How to Safely Handle a Tarantula without Causing It Stress?

Tarantulas are remarkable creatures. They are often misunderstood and even feared. However, they make fascinating pets for those who appreciate their unique, quiet, and low-maintenance nature. However, handling a tarantula can be a nerve-wracking experience, particularly for those unaccustomed to these unusual animals. In this article, we aim to provide you with detailed instructions on how to handle your pet tarantula safely, without causing undue stress to the spider or to you.

Recognizing When to Handle Your Tarantula

Before delving into the specifics of handling your pet tarantula, it’s vital to understand when it’s appropriate to handle these delicate creatures. Remember, tarantulas are not like dogs or cats that might crave physical interaction. In fact, the less handling, the better is the rule of thumb for these spiders.

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Do remember that some species of tarantulas are more tolerant of handling than others. For instance, Mexican Redknee tarantulas are known to be more docile and may tolerate handling better than some other more aggressive species.

However, there will be times when you need to transfer your tarantula from its enclosure for cleaning, or perhaps you may need to inspect it for health reasons. It’s during these times that knowing how to handle your tarantula safely becomes essential.

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Preparing for Handling

Before you handle your tarantula, it’s important to prepare yourself and your surroundings properly. This includes ensuring your tarantula is in the right mood for handling, providing a safe environment, and taking precautions to prevent a bite.

Watching your tarantula’s behavior closely can give you clues about its mood. If it appears agitated, doing something like moving erratically, raising its front legs in a defensive posture, or showing its fangs, it is probably best not to handle it at that time.

Create a safe environment for handling. This could involve sitting on the floor or another low surface to minimize the risk of a fall for your tarantula. These spiders are delicate, and even a short tumble could cause severe injury or death.

Always handle your tarantula gently. Don’t squeeze or confine it. If it wants to move, let it do so; your job is to guide it safely, not control its actions.

Proper Handling Technique

The correct handling technique is crucial for ensuring the safety of both you and your tarantula. Always remain calm; these creatures can sense your fear or nervousness, which can stress them out.

Begin by slowly and gently sliding your hand under the tarantula’s abdomen. Allow it to step onto your hand rather than lifting it. Let the spider move at its own pace across your hands. Remember, sudden movements can frighten your pet and cause it to react defensively.

Never handle your tarantula by its abdomen, as it is the most vulnerable part of its body. Instead, guide it from behind, encouraging it to walk onto your hand.

What If Your Tarantula Bites?

People often worry about a tarantula bite, but it’s worth noting that these spiders only bite as a last resort. Their first line of defense is usually to flick their urticating (itch-causing) hairs, which can cause discomfort but are generally not dangerous.

If you’re bitten, don’t panic. Most tarantula bites are comparable to a bee sting. However, some people may have allergic reactions, and some tarantulas have more potent venom. If a bite occurs, it’s important to clean the wound and monitor it for signs of infection. If you experience severe pain, swelling, or other allergic reactions, seek medical attention immediately.

Tarantulas and Children

Children are naturally curious and may be fascinated by a tarantula. However, handling a tarantula is not recommended for young children. Their quick, unpredictable movements can startle a tarantula, and they may not understand how to handle the spider gently.

If children want to interact with a tarantula, it’s best to allow them to observe the spider in its enclosure. Make sure they understand that tarantulas are not toys and must be treated with respect.

In conclusion, handling a tarantula can be an awe-inspiring experience. However, remember that these majestic creatures are not typical pets and require special care and handling. Always prioritize your tarantula’s safety and comfort over your desire to interact with it.

Understanding Tarantula Species

Each tarantula species exhibits unique behaviors and has different handling requirements. For example, the Mexican Redknee or the Chilean Rose Hair are generally seen as more docile and tolerant towards handling than other species. This makes them ideal starter pets for someone new to tarantula care.

In contrast, the Red Knee and other more aggressive species may not take kindly to handling and can become stressed more easily. It’s essential to research the specific needs and preferences of your pet tarantula’s species to ensure you handle them correctly and minimize their stress levels.

Regardless of species, all tarantulas possess urticating hairs. These tiny barbed hairs can be flicked off as a defense mechanism when they feel threatened, causing itchiness or discomfort to potential predators — or an unwary human handler. Some tarantulas also have stronger venom than others, making their bites a bit more painful.

Setting up a Safe Tarantula Habitat

Your tarantula’s habitat plays a significant role in its overall health and stress levels. A well-set tarantula enclosure can make your pet feel secure, reducing the need for handling and minimizing any potential stress caused by it.

Most pet tarantulas require a terrarium or similar enclosure with ample space to move around. The enclosure should be well-ventilated but secure enough to prevent escapes.

The substrate, or bedding, should be suitable for burrowing. Coconut fiber, peat moss, or vermiculite are all acceptable options. Keep the substrate slightly moist, as this will help maintain the humidity levels that tarantulas need.

Include hiding places like cork bark, hollow logs, or artificial caves. These spots offer your tarantula a safe place to retreat and hide, which is vital for their wellbeing. Remember to place a shallow water dish in the enclosure, and to clean it regularly.

Temperature control is another critical aspect of tarantula care. Most pet tarantulas thrive at room temperature (70-85°F) and require a temperature drop at night. Always avoid placing your tarantula enclosure in direct sunlight, near drafts, or heating vents, as these can cause sudden temperature fluctuations that are harmful to tarantulas.


Keeping tarantulas as pets is a unique and rewarding experience. These fascinating creatures require specialized care, including appropriate handling techniques and a well-set tarantula habitat. Understanding your pet’s needs and behaviors will go a long way in ensuring their comfort and reducing their stress levels.

Remember, these are not conventional cuddly pets. They are exotic pets that demand respect and understanding of their natural behaviors. A tarantula bite is rare, but it’s essential to handle tarantulas with caution, especially around their urticating hairs.

While tarantulas may not seek out human interaction, they can tolerate it when necessary. The key is to move slowly, stay calm, and always prioritize the tarantula’s comfort over your curiosity. By doing so, you’ll be providing a safe, loving home for your remarkable pet tarantula.