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Tarantula crossing road causes traffic accident in Death Valley National Park

Tourists from Switzerland got more than they bargained for while driving in Death Valley National Park in California Saturday, the National Park Service says.

The couple spotted a tarantula crossing CA-190 east of Towne Pass and hit the brakes of their rented camper van hard to avoid hitting it, according to the park service — and a 24-year-old motorcyclist from Canada then rammed into the back of the camper.

A park service ambulance brought him to Desert View Hospital in Pahrump. There was no word on his condition.

The spider — as the park service put it — "walked away unscathed."

"Please drive slowly, especially going down steep hills in the park," said Superintendent Mike Reynolds, the first park service employee to get to the scene. "Our roads still have gravel patches due to flood damage, and wildlife of all sizes are out."

The service points out that, "Tarantulas spend most of their long lives in underground burrows. People see them most often in the fall, when 8- to 10-year-old male tarantulas leave their burrows to search for a mate.  The female sometimes kills and eats him after mating. Even if she doesn't kill him, the male tarantula rarely lives more than a few more months. However, female tarantulas can live for 25 years, mating multiple times.

"Tarantulas are slow moving and nonaggressive. A tarantula's bite is reported to be similar to a bee sting, and is not deadly to humans."

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