Author: Tung
•Monday, December 29, 2008
1. Can Tarantula climb/bite/escape?
Yes too all of them. In fact, some Tarantulas are so adapt at climbing (even smooth glass!), we call them "arboreal"! ^_^ Biting is the way Tarantulas catch prey and defend so ya, they can bite and some can pack a punch in each bite. And you will be surprised of their Houdini (read: escaping) skills. They can squeeze through "those tiny little cute holes". So you will need a secured lid for your enclosure with holes that the Tarantulas cannot squeeze their abdomen/carapace through. When in doubt, get smaller holes!

2. OMG! It can bite? Can it kill me?
According to Wikipedia: "Despite their often threatening appearance and reputation, none of the true tarantulas are known to have a bite which is deadly to humans." However, I still recommend extra care due to the following reasons:
  • The pain can vary from "ok, I can take it" to unbearable. And the side effects (especially from the bites of Old World speicies) can be severe such as cramping, rapid heart rate and breathing and even coma! So you should be careful.
  • Large Tarantulas (e.g. adult Theraphosa blondi) can cause mechanical damage with their huge fangs (1" in length or longer!). And the risk of infection is always there for any open wound.
  • Some New World Tarantulas (found in the American Continent) have urticating (itchy) hairs that they can flick. These hairs are very adapt at causing severe itches on mammals (e.g. human). If you get these hairs into your eyes (even indirectly - as in you forget to wash your hands and then rub your eyes), see a doctor immediately. They CAN cause blindness!
Fortunately, almost all Tarantula prefer to run away to facing a being 100 times its size. So don't push your luck and you should be fine, just like millions of Tarantula keepers!

3. They are so cute! Can I handle them?
Firstly, you must understand that Tarantulas are a lot more fragile than they look. So handling is actually more dangerous for the Tarantulas and not the handler. Now if you think you are extra careful and will not flinch/shake/panic/throw the Tarantula across the room, then handling is possible depending on the specie. Some extreme hobbiests have handled highly venomous and defensive species such as those belonging to the Poecilotheria genus but I do not recommend that. Unless you know what you are doing, it is still safer to handle a docile specie. Read my Tarantula review for list of some species commonly known to be docile. Note that each Tarantula has its own personality aka tarantuality so defensive specie can produce some very docile specimens while docile specie can definitely produce some bad psychos. Even a docile specimen can have a mood swing and bite/flick urticating hair. So be safe, don't handle!

4. Is gender important?
If you expect a male, you know you are into breeding because most people want a female. Females generally live longer, have larger bodies (which most of the time means larger size) and better resale value. Males have a much shorter life span, longer legs and smaller bodies. As a result, if you want a pet for long time, get a female. Otherwise, gender isn't that important.

5. Talk about time, how long do they live?
Nobody knows for sure. Generally, slow growing species (e.g. Grammostola species, Aphonopelma species, etc.) can live very long - up to 30 years! Females live longer than males because the males' destiny is to grow to maturity, breed and die. Sorta sad but that's nature. ^_^

6. Cool! What specie should I get?
I have written a list of top 10 beginner's Tarantulas here. Check it out! ^_^

7. Why do you italize all your scientific names?
Because that is the correct way of writing Latin names in scientific materials. ^_^ I do stay true to my mathematically-trained science-oriented hitech geek. ^_^

8. OMG! My Tarantula is belly up on its back!
Don't touch it! A Tarantula on its back is most of the time molting. It is NOT dead! Molting is the process during which a Tarantula sheds its outer skin to grow. During and after the molt, the Tarantula is extremely soft and vulnerable. Any touching can seriously do more harm than good. Just leave your Tarantula alone (and observe it; molting is a very interesting process). After the molting is done, wait for at least a week or until the fangs are black (which ever is later) before start to feed again.
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