Tarantulas might be predators and seem scary to some humans but they’re still food to other predators too. In nature, it’s common for predators to be prey to other predators and for tarantulas, there’s a lot in the world that will eat them.
There are a lot of animals in the world that will eat a tarantula if they get the chance and not all humans are opposed to snacking on them! A tarantula can be a nutritious meal which is important when food can be harder to come by.
Protecting our pets is important and when it comes to tarantulas, it’s easy to forget they can have natural predators too. If you live in a country where tarantulas are native then there’s a good chance there are predators who would love to eat your precious pet. Even if you don’t live in a country where tarantulas are native, there are still plenty of animals who would try to eat them if given the chance.
We’ll be taking a look at 11 of the animals who will gladly eat a tarantula if they’re given a chance. There are still other animals who will eat tarantulas of course!
Animals That Eat Tarantulas:
It works both ways, snakes will eat tarantulas if they can and tarantulas will eat snakes if they get the chance. Both tarantulas and true spiders are known to catch and eat snakes much larger than themselves.
Generally, smaller species of snakes will eat different invertebrates such as tarantulas, other arachnids and insects. Some snakes feed solely on invertebrates which means a tarantula would be a good meal for them while others will gladly eat a large tarantula in addition to their regular warm-blooded foods.
Snakes that will eat tarantulas can be found in every region that tarantulas can be found. It mostly depends on the size of the tarantula since a large tarantula can easily make a meal out of a small snake. Snakes need to be very selective about which tarantula they attempt to eat otherwise… they’ll become the food instead!
Similar to snakes, lizards also need to be a little cautious when it comes to snacking on a tarantula meal. A small lizard can be a good meal for a larger tarantula but a large lizard can also eat a tarantula. However, some tarantulas can turn a big lizard into a meal as well.
Lizards will eat invertebrates including arachnids like tarantulas. Every country where tarantulas are found also has lizards who eat tarantulas. In the US, chameleons and large geckos will eat large true spiders and tarantulas if they can catch them.
When it comes to the Goliath Bird Eating Tarantula, they’ll eat anything smaller than them including invertebrates, mammals, frogs, birds, and lizards. Once a female reaches her maximum size, most lizards don’t even consider them a food option. Smaller Goliath Bird Eater Tarantulas are food for larger lizards and other animals.
All birds that eat insects will give spiders a try too. Larger birds will also try tarantulas if they get the chance. Large birds of prey such as hawks, owls, and eagles have all been documented regularly eating tarantulas
Tarantulas have very little defense against birds who surprise attack them from above. Many new world species have urticating hairs which are designed to protect them from different predators such as birds. The hairs are a great defense but the tarantula does need to see the predator incoming and when it comes to birds of prey, it doesn’t help much.
Smaller birds will also try to eat young and smaller tarantulas when given the chance. In these cases, urticating hairs are a great defense. However, larger tarantulas can eat small birds and will do so when presented with one. It’s not very often that tarantulas will eat birds, even the Goliath Bird Eater rarely catches birds for food!
4. Other Tarantulas and True Spiders
Most tarantulas are not communal which means they can’t live together in the same space. They will fight then someone will die and become food to the other. Larger tarantulas will attack smaller ones for an easy meal. A smaller tarantula will rarely kill and eat a larger one.
Tarantulas will most definitely catch and eat other tarantulas who cross their path. Adult females will regularly eat adult males after breeding, it’s a well-known part of their reproduction process.
However, when it comes to true spiders that build webs this changes. Tarantulas can get tangled up in the web of a true spider who can then wrap the tarantula up and eat them. Smaller true spiders can eat larger tarantulas who get stuck in their webs.
5. Foxes and Coyotes
Not all foxes and coyotes will target tarantulas if they can since it depends on the size of the tarantula and also the size of the fox or coyote. A smaller tarantula would be a great snack for a fox or coyote but a larger tarantula might be too much for them to handle.
A larger tarantula would be a good-sized meal for a fox or coyote who is willing to attempt to eat them. However, new world tarantulas with urticating hairs could become challenging for a fox or coyote to deal with especially when attacking a large tarantula. A persistent and hungry coyote or fox will be able to turn a tarantula into a meal.
Old world tarantulas don’t typically have to deal with coyotes or foxes due to their regional differences but they do have mammal predators still. Old world species lack urticating hairs but make up for this with extra speed. Increased willingness to bite and more defensive behavior. They can make good meals for some mammals but they can still put up a fight!
Scorpions aren’t adapted to hunting tarantulas but that doesn’t mean they won’t ignore a potential meal. A small tarantula spiderling is a good-sized meal for an adult scorpion and there’s a greater chance of the scorpion winning the fight. Most scorpions would rather leave a large tarantula alone unless they were desperate for food.
