8 Awesome Tarantulas That Can Be Handled

Tarantulas that can be handledOwners playing with their tarantulas are all over the internet, but is it safe to handle your spider?

To handle your spider or not is up to you, there are vocal components to each party. Some say that no spider should be held at all while others will tell you that their tarantula grew used to the practice.

Whether you should or not depends entirely up to you and the type of spider you purchase. Some species of tarantulas, typically beginner types, are docile enough to be held.

Then there are the species where any friendly advances will be meet with outright aggression. Read further for the type of tarantulas that adapt to handling, how to protect yourself, and how to handle your spider.

Can tarantulas be handled?

No spider is overly fond of being picked up at first. Think about how that must feel for them to be safe on the ground for so long and then just scooped up. They feel like they are being taken up by a large predator.

Tarantulas are very individualistic. Though we can provide you with several spiders that are more docile than others each one is their spider. So within docile breeds, some will be sweet and grow accustomed to being handled while others will bite you at every opportunity.

Rest easy a tarantula’s bite isn’t lethal, but man will it hurt. Hurt enough that you question whether this little monster should be in your house. It’s not their fault, they are scared that this large animal is picking them up.

Tarantulas are either new world or old world, this categorizes where they are from in the world. Old world tarantulas come from Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia while new world ones come from the Americas.

It’s necessary to know where you tarantula comes from, cause the old world spiders are a no-no when it comes to handling. They tend to be much more aggressive overall and their poisonous yet non-lethal bite is much worse than the new world variety.

Bites from so-called old world tarantulas are can cause prolonged pain, swelling, and cramping. Even new world tarantulas bite is painful but compares to a hornet sting.

New World tarantulas are a lot more docile and the bite isn’t as bad, but to compensate for that in the wild they have developed urticating hairs. These are tiny barbed hairs typically on the top part of the spider’s opisthosoma or abdomen.

When a tarantula feels threatened new world varieties will turn their back on the threat then use their back legs to rub their bottom in a fast motion to unleash these hairs on anyone who is around.

Urticating hairs are hard to see if you aren’t in direct light (which is bad for your tarantula), but you will certainly feel it. These hairs will cause

  • Skin irritation
  • Severe rash
  • Severe pain and irritation to the eyes
  • Breathing problems
  • Throat closing

The more you come in contact with these hairs the worse the symptoms will become. So if you walk to your spider’s terrarium and they are rubbing their booty fastback away this is an admire from afar moment.

If the tarantula does this a lot they will develop a bald patch on their bottom until they molt again. Spiderlings (baby tarantulas) do not have urticating hairs, they start to develop when they start to molt.

These defense mechanisms can be dangerous for both you and your spider. Even when not molting tarantulas are incredibly fragile. Any fall they encounter will result in an injury if not death.

I’m sure that you are a good owner who is crazy careful with their spider, but what would you do if they bit you while holding them?

Experiencing a wasp sting in my life I wish I could say that I was a stoic pillar of strength that endured, instead I screamed bloody murder and cussed up a storm all while running away (also crying).

We have natural defense mechanisms such as throwing your hand about if something bites it. That equals a dead spider, not the kind of outcome you were looking for.

How does your tarantula react to you?

So does all of this mean that you can’t pick up your spider? Well, that is up in the air. Some handlers state that it is ok to handle tarantulas’ others will say that you should not handle them.

Tarantulas do not have brains, but rather a collection of nerves that help them navigate the world through instinct. They may never view you as a caretaker, but only as a predator.

Some are friendlier and will let you handle them, but they will not acclimate to handling and you will not be able to train them to do so. So the best way to know if the tarantula can be held depends on how they react to you trying to hold them.

You should not attempt to handle your tarantula when you first bring them into your home. Everything is new to them and they have no idea what is going on so they will be more defensive than usual.

If they go into a defensive position then just back away. You can tell they feel uncomfortable by:

  • Rising one or two legs
  • Standing on front two legs and thorax is lifted
  • Turning away and rubbing legs against the abdomen
  • Bringing legs in to ball up
  • Hiding

When a tarantula just lifts a leg or two they are warning you that they don’t like what you are doing. It’s a request to stop your behavior. If you ignore this sign they will go to either attack or flight mode.

The tarantula could run away from you to their burrow or coverage or they can ball up tucking their legs close to their body. While you will not be harmed with this type of interaction it is sad that they feel they are about to be scooped up for dinner.

Some tarantulas a bit feistier than that and will go into coming attack mode distinguishable by the spider standing on its first two legs with their pedipalps fully extended while extending their thorax.

Any sign of this behavior and back away immediately because they are about to strike. Some spiders turn their back to you and rub the lower part of their abdomen with their legs.

They are releasing their urticating hairs. Another sign to back away completely before you breathe any hairs or get them on your skin or eyes.

If every time you try to handle your spider, regardless if it’s advertised as a docile breed, they are displaying aggression then they do not want to be handled and never will.

Accepting that and learning to love your tarantula just for their loner self will elevate a lot of stress for them.

Instead of handling these individuals learn to fall in love with observing them.

  • Learn their habits
  • What do they interact within their tank
  • How they build their webs
  • What they will eat
  • How they hunt

Just because you can’t handle your tarantula doesn’t mean they are boring pets.

There are some tricks you can use to make sure they are in the mood to be handled though. Never try to pick up a spider when they are about to molt, they tend to be a lot more cantankerous during this time.

Also, a hungry spider is a mad spider. Feed them first then see how they react to you.

How to handle your tarantula

It’s a slow process to get your tarantula use to being handled, there is no equivalent of that in the wild. Safety for both you and your tarantula are the most important thing. Gentle and easy movements for your spider, tools and safety precaution for you.

