They can be larger than your head. Some are covered with barbed hairs they can throw at your eyes to blind you. Their fangs can be as long as the width of your thumbs.
And if they bite you, they’ll inject venom into your skin. Their mouths secrete digestive enzymes to liquefy their victims. Then, these terrifying predators could start to eat you while you’re alive and watching it.
There are more than 800 known species of tarantulas. They live in every continent except Antarctica, in tropical, subtropical, and arid areas. Unlike other species of spiders, they live in burrows, which can be underground, under rocks and logs, in caves, and in trees.
Some species can live up to 40 years. And other species, like the Goliath Birdeater, can be huge. This giant lives in South America’s rainforest and grows up to 30 cm (1 ft) long. It can hunt birds, frogs, lizards, and mice, So you don’t want them lurking around you.
How will you know if a tarantula is going to bite you? What can its venom do to you? Are you likely to die from a tarantula bite?
Although they’re popular pets, if a tarantula feels threatened it can attack you. And even though you’re bigger than they are, some tarantulas can cause pain and medical problems that last for weeks.
Step 1: Read The Warning Signs
Normally, tarantulas are mild-mannered, slow-moving creatures. But when they feel threatened, they’ll let you know. First, a tarantula will lift one or two of its front legs, warning you that it’s in defensive mode and you’d better get back. If you persist, it will raise its front legs to let you see its agitated thorax, so you know it’s not joking. It might show you its fangs, and even show you a drop of venom. That means you’ve gone beyond the first warning, so you need to step back and get some distance from the spider.
Step 2: Don’t get too confident
Yes, many people keep tarantulas as pets. But even if you have a pet tarantula, and you think it’s a great companion, it’s important to respect your pet. Dr. Joan Fuchs, of the Swiss Toxicological Information Center, reported that a 45-year-old man was bitten on his finger by his Regal Parachute Tarantula. At first, the wound was red and it swelled. Two hours later, the man began sweating, and hot flushing started. 15 hours later, he had to rush to the emergency room with severe muscle cramps and tightness in the chest. He survived, but the muscle cramps continued for three weeks after treatment. So, don’t get too confident and handle your pet with your hands. Instead, use a long stick and proper containers.
Step 3: Cover your eyes
In the western hemisphere, the urticating hairs covering the tarantula’s body are even more dangerous than their venomous fangs. When a predator attacks them, these tarantulas release a cloud of little barbed hairs to irritate the attacker’s skin, and even blind people temporarily. Dr. Zia Carrim of St. James University Hospital in Leeds, U.K., remembers a case in which the patient was cleaning up his Chilean Rose tarantula’s cage. The tarantula felt threatened and released a mist of hairs at him. The hairs found their way to the back of the patient’s eyeball. They were so small even surgical methods could not remove them. So, the hospital treated him with steroids to flush the hairs away. To be safe, you’d better cover your eyes before petting a tarantula.
Step 4: HEAD TO THE HOSPITAL FAST
If a tarantula bites you, clean the wound with soap and water and then seek medical attention. Even though the bite itself isn’t likely to kill you, complications can. Two people in India died from complications after being bitten by a giant Chilobrachys tarantula, which lives in that region. One person died due to gangrene in the foot. The other person was killed by hives. So, don’t take any chances, and get to the hospital right away. ”
Step 5: Don’t smuggle
The illegal tarantula market can be lucrative,. In 2018, many species were stolen from the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion. The species taken were worth $40,000, and they included the rare and beautiful Mexican Fireleg Tarantula. No one was killed due to the theft, but living the thug life is hard. So just buy your pets in certified pet stores.
- “Goliath bird-eating tarantula”. 2016. Smithsonian’s National Zoo.
- “Tarantula bite leads to death and gangrene”. K, Banerjee, Banerjee R, Mukherjee AK, and Ghosh D. 1997. Indian Journal Of Dermatology, Venereology And Leprology 63 (2).
- “The illegal market for tarantulas is hairy business”. 2021. Animals.
- “Tarantulas | National Geographic”. 2021. Animals.
- “Some Tarantula Bites More Harmful Than Thought “. Stephanie, Pappas. 2021. livescience.com.