There are those individuals fascinated with spiders who might consider getting a tarantula. Nevertheless, before taking the proverbial plunge, they will want to know if tarantulas bite. The last thing anyone wants at home is a spider that bites, especially those of the large hairy variety!
The short answer to whether tarantulas bite or not is yes, tarantulas do bite. Fortunately, they rarely bite humans.
Why Do Tarantulas Have Fangs?
Many spider species bite their prey to inject venom to paralyze them while some use biting as a way to ward off would-be predators. Specifically, tarantulas have fangs that they use to inject venom into prey to paralyze it and start the liquification process of said prey’s insides before they consume it. They do not have teeth for chewing food the way that we humans do.
Tarantulas Biting Humans
As mentioned above, it is rare for tarantulas to bite humans, but it is not unheard of. In fact, tarantulas often ‘dry bite;’ they bite without venom as a means of escape. Tarantulas are for the most part afraid of humans due to our size, and if feeling threatened will much prefer to escape by running away. Nevertheless, if there is no perceived way to flee, a tarantula might bite a person to induce pain and possibly open up a means of escape.
Is a Tarantula Bite Poisonous?
Tarantula bites have been described by those who have suffered them as similar to a bee sting. For most people the bites are nothing more than a mild irritation. In saying that though, some individuals, especially those sensitive to bites and stings, can suffer an allergic reaction.
As described above, tarantulas have venom glands for injecting venom into their prey. This venom paralyses the prey before the spider injects it with special enzymes to make it easier to digest.
When it comes to humans, tarantulas would not instinctively inject venom as they would not be hunting humans for food. It is extremely rare, then, for a tarantula to use venom on a human.
If you do get bitten by a tarantula, wash the area around the bite with soap and water. You are likely to see some redness and feel a stinging sensation. If you experience any symptoms that could be perceived as an allergic reaction (including raised temperature, breathing difficulties, swollen face or mouth, or dizziness), it is imperative that you seek medical advice immediately.
- Featured Image (Acanthoscurria gomesiana): Source: Hector M. O. Gonzalez-Filho, Sylvia M. Lucas, Felipe dos S. Paula, Rafael P. Indicatti, and Antonio D. Brescovit (2012) “On the Taxonomy of Acanthoscurria Ausserer from Southeastern Brazil with Data on the Natural History of A. gomesiana Mello-Leitão (Araneae, Mygalomorphae, Theraphosidae)”, International Journal of Zoology, vol. 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/721793 Figure 1 – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
- Blue Foot Baboon: Quengsalinas – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
- Brazilian Red Birdeater: Hectonichus – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
- Trinidad Dwarf Tarantula: Morkelsker – public domain
- Chaco Golden Knee: PavelSI – public domain
- Acanthoscurria theraphosoides: Sjl197 – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
- Mexican Fireleg: Micha L. Rieser