Do tarantulas like being stroked? If you are a handsy owner and you are considering to get your first tarantula, you will surely ask this question. Is it also possible that through time, your tarantula will get used to being handled as well as letting himself be stroked?
It might just be a matter of training, right?
Tarantulas do not like being stroked. Generally, they do not like to be handled and doing so will only put you and your tarantula at risk. Experienced owners dissuade others from handling their tarantula. In case you really want to stroke your tarantula, you need to approach with extreme caution.
So we are sorry to those who are really looking forward to stroking their tarantulas. But of course, there are also owners who encourage doing this as some type of a “bond” between you and your pet.
The question now is, are you really ready to take that risk? Keep on reading to find out more about this issue.
Personality Of A Tarantula – Why Being Stroked Isn’t Their Thing
A lot of people tend to think that they can bond with their tarantula simply because they are such docile creatures. In general, they keep to themselves and they are very submissive. So it is relatively easy to think that you can train your T into submission, right?
Wrong. What other people fail to think about is the fact that the “docile” personality that everyone is talking about refers to their behavior when they are in the wild and lying peacefully in their burrows. So that docile personality comes to a halt when they decide to leave their burrow.
What comes next? Hunting their prey. This is exactly what other people fail to mention. Besides chilling in their burrow, tarantulas will get their game faces on and strive to have a successful hunt.
They will then take their prey now turned food back into their burrow, and the cycle goes on.
This is important as anyone can see a tarantula’s natural response. Your T is either hiding in his burrow, or he is pouncing with his fangs wide open. There is nothing more to it; it is just what it is.
Therefore, having someone handling a tarantula is such a foreign concept to them. He might either bite or put up his defense mechanism.
Defense Mechanisms Of A Tarantula
We mentioned the defense mechanism of the tarantula earlier. This is also important as you can predict what your tarantula might do in case you are planning to hold him. Keep in mind, the keyword here is “might predict.”
This is actually the first line of defense of your tarantula. If he feels that there is something off or foreign in his enclosure, he will immediately retreat to his cave.
This is a good thing for those who are planning to handle and stroke their tarantulas as you know that they will not immediately jump at you with his fangs. He will simply assess the situation inside his burrow.
Kicking Of Hairs
Once your tarantula determines that your hand may be a potential attacker, he will then use his legs to rub the hairs at his abdomen. In turn, this will loosen the hairs, and he will flick these to you.
In the wild, this action is enough to dissuade any predators. For humans, it can be a bit irritating, and if you have sensitive skin, then you may develop a rash (nothing an over the counter cream cannot solve).
Lastly, if your tarantula really feels that he is being threatened, then he will deliver his painful bite. For owners who got bit by their tarantula, they compare it to a bee sting (ouch!)
Keep in mind that the bite of a tarantula is venomous. It may ache and throb, while in other cases, it can also cause fever or nausea. It is important that you are sure that there will be no type of allergic reaction to the bite, or else you really need to seek immediate medical attention.
Why You Cannot Stroke Your Tarantula
Now that you know the risks of handling your tarantula, let us now go over some of the things that you should know about handling and stroking your tarantula.
It Is Foreign To Them
Imagine yourself walking in the wild and you chanced upon a tarantula burrow. You try to ease out the tarantula and you pick it up and start stroking it. It sounds weird, right?
It sounds weird because this does not happen naturally. Your tarantula is not used to being held. The only other fact that it has contact with other living things is the fact that A, he might be eating them, and B, he is trying to fight a predator.
Surely, your tarantula will feel stressed and threatened even though you try and prod him gently out of his burrow. The chance of him being calm and contained is at best 1%
You Are Putting Yourself At Risk
We mentioned earlier that most of the time, they will simply hide in their burrow if they feel foreign vibrations in their enclosure. But even that is not assured. There are some truly aggressive tarantulas that will come at you with fangs blazing and all.
Even though you do not experience a bite, your hand may develop an allergic reaction with some of the hairs that your tarantula will throw at you. In such a case, your tarantula’s actions are truly unpredictable so you will never be ready for the consequences of handling it.
Injury To The Tarantula
Even though the tarantula looks so tough, they are still fragile creatures. A solid fall can injure your tarantula or, much worse, cause his death.
As we have already mentioned countless times that handling a tarantula comes with unpredictability, there is a high chance that an abrupt movement will startle you. In turn, you might try to remove your tarantula off your hand, which will cause him to drop on the floor.
At the same time, prodding your tarantula to go to your hand causes unnecessary stress to them. Surely, you do not want a stressed tarantula near any soft parts of your body.
If You Really Want To Stroke Your Tarantula – Here Is How To Do It
Again, we cannot stress enough that you should just leave your tarantula alone. But if you reached this part and you are still determined to handle and stroke your tarantula, here are some safeguards you can follow.
As we do not want you to leave anything to chance, you should prepare for the worst beforehand. You can wear long pants that you can tuck into your socks, long sleeves, and gloves. It may be too much for some, but you can also wear a face mask.
We know that you probably won’t do that, but the right clothes can prevent any accidents that might seem impossible to you.
Prepare The Enclosure
Make sure that you place the enclosure on a flat surface, which is also the same surface you will handle your tarantula. So this can be a kitchen counter or a table.
Once the enclosure is placed on a secure area, locate where your tarantula is (usually he is in his burrow), and gently open the hatch of the enclosure.
Prod Your Tarantula On To Your Hand
You can place your hand near the opening of the enclosure. With the use of a long tool, like a brush or cotton bud, you can then start prodding your tarantula to go out of his burrow.
Make sure that you do not make aggressive tapping sounds as for him/her, he/she might think that a predator is trying to attack him. The key here is to be extremely gentle.
Once he emerges from his burrow, just keep prodding him towards your hand. If one of his legs touches your hand, stop prodding and let him make his way completely on to your hand.
Once this is done, do not make sudden movements and observe the reaction of your tarantula. If he is feeling threatened, he will look as if he is shaking. If not, then you are good to go.
You can then gently move your hand to another part of the counter and table. Once you did this successfully, you should wait for a while until your tarantula feels that he is not being threatened.
Stroke Your Tarantula
Get your prodding tool from earlier and place it near your hand, making sure that your tarantula sees it clearly. Assess the reaction of your tarantula.
If he feels comfortable with your prodding tool, then he will not try to attack it. Slowly move the tool near him and assess his reaction again. Keep on doing this until the tool touches one of his legs.
If your tarantula reacts positively to this, then you can use the prodding tool to stroke one leg of your tarantula. You can repeat the process of slowly introducing the tool to the other parts of your tarantula.
Keep in mind that you should never stroke the rear section of your tarantula as this is one of his spots and he will think that you are attacking him if you touch this part.
As you might have noticed, we did not discuss stroking your tarantula with the use of your other hand or fingers. The reason behind this is that you cannot precisely control the weight that you put on your hand or finger.
Therefore, you might spook your tarantula, which will then end your interaction with a bite.