passioned senior whom will find a small thing that he did not know and will push him, surely, to continue his research.
I would like to add that this is not a breeding indexation listing, it approaches more to a naturalist guide. But with all the contained information you will have no evil to find the parameters of temperature and hygrometry of the locations in a few clicks on the Internet to have optimal parameters of maintenance! It’s also this the passion, to look for and learn!

The book ends in a list of the species by country, a glossary, an index and the bibliography.

To conclude I would say that this book is sincerely a major work in the French arachnologic literature (and english-speaking).
In the French literature devoted to tarantulas it clearly belongs to the top-3 (my personal trinity) with “Mygales élevées en terrarium” of Pierre Turbang who was my first book devoted to the mygales with which I began my first career and “Mygales, découverte et élevage” of JM Verdez and F. Cléton which was also a revolution in the terrariophile literature in 2001 (already 14 years ago! That does not rejuvenate us!!)
After if one had to choose only one of them, clearly “Tarantulas of the World” is dissociated by its very complete contents and its most recent taxonomic notes, it is inevitably the most up to date.
But you know, choose is so difficult, these books are complementary so much !

For me it is a must have! François really made a success of his bet, a complete, clearly and accessible book to every person, the new all in one bible of tarantulas breeders (but its modesty will make him say the opposite).

But I think some people can say
“- Yes but you know, 80 euros for a book, it is very expensive …”
I find that work that this book represents is largely worth it.
I think that when one wants to start out correctly his passion and willing to have good bases, it is also necessary to know that you need to invest. You can buy 3 books for 20 euros and learn nothing moreover than what you will find on some sites, and you will have spent at the end 60 euros…
Lots of people want to have much species, especially “rare” species which costs a fortune (you know as me that certain species are sold several hundred euros at first stage) but balks to be documented, it is a paradox… Especially when you know that the maintenance of mygalomorphs in France is regulated by the law, and that a good documentation is also a basics for filing for a Certificate of Competence!

I think that you will have guessed the note which I would put from my personal point of view for this book, of course a 10/10 is amply deserved, this book is a bomb!


François dedicating his book during the Hamm show (2015)

The interview
I pleased myself so much that I could not prevent me from going to ask some questions to Francois, the author, whom took me for a journalist (at 33 years all is possible, no?!)

– Francois, thank you to grant me some questions, it is really a pleasure, to start with, could you present yourself in a few words, that you would like to say to your readers?

As most of you all, I am just a passioned breeder since many years, the arachnology virus touched trough the means of many and very rich meetings. I started raising Theraphosidae, then within the framework of my studies, I could mix this experience with the world of research in venimology. I realised in 2002, following the changes of French legislation my filing for Certificate of competence and then later for Opening of establishment of breeding. In 2010 I took part in a European program “Venomics” the constitution of bank of venoms and I contributed to it on the sector of collection of venoms of Theraphosidae and Scorpions. This activity of collection of venoms is still on the agenda as I continue to work with French partners in particular pharmacological research. I also wanted to bring a modest contribution by writing the book “Tarantulas of the world” of the edition Nature Art Planète. This book also translated in English.

– Can you tell us since when you are passioned by spiders?

I am passioned of tarantulas since 1997, date that I met the first person even who gave me my two first Lasiodora parahybana , a colleague from my school in Nancy.  Thereafter, I was happy to meet André Leetz, Claude Manant, and many other people who brought to me more information. Those people made me discover an unknown world. I will never thank them enough!

– Are you more a passioned breeder who remains cloistered in his tarantula room or a traveller in search of new species and of new localities through the world?

And well I must acknowledge that I recognise myself in these two characteristics. I “am often cloistered” in my tarantula room when breeding time approaches. But I am also   a passioned by travelling and I made, last year, a world tour (4 months in Asia, 4 months in Oceania and 4 months in South America) to open myself to the world which surrounds us. I obviously sought Arachnida of the various countries during my travel. I am fond of the French Guiana most particularly, I went there twice and I hope to return there very soon. This territory and this magic “green hell” is verry passionated for people like us!

– How this project was born? You nevertheless launched out something pharaonic, there are only few works specialised in French as in English, and there are still so many new species to discover and the one’s discovered these last years and the constant changes of taxonomy!

The genesis of this project is two-sided: 1 following the publication of the book “Scorpions of the world” I adored this work and I wanted to find the same information on Theraphosidae. Thing that I did not found in the bibliography, one finds a lot of breedingbooks but no naturalist guides; there was a place for it so I decided that it was time to invest; 2 this book was a personal challenge, I was aware of the extent of the task! taxonomy is very complex and the number of name changes of kind, homonymy, subfamily… are hugh, moreover this work is very permanent, since many works are completed and make null and void the various keys.

– Can you tell us how long it took to concretises your project from the idea of a complete book on Theraphosidae and the publication?

I began to write this book in February, 2010 and I wanted, further to the advice of my editor Karl Gérin, to update at the most the last publications. It is now done, I put my last one « note » in December, 2014 (integrating the work until the date of October, 2014). It took me 4 years of work of bibliography, photographs, drawings, translations…. And I hope that you will appreciate the reading of this work.

– Did you met large obstacles that could have discouraged you during this adventure?

Obviously! When I began this project, I had the impression climbing a too high mountain and sometimes I found that my ambition of popularisation pushed me within my limits. I also had the support of many people, who encouraged me. Working is a pleasure, I read many bibliography , books and I took much pleasure learning and transmitting this information. That’s why I wished to write this book as a teaching and popularisation act. To write is an very engaging act that I didnt had the occasion to have.

– I can imagine that this book was the occasion for you to weave many links and friendships and that you were constant throughout its evolution, this is why I leave you this paragraph if you wish to thank certain people related to your project.

I had many unexpected assistances and supports of people that I hardly knew but also of people that I learned to know. It would be difficult for me to quote them all but I will benefit of your question to thank:

–          Karl Gérin & Gaëtan de Châtenet of the Nap editions;
–          Anna Hallewell my translator;
–          Pierre Escoubas the scientist;
–          Fernando Perez Miles the scientist;
–          Gilbert Hodebert the draughtsman;
–          My friends and my family;
–          All contributors for the photographic appropriations!
–          And all famous arachnologists of the past, present and future.

– Would you have a last short note for the end?

I thank you for this first interview, I wish to all the readers that they learn much and take pleasure through this modest work. I wish to say that as there exist many other families of mygalomorphes, ans still a lot to learn and a lot to discover, who knows… maybe a second tome ?

Some extracts of the book
I will complete this article by showing you some extracts of differents books available on the NAP Editions website

It is necessary to click on the images to enlarge them!


Thanks a lot to François Teyssié for his sympathy and his communicative passion.
A special thanks to Ann Mathys to have helped me for the translation !! Thank you !

I remind you that you can buy this book directly on the website of the editor.



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