Tarantulas and scorpions will rarely fight when they cross paths but the outcome depends on several factors. The species of the tarantula and scorpion involved, the age of both and the size of both are all critical. There’s a scientific debate about who would win in a fight but this is a hard one to predict.
Scorpions are known to hunt true spiders such as trapdoor spiders and wolf spiders but these are generally the same size or smaller than the scorpion. When it comes to tarantulas, it depends on the size of both predators involved.
7. Parasites and Mites
There are very few species of earth that aren’t at risk of parasites or mites. Luckily, there are very few parasitic mites for tarantulas to worry about, and keeping them alive in captivity is very difficult so that’s not a problem for pet tarantulas. Parasites in general though are still an issue.
Nematode worms aren’t usually a problem but some species can be dangerous. Steinernema sp. for example, are major parasites for invertebrates in general and can enter the host’s body through a small opening such as the book lungs or anus. These worms give the host lethal bacteria, are very difficult to spot, and can spread through a collection quickly. This is why it’s important to quarantine new additions, especially if the tarantula is wild-caught.
Research is still limited on tarantula parasites and mites but that’s not surprising. We lack a lot of information on them in general! Hemolymph sucking tarantula mites will snack on your tarantula but there are others to watch out for too…
8. Tarantula Hawk Wasp
Wasps are known for having some of the more incredible parasites hidden within them. Many wasp species target other invertebrates to help them reproduce by laying their eggs inside the body of another animal who then becomes food to the larvae. There are some genuinely fascinating and terrifying wasps in the world!
The Tarantula Hawk Wasp is one of the largest parasitoid wasps that specializes in targeting tarantulas. They sting the tarantula between the legs to paralyze them before dragging the tarantula to the wasps burrow. A single egg is laid on the tarantulas’ abdomen and the burrow is covered so the egg can develop in peace. When the larva hatches it burrows into the tarantula and feeds on their insides. They instinctively know to avoid the vital organs to keep the tarantula alive for as long as possible and after a few weeks, the larva pupates then the adult wasp emerges from the tarantula.
While they have a rather terrifying reproduction process, adult tarantula hawk wasps eat fruit. It’s only as a larva that they eat tarantulas. These types of wasps can be found all over the world in India, Southeast Asia, the Americas, Europe, Africa and Australia.
The majority of humans might not want to eat a tarantula or many other insects for that matter but that’s not the case everywhere. It’s a common mistake that tarantulas are thought to be poisonous instead of venomous. Poisonous means eating that animal will kill you but venomous means being bit by the animal could kill you.
Most tarantulas are not poisonous to humans and in Cambodia, fried tarantulas are a local snack sold by street vendors. The abdomen is usually not eaten since the brown paste inside is a mix of organs, excrement, and eggs while the legs and head are the ‘best parts’.
The urticating hairs on new world species and tarantula hairs, in general, are usually removed before eating to make the meal more palatable. This is done by roasting or frying the tarantula, often this is done over an open flame.
Large centipedes are more than capable of killing other large invertebrates such as scorpions. They’ve also been documented taking down small lizards, frogs, snakes, birds, and small mammals such as mice, rats, and even bats. Centipedes are a force to be reckoned with so it’s no surprise they will kill and eat any tarantula they can.
A small tarantula is easy prey for a large centipede. While tarantulas can be fast, centipedes are much more agile and are also very fast. Tarantulas don’t usually see centipedes as food unless it’s a very small or young centipede while a centipede does see spiders and tarantulas as potential food. It all depends on the size of the tarantula and the size of the centipede.
For an adult centipede, a tarantula spiderling is an easy meal but they may consider it best to avoid a large tarantula. Centipedes have a long body which means an adult tarantula will have no problems landing a bit which would quickly turn the tables of the battle.
It might be a little controversial but crickets can be a problem for tarantulas if they get caught at the wrong moment. This is something that’s often debated within the hobby as well with some keepers refusing to feed their tarantulas crickets out of concern. Other keepers may only use crickets as feeder insects.
Crickets are opportunistic omnivores and will eat anything. For a vulnerable freshly molted tarantula, this can be bad news. Crickets will attack and eat a freshly molted tarantula when they’re still vulnerable. This is where the horror stories of pet tarantulas being eaten alive by crickets come from.
While crickets are usually a problem for tarantulas, the sudden role reversal post-molting is enough to turn a predator into the prey.
Tarantulas might be predators but they’re still prey to other species, especially when they’re young or vulnerable after moulting! Any species willing to eat insects and is large enough will attempt to eat a tarantula if they get the chance. There are a lot of other species not listed here who will also try to eat them when their paths cross. It all depends on the size of the tarantula and the size of the potential predator.