How To Handle a Tarantula Guide

Tarantula Handling
Written by psoti

It is important to remember that handling a tarantula can be intimidating and even risky, especially for those with no prior experience. Tarantulas are not pets known for being sociable or interacting with humans.

As someone who has cared for pet tarantulas for over 10 years, I have learned much about their behavior, tendencies and limits of how they should be handled — both safely and responsibly — to keep the tarantula as well as the handler unharmed.

Understanding how tarantulas behave as well as what risks may arise from improper handling will help ensure their safety while allowing them to still live comfortably in captivity.

To minimize potential traumas an inexperienced handler might cause, it’s essential that one takes into consideration both the level of expertise and knowledge they possess before ever beginning the process of proper acquaintance between themselves and their new arachnid housemate! The unpredictability and temperament of these creatures makes such decisions all the more critical; knowing when not to proceed is just as vital if not more than knowing when the right moment arrives! Ultimately, our mission here is prevention: properly assessing potential risks with informed decision-making at every step along this spider journey.

The Debate on Handling Tarantulas


There is an ongoing debate about the advisability of handling tarantulas, especially whatever the species may be and where it came from. While some people handle their tarantulas as part of routine care, others choose to avoid contact with them entirely – each approach has its own risks and considerations.

Reasons for handling

Although tarantulas should be handled as little as possible, there are still some utilitarian reasons that may lead people to do so. For example, rehousing a tarantula requires physically moving the spider from its enclosure in order to transfer it into another container.

Maintenance of terrariums and accessories also usually require touching the tarantula at least slightly in order to replace enrichment items or change substrates/water bowls. Additionally, if feeding is done through handling (for instance with tongs) and not through dropping food next to the spider or other passive methods then this could condition the animal towards expecting food when touched, causing further stress upon understanding that a hand means nourishment but rarely delivers it.

Despite these apparent advantages of having physical contact with one’s pet arachnid however, any form of manipulation can cause significant amount of stress on them due their natural defense reaction whenever grabbed by something larger than themselves – specially if they perceive danger and risk being eaten alive! Not only does such handling interfere negatively with their welfare – considering sudden movements might shock them – but it can also put our safety at risk since most venomous species release urticating hairs which eyesight damage human skin and airways when inhaled.

Risks and considerations

Handling tarantulas can pose significant risks and considerations for both the pet owner and the tarantula. In many cases, handling isn’t recommended, as it can cause undue stress to the invertebrate and put them at risk of injury or worse.

After all, if a large animal suddenly grabs one in the wild, they could be gone before you know it! What’s more is that tarantulas possess venom which can inflict harm on humans – although most incidents involving spider bites are caused by urticating hairs, spikes found on some species’ abdomens that cause an allergic reaction when released.

Nevertheless, there will be times when handling becomes necessary; in such instances discretion is of utmost importance. For instance, individuals should factor in their level of expertise with arachnids as well as understanding how unpredictable temperament can be: During sudden movement these creatures may try to flee or go into defensive mode entirely (often exposing their urticating hairs).

Tarantula Behavior and Safety


Knowing and understanding an appropriate tarantula’s defensive behavior is key in safe handling, as they may become agitated leading to bites or urticating hairs. It is important to exercise caution when choosing how to handle a tarantula, taking into account spider’s natural defense response, temperament, and venomous nature.

Natural defense response

Tarantulas evolved a natural defense response to protect themselves from potential threats. When provoked, tarantulas will defend themselves with their back legs by flicking a cloud of tiny ‘urticating’ hairs, often filled with barbed bristles and varying amounts of venom that can be an irritant for humans or other animals if inhaled directly.

This defensive mechanism has helped the tarantula survive in its environment since they are not only small but easy prey for many larger predators. The urticating hairs act as an efficient deterrent to ward off potential threats so the spider does not have to fight unless absolutely necessary.

In addition, these hairs can also stick onto fur or skin making it difficult and uncomfortable for potential attackers since even after contact is broken the irritation remains until purified or removed mechanically.

Unpredictability and temperament

Tarantulas are wild animals, and their unpredictable behavior and temperament can make them difficult to handle. While all tarantula species have some degree of natural defense response when handled or threatened, the strength of those responses can vary between individual spiders.

As such, it is important to think carefully before attempting to pick up a tarantula as there is no way to predict with certainty how an animal will react. Even seemingly docile arachnids may show unexpected aggressiveness in certain situations.