It’s not a bad idea to wear a face mask for both your eyes, nose, and mouth. This is for the urticating hairs. If they don’t react badly you will be fine.

First, you need to see how defensive they are with something other than your hands like a pen or something long enough so that you are not hurt.

Gently use the instrument to touch the spider’s abdomen. What do they do? Do they immediately go for the jugular or do they slightly move away from it. If the reaction is minimal then they do not feel threatened.

Next, you will try your hand. Make sure they are feed and are not pre-molting before doing so. Put your hand in the terrarium flat on the bottom in front of your tarantula. Go slowly and keep all of your attention on your spider’s reaction.

If even one leg goes up snatch your hand right out of there.

Assuming they passed the flat hand test it’s time to see if they will step on your hand. Follow the above steps above with your palm facing up, but now you will use the pen or long object to gently guide the spider to your hand with the same motion used before.

Any sort of resistance that is displayed is an indication that you have gone too far.

After they are fully on your hand it’s ok to practice holding them above a soft surface like a pillow. If there are no issues move further to them walking back and forth from hand to hand.

Even if they appear comfortable never lose focus on your tarantula when you have them in your hands. Wash your hands in case any of their barbed hairs were dropped.

8 Tarantulas that can be handled

Certain personality types or abilities of the tarantula make it easier for them to be handled. Above we talked about old world vs new world species another thing to look for is slow-moving.

A fast-moving variety can speed out of your hand without you even realizing it. Once they are out of the cage in your living area good luck running after them.

1. Chilean rose hair

Chilean Rose HairAlso known as the Chilean Fire Tarantula this calm spider makes a great starter tarantula. These burrowing spiders are native to Chile enjoying warm humid environments. Chilean rose hairs are one of the most common spiders out there due to their calm nature and beautiful appearance

  • Grammostola Rosea
  • Female 20 years
  • Male 5 years
  • 5 inches
  • Brown with rose-colored hair

2. Brazilian Black

brazilian black tarantulaA new world species of tarantula hailing from Brazil and Uruguay. The intimidating Brazilian black is slow-moving making them easier to handle. If you do get a bite their toxin is a lot less potent than other tarantulas though their fangs can do some damage.

Brazilian blacks need enough bedding to burrow.

  • Grammostola Pulchra
  • Female 20 years
  • Male 6 years
  • 7 inches
  • Glossy Black

3. Mexican Redknee

Mexican RedkneeAnother highly popular tarantula that works well for new spider owners. Their even-tempered nature makes them easy to handle. Most spiders native to Mexico burrow and the Mexican red knees are not any different.

  • Brachypelma Hamorii
  • Female 30 years
  • Male 10 years
  • 5 inches
  • Black body with red knees with red hairs on its abdomen and upper shell

4. Mexican Beauty

Also commonly known as the Mexican pink tarantula. Another burrowing spider with a docile temperament. The Mexican beauty loves humid environments that match their natural habitat in Mexico.

This is a rare breed of tarantula and it might be hard to find if you do see one for sale get it then. They will not be available later.

  • Female 25 years
  • Male 5 years
  • 7 inches
  • Black body with reddish-pink legs at the second joint and a red upper shell
  • Brachypelma Klaasi

5. Mexican Redleg

Mexican True Red LegRelated to the Mexican red knees above, they even look like the red knees except with longer hairs giving it a fluffy appearance. They have a calm temperament and adapt easily to different environments.

They can be found in dry and tropical habitats. The Redleg is one of the rare terrestrial species that doesn’t typically burrow. Since the redleg is long-lived they can be quite expensive.

  • Brachypelma emilia
  • Female 30 years
  • Male 5 years
  • 6 inches
  • Red, orange or pink legs with light upper shell dark body

6. Honduran Curly Hair

honduran curly hair tarantulaAn easy-going tarantula with unusual hair. This tarantula with curly locks lives in the rain forests of Costa Rica and Honduras. They require truly little care, are slow-moving, and can be easily handled. They need a warm humid range with plenty of substrates to burrow in.

  • Brachypelma Albopilosum
  • Female 10 years
  • Male 4 years
  • 5.5 inches
  • Bronze with golden curly hairs

7. Pink Zebra Beauty

Coming from Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina who does well in humid environments. The Pink Zebra is a slow-moving and docile tarantula, making them fantastic for beginners or those who like to handle their spiders. They are a burrowing species and will need enough substrate to do so.

  • Eupalaestrus Campestratus
  • Female 25 years
  • Male 10 years
  • 6 inches
  • Deep brown with yellow stripes on legs

8. Antilles Pinktoe

Antilles PinktoeOne of the few tree-dwellers on this list the pink toe has an agreeable nature and unique coloration. They adapt well to a variety of environments making them easy for new owners to care for, but they do need height.

While the Antilles Pink toe is an easygoing spider they can be a little skittish. When acclimating them to handling keep it slow. The Antilles Pink toe rarely bites, but like most new world tarantulas they do have urticating hairs.

An added defense mechanism these spiders exhibit is a fling of their waste when threatened. Another reason to take handling slow.

  • Caribena Versicolor
  • Female 10 years
  • Male 5 years
  • 5 inches
  • Black with pink or orange hairs on its legs and a green upper

Each tarantula has its own personality. Even if one is thought of as a docile species your particular tarantula might be more aggressive and standoffish than the breed information would lead you to assume.

Don’t try to force anything, let your arachnid set the pace. It doesn’t feel natural to your tarantula to be picked up, so if they don’t allow you to handle them after a few weeks it might not ever happen.

Learn to accept your spider as they are and appreciate the glimpse into the life of a completely distinct species.

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