Some people jump at the thought of having a spider crawl over them. Some would find it thrilling and might develop a liking towards it. However, are these 4-11 inch, furry tarantulas affectionate?
To speak on their ability to be affectionate strictly according to their nervous system – no, they are not. They do not have emotional complexity to understand or use affection. Affection comes from our need to be social and to bond. While there are social spiders, Tarantulas don’t make it to the list.
So what does a tarantula feel when you interact with them? Why do people in the Tarantula forums claim that their tarantulas are affectionate? What is exactly happening here? We will get to that and more further in the article.
Tarantulas Are Simple Beings
Whenever we think of keeping a pet, we might think of compatibility in the terms of the lifestyle we have and the comfort we can give to them.
Handling a pet can be a lot, especially bigger ones like cats, dogs, horses, and whatnot. Even fishes and birds are high maintenance, no matter how tiny. But the same isn’t for tarantulas.
Tarantulas are not very demanding – neither emotionally nor financially. They only have to be fed two times a month!
They also do not want a regular petting session to reaffirm your love for them. They don’t even need it in the first place.
If there is a type of love that states “Love me, but don’t touch me”, tarantulas will be a perfect candidate.
Generally, to keep it really simple, these beings feel only two emotions – fear and contentment. Due to their tiny size (11 inches are not tiny for a spider per se but they are still small and fragile), they feel intimidated by almost everything.
Their eight eyes perceive bigger ‘animals’ as predators from which they have to run and hide.
They Do Not Have A Bonding Session Per Se
Tarantulas may be nurturing to their young but they do not have any ‘affectionate’ feeling for anyone. Let’s try to understand the context of affection or what seems to be affection as a pet owner.
As a simple organism, their evolutionary goal is to eat, procreate, and hide from the threat. This mindset is not going to change no matter what environment they are pitted against.
Not even when you feed them and try to show them that you are not there to eat them. Do not take this behavior personally. They are wired to feel that way. You cannot blame a person/being for not feeling something they are not capable of.
Reason Why They Crawl On Your Hands
So why do they crawl over your palm and arm if they don’t love you? They will only crawl on your hand when they feel like it is a part of its environment. Your hand will be equivalent to a branch or something that they can crawl on.
Tarantulas are easily spooked by big things or anything that seems a little dangerous to them. They will retaliate by attacking its said predator, no matter if it is the same hand that feeds them. If they feel it is attacking them, they will sting you.
Only patient people who will not freak out on the idea of holding a big spider should try it. Tarantulas are not a match for everyone or at least it takes time to understand their needs.
Pet Owner’s Feeling And Experience Versus Theory
In theory, tarantulas do not feel complex emotions – affection being one of them. But on tarantula pet keeping discussion forums, you will find people sharing their experience, which doesn’t fit the theory.
From many people’s experience, they will claim that their tarantulas are affectionate towards them.
The experience that they label as a form of affection can range from crawling nearer to them, playing favorites on who can touch them and who cannot. Some feel that there is a special connection between them and their tarantulas.
Somehow, they know they can understand their little tarantula.
But let’s look a little closer here. We often try to twist facts to suit our theory. In an ideal state of affection, your tarantula should also understand your human nature to accommodate to your need (of affection or attention).
This behavior can be found in other animals (such as cats, dogs, and even birds) with a complex nervous system that guides their emotions.
- Once the trust is established, your occasional acts of carelessness are forgiven by your pet (given that you are not crossing a limit and causing them heightened discomfort and pain).
- Sometimes they might behave crossly when irritated but that only goes on to show the complexity in their emotions. They are also capable of understanding social clues and reacting accordingly.
But the same cannot be said for a tarantula. What some owners do not realize is that they have to continually establish that feeling of trust when they interact with their tarantula.
There is no such thing as trust for a tarantula. It is either safe or unsafe. Till the time you are maintaining that safe space for a tarantula by not startling them, they are going to be amazing.
Why Do Pet Owners Think Their Tarantulas Are Affectionate?
It is a very common human nature to find hints of affection in places we put efforts into understanding. When you master understanding something or handling something, we start to grow fond of it.
Since we wouldn’t want to feel that we are treating a ‘selfish’ creature (or creature with no capacity to return affection) with our love and care, we tend to look for confirmation of reciprocation through their minutest act, which may have nothing to do with you but everything to do with their own survival and comfort.
Comparing And Contrasting Them With “Social” Jumping Spiders
Jumping spiders are known to be more on the social side of the spider-universe. They too have a simple nervous system but they are deemed to be more entertaining and outgoing than tarantulas.
However, jumping spiders can live up to 1-3 years whereas tarantulas can live up to 20 years or more.
Jumping spiders are more interactive and hence, can be dubbed as more ‘affectionate’ and social than tarantulas. Jumping spiders are more active and they dance around to catch female attention or leap at their prey.
Tarantulas are fragile and a fall from 3 feet or more can split open their abdomen.
You can say that tarantulas are more on the introverted side of the scale and jumping spiders are more on the extroverted side. So it is possible that jumping spiders will get more favorability as an affectionate pet due to their outward signs of interaction.
If you are looking for a more social, outgoing, and affectionate kind of spider, then only Spiderman can fill in the role and more. And we are sorry to inform you that none of these spiders’ bite is going to turn you into Spiderman or any of its discounted versions.