Additionally, since they lack warm-bloodedness, heat sensors or any other sensory abilities often found in easily manageable pets like dogs or cats, determining whether they are contented in the moment can be difficult , any movement or vibration might be taken for prey or threat.

Venom and urticating hairs

Tarantulas possess venom which is used to paralyze and subdue prey, but a bite from even the most carcinogenic tarantula will likely not cause serious harm to humans. The more common hazard comes from urticating hairshighly evolved defensive bristles located on tarantulas’ abdomens, as well as legs and palps in some species.

Upon contact with smooth-surfaced predators or being alarmed by sudden movement, tarantulas may brush these hollow hairs off onto their attacker in an attempt to ward them off.

The reactions of the urticating hairs vary greatly between species – while some are relatively mild irritants causing localized reaction such as burning or itching skin for a few minutes with disintegrating felted structure shortly after discharge; others can penetrate into deeper layers of tissue and inflame surrounding nerves and vessels resulting in extreme inflammation lasting for days.

Species whose females often employ abdominal brushing when threatened such as Harpactira pulchripes may require specialized handling caution due to higly potent and irritating qualities of their barbed setae (hairs).

The Importance of Informed Decision Making

It is important to research and be informed before attempting to handle a tarantula, as their behavior can be unpredictable and dangerous. Experience with proper technique is key for successful handling.

Experience and discretion

When it comes to handling tarantulas, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Expert opinion and careful consideration on a case by case basis is necessary for informed decision making.

Understanding the temperament of tarantulas is critical when assessing the risks involved in handling them. It requires skill, knowledge, and years of experience in order to accurately judge a situation and make a professional decision about how best to handle a tarantula without putting oneself at risk from bites or other defense mechanisms such as urticating hairs.

Experience also plays an important role in understanding the complexity of certain behaviors that can range from erratic movements with sudden bursts of activity or hibernation periods where they may not feed much less be reactive at all.

Understanding the tarantula’s temperament

Before attempting to handle a tarantula, it is essential to understand its temperament. Although all species of tarantula will not get \”tame\”, some are recognized for having docile temperaments and being more tolerant of handling.

Temperate can often depend on the individual 2012species, but also factors such as age, size and environment. Testing a tarantula’s temperament should be done by gently making contact with the spider using an appropriate tool like a brush or spoon – any reaction from the spider should give an indication into its tolerance towards human contact.

If handled too frequently or roughly these spiders may become defensive by flicking their urticating hairs at your skin or attacking you – so it’s important to use caution when trying to assess your pet tarantula’s mood! It is worth bearing in mind that Tarantulas tend to have unpredictable temperaments due to their innate predatory instinct.


In conclusion, while tarantulas can be fascinating to watch and consider handling as part of their interaction with these animals, it is important for people to make a conscientious decision based on the information available.

Handling tarantulas should never be done lightly – one must understand the risks involved and respect that they are wild creatures by nature. They have unique behaviors and temperaments which can change unpredictably, and their defense mechanisms may cause harm to an unprepared handler if not properly addressed.

Ultimately, having good knowledge of tarantula behavior will help keep humans safe from being injured either due to bites or contact with urticating hairs. Those considering handling tarantula as pet should utilize forceps or other capture cups to limit skin contact when picking up the spider, demonstrate patience in getting used to its natural movements and reactions until both handler and creature become more comfortable in dealing with each other in order for safe handling practices become possible.

Ultimately, safety should always take priority when interacting with such interesting animals.


1. How do I pick up a tarantula?

To safely pick up a tarantula, grasp the spider firmly but gently with one hand and discourages it from jumping by lightly pushing down into ground. Be careful to avoid squeezing or putting pressure on any delicate body parts.

2. Is it dangerous to handle a tarantula?

Yes, handling a tarantula is generally dangerous due to risk of being bitten. Always be aware of their defensive capabilities such as urticating hairs which can cause irritation if touched accidentally.

3 Can two tarantulas live together in the same tank?

No, typically two different species of tarantulas should not reside in the same habitat due to possible aggression between them or territorial disputes that could arise over food sources or hiding spaces.

4 What kind of housing is suitable for my pet Tarantula?

A simple terrarium with at least 5-10 gallons capacity and some form of cover such as an inverted flowerpot or piece of bark provide good shelter for many kinds of pet tarantulas . The enclosure should also include appropriate substrate material (mosses, coconut fiber) moisture pads/ higher humidity areas , plants if desired , and branches for climbing on .

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