What do you think of when you hear the word ‘tarantula’? Do you think of a docile and cuddly creature, or the image of a fearsome predator comes up in your mind?
Tarantulas are misunderstood creatures.
But if you take a look at any tarantula owner, you will see that every single one of them adore their tarantulas. (Yes, they will probably own more than one tarantula.)
So what are tarantulas like? Are they really that fearsome, or are they friendly?
Are tarantulas friendly? Tarantulas are not friendly because they do not feel friendship. The extent to which a tarantula will be friendly or tolerant is affected by its species, living conditions, prey abundance, and stress levels. A tarantula living in better conditions will usually be more docile and friendly.
If you are here in order to find more about the behavior of tarantulas and what they are like, continue reading below. I share with you all the information you need to know in order to better understand the nature of tarantulas.
Are Tarantulas Friendly or Aggressive?
The reputation tarantulas get is not very good. Many people will think of them as deadly, aggressive, and flat out dangerous and best kept at as much distance as possible.
However, tarantulas are not like that.
Tarantulas are, in fact, scared of us and will actively try to avoid us as much as possible.
They are not really all that aggressive, too.
There needs to be a good reason for a tarantula to become aggressive. Usually, if it has been disturbed in some way or if it feels in danger and has no means of escaping, it will become aggressive.
Usually, tarantulas will prefer to run away and hide. A tarantula will go on the offense and become aggressive only as a last resort. And even in those cases, often tarantulas may produce what is known as dry bites that contain no venom.
Tarantulas are big and a little scary, but in reality, they are more afraid of us than we are of them.
Although tarantulas are not exactly friendly, they are not exactly aggressive as well as there needs to be a reason for them to be aggressive in the first hand. A tarantula should be considered more of a neutral creature.
How Friendly Are Tarantulas?
Additionally, when we talk about a friendly pet, we will often think of different animals, with dogs being the best example. They are affectionate, cuddly, and always happy to see you. (Even if you are not their owner!)
When it comes to friendship, very few animals are capable of it. For example, some animals capable of friendship and bonding are primates, horses, camels, elephants, and some aquatic mammals as well.
So how do tarantulas compare?
Tarantulas are not like dogs, so if you are looking for an affectionate animal that you can bond and cuddle with, I will have to disappoint you, but tarantulas are not for you.
Usually, people interested in getting a pet tarantula will ask questions like “Are tarantulas affectionate?”, “Do tarantulas feel emotions?” and “Can tarantulas recognize their owners?“
Those are all excellent questions because you need to know what you are getting into.
It is believed that tarantulas do not feel emotion the same way humans do. However, this is a field that has not been well researched. Just because tarantulas don’t exhibit the same behavior and emotion as humans do does not mean they don’t really feel anything and are just instinct-driven.
On that note, tarantulas can get stressed by adverse living conditions, which is a physiological response. Adverse living conditions can stress them too much to the point where it kills them.
Are Tarantulas Friendly to Humans?
As it stands, tarantulas are not believed to feel any particular emotions toward their owner or any other human. To them, we are all the same and pose the same threat to their wellbeing.
Even if you frequently handle your tarantula, it may get used to you and possibly recognize you to a certain degree. However, the degree of how much they may get used to you handling them is not very clear.
Tarantulas are not friendly to humans but tolerant. Although some tarantulas will let humans handle them, they can just as easily become hostile if they feel threatened somehow.
Are Tarantulas Friendly to Pets?
Tarantulas will not be friendly to other pets. If a tarantula encounters another pet (a dog or a cat, for example), they will recognize it as a threat to them and will either run away and hide or try to defend themselves. A tarantula can try to bite or flick its hair at pets that may try to approach it.
If your tarantula is left outside or escapes its enclosure and is encountered by another pet you own, it may perceive it as a predator and try to protect itself.
Although tarantula bites are not considered deadly to us, they can be for some pets. Even tarantulas that are flicking hair can cause some serious health problems to some pets. This is why tarantulas should be kept away from other pets in your home.
Are Tarantulas Friendly to Other Tarantulas?
Tarantulas are best kept alone. Keeping two or more tarantulas in the same tank is a recipe for trouble, as they usually do not get along well. Keeping tarantulas together can stress them out, leading to killing or eating each other.
Male tarantulas are very territorial, and keeping two male tarantulas in the same tank can result in them fighting over the tank’s territory, often resulting in one killing the other.
Keeping a male and a female tarantula together should be reserved for breeding purposes only because tarantulas are also cannibalistic in nature.
Some female tarantulas will attack and eat the male tarantula after mating. In the wild, after mating, the male tarantula will quickly get away from the female tarantula because they are aware of the risks—although not all females will eat the male.
If a male tarantula makes a sperm web, they may try to mate with the female tarantula on multiple occasions, which can stress the female tarantula. In addition to that, this could cause the female tarantula not to lay eggs or introduce even more stress if she becomes gravid.
With that being said, some tarantulas can be kept together with relative success. Those tarantulas are known as communal tarantulas. However, even with communal tarantulas, success rates will vary.
Tarantulas are not exactly friendly to other tarantulas and will often attack, kill, or eat each other. With that being said, some tarantulas are more tolerant of other tarantulas depending on the living conditions and abundance of food.
Are All Tarantulas Friendly?
Tarantulas are most commonly combined into two groups: New World and Old World tarantulas.
New World tarantulas are considered more docile, easy-going, and friendly. Overall the common belief is that New World tarantulas are less aggressive and defensive, although there are exceptions.
Old world tarantulas, on the other hand, are believed to be more aggressive and willing to attack. Their venom is also more potent and can hurt quite a bit more. They are also a lot faster and can be a little more unpredictable. Old World tarantulas are usually less friendly and do not like to be disturbed or handled.
Not all tarantulas will behave the same way. Even when we try to categorize tarantulas in different groups in order to explain their behavior, we are still proven wrong by those little creatures.
The reality is all tarantulas are very individualistic, can have different temperaments, and behave very differently.
Can You Make a Tarantula More Friendly?
So far, we have established that tarantulas are not exactly friendly and should be considered more of a tolerant and neutral animal.
But is there a way to make a tarantula more friendly and docile?
Tarantula’s behavior and perceived friendliness are primarily affected by its living conditions, how stressed it feels, and the abundance of food. In other words, by keeping your tarantula well-fed and in perfect living conditions, it will feel less stressed out and, as a result, will be less aggressive.
The tarantula will not necessarily be more friendly, per se, just less likely to exhibit aggressive behavior.
Read more: 16 Best Pet Tarantulas for Handling