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Are Tarantulas Friendly When Kept As Pets?

Tarantulas are often portrayed as dangerous and deadly, giving people of all ages the heebie jeebies. But the real question is, are tarantulas friendly? Despite their fearsome appearance, tarantulas can be aloof, laid back, easy-going, and even make good pets.

While this may make it seem like they are friendly creatures, they are not friendly in the way humans use that term. There isn’t a simple yes or no answer to the question “are tarantulas friendly.”

These spiders are not aggressive and tolerate humans quite well, but they are not tamed and they don’t have any desire to seek out the affection of humans. That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t keep them as a pet.

Article Highlights

  • Tarantulas are typically docile creatures that rarely bite humans unless they feel threatened
  • The most docile tarantula species are Chilean Rose Hair (Grammostola rosea), Antilles Pink Toe (Caribena versicolor), Brazilian Black tarantulas (Grammostola pulchra), and Arizona Blonde (Aphonopelma chalcodes)
  • Tarantulas are not what most people consider to be friendly creatures that seek out love and companionship

Are Tarantulas Friendly?

Chilean flame tarantula
Chilean flame tarantula | image by Danielle Griscti via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Tarantulas often get a bad rap, and many of the misconceptions about these arachnids are due to how Hollywood represents them in TV shows and movies. The truth is that, despite being vilified on the big screen, production companies and movie studios utilize tarantulas in their shows and films because of their docile nature.

While tarantulas are not friendly in the way we as humans think of that word, they do have a tolerant nature that makes them good pets for those wanting something outside of the traditional dog or cat. Remember though that a tarantula won’t seek out your affection like other animals will.

Are Pet Tarantulas Friendly?

Tarantulas are typically docile creatures that rarely bite humans unless they feel threatened. But whether or not they are friendly is a heated topic in the arachnid community.

Most tarantula experts believe the tarantulas are not friendly, but that they are non-aggressive spiders that tolerate humans handling them. That doesn’t mean that tarantulas are not good pets, nor does it mean you can’t hold them. It does mean, however, that they won’t be an animal that you can cuddle with.

Are Wild Tarantulas Friendly?

Wild tarantulas are not overly friendly, but that doesn’t mean they should be feared. If you encounter a tarantula in the wild, the creature may be curious about you or you could just be in its path. Either way, they don’t attack or bite unless they see you as a threat. In most cases, the tarantula will be more scared of you than you are of it.

The best thing to do if you see a tarantula in the wild is to let the creature be, don’t try to pick it up or bother it, and simply observe this interesting creature.

Are Tarantulas Aggressive?

Haitian giant tarantula
Haitian giant tarantula

There are over 800 species of tarantulas found throughout the world. While the aggressive level of these creatures varies from one species to the next, most are timid and naturally docile. However, there are some species of tarantulas that are considered more aggressive.

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The cobalt blue tarantula (Cyriopagopus lividus) is one of the most aggressive tarantula species. They are rather fast, very defensive, and more likely to bite. Despite this, they are still a popular species in the tarantula pet trade. This species is native to Myanmar, and can have a leg span of about 5-inches. The male cobalt blue lives for only about 6 years, while the female can live as long as 18 years.

The most docile tarantula species are Chilean Rose Hair (Grammostola rosea), Antilles Pink Toe (Caribena versicolor), Brazilian Black tarantulas (Grammostola pulchra), and Arizona Blonde (Aphonopelma chalcodes). These more timid species are perfect for beginners.

Before you rush out and get a pet tarantula, make sure to research the species beforehand. Taking a little time to learn about that species will help prepare you for how aggressive or timid the creature may be.

Should You Hold A Pet Tarantula?

Tarantula being held
Tarantula being held

Tarantula owners often hold their pet, allowing it to walk freely on their hand, arm, and shoulder. Keep in mind, however, that when you hold a tarantula, you are restricting their sight and preventing them from feeling vibrations. This can cause them to become scared, and when they are scared they may bite out of fear.

Some experts in the tarantula community recommend not handling these arachnids too much, since they state that tarantulas don’t enjoy being held, they merely tolerate it. Other experts, however, feel there is nothing wrong with handling your tarantulas.

If you do decide to hold your tarantula, try to refrain from holding it up high, and instead hold it down low with a table or other surface directly underneath your hand. Falling, dropping, or accidentally flinging your tarantula can cause severe and even deadly consequences for the creature.

Are Tarantulas Dangerous?

The venom from a tarantula is usually no worse than venom from a bee sting, although it can depend on the species of tarantula and whether or not someone is allergic to the venom. Some tarantula bites are more painful than others, but there are no reports of anyone dying from a tarantula bite.

One defense mechanism that tarantulas have, besides their fangs, are tiny hairs that can irritate your skin. When they feel threatened, the tarantula will rub its hind legs and flick an abundance of tiny hairs at the person or creature that is threatening them. These barbed hairs can pierce skin, and cause swelling, irritation, and itchy bumps.

Symptoms Of A Tarantula Bite

In most cases, a tarantula bite will typically cause pain at the point of counter that is similar to a bee sting. The bite area may also be inflamed and a little sore. If, however, you are allergic to the venom of tarantulas, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Itchiness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin rash
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Swelling at the bite site
  • Throat and lips swelling
  • Low blood pressure

If you experience any of the above symptoms after being bitten by a tarantula, immediately seek medical attention.


While they are docile in nature and can tolerate some handling, tarantulas are not friendly creatures that seek out love and companionship. They do, however, make interesting pets that can encourage people to learn more about arachnids and even help some get over their fear of these creepy crawlies.