Tarantula Hair and Urticating Bristles

Published Categorized as Tarantula Care
hairy tarantula

Tarantula Hairs: Nature’s Pepper Spray

For those tarantulas from the New World (North, Central, and South America), hairs on their abdomen are more than just a nice fur coat. Equipped with teeny-tiny barbs on the end of these hairs, the tarantula can send hundreds of them flying through the air at once, thus warding off potential predators.

When the tarantula feels a possible threat, it can take one of its back legs and quickly rub it against it abdomen. This action released the hairs into the air, and into the eyes and nose of a predator that may be lurking nearby. The effect of these hairs is quite unpleasant, irritating the soft tissue of the unfortunate creature that got a face full of hair.

It is important, therefore, to be aware that your New World tarantulas have the ability to do this. Some will rarely flick hairs (if ever), while others will flick at the slightest invasion of their space.

Some people do develop allergies to these hairs, while others do not.

These are things to take into consideration when purchasing a pet tarantula.

For example, our tarantula Agatha (picture on Home page) is a Brachypelma smithi – a species that is known for flicking hairs at almost any disturbance. We were warned about this when we bought her, and she lived up to the reputation for about two days.

We would open her tank to hold her, and she would give a few good flicks of her hind legs. Once in our hand, however, she was fine. (However, we had to be sure to not breath in the hairs that were still floating about.)

After a couple of handling sessions, she stopped flicking hairs at us altogether. Owners of the notorious Goliath Bird Eater (Theraphosa blondi) will tell you that the shower of hairs you can get from these spiders is intense!

On an interesting side note, tarantulas from the Old World (Asia, Africa, Australia, etc.) do not have these hairs. If they cannot escape their potential predator, they will usually not hesitate to throw up a threat posture and bite, bite, bite!

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