Body language gives away most of what we are thinking and feeling. When we are trying to understand other beings, body language is the best medium to understand what they are trying to convey. So when a tarantula rubs its legs together, what does it really mean?
There can be two reasons – either it is trying to groom itself or giving a warning signal. Some tarantulas like Theraphosa blondi would use their velcro-like hair to give off hissing noise to warn off predators while rubbing its legs. But if you see your tarantula rubbing its legs and other parts of the body, they can be grooming themselves.
It does get confusing if you are focusing on one detail and not looking at the big picture. So what body language or stances do tarantulas show and what does it mean? How do we handle them so they feel safe under our care? Let’s learn more about it.
Possible Reasons Why They Rub Their Legs Together
They Are Grooming
When your tarantula is feeling all okay and having a normal day, you might see them grooming themselves. They especially groom themselves after having a meal to clean off any debris on their hair.
For that, they use their legs and use them for grooming. Rubbing their legs is a part of the procedure of cleaning their entire body.
They Are Trying To Warn Off Predators
While it is not a common tarantula stance to signal aggression or a warning, Theraphosa blondi will rub its legs to give off a hissing sound. This is directed towards their predators, as a warning sign to back off immediately.
They have loops and hooks in their tiny hair, which acts like a Velcro, giving off that hissing sound when rubbed together. This behavior is only seen in this variant of tarantula even though other tarantula species can hiss as well. Watch the video below!
Are They In Pre-Molt Process?
No. A tarantula in pre-molt will stop eating and will remain very low profile. You may seldom see them grooming.
They will be losing hair from their abdomen. It would look more shiny and dark, as they enter their molting stage. Rubbing their legs is not a sign of a pre-molting tarantula.
Understanding Different Stances Of Your Tarantula
When It Is In Relaxed State
When your tarantula is in a relaxed state, you will observe it standing with his legs comfortably bent. The legs will not be tucked in its abdomen but will be spread out and slightly bent to make a comfortable grip and composure on any land.
They are as happy as Larry and are having a good time.
When Your Tarantula Is Giving A First Warning Stance
Let’s consider that somehow you have made your tarantula disgruntled. It must be something in the way you moved that made them startle. But they are trying to retain their composure and telling you to step back now.
They will raise one or two legs while the rest of the body remains in the relaxed state. It’s like somehow they are raising their hand to come up to stage and exactly tell you what you did wrong. But unfortunately, they don’t talk – at least in our language.
When Your Tarantula Is Trying To Threaten You
Tarantulas know that you can overpower them. They are way smaller than you and all you have to do is to drop them from 3 feet and they’ll be dead.
They know that, hence, they will stand on their first two legs, their pedipalps will be fully extended and up in the air while their thorax will be lifted. They do all these hard gymnastics to convey that they are angry and will cut your throat if possible by their irritating fur.
If they are Old World tarantula then they will bite you with their fangs. But if they are New World tarantula then they will kick urticating hair in your direction. While tarantulas rarely attack, if you find them in this stance, stay as far away as possible.
When Your Tarantula Is Kicking Hair
Tarantulas aren’t precise as a ninja throwing knives at its opponent. When you read that they ‘throw hair at your direction’, you might imagine them being right on target.
What they actually do is quickly rub their abdomen with their legs and a fluff of their hair is blown away/thrown away at your general direction, which will be all over the place – praying that it hits the mark.
While this is deadly for small prey, urticating hair is highly irritating to humans, especially when it enters any mucous membrane like eyes, nose, etc. While their hair looks harmless and is harmless to quite an extent, the experience can be very painful and annoying.
If you are allergic to its components, it can be a dangerous situation.
When Your Tarantula Tightens Its Limbs
Till now, we have covered how they attack. But when they try to hide, they will tighten their limbs and keep it close to its abdomen. Their abdomen is the most fragile part of their body. Hence, it only makes sense to protect it first.
This stance can be confused with their body language when they are dehydrated. When they are dehydrated, their limbs curl as opposed to getting tightened around their abdomen.
When Your Tarantula Is Grooming
Tarantulas use their legs to groom themselves. This is why it is important to notice if they are rubbing their body to warn you or they are just rubbing their legs and others in an effort to clean themselves.
It is highly important for them to keep it clean from debris and other parasites so that they will be able to sense any approaching threat – which they can sense mostly through their hair, vibrations, and body heat.
When Your Tarantula Is Molting
When your tarantula is molting, they will generally be very slow and remain very low-profile. They can choose either to molt in their burrow or to do it on the surface.
When they molt, they are going to lie on their back and try to push out their exoskeleton. Do not disturb them or stress them out when they are molting. This process will usually take a few hours to complete.
Handling Your Tarantula
Mostly, your tarantula doesn’t need any handling or petting to be reassured of your affection. They will do pretty well with “touch me not” policy.
But there will be times when you want to handle them out of your will or even handle them when you have to change their cage. This is how you should do it:
- There are two ways of picking it up – the first way is to pick it up is to gently get a grip in between the second and third pair of their legs with your thumb and forefinger. When a tarantula is lifted from the ground this way, they do not tend to attack you.
- The other way is to gently nudge them to your palm, encouraging them to use your palm as a landscape to crawl on. Make sure to handle them with both of your hands so as to protect them from any fall.
- Once it is on your palm, lift it gently so that it doesn’t experience a big bump in being handled and be stressed about it.
- If they like to crawl, make sure you always have their safety in your mind. Handle them with both of your hands and be alert of their movement. They can be quick to crawl out of your hand if you are not careful enough.
- If you are afraid of mishandling them or of the idea of them crawling out, it is best not to encourage your tarantula to crawl all over your hand.
This information will now help you in understanding your tarantula better and handling it even better than before.